Creativity

Nudity is not the issue. The freak show aspect of nudity is.

What I have been thinking, this article from Jezebel said so much better than I could : “The problem with all these half-naked pop stars is that they fail, even as they succeed, because they are “artists” turning themselves into objects. Objects have no agency. Objects are disposable. Objects have no feelings. And although there is value in shock value — power in startling, provoking — the truth is, while the nightly news anchors may feign mild consternation, though talking heads may raise their brows, no one, no one is really surprised. What would be shocking: If Miley (or Rihanna! or Ke$ha!) enrolled in a university and learned how to make a point using the Socratic method. Jaws would drop.

They don’t have to enrol in University, however. They could make intelligent points without it. Or not. They don’t owe us anything. But they are objectifying themselves, and by extension, millions of young, influenced young women. They set the bar at ridiculous levels for ‘cool’, ‘acceptable’, ‘fun’. We all remember being aching to be accepted teenagers. Listening to the voices of media. Watching the film clips that were our metric for what is the way to be.

I have no issues with artists like Amanda Palmer naked. She uses her body to convey messages, to relate to the music. She has enough strength of mind, and acquired wisdom, to understand and make considered choices. Not every young woman does. These young women just do it to shock, titillate, get milage, get valuable screen real estate – because some one said, “Honey, this will show the others”. Or, granted, because she thought that herself – but it is achingly obvious from the history of exploited female artists how often the entourage, the ‘momager’, the hangers on, the coterie of yes voices, can provide a sounding wall that only echoes back their own opinion that is driven by greed.

It is not limited to women – though the nudity aspect, the sheer objectifying is. One can see the boy bands, the desperate pasts and futures of those then unsuccessful, no longer marketed as the smart one, the cute one, the edgy one – the formulaic roles they get shoehorned into, as if they are of a single dimension. Perhaps it would be wiser to say a different objectifying does occur for males. Look at young Justin Beiber.

I meet wise and wonderful young women the same age as these artists every day. They are working hard to become engineers, educators, influencers. They would mock anyone selling them this story of objectification. Yet they are as prone to self image doubts due to the objects sold as perfection…

So what is next? What is the next boundary to push? As the article says: “Because at this point Miley would have to release close-ups of her clitoris or give us a laparoscopic tour of the inside of her vaginal canal for us to see something we haven’t seen before.” Or just show some dignity and creativity. Nudity is not the issue. The freak show aspect of nudity is.

 

And before we sink into the sin of despair, a companion piece from Jezebel. And there, we can ponder the nature of disability and limits, and it certainly asks who is beautiful in these images – indeed, it challenges us to think differently…

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Everything I learnt about makeup I learnt from the Sims

So I have spent my life being femininely challenged. Only one significant female figure in my childhood (hi Aunty Pam), I was to shy to ask how to do the things every other girl seemed to know – what clothes to choose, how to do makeup. A marvellous single father did his utter amazing best, but there were some things this man, born to a devout Irish Catholic mother and hard working, loving, self sufficient father. Those legacies he imbued in us without knowing, good and bad (the Catholic bit he moved away from in disgust at the wealth of the church when still young, and I could never manage the belief needed for any religion, disturbing to him but accepted grudgingly now). So makeup was pretty well avoided. I played a bit with it with my girl friends in high school, but beyond the odd bit of eye liner, and the occasional dip into mascara, makeup always felt like playing dress up – and icky on my face!

As a young adult who had a strange spate of trying to fit in with the young mums around me (it lasted a few years, a fish so far out of water it may as well have been desert for the way I starved to death emotionally and mentally), I tried makeup again. I dutifully bought some at one of those ‘parties’ designed to blackmail you socially. But I could never figure out HOW to apply the stuff. Five years later, the nearly intact set was gleefully given away. I had found myself, and the bloke, and settled into my earth mother phase, up until recently the happiest time of my life (now is oddly beating it, despite the whole ‘constant crippling pain and disability thing’).

Then older and trying to find my way, starting my first employment in IT, I found how much more seriously I was taken as an older woman engineer (early 30s felt so old even then around the younglings I knew at Uni). So I tried again, with the patient help of friends, but it was a strange duality, as if layering on a mask.

And now – I am finding something similar. I ‘mask up’ to gather some gravitas and professional veneer, finding myself a woman of 46.5 years, disabled and strange in a large electric wheelchair that reminds people inexorably of Stephen Hawking’s chair. Many women engineers don’t, but they are ones who are hugely successful (my dearly loved supervisor and model to emulate being one of those).

But what, oh blog, does this all have to do with the Sims? Well, I found that playing the Sims 3, I spent a lot of time in the creation of the Sims(houses and people being built are what I tend to enjoy, the actual play – not as much. Suspect it’s the engineer in me playing god ;) ) I found I build females mostly, as that is what I know. And I’d play with their makeup, learning about colour and style from modeling. A very scientific approach actually! I found myself designing Sims with similar features and coloring to me to play with hair and makeup. And before I knew it (and discovering the body Shop ethical and light makeup options) I was able to use the stuff without flinching.

Of course, I carry makeup wipes frequently, and have it off before I even hit the bus;)))

As to fashion – life’s cosmic sense of irony is having four daughters interested in fashion. So I have my own personal shopping assistants, dressers, outfit designers, and critics, choosing my clothes and jewelry combos for the next day each evening. Bliss!!!

On the weekend, naturally I revert to hippy clothes, second hand shop cast offs, and geek tshirts. And no makeup!!!

Hello body, time to well, not kiss, but definitely make up.

English: Illustration of the pain pathway in R...

English: Illustration of the pain pathway in René Descartes’ Traite de l’homme (Treatise of Man) 1664. The long fiber running from the foot to the cavity in the head is pulled by the heat and releases a fluid that makes the muscles contract. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I read this story: “I don’t have the stomach for worrying about my body anymore” and it struck a nerve.

I look in the mirror and I am nearly 46. I worry about the extra few kilos I have gained recently – weight maintenance is so much harder when one is disabled and have chronic pain. Hopping on a bike is out of the question, and the motorised scooter makes my life so much easier but doesn’t exactly require anything but the flick of a finger – scarcely taxing. So I am trying to walk a short distance each day, for I can, albeit for those short distances before the pain kicks in – I have movement but such agonizing pain as my mobility impairment. Hydro is great, and am trying to get back into it with regularity now that summer is in, and teaching is relaxed for the year.

But the reality is I am also at the age of menopause, and the weight goes different places. I have had ten pregnancies, only five to surviving term, and that has played some in regretted but undeniable havoc with my body, as has the various medications that keep me from howling in agony (oh, my poor teeth, how long will I keep what is left of you?). I am aging too, and the body is not young any more, regeneration slows, decay, all those things start their subtle indicators.

But this body has tried it’s best to sustain life, even carrying dead babies longer than it needed, unwilling to surrender them (a fact I once reviled it for). It has nurtured and sustained five magic babies even after birthing them, feeding them and giving them as good a start as I cold mange, and even struggling through a hellish start with the last one (emergency, life threatening c section that nearly had myself and my amazing boy die, then he was in NICU, and needed me in every four hrs to establish feeding, but as the hospital had no beds, I struggled back and forth exhausted, refusing pain relief so as not contaminate the milk, while trying to be there for my four other children – oh brave body to manage me through that time of the shattered, frightened zombie like life).

It struggles through the pain to perform what I demand of it, it is pushed at times to the limit, so determined and stubborn, often foolishly so, am I to try to be as normal and functioning as possible. It allows me to quilt, to be creative, no matter how much I have hated it for not being pretty enough, musical enough, artistic enough.

All my life, dear body, you have allowed me to feel pleasure, pain, laugh, do, be…and all I have done is be churlish and resentful to you, starving you, treating you poorly. Maybe I need to be kinder to you, stop loathing the fractured, damaged shell that carries me around, hating you for the pain, instead marvel at how you keep working despite the damage, ow you release chemicals to try and help me cope, respond to drugs to try and lessen pain, how you bounce back after illness. Be grateful for the five lives you have given me to cherish in the form of those magic, living incarnations of joy, those children who are my absolute pinnacle of achievement and delight. How you can feel so safe and right in the arms of the bloke, how it feels like our bodies are just the right size to hug and kiss and love one another.

So, dear body, I will try, in this hopeful second half of life, to care for you better, in the way you deserve. I can only try to make the pain we share better, but I can recognize you try to work through it with me. I guess we make a good team, body. In fact, I have long thought that, even offered plastic surgery for the bits I really wish were different, I would reject it for this comfortable, familiar old shape. You have been my home for 46 years now, counting the time in utero when you had become my body, so I think we are in it together now for the rest of the journey. I couldn’t think of a better body to be in.

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There are some childhood disappointments you never forget.

It is that clear in my mind, how excited I was for a dose of Star Wars after the breathtaking first movie. Oh, I had such a crush on Harrison Ford. And confusingly, on Carrie Fisher. Life is complex, and I knew it already. I was a scifi nerdette, a proto geek girl, into Asimov and Heinlein and Clarke and Pournelle and Herbert…(and I knew L Ron Hubbardstank as a writer of scifi, and that is all I knew of him).

The Star Wars Holiday Special

The Star Wars Holiday Special (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The season of the coming of the Star Wars Holiday Special saw my brother and I on a hot evening in front of the tv eagerly waiting for the ads to STOOOPPPPP – you know how time dilates when you are waiting for something? Of course, we had fewer ads then, but in my memory they were a huge wall of irritation to be endured, it was coming, finally! We had all seen the ads, I knew my friends would be also huddled around their TV sets. Christmas in Australia is HOT, and air conditioning was not yet commonly built in, so we had fans and huge evaporative air conditioners that sprayed noise and water, so the volume needed to be up, and you needed to be at the carefully calculated distance for cool not soggy.

The music came up, the titles…and the confusion started early. Was this a Donny and Marie show we had stumbled into? The comforting sickly cheese of a Brady Bunch special variety hour? What was WRONG? Harrison Ford looked beyond embarrassed, he, too, was enduring the experience, and no doubt thinking his career was ending before his eyes. Carrie Fisher seemed bright and happy (so innocent of the chemicals she was requiring to do this was I). Mark Hamill seemed to have shrugged and decided to do his professional best, oh bless his intentions. And we all, a collective stirring of child consciousness, we all learned the first lesson of Lucas, the first bitter foretaste that he could and would betray us, he would lead us to Jar Jar Binks one day. A first glimpse of the mortality of our innocence was felt that day.

So I cannot recommend watching this for the cheese value – this is beyond cheese and is simply moldy, fermented to the point of something beyond distaste. The RiffTrax guys have a commentary track that tries to make it bearable, but simply lends itself to a shared misery that we all tried to alleviate, like sifting through the wreckage to find any surviving shards of your life after a disaster.

In short, it SUCKED. And when the next two movies came out, we were relieved. Indiana Jones makes us smile again. But we were not shocked by the awfulness of the history of Darth Vader, of Jar Jar and ‘mitochlorians’ and oh the horrors to come..

So here is a review of the Star Wars Holiday Special. Happy Life Day (gag).

“…And Introducing Chewbacca’s Family!” Case File #30: The Star Wars Holiday Special | TV | My World Of Flops | The A.V. Club.

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The Milky Way and the lighthouse

James Burke @rigb_science #connections

James Burke @rigb_science #connections (Photo credit: Toastwife)

Cover of "Cosmos"

Cover of Cosmos

Here we stand on the shores of a cosmic ocean. This (or something pretty close) is from the first episode of Cosmos, that I watched as an entranced sleepy 14 year old, up very late to catch every last resonant image, every last amazing fact (Hypatia, how had I not known of thee? Voyager, small ships of knowledge, the ancestors of all chip bound explorers of the local seas), of that seminal awakening for many of my generation.

Connections was also a hypnotic ride (please, I urge you, spend hours of delight watching every episode on YouTube – sometimes, the Internet is beyond bounteous).

I am thrilled Neil deGrasse Tyson is doing a new version of Cosmos, a fitting heir to the magic of Carl Sagan. Phil Plait is blogging over at Slate these days, and I am delighted to see his audience increase. He, too is, an heir to Sagan – we need more popularisers of science, men and women who can convey the joy and passion of science.

Dr. at the November 29, 2005 meeting of the NA...

Dr. at the November 29, 2005 meeting of the NASA Advisory Council, in Washington, D.C. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I knew, at 14, there could be no higher calling than scientific pursuits – astronomy would be preferable, but that turned out to be because I had not met my true (career) love – computing. That was my homecoming. But my love of science, all the sciences, from the atomic and subatomic awe inspiring and mind boggling worlds (such brave new (tiny) worlds that have such wonders), to the macro, the Universe, or universes, dimensions and galaxies, of physics and astronomy and on (brave enormous worlds etc). Of the earth sciences, of biology, of technological sciences. Of the wonder of engineering, and again, back to my discipline – computer science – the field of dreams. If you build it he (/she/they) will come, indeed…

We take dreams, ideas, thoughts, and strive to create realities of software and hardware. We create futures. We think in art and colour and movement, of usage and layout and need. If you can think of a more satisfying career, good for you. I cannot, and I can never recommend it highly enough.

Part of Carl Sagan with a model of the Viking ...

Part of Carl Sagan with a model of the Viking lander. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

From a 14 year old girl having her heart ache with the wonder and beauty of knowledge to a 45 year old woman still prone to joy and wonder at it all, I owe Carl Sagan such a thank you – for he inspired me as he inspired so many others. He showed me possibilities, and I had to follow the trail thereon.

From the shores of the cosmic ocean to my small light of knowledge, all scientists strive to claim a little more land in H.G. Wells’ ‘sea of ignorance’, as he exhorts every generation take up its responsibility to reclaim more land from it. Doing my best, Mr Wells. Doing my best, Mr Sagan.

The Milky Way and the lighthouse: photos from Australia.

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Thomas Keneally on why he is such a delight

Thomas Keneally claims not the mantle of ‘delight’ yet his words proclaim him (in my mind) to be so:) He seems to carry a certain zest, as if he has looked into the abyss – and chuckled at the vibrant foolishness within. He writes stirringly of the darkness in humanity – but also the light that counters that darkness. Of you have never read any of his books, do so – the ubiquitous Schindler’s List is acclaimed for more than the movie interpretation. The words matter. He does not create a saint out of an all too flawed man, rather he recognizes the dual capacities within us all, that we must choose from when life places us in sudden history made current.

 

Thomas Keneally: this much I know | Life and style | The Observer.

As Clive James faces death, I face losing one of the most formative heroes of my life

Clive James is dying. my heart is full of sorrow.

this man is such a formative influence on me. his books (i adore his poetry), his writing, and his broadcasting (my ‘gateway’ to his work) are a huge part of my life. i listen to his reading of his own (audio based) books (again, the poetry rocks), and read his essays, collected criticisms, stories and poems literally weekly. i just got his collected postcards dvd set. magic. I’ve been hunting out of print books second hand on amazon, just obtaining what i think is an under rated mater work – fame in the 20th century. i wish i could find the dvd.

i – WE – owe thanks to a fellow Aussie, a world citizen, and a master of communication in so many forms of media. what he did was bring a different culture to many of us when it was thought culture belonged to other people. he instilled (long with Dorothy  L Sayers) my longing to go to university – and stay there. and here i am, teaching at my beloved Flinders University.

(yes, my sentences aren’t capitalised. i am incredibly lazy on here, as i have to be so careful at work. mea maxima culpa. and this is about Clive, so stop it.)

 

Clive James wistfully faces death, admitting he may not see Sydney again | Culture | The Guardian.

One of the best musicians and performers I know is releasing an album, and i CANNOT WAIT!

One of the best musicians and performers I know is releasing an album, and i CANNOT WAIT! as exciting as #AmandaPalmer – this guy is absolute talent.

As you may know I’ve finished recording my first CD “Seeing Stars” which has been two years in the making but about 25 years in its development. This CD has been a long time coming… “Seeing Stars”…

Goodreads review

I have started using Goodreads. I have acres of books to add, but little time, so slowly slowly:)

Game Change: Obama and the Clintons, McCain and Palin, and the Race of a LifetimeGame Change: Obama and the Clintons, McCain and Palin, and the Race of a Lifetime by John Heilemann

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A lot fof hype surrounds this book, with a soon to be released movie. I think it is far more sympathetic to the Palins than I expected, and harder on the other candidates than reported. In other words, the balance is spot on. It is an incredibly gripping read. I grabbed it to read on my iPad while flying overseas – it was hard to put down when I had to board the plane – so I ws glad it was a long haul flight, I finished, well, devoured it thereafter.

View all my reviews

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