freckles_and_doubt: (South Park Self)
I am in the sweary stage of paper writing. It's fighting me; I'm wrestling it, it's largely winning. I hate it, and myself, and my writing, and African fairy-tale film, about equally. I am horribly bored by the need to finish the damned thing (it's now nearly a week after deadline) and the fact that I can't permit myself much in the way of socialising or happy domestic fuffling until it's bloody well done. Alarmingly enough, this is all familiar and status quo: never underestimate the extent to which the relationship academics have with academia is basically abusive. I'll finish it. This too will pass. Until then, swearing, and loathing, and hedgehoggy hermitting. But especially the swearing.

I did, however, track down the volume on African folklore which I'd randomly packed at the bottom of a whole box of Pratchett and Moorcock. This has led me, as a knock-on effect, to throw out more books, as I had to unpack and repack a bunch of them. I'm still obscurely enjoying the catharsis of the clear-out.

Photo0056 Photo0046

There should be an almost complete Elric in the Moorcock, and a couple of other series as well - Corum, and Dorian Hawkmoon? I have kept the Jerry Cornelius ones, because postmodernism, and the Dancers at the End of Time ones, because I don't do hallucinogenic drugs and a girl has to have some substitutes. I am forced to admit that I've pretty much outgrown Elric, I haven't read them since undergrad. The John C. Wright are buying it because the frothing homophobia of the writer's online presence is having the Orson Effect, namely an inability to read his fiction without a sort of Pavlovian response of annoyance and distaste. Also, he's a sexist sod, frankly; I really like some of what the Orphans series does, but its ideological irritations are now outweighing its enjoyments. Never trust a writer who feels impelled to spank almost all of his women.  I have retained only the remnants of my Heinlein collection which are (a) genre classics and (b) I am able to read without actually throwing the book across the room, which in the event turns out not to be many of them. I've turfed out the young adult stuff, because frankly there's better y.a. sf out there, but they're actually fun and comparatively inoffensive - Pam, you might like them for the young'uns? The Michael Scott Rohan are swashbucklery fun, but I've kept Scott Lynch for that.

If anyone wants to appropriate any of these, please let me know! So far only the Kay and the Aldiss have been bagsed from the previous group.
freckles_and_doubt: (South Park Self)
I let Hobbit out of the house over the weekend, after a full week of being incarcerated in what, according to his reaction, was a medieval torture chamber with frills on. Of course, I had started trying to encourage him to go outside a couple of days earlier, to which he returned, in the immortal words of Bertie Wooster, a polite nolle prosequi: apparently a week indoors had inculcated in him the fixed belief that the rest of the universe had ceased to exist, and he was somewhat alarmed at the revelation to the contrary. He certainly retired under the dining room table, alarmed, every time I opened the courtyard door. However, he has apparently come to terms with the continued existence of the world at large, and once I opened the bathroom window stopped badgering me all night, which means I've had a blissful few days of actually sleeping through the night. Honestly, it's like having babies.

It also took, though, approximately an hour and a half before the neighbourhood's Feline Reception Committee arrived to look over the latest immigrant, and there has been a fairly civilised refrain of growling issuing from the back garden at intervals over the last few days. There's an excessively beautiful Siamese in the posse, and a black-and-white thing who comes over all suave but whom I darkly suspect is a thug. Today I arrived home to the following joyous scene:


That's clearly a game of Cat Chess. They sat like that, unmoving and possibly unblinking, for about ten minutes while I took multiple pictures and then pottered around the kitchen making tea. I suspect that they were engaged in a territorial and diplomatic discussion not unlike the Treaty of Versailles. Let's hope diplomacy is sufficient and it doesn't come to all-out war, I've just got used to sleeping through the night. But I have to say, Hobbit looks somewhat cornered. I don't think negotiations are going his way at all.

I am pretty much moved in now, except for the L-space explosion which represents my book collection: it's down to 11 unshelved boxes, but has temporarily halted there while I wrestle with this paper from behind the rampart of books on African folklore, books on African film, cups of tea and emergency chocolate supplies on my desk. Further unpacking of books may occur because I can't find my nice new Encyclopedia of African Folklore, which I really need to refer to. I could swear it was with the other tomes, but I must have stuck it into a box somewhere. One of the 11 boxes. Which I will now have to unpack and then repack. Aargh.

I am, book, paper and cat crises notwithstanding, finding myself extremely happy in this house.

The subject line is, of course, T. S. Eliot - more specifically, the slightly nasty racism of Growltiger.
freckles_and_doubt: (South Park Self)
gault library

I do like Tom Gauld's cartoons, they have a sort of wry, self-deprecating literacy to them which strikes something of a chord. If you haven't read his collection You're All Just Jealous Of My Jetpack, you darned well should, if only because its titular cartoon exemplifies so neatly my own stance in an uncaring academic world. The above cartoon is particularly relevant to my current interests as, while I am generally ensconced in my very own house somewhat ecstatically, I am still confronting the problem of the Library, which is approximately three times the size of my available shelf space. Unpacking my books has forced me to revisit the process of self-interrogation which led to my earlier exercises in Shuffling Off or Throwing Out books, with particular reference to Gauld's categories of "Saving For When I Have More Time" and "Will Never Read", because the usual processes of self-deception lead to an over-easy conflation of these categories. I am thus embarked upon a secondary literary weeding, with particular reference to the above categories and my new, idiosyncratic one, which is not so much "Wish I Hadn't Read" as "Am Reluctantly Forced to Admit I Will Never Read Again Because Really It's Not That Good."

In short, I have more books to throw out, and the next few posts will probably give alert readers a faint sense of déja vu. As before, Capetonian witterers are please to tell me if you want any of these and I'll shunt them your way before hauling the leftovers to the charity shop.

Guy Gavriel Kay, alas, is buying it, because I am way too old and ornery an English academic to survive another dose of flights of portentous emotionality. I've kept the interesting Tanith Lee short stories, I'm mostly throwing out her young adult stuff and the more over-the-top erotic horror. Some of the classics - Anderson, Aldiss, Lieber - I was keeping out of a vague sense of academic completeness, in case I ever needed to refer to them, which I really won't. I've kept some MacAvoy, thrown out the ones I don't flat-out love. The Kurtz has only survived thus far out of a vague nostalgia for my neo-pagan phase.

My Book Discards: How I Grew Up. Have at them.

The subject line is Pratchett, Rule 3 for Discworld librarians. In hanging onto books it's not so much causality that I've been trying to interfere with, as the nature of time.
freckles_and_doubt: (South Park Self)
My goods and chattels resulted in rather a lot more than forty-two boxes, all carefully packed; there were the 25 large eco-boxes, and the 15 cardboard boxes the EL acquired from Merrypak, and the 10 from Tracy, plus another three or four random ones from jo&stv, and in the end all the food went into shopping bags because I had denuded the immediate social landscape of boxen of any kind. My more-than-42 boxes, all carefully packed, have their contents written clearly on each, or more accurately scribbled hurriedly in koki - the inscriptions read things like "BOOKS - SF", or "BOOKS - END OF PASSAGE", or "COOKBOOKS", or, more unhelpfully, just "BOOKS". Because the packing-up process was assisted by my standard array of slightly insane friends, several of these boxes have now taken additional inscriptions randomly to themselves. They read, variously:

  • (That one possibly even relates to the contents).
  • BOOKS - PASSAGE - RABBI HATS. (I have no bloody idea).
  • BOOKS - PASSAGE - HOUSE/TECHNO/TRANCE. (That definitely doesn't relate to the contents).
  • BOOKS - PASSAGE - DRAGON SCALES. (Possibly also topical).
  • BOOKS - PASSAGE - CHRISTIAN BOOKS. (That's either wanton provocation, or contains Narnia).
  • (These last two are definitely wanton provocation. One of them has an additional inscription of APOSTROPHES on the opposite corner, just to underscore the point).

Even if he hadn't proudly drawn my attention to his efforts, my money would have been on Stv as the perpetrator. No innocent bit of paper is safe from his annotation.

The eco-boxes are now unpacked, leaving me with 20-odd cardboard boxes full of books, DVDs and CDs. I cannot unpack them because three of my bookshelves are not yet bolted to the wall. I cannot bolt them because the corner where I want to put them contains an alarm sensor, which they would block. ADT are proving a broken reed in the department of doing anything about installing a radio transmitter, so I haven't yet been able to ask them to move the sensor owing to their complete non-appearance and lack of communication. For want of an ADT response the whole thing snarls up. Telkom did actually arrive today to activate what turns out to be a normal phone line. They are still out of ADSL ports. They will install more in October. There are apparently 80 people waiting for ports in the area, so I'm very far down the list. In the interim I have scored a 3G dongle from a kindly Claire, and have home internet with minimal fuss beyond having to buy a data bundle for it via my cellphone because I didn't have internet. I have used my cellphone more in the last two weeks than I have in the last five years together.

The house is now properly furnished with a sofa and dining room table and chairs, and rejoices in a Hobbit, who is in a severe and querulous snit about being moved, and rendered last night hideous with a campaign of whinging throughout the small hours, interspersed with climbing on me in a marked manner. He does not find the accommodations to his taste, and wishes moreover to promenade in the garden, which he can't, because he'll infallibly make tracks for Rondebosch if I let him out.

The house also has a mountain just outside its front door.


It's also mine, and mine alone (except for Hobbit, who admittedly takes up a certain amount of space). I'm liking this feeling.

The subject line is, of course, quoting "The Hunting of the Snark". For some reason the stanzas about poor Thingamajig have been the ones I've always remembered from the poem, going back to fairly early childhood. I miss teaching the Snark. Nonsense poetry is a weirdly good vehicle for unwrapping semiotic theory.
freckles_and_doubt: (South Park Self)
ursula vernon axolotl

As the above enthusiastic axolotl suggests (it's an Ursula Vernon, of course), I have moved! The nice removals guys whisked me across to Claremont in three hours flat, and I am tootling around the new place cautiously unpacking boxes and putting down roots. Millyuns and millyuns of thanks to all the lovely people who helped me pack over the weekend and move stuff across on Sunday, and to Jo&Stv for additional endeavours with drilling and unpacking and producing champagne. (I'm not sure if it's a good sign that almost the first things I took across to the new place were (a) gin, (b) tonic and (c) new tumblers, to add to (d) the fridge that was delivered on Friday already.) It's actually a slightly scary place, to be a lone single person attempting a move, and wonderful friends are wonderful. Also, various nice neighbours have come to introduce themselves, it feels like a friendly street where everyone looks out for each other.

I still don't have internet, of course, and, rather than producing this post by sheer power of will, I am producing this post by sheer power of leaving the computer at the long-suffering Evil Landlord's, and diving in at intervals to subdue my Tumblr feed. Telkom have variously told me that (a) they have no ADSL ports free in the area, I'll have to wait until one is freed up, (b) they have no ADSL ports free in the area, I'll have to wait until they install new infrastructure in October, and (c) (via a phone call at 8am this morning as I was struggling awake) they're busy with installing my new line at the moment and will let me know by the end of the week. I am somewhat suspicious about (c), but prepared to be pleasantly surprised if necessary.

I am incredibly tired, bruised, aching in every muscle and joint, somewhat confounded by piles of boxes, and pining slightly for want of cat, as I haven't yet moved Hobbit across. But other than that I'm feeling quietly happy, enormously self-contained, and slightly new.

Subject line is Death Cab For Cutie, who are my current driving music, and who are probably the quintessential quirky, wistful alternative band. They're only very occasionally twee.
freckles_and_doubt: (South Park Self)
I'm on leave from tomorrow until Wednesday for purposes of house removals, so today was my last drive into work from Chez Evil Landlord, a curiously nostalgic process rendered particularly apposite by its entirely schizoid mix of elements. The usual weird Thursday traffic patterns meant I made it to campus blissfully quickly, in 10 minutes with hardly any stopping in the strangely deserted streets, only to have the last three decent parking places gazunked from under my nose by other, marginally more on-time people. This necessitated me, in something of a snit, parking at the unfashionable end of campus where it'll certainly rain on me on the way back to the car. On the upside, umbrella. I do like walking in the rain under an umbrella. It's a tiny but perfectly concentrated illustration of elegant tool-using. Besides, my current umbrella unfurls at the touch of a button with a sort of joyous snap which always makes me strangely happy.

The Great Trek Onwards has not started well, on account of how the nice Eco-Box people cavalierly neglected to deliver the boxes that were supposed to arrive yesterday afternoon. I dashed home from work to sit twiddling my thumbs for two hours, fuming gently. A pained phone call this morning reveals that the nice efficient administrator-lady who confirmed the delivery was in fact off work yesterday, causing, apparently, the whole place to gently grind to a halt without her. They're delivering this afternoon, with profuse apologies, but it's lost me an evening's packing. And the Evil Landlord can't find the Iburst modem, which means I'll probably have to do something expensive with 3G in order to survive a couple of months without internet while Telkom finds its arse with both hands. Sigh.

If things come in threes, that should be it for the nonce: I've also discovered that I've been blithely and unnecessarily paying for two internet contracts for a year, on account of how the technician concerned neglected to tell me I needed to actually activate a new one which I'd thought was a data top-up rather than an entirely different contract. The accounts department refuses, apologetically, to refund me, and I can't even rant about it because the whole thing was at least partially my fault. Sigh. A refund would have been nice. I could have bought an even spankier kettle.

However, on the upside, the EL is evincing a disturbing and guilt-inducing tendency to insist that I migrate from his place taking with me a broad selection of the fitted bookshelves he's had installed over the years, which will at least partially solve the "explosion in a bookshop" problem which necessarily attends my perambulations. But it seems an excessive sort of housewarming gesture. I have habitually assuaged my conscience on his installation of bookshelves for my benefit by assuming that he's making improvements to his house rather than pandering to his housemate. My Lawful Good is kicking in, with a side order of Calvinist guilt. Which will not, in all likelihood, prevent me from taking the bookshelves, as he points out he's never going to have that many books or Lego models to display, but still. There is angst.

I have now neatly earwormed myself with "Little Boxes", which is a deceptively sing-song and highly political song I associate very strongly with my childhood, not only because the Pete Seeger version was still played on the radio, but because it was one of my dad's favourites, he used to sing snatches of it when being cynical about modern urban existence. My family was never big on the modern urban existence. Growing up in the bush will do that to you. In a good way.


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