davey dreamnation

seething since 2001

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Category: Blogging (page 1 of 18)

As the name suggests, this category captures anything related to blogging, including tech stuff, blog design issues and day to day minutiae.

Three literary devices that really cheese me off

If I had to write a complete list of all the things creative types do that really give me the jitches, I’d be here all day. So, in my own therapeutical interests, here’s three literary devices that cheese me off no end. What cheeses you off?

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Thomas Mann on Lubeck, harems and marzipan

Now if anyone wishes to vent a little spite against me, or take a casual swipe at me, I can count on his bringing up my Lubeck origin and Lubeck marzipan. If some ill-wisher can think of nothing else, he invariably thinks of connecting me with comic marzipan and representing me as a marzipan baker. Such stuff goes by the name of literary satire. But it does not bother me . . . And I certainly do not feel in the least insulted about the marzipan. In the first place it is a very tasty confection, and in the second place it is anything but trivial; rather it is remarkable and, as I have said, mysterious. And if we examine this sweet more closely, this mixture of almonds, rosewater and sugar, the suspicion arises that it is originally oriental, a [Haremskonfekt] confection for the harem, and that in all probability the recipe for this barely digestible delicacy came to Lubeck from the Orient by way of Venice. And it turns out that those wits are not so wrong as they themselves think, that Death in Venice is really ‘marzipan’ although in a deeper sense than they ever meant it.

Thomas Mann, ‘LUBECK AS A WAY OF LIFE AND THOUGHT’ (1926)

Kim Gordon on singing, Kim Deal and cake

At the same time, I loved hanging out with Kim Deal, and when I rewatch the video [for ‘Little Trouble Girl’], my favorite part is seeing the two of us together singing and looking hot. Maybe everything always looks better twenty years later. When Kim showed up in Memphis to record the song, she had the engineer play it back into the big room, and she sang without any headphones. Then and now Kim’s voice has an incredibly cakelike quality—like the sound when you say cake, a lightness, its body thinned out—that’s so classic pop.

Kim Gordon, Girl in a Band

What will babies be like 100 years from now?

Given that babies are generally only around for a year or two before they morph into young children, the question of what babies will be like in the future may well in fact be a moot one. But, to use Yoda’s phrasing, ask that question I have, and the answer reveal I now can.

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Back to the future of the Internet of Things

I like to think of myself as a reasonably tech-savvy person. I’m pretty much on the computer all day at work, and I use a smart phone in my leisure time. And while I’m no digital guru I also like to think I know how things like the Internet work. But when it comes to the Internet of Things (IoT), up until recently I was a total novice. Which is a shame, really, because the IoT is all around us, and has been for some time.

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Tabula rasa

Hello, world—it’s Davey here.

It’s been a while. In fact, it’s been a very long time, indeed. But, you know how it goes: things got boring; I changed; you changed; we moved apart. Maybe we were missing that frisson that made this whole caper so untold to start with. Well, it’s time to end all that.

Time for a fresh start. After 12 years, 1200 blog posts, countless bios and ‘about’ pages, hundreds of thousands of words, scores of categories, 850 real comments and billions of spam comments, and hundreds of images, links and in-jokes, this site has become not so much a yoke around my neck as a huge albatross dragging me further and further into the realms of dark space.

So that’s why I’ve decided to unpublish all of my posts, and start again. This doesn’t mean that the posts have actually been ‘disappeared’ but that, for the moment, they’ve been carted off to another dimension, awaiting further instructions. I’ve got big plans for these posts—more on that soon, hopefully. For now, it’s time to revel in the mystical ‘hello, world!’ moment that comes with one’s (new) first post.

Tabula rasa.

Update (31 August 2014): Yeah, well … that seemed like a good idea at the time. All systems back to normal.

Coming soon … ‘Tanto’

Long-term readers may recall that in 2011 I set up a poem newsletter project, ‘Poem of the week!’.

As you may also recall, a total of 22 posts were sent to subscribers during the project’s most active period, between October 2011 and April 2012. These posts were then compiled in a chapbook entitled Tjugotvå – twenty-two poems. I still think it’s a great little book and have my subscribers (around 60 by the time the project wound down) to thank for helping make it possible, through their words of encouragement and our interactions via the newsletter.

Well, two years later I’ve taken the plunge again and decided to once again indulge my ‘inner Swede’, a barely three-year-old creature struggling with Swedish customs and language. Maybe it’s because I’ve signed up for Swedish lessons, but I have a burning urge to write into life the strange world in which I live, where characters with names like ‘Åsa’ really do exist.

Åsa Strålande i ‘Tanto’, a new serial work of fiction, takes place in present-day Stockholm, and features locations and practices that will be familiar to residents of Stockholm but which may seem strange to non-Swedes (as may the dialogue, which is almost exclusively rendered in Swedish). However, the story also features several fictional venues and—needless to say—characters and is suitable for all readers over the age of 18. All you really need to know is that Tantolunden (or Tanto for short) is a park on Södermalm in central Stockholm.

The story will only be sent to those who have subscribed to the newsletter. The first episode of ‘Tantolunden’ will arrive in your inbox shortly. I look forward to sharing this strange and mysterious story with those of you who would care to join me on a journey to … ‘Tantolunden’ …

davey tried to log in to davey dreamnation

Password tried Passw0rd1
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To be honest …

… when I posted that picture yesterday, I didn’t realise it would be automatically shared with Facebook, and so I’m a little surprised at all the hits and likes it’s generated (nerd reveal: I was just testing the ‘image’ post format).

So, for those who didn’t make the connection, the thing that ‘happened’ was that I got married, on 10 August 2013, in sunny Stockholm. The picture was taken at a significant moment during the ceremony. I’ll leave you to work that out.

Generally, I’m very wary these days of posting anything publicly online about my private life (okay, let’s have the argument about the NSA and surveillance of Facebook another day) but I was prepared to make an exception for such a wonderful picture.

Now, onto my next post, so that I can increase my average for 2013.

The Next Big Thang

Poet Ivy Alvarez, whose latest book is Mortal, invited me to participate in this self-interview blog meme called The Next Big Thing, where I get to share a little more about my next book.

Writers participating get to answer 8-10 questions (about their book/blog/their writing), and then tag 5 other writer friends to post their own “next big thing” the following Wednesday. Ivy’s instructions were for me to post by or before Wednesday, 19 December.

Rather daringly, I’ve followed Ivy’s re-arrangement of the original order of the questions.

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SIPRI Yearbook 2012: its part in my downfall

Heh, heh. Well, not really. But in the spirit of Spike Milligan, one could say that the last six months, during which I’ve been working at the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) as an editor, have well and truly opened my eyes to what’s goin’ ahn in this crazy, mixed up world.

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Oh look, wow: Twitter functionality in WP!

https://twitter.com/daveyinsweden/status/221722405838651392

Yikes! Where did the time go?

‘Regular’ ‘readers’ of this ‘blog’ would be excused for thinking that I’d fallen under a bus, given the absolute lack of any kind of update for over a month now. But the contrary is true: far from having fallen under a bus, I’m actually – ah, whatever.

The truth is, I haven’t had a whole lot to blog about recently. My new job has occupied a lot of my time, as has socialising with colleagues from said job and, when it comes down to it, who wants to hear how many Jäger shots I’ve had in the last thirty days?

‘And yet’. (I’ll explain the significance of this phrase one day). To answer the question posed by Big Star in the title of their song ‘What’s going ahn?’, I can say the following:

(1) I’ve had an academic article published

Hot on the heels of my post-doc research at BTH in Karlskrona, I’m excited to say that ‘Flash points: Reading electronic literature as a metaphor for creativity’ (PDF), an article I co-wrote with Maria Engberg, has now been published in the latest issue of TEXT Journal. To be exact, it’s a part of a special issue entitled Creativity: Cognitive, social and cultural perspectives, edited by Nigel McLoughlin and Donna Lee Brien. So that’s untold.

(2) I’ve presented a paper in Bristol on the subject of myself. Or, um …

A couple of weeks ago I travelled to Bristol, UK for the final ELMCIP seminar, on the subject of E-literature in/with Performance. I presented a paper entitled Davey Dreamnation and the Performance of Self. Here’s the abstract:

Since 2002 I have maintained a series of personal websites (now amalgamated into one website: daveydreamnation.com) that explore questions of personal identity and performativity through the character of Davey Dreamnation, a failed rockstar and comic alter-ego. The performance of this character (what could be described as a form of avatarism) brings with it various notions of play, irony and humour that are not necessarily often associated with the performance of electronic literature. This presentation seeks to engage with notions of performance of the self with reference to (and critical appraisal of) theoretical notions of performance as expounded by Butler and others. The performance of character in an online space which is heavily mediated by its form (that is, the blog format and its attendant proprietary structures and limitations) raises questions about human interaction with personal websites ‘performing’ as actors in their own right – that is, as co-creators, the performance of which influences other users’ readings of character and identity. This presentation will offer a glimpse into the workings of one such character, with reference to archived screenshots, audio files, text extracts and character analysis, with the aim of offering a humorous yet serious examination of the playfulness of online performativity. The presentation will also take into account and address some of the issues raised in the call for papers, specifically the usefulness of performance studies in blog environments. Finally, both the presentation and the accompanying paper will seek to offer themselves as examples of performance writing about electronic literature.

And here’s a pic of me and Davey during the delivery of the paper:

(3) My poem Övergången has been ‘analysed’ online …

THis is kind of nice. William Fox, who tweets as @readism and who runs a Tumblr of the same name, has written an entry analysing my poem Övergången, from the chapbook of the same name. Have at it:

The authoritative voice works well because it gets at how confidently we can trace the narrative of our social successes these days. It’s therefore no surprise that the poem hits the ground running – the opening line is in dactyls that are promptly broken up by a line break & the more awkward phrase ‘very quickly now’. The smoothness of my own commute is always determined by the extent to which I don’t think about how quickly I want to get it over & done with. On a tram / train this is easily achieved. I think this ‘transition’ is a special case because the poet’s probably walking the streets after dark (‘It’s already too late to plead…’) & more than likely through a city. This makes casual & indifferent mannerisms even more imperative, if only to avoid getting the shit kicked out yourself. It also makes you yearn for the ‘ignorance’ of non-self-consciousness, or to be a ‘special case’ (i.e. to be so deliriously shitfaced that you don’t care if people laugh at you).

Read the rest on your own.

K. So, that’s not bad: three cool things have happened. And here’s three more cool things that are destined to happen at some stage in the future:

(4) My poem ‘Wireless’ is going to be published in Overland

Not much I can say about this right now, except that I’m rather chuffed that Overland poetry ed. peter Minter has chosen this poem for inclusion in that erstwhile journal of the progressive left in Australia. Wireless first appeared on my blog last year. But don’t let that stop you from checking out Overland’s cool new website.

(5) ‘Clouds Afternoon Jazz Sprinkles’ finds a home … of sorts

My poem ‘Clouds Afternoon Jazz Sprinkles’, dedicated to poet Jill Jones, will be appearing soon as part of a special project. And that’s all I’m saying for now.

(6) I’ll be giving a paper at the ELO conference in June

No, not that ELO. I mean the Electronic Literature Organization (ELO) conference, Electrifying Literature: Affordances and Constraints, which is taking place June 20-23 in Morgantown, WV, US of A. My paper, whose semi-absurd title is “Why ‘But is it e-lit?’ is a ridiculous question: the case for online journals as organic, evolving works of digital literature”, will be part of a panel called Practices: Definitions and Pedagogies for E-Lit, and will be delivered at the godless hour of 8:30am on Saturday 23 June. Here’s the abstract:

Cordite Poetry Review (http://cordite.org.au), an Australian journal of poetry and poetics, was founded in 1997 as a print journal but since 2001 has appeared only online. Over the last ten years, as the magazine has grown in size and reach, the question of Cordite’s status as a journal has become more vexed. Can it be regarded as a ‘proper’ literary journal, in the way that other, offline journals are? Is it truly electronic, given the relative absence of works on the site that explore the possibilities of the online space? Or are these merely ridiculous questions, the posing of which reflects a pre-online hierarchy of prestige? Why do these questions exist in the first place? If we assume that any work or collection of works available online is automatically digital in nature, then the issue instead becomes one of whether or not sites like Cordite function as organic, interconnected and hypertextual spaces for creative expression. The inclusion of electronic literature works in the magazine for the first time in 2011 brought into focus the problematic nature of categorization. This presentation will explore the evolving nature of the Cordite site in order to demonstrate the highly complex and sometimes chaotic nature of journals and magazines in the online realm, and to therefore argue for a rejection of the binary characterization of new media literature communities as either ‘electronic’ or ‘static’. In doing so, it is hoped that the presentation will stimulate discussion of the ways in which electronic sites for literature embody the contradictory capacities to organically evolve, mutate and disappear.

I’m looking forward to meeting my fellow-panellists Clara Fernandez-Vara (whose paper is entitled “Electronic Literature for All: Performance in Exhibits and Public Readings”), and Alexandra Saemmer (“The (problematic) issue to evaluate literariness: Digital literature between legitimation and canonization”). I’m also just looking forward to being in a seriously hot and humid place this summer!

So, that’s all for now. Maybe I’ll see you again in a month or so when I’ve got some more news.

KFXBAI.

Neenish tarts, bus shelters, Wagga Wagga and me

Never thought I’d use these four ‘terms’ in the same sentence but there you go – if life was a Venn diagram, there are several shaded areas in which me and neenish tarts would intersect.

For those who’ve been living under a rock for the past century or so, a neenish tart (see picture above) is a delightful Antipodean invention featuring a pastry base, jam and cream filling and distinctive, two-coloured, almost-yin-and-yang-style icing. It’s the kind of cake you’ll find in any halfway decent country town bakery, and one that (courtesy of my mother’s fondness for them) I’ve developed a fair hankering for over the years. Matter of fact, I could murder a neenish tart right now.

Anyway, where was I? Oh yes, Wagga Wagga. It must have been over a year ago that the Booranga Writers’ Centre in Wagga Wagga, Australia (publishers of the magazine FourW, in which I’ve had a few pieces published over the years) put out a call for poems to be displayed on bus shelters in the town. The call for works immeditely ‘piqued’ my interest, as we say in the industry, as I’d spent a fair bit of time in Wagga Wagga as a young grasshopper, either driving through or else strapped into a dentist’s chair.

While my memories of Wagga are not all fond, I wrote three poems and sent them off. The first one (brace-face) was about getting braces in Wagga Wagga. The second one (“Riverina”) was about playing Aussie Rules in Wagga. And the third poem, the one they accepted, was about a neenish tart. It’s called, surprisingly enough, ‘neenish tart’, and for the benefit of all non-residents of Wagga Wagga, I’ve pasted it below:

Neenish tart

There used to be this cafe around here
somewhere – maybe it’s still going, do
you know the one I mean? You could buy
a good neenish tart there, with inch-thick
pastry and an ooze of too-sweet jam. Then
there was cream they must have laced with
sugar and icing to die for. I used to live in a
town to the north of here, it doesn’t matter
which one. What matters is the neenish tart,
the one my mum used to buy me whenever
we drove through Wagga Wagga on our way
home from time trials or footy, it depended
on the season. That tart always tasted good.
I especially loved the icing, it reminded me of
yin and yang. I wonder if it’s still there. One day
I’ll come back and walk down the main street,
ask a few people if they remember the place.

                             Maybe you do?

The sentiments in this poem almost make me feel a little bit teary now – I remember the taste of that neenish tart as if it was yesterday. Recently, I got an email from Derek Motion, the director of Booranga, informing me that

” … the second groups of poems will be going up shortly in bus shelters around Wagga Wagga. We have been able to procure an extra 4 shelters to use for the project, so all 8 poems will be on display at the same time. To celebrate this event we’ve planned another event – a bus tour of all (or selected) shelters, featuring poetry readings on location, with wine / refreshments at the terminus. We will be holding this event on Saturday 14th April, with the bus departing from the Wagga Council Chambers at 2pm.”

While I unfortunately won’t be able to make it to the launch, the idea of a bus tour sounds like a great one and I really wish I could be there. As a kind of substitute, Derek sent me this photo of the bus shelter where my neenish tart poem is currently living.

It’s almost like being there, don’t you think?

Poem of the week newsletter: twenty poems in!

If it seems like an age ago that I posted the first installment of my poem-of-the-week odyssey, that’s because it was. Despite my best intentions of posting one poem a week to my newfangled newsletter service, I’ve unintentionally skipped a week here and there. Only now can I state, with utter conviction, that I am twenty poems in!

As you’ll see from the track listing below, the ten most recent poems have careered between subjects, including snow (‘snö’), the moon (‘Hey, Moon!’), David Bowie (‘A New Career In A New Town’), Sun Ra (‘another kind of sun ra’), Valentine’s Day (‘Voor mijn Valentijn’), mystery trains (‘Silverpilen’), birds (‘a little bird tells me’), starsigns (‘starsigns’), Ethiopian superstars (‘(On the tomb of) Ephrem Tamiru’ – pictured above) and plain old heartache (‘Coaxing the heart to heal itself’).

Admittedly, it’s been kind of hard to come up with a new idea, much harder than I thought it would be. It’s clear, looking back, that in some weeks I was very, very on, while in others … meh. What’s even more clear to me is that you can’t please everyone all of the time. Some poems I thought might electrify my (now 57) subscribers passed by without even a whimper, whilst others attracted surprisingly generous responses. My thanks again to everyone who has signed up.

My plan now is to write four to six more poems and then make a little half-way-through-the-year chapbook to send to all of my lovely subscribers. I guess that’s my cue to whack in a little link to the page where you can sign up if you dare!

That track listing again:

snö
Hey, Moon!
A New Career In A New Town
another kind of sun ra
Voor mijn Valentijn
Silverpilen
a little bird tells me
starsigns
(On the tomb of) Ephrem Tamiru
Coaxing the heart to heal itself

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