Friday, April 30, 2010

While I was sleeping...

Well, not actually sleeping. More like agonising over a literature review (why is it that you ALWAYS find five articles that totally change your thinking just when you think you’ve finally nailed it??), trying to figure out if I can produce something worthwhile for the SMFS graduate student essay competition (my supervisor is very enthused about this), and getting to grips with oral history. The latter is a requirement of my last taught postgrad paper, in historical methodology. If you want to work in any kind of professional history job in this country (and there are actually quite a few, given the whole Treaty of Waitangi claims industry), it seems you need to understand the theory and methodologies of oral history. For pretty obvious reasons, it’s not relevant to my interests in medieval history, but it’s kind of fun all the same. My efforts to come up with the most interesting project for the least amount of effort have me interviewing a few friends of my partner on their experiences of ‘coming of age’ as a male in the 1980s. Not as frivolous as it sounds, because it was a period that saw big shifts in the experience of ‘manhood’ in NZ, including the challenges posed to the entrenched rugby-racing-beer culture by the huge Springbok tour protests, and the bitterly-contested passing of the Homosexual Law Reform Act.

Not posting here for ages turned out to be a kind of an unintended social experiment. Everything I’ve written so far was just sitting there, waiting to be read or not read, as the case may be. I figured that with no new material, I’d probably just disappear into digital oblivion. Not quite, as it turns out. One thing that happened was the last post I happened to write, on cross-dressing, took on a bit of a life of its own, even getting linked from I Blame the Patriarchy, one of my favourite blogs ever. (Though I’ve never yet had the guts to comment there. Like the best lovers, it scares, amuses and stimulates me all at the same time.)

In other news, we’ve been watching the HBO series Carnivale on DVD. I’m a great movie lover, but in many ways I prefer series, because they get the chance to really develop complex characters and plot lines. Deadwood is probably one of my favourite entertainment experiences ever (though to be fair, I’ve had a bit of a thing for Ian McShane ever since Lovejoy). Carnivale hooked me in pretty quickly with its nasty 1930s travelling show aesthetic (reminds me of all those sinister small-town ‘museums’ we used to drive past on our trips to South Carolina or Florida when I was a kid). I love all the allusions to Gnosticism and Templar myths (cheesy as they may be - though not quite to Dan Brown proportions). But overall, this series is not quite doing it for me at the moment. It’s almost like the writers have tried to cram too much mystical weirdness in there, at the expense of a really strong central narrative drive.

So, this was a bit of a random catch-all, just to let you know I’m still here. I can’t promise to be a better poster in future, because I know I’m the kind of person who tends to be totally passionate about things for a brief period of time, and then entirely loses interest. It’s terribly flighty, but at this point in my life, I’ve accepted that it's who I am. I just make the most of the passion when it strikes. Thanks to all of you who’ve still been commenting, even on the old posts. I’m still reading your blogs, and I’ll be back to commenting soon.