The musings of a silly student... And not much else.

The musings of a silly student... And not much else.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Enchanted Adventures

We have been in Hogsback at a Backpackers called "Away with the Fairies" since Saturday, and it has been wonderful, beautiful, and wet. When it isn't raining and pouring, the air is so full of moisture that nothing will dry. Ever. We took a lovely hike today, to a waterfall called "Madonna and Child" - it was absolutely beautiful. Unfortunately, the rain caught up with us in the middle of our walk, and we had to slip, slide and stumble through the thicket for four hours. In the pouring rain and squelchy mud. After getting lost a few times (and this process also entailed grueling climbs up the sides of mountains and boendoe-bashing my dad would be proud of) we almost gave up. I know I would have given up if it were possible, but all that would've achieved would be my rolling around in agony in the mud, the rain pouring down on me and me getting no closer to the campsite.

Otherwise, Away with the Fairies is one of the coolest places ever - people from all over the world come and go, and we are allowed to use the main kitchen for cooking as well. We have The Wizard's Sleeve bar, complete with a couple of couches and a fireplace that is employed in keeping us warm after our day's expeditions. Woweeee!

Friday, November 19, 2010


Sitting at my computer, trying to ignore the daunting task of packing up my res room for the last time, I remembered that I still had one blog left to fulfill my promise to you - the promise of a blogful week! Tomorrow, Ben and I are hitting the road to Hogsback for a magical ten days of camping, and I am anxious about what food to make, excited about the sights that will take my breath away, and a feeling of overall elation overcomes me. I feel truly, deeply, honestly happy.

The book I chose for today's "random word exercise" is one of the set works I had to study for English Literature this year - Charlotte Brontë's majestic, wonderful, breathtaking and heart-breaking Jane Eyre. Although the book endured much flak from the English I students this year, I loved it and stayed true to my own opinions (much like Jane would have in the same situation). The tale, which documents Jane's journey to personal freedom and individual agency: the creation of her own strong, proud identity, resonated with me and filled my heart with passion, and dreams, and a strong belief in these two things to bring me far in life.

The word I came across in Jane Eyre was "moonlight". This is one of the most beautiful words in the English language, in my opinion. The cold, brilliant, shining aura that the moon spills out over trees and fences and lawns and faces and houses and factories and swimming pools absolutely entrances me when I have the pleasure of being outside on a cool, breezy, bright evening, the moon illumining the surface of the earth as if for my pleasure only. I have always been a lover of the moon, and I fall in love with it all over again every time I see it.

The moon has been a source of mystery, wonder and inspiration to writers, poets, musicians and thinkers throughout the history of time. Just a few days ago, I was studying moon imagery in William Shakespeare's wild romp of a comedy A Midsummer Night's Dream. The moon symbolises creativity, spontaneity, passion and mysticism, but it can also be a cold and indifferent lover. Whereas the sun is a proud, fiery, arrogant and blazing entity, the moon is quiet, soulful, gathering her stars around her in the cloak of midnight. It can also represent all that is hidden from view in oneself - the moon is a reflection of the light of the sun, inverting the clear, logical, bright and rational and turning things onto their heads: all that is dark, spiritual, intuitive and emotional in her bright white orb.

The last New Year's Eve we had offered us a beautiful, romantic atmosphere for Ben and my special champagne and cookies date. The moon - which was a blue moon - was unthinkably large, full, and bright as can be. Ben and I had some delicious sparkly wine and a bowl of our own homemade custard cream biscuits while sitting outside at our friend Alje's house, looking out over the glistening water and the tall, creaking trees surrounding our cottage. That was the most fun I've ever had on any New Year's Eve ever.

The moon is a pale creature, full of mystery and as quiet as the night she lives in. She regulates the ocean's tides, and even the female menstrual cycle is determined by the cycles of the moon. To imagine that such an omnipresent power lives so quietly, so unobtrusively, so shy of attention, receiving so little praise, is a challenge. I guess it's yet another mystery about the moon, isn't it?

Well, off to Hogsback! I will try to write for you while I am there and post you my writing when we get back, but I am not making anymore promises just yet. This week was interesting, fun, and I learned quite a few unexpected things.

I love you!

Thursday, November 18, 2010


Today, I went shopping for some camping supplies for my ten-day holiday with Ben at the magical Away With the Fairies in Hogsback. I am so excited! On my search for some pots, pans, and gas stoves, I seemed to have meandered over to my favourite hospice shop! I picked up some pretty clothes and two books: Rabbit, Run by John Updike, and I Want it Now by Kingsley Amis. I don't know much about them, but they seem to be quite nice! I will let you know how they go as my reading progresses over my lovely vacation...

The word I came across in Rabbit, Run today was "mouth". I love the mouth - I believe it is the most expressive and emotive feature on any face, and in more than one way. A tender or caring person usually has a soft, expressive, caring mouth. A sour or aggressive person usually has a more strained, hard, and angular mouth shape. The word 'mouth' can refer to more than just your mouth, though.

Our ability to communicate as we do is one thing that sets us apart from other animals. It's an amazing ability that we have transferred and transformed into many different forms - the spoken word became the drawn word, the drawn word became the written word, the written word became the printed word, a few different languages became a million different languages: computers even got their own language!

You get... the mouth of a cave. Those are pretty epic, and I always think of bats when I think about caves. I watched the most amazing documentary about huge, hollow, deep-deep-deep caves with thousands and thousands of bats in them. I enjoyed watching their little eyes glisten in the dark while they fidgeted restlessly.

You also get to say to someone: "Watch your mouth". To be careful about what you say is always an important thing to remember. I find that I often let my mouth run away with me and tie me up in a knot I can't wriggle out of. I have insulted friends and made situations needlessly awkward with this little part of my personality! But I don't mind it so much.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010


Today, I have picked my word for the day out of a little book of children' s verse "about the everyday as well as the fantastical". It is by an author named Irene Rawnsley, and it is called The House of a Hundred Cats. I picked this little treasure up with Ben at my favourite hospice shop, the Sunflower Hospice. It's a truly lovely book and fills me with little ripples of glee when I spot it and take it from the shelf to treat myself to a truly silly little gem of a poem or illustration.

The word I stumbled upon in this little book of wonders is "clockwork". It's a word that brings up both positive and negative connotations for me - I entertain a truly ambiguous stance towards it.

On the one hand, I have always been a big fan of things working out perfectly - timed "like clockwork" and completely faultless. There is something exhilarating about completing a task or reaching a goal seamlessly and efficiently, as if it were set to run as smoothly as the clock on your wall. A few highlights of this past year at university have been executed so perfectly, so flawlessly that I can't help but to attach some positive meaning to this word when I think back on them. It leaves you feeling empowered, proud, and ready to take on ninja lions.

Clocks, however, are perfect because they are mechanised, and this is never the way I would like to live my life. It's going to be tough, every single day bringing new challenges and moments of pure bliss - you can be sure of this. Everything else is a gamble! I would never want my life or the life of anyone I love to be reduced to mechanised routine and jerky robot dancing... Oh, wait, that's not what clocks do. Plus, jerky robot dancing can be pretty fun!

One last thing I forgot to mention in my discussion of this word is the much-praised Kubrick film A Clockwork Orange. Personally, I couldn't sit through ten minutes of it due to my nervous and overly sensitive disposition - much to the disappoint of my fellow movie lovers and the few movie aficionados I have come across in my lifetime. Oh well!

...and with that, I must be off - my last exam beckons me to the books!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010


Today, on my return from a refreshing walk through a rainy town to pick up some fresh vegetables and fruit from His Majesty's Fruit & Veg, I will once more attempt to offer you a piece of writing flowing from a single word. I have selected a book entitled Tarot, penned by a mysterious lady who refers to herself only as "Soraya". I bought this book with Ben during our last holiday back in Johannesburg, during which both our interests were peaked by the mystery of the tarot... Recently, we've been neglecting this hobby - but I still find it immensely interesting not so much as a divining tool, but rather as a psychological tool that should be used in combination with a lot of introspective thought - more like a guide to your own imaginings on the path you take to examine your feelings, thoughts, and ideas than actual predictions for the future.

When I flicked through the pages of this mystical book and prodded nervously at one of them, I looked down to see that fate had offered me the word "lifetime" to chew on. Strangely enough, about five minutes before I did this, I updated my Facebook status to contain the following quote by novelist J.M. Barrie:
The life of every man is a diary in which he means to write one story
and writes another, and his humblest hour is when he compares the
volume as it is with what he vowed to make of it.
How is that for yet another coincidence? It doesn't shock me too much, as I understand the power of the mind to make a strange coincidence (is it still considered a 'coincidence' if we attach meaning to it?) out of almost anything at all. I will tell you all about my specially formulated Coincidence Equation at a later date!

To open the discussion around this word - a deeply meaningful word for most people, since they are inevitably living theirs as we speak - I will first discuss this quote. People are always telling me that life is what happens while you're busy making other plans (John Lennon, you plagiarisers), and I find it so saddening that so many of us don't heed this warning. Spending a lifetime planning a lifetime is no lifetime at all - that's what makes life so amazing, so special, so unique and so wildly unpredictable. I often fret about my life-diary and what it is I want written in it. In my most honest and most vulnerable moments, I look back at what I have written so far and I feel ambiguous towards it - I think I haven't had the time to make all those big plans yet, so I'm not too disappointed. A source of regret in my life, however, is the fact that it seems quite empty of anything very meaningful - precisely because of the lack of plans and goals (and therefore the lack of plans well-executed and goals reached). I guess that's life, huh? One spent without too many plans seems like a good deal to me.

As you probably know if you read this blog often, however, is that I love dreams. I don't equate my dreams to plans, because my dreams excite and invigorate me and they never settle down - always flitting from one vision of colour and texture and excitement to the next, they are what keeps me happy and motivated and they form a very real part of my life, even though they have not yet been (and might never be) implemented. So, I guess I would say that planning nervously and despairing when your plans fail is a horrible way to spend a lifetime, but a lifetime spent dreaming and weaving these dreams into your reality as a source of inspiration and excitement is one well lived.

In other news, it feels as though these exams have been going on for a lifetime...

Monday, November 15, 2010


I have taken it upon myself, as an exercise in thinking and writing and comprehension, to offer a piece of writing to you every day this week. Upon which inexhaustible theme will I base these writings, I hear you ask. Well, I am going to go about this thinking and learning and mulling over-thing in the simplest (and probably most effective) way possible. I am going to choose a book, every day, and open it on a random page, pointing my finger blindly at a random word on this page. This word will lead my discussions, observations, and general meanderings this week. I will tell you a little about the book and its significance to me, as well.

This year, I have noticed in myself an insatiable hunger. Not insatiable metaphorically, but literally unsatisfiable. Try as I might to placate my ravenous cravings with food, new clothes, parties or whatever other exciting but largely pointless activity or interest came my way, I could not pinpoint the origin or nature of this craving. Growing quite sick of gorging myself on sweets and other assorted junk in my spiritual quest to fulfillment, I decided that eating was not the way. When I started to see my addiction to food or shopping or whatever else was new that week as a craving, an effort to fill some deeper vacancy inside myself, my thoughts started trying this metaphor out for size. It's been reiterated by many a philosopher, psychologist, and aspiring crackpot, though - I didn't come up with this one myself.

An interesting book that has helped me to understand a lot about my feeling of insatiable hunger and compulsive attempts to ease it is called The Obsession: Reflections on the Tyranny of Slenderness, written by Kim Chernin. It is, to make a long book a short sentence, a book about women and their socialised rejection of their own femininity, leading to obsessive dieting or beauty regimens to try to fill the void left by their casting off of an intrinsic part of their selves. Chernin seemed a little fixated on the image of the primordial "Earth Mother" and the parallels drawn between being fertile and nurturing with being fat, bordering on dangerously obese. I have no problem with her assertion that voluptuousness and curves are as much a part of being female as fertility and the ability to nurture, but I find her argument subjective and quite one-dimensional. She did not, in all her reference to what is "natural" and "instinctual" and "right", take into account that most fat women today are that way because of a deeply unnatural lifestyle, complete with a junk diet and complete lack of physical activity.

Just a couple of thoughts on the constant battle being waged in the world between 'thin' and 'fat'.

The word upon which I stumbled in The Obsession is "discover", and I was quite shocked to see that this would be my word for the day. I selected the word at random after finishing the book, but while reading it I came across a quote that I found interesting and inspiring:

Discovery consists of seeing what everybody has seen and thinking what nobody has thought.
- Albert Szent-Györgyi

How's that for a coincidence? Now, I will tell you a little about discovery, discovering, and how I apply these terms to my own life.

If you pick the word apart, discovery simply means to uncover something that already exists, to remove the veil obscuring it from your view. Therefore, a discovery is not the same as an invention, but awesome in a whole different way.

My favourite daily discovery is that of the awe-inspiring beauty, self-sufficiency, and intrinsic weirdness of nature. I love having my breath taken away by glistening leaves, I love breathing their scent, I love marveling at the intricacies of every flower as equally as of every creeping, crawling bug and every soaring bird.

Yesterday, while taking a walk with me in the Botanical Gardens here in Grahamstown, Ben said something that I found quite amusing (and very interesting). He said: "The greatest thing about nature is that, thanks to natural selection, everything is pretty much the most awesome it could ever be at any point in time". Our walk was punctuated by other beautiful moments, as well. We saw a flower of the most breathtakingly beautiful colouring and patterns, the flower of an unassuming weed, a flower I had never laid eyes on before. We also saw a magnificent hawk, soaring above us as we sat on a rocky overhang overlooking the City of Saints.

When I don't take at least a five minute walk in nature - whether it be the botanical gardens, a Tsitsikamma forest, or right outside my res - I start to feel antsy, restless, and confused. My thoughts become a neurotic blur, and I feel heavy and depressed. One could say that I have learned to fill a large part of my soul-hunger by simply staring at nature and expressing my simple awe and gratitude at its existence and my ability to share in it.

And when we go for walks, we never step on flowers.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Home Sweet Home

Beautiful moon lamps...

Thinking about having my own house - okay, okay, my own flat - next year has really activated some recessive homely genes in me. I dream about decorating, cooking, baking, shopping and organising all day... What's wrong with me?!

No, being absolutely serious here - having a home for the first time is a pretty exciting thing. Not some room in a big house of little homes, where you are like a tiny insect in a big hive and you don't really matter - but a house (no matter how small) that is yours, and yours alone... And obviously also that of the person or people you choose to share it with. Making my own decisions, taking responsibility for my own life and just plain rocking every single day is what I look forward to.

How beautiful are these little plant-pods?

In the spirit of home decorating and starting to think of what I would like in my own home, I wanted to share a really awesome website with you - LikeCOOL is totally awesome, and everything on it is interesting, awesome, mostly beautiful and awe-inspiring. Find everything on there from gadgets, home stuff and appliances, food, clothing... Pretty much anything that counts as interesting, unique, cutting edge and certifiable design eye candy goes there. Never has my heart drooled for things like these before. Bookcases such as this beautiful, fun and quirky alphabetised storage system are busy rocking my world, I would do anything for any number of the amazing wall clocks they post about - and this Nintendo ES coffee table never ceases to amaze me!

Look at this hidden piano table - wouldn't you sell your children for it?

...and this beautiful sculptural furniture also blows my mind away.

Take a look at the homeware, and tell me you would be able to resist it! If this is what porn is like to men, I understand. I finally understand. I never want to stop looking!

Monday, November 8, 2010

A Time of Dreams...

These exams have been not only a time for study, but have also offered me a chance to reflect on me, my interests and my dreams for my life. Increasingly, I see my interests manifest themselves in all kinds of ways in every aspect of my life, and I spend days dreaming up elaborate plans for my life, incorporating all things I find interesting, enjoyable and that I have a passion for. And finally, for the first time since early childhood, I have found a mind-space that is both serene and incredibly exciting at the same time - my dreams seem to line up, each more colourful than the last, beckoning me to test the waters and my ability to fulfill them.

The first of these dreams of mine is to start making my own clothing. Ever since I was able to read, fashion magazines were my drug of choice, and I could spend days drooling over outfits and pieces that I would never see in real life - let alone own. Luckily, I have outgrown my phase of moronic label deification, and I would love nothing more in the whole world to make and wear my own clothes.

Making a series of life-sized ragdolls over the duration of the last two years (wow, excluding this year - it's already over!) has reinforced my confidence in my ability to sew and to envision beautiful things. Call me a material girl, because my love affair with cloth is a deep, passionate and inextricable one. If I had to count the amount of times a friend or family member has asked me (with humour, concern, and sometimes both) if I could ever have enough clothes. The answer? No. Never. Raiding second-hand stores for unique, eclectic timeless and not-so-timeless pieces is my favourite hobby, and if I could be able to turn this hobby of mine into a business plan, I think my life troubles would be solved.

What troubles can't, when clothes are involved?

My second most pervasive dream is that of making vegan meals for myself and Ben. I look at different recipes for everything from salads, baked goods, pot pies, cakes and breakfasts from morning until night, and I ache for the luxury of having my own stove and oven - and my own rules. My imagination sees this interest (read: obsession) extending into the future in the form of a 100% vegan restaurant, working on slow, organic food principles and simply existing for the pure pleasure (harm-free!) of environmentally and ethically conscious individuals. I envision a big garden, with a jumble of different pieces of furniture and cushions and bright, wild plants surrounding it, blocking out the noise from whichever city I choose to live in one day... I will serve big salads, cold dishes, warm dishes, a wide array of desserts (this is one thing people don't understand about veganism - it tastes damn good!) and just about anything that comes to mind. Maybe I could even sell some pieces of my own homemade clothing there as well!

...dreaming feels so good.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

The Problem with Today

The problem with today is that we have been turned into big, fat, all-consuming children. Too comfortable in our materialistic ignorance and our vapid entertainment to ask any questions, to work towards a common goal or to improve our society. Firstly, the world economy forces us into this position with the unbeatable forces of the media, the government, the corporation, and the endless allure of more, more, more money on its side. To see the large, naked animal, greased up and depraved, all intuition completely lost with years of unnatural consumption and over-simplification, makes me completely crazy.

It's sickening. I can honestly say that I am ashamed to be a part of this weak, unnatural race that is wiping itself and all around it out in the blink of an eye, relative to the age of the earth.

Those who are not completely blinded by their lifestyles of over-indulgence and ignorance are also unable to do anything. The complete and utter inability of anyone to truly see and understand the state of our planet and our species (I don't claim to, myself) is causing our final disintegration into nothingness. Humankind most definitely has a suicide complex, and it is going about it as quickly, as efficiently and as disgustingly obtrusive and destructive as possible. The utter helplessness that I feel, as well as many, many more people out there, is a direct cause of the deliberate scattering of our attentions, the trickery of our minds and the enslavement of our psyches. We are not only doing absolute and utter wrong to ourselves, our fellow human beings, our fellow creatures and the planet that bore us, but we are doing it happily and there does not seem to be a single answer to the dilemma.

We don't leave one chicken uncaged, or one cow untethered or unmilked. We can't stomach the truth about the meat industry, so instead of mobilizing, joining forces and changing things, we are frozen stiff with our inability to act and to think and to reason. Instead of reducing personal carbon emissions, we look to corrupt businessman-politicians for answers, - of which there are none to find here. Instead of switching off our computers and taking a walk or reading a book...

We stare, transfixed, insipid. Dead.

I had an argument with someone two days ago. My argument was that every person who chooses to eat meat and to enjoy dairy and egg products should be forced to study the whole lives of the animals they feed from so easily and with such ferocity. From birth to death, study that chicken, fish, cow, lamb, ostrich, leather handbag and shoes (I mean, snake) or whatever other animal whose life it is you have claimed as your rightful property. Spare no gruesome PETA video or animal rights poster - because they don't stage those situations, they are truly happening every single day (and worse, I am convinced). The person I was arguing with could say nothing more insightful or more thoughtful than: "But... that's so cruel". "To whom?" I asked. "To people - you can't just do that to people!". What am I doing, exactly? Am I violating your right to ignorance? Am I offending your delicate sensibilities - oh, I'll excuse you to wipe that bit of chicken dribble off of your chin - by way of telling you the truth?

When the truth becomes outlawed, you know you have a serious problem.

"Whatever befalls the earth befalls the sons of the earth. Man did not weave the web of life, he is merely a strand in it. Whatever he does to the web, he does to himself." - Chief Seattle

Monday, November 1, 2010

Scatterings of Scattered Scatter...

I've been wracking my brains to figure out why I find it so hard to update my blog recently, and I have come to the conclusion that it is a side-effect of the debilitating illness all modern human beings suffer from - the extremely short, scattered attention span. Ever since the birth of the computer, people have been thinking less, but still thinking more... Confusing? I mean to say that people might think about more different things, they think less about these things. I see it manifest in the smallest parts of my life - picking a movie to watch on a weekend night - as well as the largest - what the hell do I want to do for the rest of my life?! - and it has become an extremely frustrating and ubiquitous part of my daily existence.

To combat this, I find reading a book I enjoy - truly and deeply, for no other reason than that - to be quite helpful in centering the mind and allowing it some well-deserved rest. Being able to do it all and think it all is actually not so impressive. It has made me into some half-formed and completely uninteresting creature not fit to assume the name of 'human' - which I am really not pleased about. Being a brain-vegetable is a despicable and lowly waste of time, food, oxygen and space.

If you're reading this - and if you have a short attention span or... HEY LOOK! A butterfly!

Anyway, as I was saying - if you are reading this and know what I am talking about, do yourself a favour and turn off your computer. Read a book. The last book I really loved was Sylvia Plath's The Bell Jar. I also read Kerouac's On the Road, but found that it had been oversold to me, and had subsequently under-delivered. Right now, I am reading A.S. Byatt's Angels & Insects, a book that is filling me with happiness as we speak.

...I think I'll go devote some attention to that piece of art right now.