On my second trip to Japan, standing next to a large bush of hydrangeas, I caught a fragrant whiff of its sprawling ancient culture. It’s sprawling because I imagine it like the endless suburbs of six-storey apartments, hundreds-of-thousands, maybe millions, bleeding into the horizon, piled on top of each other.

For over 2,000 years Japan has been generating people. 35 million live in greater Tokyo today. They’ve been making new human beings with new ideas for a long time.

In comparison, Australia has been its current anglo-shaped nation for 250 years. 4 million people live in greater Melbourne, a much emptier city filled with Italians, Greeks, Chinese, Vietnamese, Irish, English—ancient cultures that have coalesced into walking ideas, trying to get along, watching American television in a moderate climate, debating whether the Sudanese should stay.

In the early days, Japanese culture appropriated bits of Chinese, Korean and Indian cultures. Now they just call it Japanese. Buddhism, India’s great export, is unmistakably Japanese, in its own Zen way, for chrissakes.

So when a third-generation Greek named George asks a second-generation Italian named Don for a cigarette, walking the main street in the outer Eastern suburbs of Mooroolbark—where the Wurundjeri once stood and made their plans—thousands of years fly through their fingertips, one lighting the flame, the other raising the stick to his lips. George exhales and lets the smoke trail off into the distance, only disappearing visually, but remaining as particles in the air for others to breathe, to whiff, their lungs to filter.

07/19/12 -- Writing -- 0 Comments

An iceberg in New York.


Below the concrete, under the waves of rolling automobiles, knowledge sways from mahogany bookshelves.

Schools of well-to-do librarians duck and weave, putting this there, that over here, and oops, up off the ground, and back on top.

They stop in the corridors to talk.

“Seen that gentleman devouring the knowledge at the large reading table?”

“Yes. Every week. Peculiar. What’s he read?”

“I never ask.”

Elevators transfer knowledge to the room above as it is called for. A bell rings. A door opens. And people are served.

They feast on the knowledge. Gobble it up. Smoosh their faces in its pages and swallow it whole.

“Delicious!” They say. “This knowledge is the very best. But where does it come from? I only ever hear that little bell ring, that little door open.”

“Ah! Under your feet is an elaborate eco-system. That’s what I’m told.”

“Fascinating. Just fascinating. There’s nothing better than this here knowledge. Nothing better at all.”

09/25/11 -- Writing -- 0 Comments

Pretty hilarious

It took me a few days to realise it was all complete tripe. I sounded like an idiot. The metaphors. The semi-colons. The italics. What bullshit. Pretty hilarious though, when you think about it.

“I still don’t understand you. You keep justifying this shit to yourself.”

“What shit?”

“You’re doing it cause you need the money. You’re doing it cause that’s what you’re supposed to do. Who fucking cares?”

“Yeah I know, but… I. Arg… I need the money. I can’t do what I want without it.”

“Write. Everyday. Don’t worry about the money. It’ll come.”


“You’re an idiot. Clever, but an idiot.”

The easiest mistakes are the ones that come naturally. You try to catch your brain in the act; with its pants down. And you do. It’s always funny. Hilarious actually. Pretty hilarious.

09/20/11 -- Writing -- 0 Comments

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