Saturday, April 25, 2009

Piers Akerman, Kevin Rudd, automatic writing, surrealism, spiritualism and a Stromboli eruption

(Above: a prayer directly from Jesus, captured by the miracle of automatic writing).

Some people have always fancied automatic writing, especially from a surrealist perspective, as a way to explore art, the subconscious, and the deepest manifestations of the human spirit. The idea is that the scribbles don't come from the conscious thoughts of the writer, but actually come from deep down, and pour out in a kind of trance state, with the writer unaware of what's being written.

But really the best home for automatic writing has always been spiritualism, with the writing a kind of channeling from the spirit world as the writer, a sanctified vessel, jots down communications from the spirit world. 

Sundry spiritualists have claimed to have written new plays by Shakespeare, sent from another place via the ether, or new musical works by Franz Liszt. The main problem, I guess, is that cynics - always the cynics -  have labelled these works as crapulent, bloated and excessive verbiage without any meaning.

Perhaps my favorite was a nineteenth century medium who claimed to have invented a Martian alphabet in order to convey messages from Mars to her clients in the Martian language (though strangely, coincidentally, this Martian jibber jabber happened to resemble her native French tongue).

My own scientific conclusion is that automatic writing is feasible, but surrealist techniques should be deployed. Sit at a table with pen and paper, put yourself in a receptive frame of mind (a light trance if you know how), and start writing without thinking of what you might be writing. Scribble as fast as you can, without stopping, correcting, hesitating, consciously thinking, designing meaning or otherwise interfering with the flow of words.

With any luck, you might then end up with a stream of consciousness resembling a spider's path wandering through an inkwell and dancing across a blank page, and in turn this will surely resemble a column by Piers Akerman for the Daily or the Sunday Terror (aka the Telegraph to visitors unaware or unconscious of the pet local name for this Murdoch tabloid rag).

It's a tremendously useful technique for Piers because all he has to do is repeat himself incessantly without thinking, as if by rote, in a stream of consciousness resembling a James Joyce novel or a work by Jack Kerouac - though it has to be said that here spiritualism becomes a more likely explanation, since those authors made some kind of aesthetic sense, while all Akerman produces on a regular basis is a kind of foaming, frothing incoherence and indignation.

As a result Akerman most resembles the penny a word skills of our much loved Frank Richards (Charles Harold St. John Hamilton), who is estimated to have penned some seventy five to one hundred million words in his lifetime, writing stories for The Gem, Magnet, and other boys' magazines (not to mention any number of books  containing his stories of Greyfriars and other boys' adventures).

Richards' favorite character was Billy Bunter, aka the fat owl of the remove, and Bunter contributed any number of words to Richards' word count by the simple expedient of yelling out repeatedly 'yarooh garoorh' and 'I say you fellows' and 'Come on chaps don't be beastly'. 

That's why we think of Piers Akerman as our very own fat owl of the remove, as he spends all his time shouting about the beastly Kevin Rudd and his gang of hoodlums, always threatening to take away the fat owl's tuck. 

But wait, in our delight at his continued automatic inventiveness, we almost forgot to mention that Piers has written yet another column - Rudd tangled up in inconvenient truths - and must now be somewhere near the fifty million word count railing at the filthy evils and dire dastardly ratbaggery of Labor governments here, there and everywhere (yes that means you, you Democrat swine, and your saintly St. Obama).

You don't actually have to read anything Akerman has to say in this column. Reading it involves a kind of automatic sensing skill roughly equivalent to the automatic writing that laid it down as digital ones and noughts, a kind of zippity dooh dah for the intertubes.

Strangely, this time Piers seems slightly bored himself, so he attempts a 'portmanteau' approach, whereby he can cram together all kinds of major concerns about which the Rudd government has of course been blowing smoke like Stromboli (automatic writing means you can produce fervid metaphors and vivid surrealist images, and people will hail you as a Salvadore Dali or Andre Breton of column writing, though perhaps the fat owl should try out a mustache if he wants to really convince).

So yes, there's the evils of the boat people drama, and the wonders of John Howard, and the awfulness of the 2020 conference, and the Labor smoke machine, and the dire predictions of the IMF, and the disastrous hot air approach of the Rudd government to buying votes rather than bailing out the economy - unlike John Howard who was never known to buy a vote in his life (well unless you read an informed commentary like Peter Hartcher's Fiscal Feud, an excerpt from his forthcoming book, that details the ongoing tension between Howard's vote buying and Peter Costello's more tight arsed Treasury approach).

But it's the final flurry of floozies that's perhaps the funniest eruption from the Akerman Stromboli, for he chooses to berate Peter Garrett for straying into loopy Dark Green territory by endorsing the view that melting ice could raise sea levels by as much as six metres, even as scientific reports, the fat owl claims, were showing that the area of Antarctic sea ice has been increasing annually for decades.

There's just a couple of problems here -  firstly sea ice isn't the issue, since it doesn't affect sea levels so much as what might happen if land ice melts and finds its way into the sea; secondly the fat owl berates Garrett on the basis of Professor Ian Plimer's new book Heaven + Earth - Global Warming: The Missing Science, which has landed like manna from heaven amongst the residents of loon pond.

The problem is that Plimer has already gone on record (as detailed in Bob Beale's column A scarier, colder vision of the climate change future) as saying that sea levels might rise by a couple of metres or by six metres in the future, though not by human activity but because mother nature is a kind of Ripley alien bitch from hell. Seems like the two lads might be on the same wacky, zany, loony wavelength, though not for the same reasons.

But then the fat owl isn't really interested in the science or the issues. He's interested in an automatic rant at Rudd and his hacks, slashing out at Al Gore, and shouting hosannahs to the heavens that Plimer's book is larded with footnotes and furnished with a nine page index.

The fat owl seems to think that an index somehow underscores the thorough research behind the book, not seeming to understand that an index is merely a guide to a book's contents, and perhaps unconsciously thinking a word like 'bibliography' too arcane, complicated and mysterious a term for himself and his readership. (Readers who have already read Plimer's book and want a commentary on it might try Barry Brook's Ian Plimer - Heaven and Earth or Tim Lambert's "The science is missing from Ian Plimer's 'Heaven and Earth'").

But never no mind, so stricken with awe is the fat owl, that he immediately rushes on, past the wonders of Plimer's book, to strike a blow at the 2020 luvvies love-in, by shouting from the rooftops that not one new idea surfaced during the gathering. Which is a pity, because we'd expected that it was likely to bring together Einstein and string theory to finally solve the mystery of life, and the universe. Instead we have to settle once again for the unsatisfactory answer of 42.

The fat owl does concede that $50 millon might now be spent on bionic eye research but petulantly notes that it's a headline grabber only because of the amount, and anyhoo teams had been working on the bionic eye long before the Ruddites hit Canberra. And now they might be able to spend more time on research and less on  fund-raising. 

What a despicable result. Once again we'll see scientists get an easy grab of money - the kind of grant driven culture that's led to the global warming conspiracy theory by the seat warmers and the fashionistas, a mass delusion and hysterical error infecting thousands of scientists, in complete contrast to the purely scientific arguments produced by the likes of Piers Akerman and Christopher Pearson (neither of whom could recognize a scientific argument if it bit them on the bum, but no never no mind).

So there you have it. As a result of this effort, I'm thinking of nominating Akerman for the surrealist automatic writing hall of fame, but I'm afraid he might have to settle for a corner in the Frank Richards' gallery devoted to penny a word blatherers, rather than making it into the gallery reserved for imitators of Shakespeare and Liszt. 

But don't write him off just yet. He's a good lad, with a stout yeoman heart, and shows promise, and we have high hopes that some day he might become the William Blake or the William Butler Yeats of the Daily Terror. He might even channel Yeats' and have "A Vision"  - though lord help us all if he starts channelling Napoleon.

(Below: an erupting Stromboli. Note the red-tinged plume in the middle which indicates that this active volcano is in fact a socialist commie lickspittle lackey of the Rudd government).

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