Busytown by Jolisa Gracewood

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Busytown: A new (old) sensation

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  • Fergus Barrowman,

    The Okarito photos are only half downloading -- is that because you're all looking at them at once? Like what I can see though.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2009 • 28 posts Report Reply

  • Islander, in reply to Rob Stowell,

    Yes, my good friends David & Rachel still have a beautiful little crib here - among David's other skills is being a consumate wood worker & turner-

    Big O, Mahitahi, Te Wahi … • Since Feb 2007 • 5643 posts Report Reply

  • Islander, in reply to Fergus Barrowman,

    Fergus - kia ora. Dunno why the site isnt downloading properly. If it doesnt happen soon, I'll cheerfully contact Andris-

    Big O, Mahitahi, Te Wahi … • Since Feb 2007 • 5643 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso, in reply to Fergus Barrowman,

    and that we're losing the ability to read deeply

    Am patiently waiting to get my hands on The Shallows. In the meantime, as it has been framed thus far (in Is Google Making Us Stupid and Proust and the Squid) it's an argument that annoys the beejesus out of me for a whole bunch of reasons. Foremost among which that it's a series of cliches dressed as an argument in search of its evidence. But maybe Tatar has finally cracked it.

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7473 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso,

    (Besides, the contention that reading a novel requires "deeper" as opposed to "more protracted" reading than a short story or fable strikes me as highly dubious.)

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7473 posts Report Reply

  • Rob Stowell,

    we’re losing the ability to read deeply, especially as required by long form fiction. Sometimes it’s hard not to feel like the evidence is all around me…

    Do you feel you’re losing this ability yourself? That would be interesting. Love to hear more.
    Hinting we are, when you do not know a lot about us individually, isn’t so interesting :)
    (And have fairy-tales ever ceased flourishing? Genuine question.)
    [eta- and what Gio said. Is there a parallel going on here: novels lately just ain't what they were; gosh, readers lately, they simply lack stamina.]

    Whakaraupo • Since Nov 2006 • 2110 posts Report Reply

  • Islander, in reply to Rob Stowell,

    Not in this family! One of my jobs is to tell familial ghostie stories (we have a good round 9)to younger people – they’re all tied to/ with past family people and to places that even the 4yrolds*know-

    *We prefer not to scare the shit out of littler kids-

    Big O, Mahitahi, Te Wahi … • Since Feb 2007 • 5643 posts Report Reply

  • Rob Stowell,

    One of my jobs is to tell familial ghostie stories

    Hope you have recorded- in some way or t'other- some of these. If only for whanau in future years :)
    Great thread for a novel, too: a series of intertwined family ghost stories, connecting land and people, with extending family lives unwinding around them, shaped and shaping the stories.

    Whakaraupo • Since Nov 2006 • 2110 posts Report Reply

  • Islander,

    Arrrgh! Do not pre-empt "the were people"!!!


    !!!Jo-king...

    Big O, Mahitahi, Te Wahi … • Since Feb 2007 • 5643 posts Report Reply

  • Fergus Barrowman, in reply to giovanni tiso,

    Speaking personally, and without slighting the enormous pleasures and benefits I find in reading poetry, stories, essays and all kinds of other things, I have since the age of about nine been able to find a deeper kind of immersion, or empathetic extension, or loss of self, in reading long fiction (obviously not all the long fiction I attempt). So claims made about the value of fiction made in books like Lisa Zunshine’s Why We Read Fiction and Brian Boyd’s On the Origins of Stories ring true (although I’m not a systematic enough reader to follow up). If I lost that ability I’d think I’d have lost my self. Nevertheless, I find it all too easy after a day’s work and an extra glass of wine with dinner to spend an evening drifting between email, internet and the NYRB.

    I’m suspicious of broad claims about cultural change, especially when they involve obviously false notions that it’s impossible to read deeply on an electronic device and that reading on paper is inherently deeper, but the novel hasn’t been around all that long so it’s not impossible it’s on the way out.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2009 • 28 posts Report Reply

  • Fergus Barrowman, in reply to Islander,

    They've loaded now (I think the modem was being taxed by big downloads elsewhere in the house). Wasn't your desk round the other way in 1985?

    Wellington • Since Nov 2009 • 28 posts Report Reply

  • recordari, in reply to giovanni tiso,

    Foremost among which that it’s a series of cliches dressed as an argument in search of its evidence.

    It seems to me ‘we’ are reading more than ever. At least on my part there’s always a book or three on the go; these blogs; other blogs; 140 character haiku exchanges; learning what words like cathect really mean. If this Google eyed world is making us shallow, then we’re giving an awful lot of face time to trivial pursuits.

    What does ‘losing the ability to read deeply’ even mean? I’m totally inclined to bury myself in fiction. In fact there’s a 992 page ‘fairytale’ waiting for me now.

    AUCKLAND • Since Dec 2009 • 2607 posts Report Reply

  • linger,

    the title “the were people” belongs to me!

    Which means Alan Duff must even now be plotting "the were warriors".

    Tokyo • Since Apr 2007 • 1941 posts Report Reply

  • Rob Stowell,

    ...able to find a deeper kind of immersion, or empathetic extension, or loss of self, in reading long fiction

    Me too. And I'm aware of that slipping away, and it's uncomfortable, even as other things- a short but intense love-affair with the movies; a busy family life; a job I enjoy- have filled some of the empty space.
    For me, I think it's largely the horrible, joyous process of getting older. But both contemporary readers and writing are getting kicked about here: there seems to be a general disconnection. Easy to take a cheap shot, and blame a host of self-consciously post-modern writers for undervaluing and undercutting emotional responses to fiction.
    But I can't even convince myself. I'm just not as hungry to be immersed. Hmm. Sobering realisation (and I haven't been drinking.)

    Whakaraupo • Since Nov 2006 • 2110 posts Report Reply

  • Tamsin6, in reply to Christopher Dempsey,

    Wait. There's a William Morris museum?? Fantastic! Where?

    I guess technically not a museum - they call it the William Morris Gallery, it hosts exhibitions as well as being a repository of things related to Morris himself, and it also has a research library. I'm guessing there is a considerable load of stuff in the V&A also. But the Gallery is in Waltham Forest, E17

    The Friends website is pretty good: http://www.friendsofthewmg.org.uk/

    but the Gallery itself is closed for a major refurb until from today until sometime in 2012. There is quite a bit about the project here:
    http://www.walthamforest.gov.uk/index/leisure/museums-galleries/william-morris/development-project.htm

    This thread has got away on me - sorry for the late reply!

    London • Since Dec 2007 • 133 posts Report Reply

  • Jolisa, in reply to Rob Stowell,

    Fergus, reluctantly:

    I have since the age of about nine been able to find a deeper kind of immersion, or empathetic extension, or loss of self, in reading long fiction... [But]the novel hasn’t been around all that long so it’s not impossible it’s on the way out...

    Rob, poignantly:

    For me, I think it's the horrible, joyous process of getting older ... I’m just not as hungry to be immersed.

    Jackson, cheerfully:

    [but] it seems to me ‘we’ are reading more than ever.

    Hooray! See how the shaggy readers emerge from the shadows and into the clearing, in response to the editor/publisher's lonely howl of despair! We are not alone in this dark wood -- even as the distant rumbling machines threaten to turn it all into so many wood chips. Follow me, creatures of the night. We shall reclaim the forest and the trees! [puts on red riding cloak, makes sure wolf-whistle is in pocket...]

    Auckland, NZ • Since Nov 2006 • 1472 posts Report Reply

  • Jolisa,

    Useful -- if not compulsory -- reading at this point in the thread: Adam Gopnik's assessment of the various schools of thought on whether the internet is ruining, ah, I mean, changing, or simply enhancing our brains. A snippet:

    ... at any given moment, our most complicated machine will be taken as a model of human intelligence, and whatever media kids favor will be identified as the cause of our stupidity. When there were automatic looms, the mind was like an automatic loom; and, since young people in the loom period liked novels, it was the cheap novel that was degrading our minds. When there were telephone exchanges, the mind was like a telephone exchange, and, in the same period, since the nickelodeon reigned, moving pictures were making us dumb. When mainframe computers arrived and television was what kids liked, the mind was like a mainframe and television was the engine of our idiocy. Some machine is always showing us Mind; some entertainment derived from the machine is always showing us Non-Mind.

    Auckland, NZ • Since Nov 2006 • 1472 posts Report Reply

  • Jolisa,

    Tamsin's William Morris link fixed.

    Putting it in my diary for late 2012 :-) Did you make it in before it closed?

    Auckland, NZ • Since Nov 2006 • 1472 posts Report Reply

  • Lucy Stewart, in reply to giovanni tiso,

    (Besides, the contention that reading a novel requires "deeper" as opposed to "more protracted" reading than a short story or fable strikes me as highly dubious.)

    It's entirely dubious. I can think of many short stories which require more thinking and pack a greater emotional and mental punch than entire novels. Quality is not quantity, etc, etc. Of course, many stories deserve or require a novel-length telling, but that doesn't make them necessarily deeper stories. Just longer ones.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 2105 posts Report Reply

  • Jolisa, in reply to Lucy Stewart,

    True... but I think the spell that a really good novel casts is built up via a slow accumulation of attention over a long period, culminating (in my case at least) in a need to barricade myself behind a pile of pillows and/or a closed door as soon as I reach a point approximately 50 pp from the end.

    Sometimes I don't manage to get up off the couch and go in search of full privacy when the end of a really good novel is urgently closing in on me. For such moments, I have trained the fellow inhabitants of the house (adult and child) to recognise that a pillow over my ears and a hand fiercely held up in a "STOP" position means "Please turn around, exit the room immediately and DO NOT even think of asking me any questions, especially questions about dinner, laundry, lost lego bits, or even 'oh hey, are you just about finished that book? what's happening?'. Unless someone is in mortal danger, and even then, go and find your father, unless you are the father, in which case you are in mortal danger if you do not turn around right now!"

    They're very understanding, these days, although the training phase was not pretty. But reading the end of a novel properly is a very serious business.

    Novel-reading: turning good mothers into bad ones since ages ago.

    A short story, on the other hand, can be legitimately consumed in one hit behind a locked bathroom door, with nobody any the wiser.

    Auckland, NZ • Since Nov 2006 • 1472 posts Report Reply

  • recordari, in reply to Jolisa,

    Novel-reading: turning good mothers into bad ones since ages ago.

    Ahem. “What volume is that damn TV on, I’m trying to read!” “Go to your rooms separately and stop yelling!” “Dad, we share a room”. “Don’t come at me with your adolescent logic, go to your room!”

    shaggy readers emerge from the shadows and into the clearing

    The Shaggy Readers Book Club. Where do I sign up?

    AUCKLAND • Since Dec 2009 • 2607 posts Report Reply

  • Tamsin6, in reply to Jolisa,

    Whoops - thanks Jolisa - me and the linky thing are not working well together today.

    As for visiting, it's been a while now since I visited - I knew they had lottery money, but hadn't quite arrived at the realisation that it was actually going to close for such a long time! So brilliant that it is going to be done up a bit, especially considering it was only recently that both the Gallery and nearby Vestry House museum (which houses local history archive as well) were possibly to be closed.

    London • Since Dec 2007 • 133 posts Report Reply

  • Fergus Barrowman, in reply to Jolisa,

    editor/publisher’s lonely howl of despair

    more like a low murmur of disgruntlement

    Wellington • Since Nov 2009 • 28 posts Report Reply

  • Jolisa, in reply to Fergus Barrowman,

    more like a low murmur of disgruntlement

    You're messing with my vulpine metaphor, but OK :-)

    Auckland, NZ • Since Nov 2006 • 1472 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso, in reply to Lucy Stewart,

    Of course, many stories deserve or require a novel-length telling, but that doesn't make them necessarily deeper stories. Just longer ones.

    I was going to airdrop Borges into the conversation, thank you for sparing me the trouble.

    Useful -- if not compulsory -- reading at this point in the thread: Adam Gopnik's assessment of the various schools of thought on whether the internet is ruining, ah, I mean, changing, or simply enhancing our brains.

    Yes, that's lovely. Although, why didn't anybody send me the link to this before? Isn't that why I pay you people?

    I'm off to the emblazoner to get this bit on some sort of pennant:

    "When the electric toaster was invented, there were, no doubt, books that said that the toaster would open up horizons for breakfast undreamed of in the days of burning bread over an open flame"

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7473 posts Report Reply

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