29 November 2005

Translations of a couple of Nahuatl poems

I, Cuauhtencoztli, here I am suffering.
What is, perchance, true?
Will my song still be real tomorrow?
Are men perhaps real?
What is that will survive?
Here we live, here we stay,
but we are destitute, oh my friends!

Here's part of one by Nezahualcoyotl, tlatoani (king or lord, literally 'spokesperson') of Texcoco and famous poet:
Ponder this, eagle and jaguar knights,
Though you are carved of in jade, you will break;
Though you are made of gold, you will crack;
Even though you are a quetzal feather, you will wither.
We are not forever on this earth;
Only for a time are we here.

Speaking of the barbaric Yankee dialect...

What's with the way they use close quotes? I've read a fair amount of American style and usage guides in my time (for my day job - it's important to know your enemy) and have yet to find a rational explanation.

A few more tweaks

I've sussed out how to email posts. I've changed the date format from the barbaric American system to the proper logical one and've added a couple more links to the right there (funnily enough, they're both Yanks, but it's sweet as - they both seem cool).

Update: Okay, added another link to balance things up a tad (this one's from Denmark no less). I need to learn some new languages. Being a monoglot's getting me down. Nahuatl'd be good.

After I die

I need to check out the legality of this, but I want to do up my skull somewhat like these (specifically the Asmat ones) - though of course in a contemporary Pakeha style. I'm also considering getting some tattoos to adorn my flayed skin. For some reason, Rose doesn't seem too keen to be left these in my will, but I'm sure she'll come round.

28 November 2005

Time for a new look

I thought I'd try a new template. Well, the fact that I broke the other one had something to do with it, but I reckon this one's not too shabby (though I don't know about the picture of what appears to be leaves and grapes in the header).

Oh yeah, and the way they don't put spaces after the colons in the 'About me' section really annoys me.

Stupid quiz time

Lilly nicked a quiz from Rose, so it's only right and proper I nick one from her in return. This is it:

This Is My Life, Rated
Take the Rate My Life Quiz

It's silly, but it's still pretty dismal. Of course they've got an agenda going on - but that'll be me showing my low spirit score by being cynical and distrustful no doubt.

I'm below the average score on everything but the two things they reckon our materialistic (in the sense of being consumerist rather than the philosophical sense I assume, though given their religious bias they probably don't distinguish betyween the two) society lacks - actual connections to human beings. Not bad for a nihilist, eh?

27 November 2005

Hiding out

I haven't been very well recently, and the doctor's given me some time off from the world. Apologies to those who may have received rambling, incoherent, and somewhat freaked out phonecalls recently (my memory's a bit vague on this point).

I did venture out for the Mary Newton first birthday bash yesterday, which was really good. I spent quite a bit of time chatting and comparing notes with Bryan Dew, who I liked very much. He gave me some technical tips as well that I'm keen to play around with when I get back into the studio.

I've been reading The Conquest of Mexico by Hugh Thomas, a truly brutal and horrific tale. I started it just after reading Discoveries: The Voyages of Captain Cook by Nicholas Thomas (I assume the authors are not related). The contrast between the two is pretty full on.

22 November 2005

Something else to look at

Check out Victor's new website. It's really snazzy - both the website and the artwork (ha, ha, both the form and content as it were).

19 November 2005

Ticking along slowly

Yeah, yeah, so it's not that much different to this.

15 November 2005


Some of the studio conversations mentioned in a previous post (not to mention being accused of being a progressive modernist in a separate incident) tie in rather spookily with something I found recently that I wrote as a note to my future self in early 2002, paraphrasing the main argument of a book I'd just read:
The modernist project, tied in with the growth and rise to dominance of the art market, sustained itself by bringing the margins to the centre whenever the centre got played out. Unfortunately, there's no distinction between the margins and the centre any more. Pluralism's seen to that.

In this situation, image and networking are what determines who gets taken up. The connection with late-capitalist business is obvious: identical products are distinguished by branding. There is no truth or essential meaning any more. That is axiomatic. All that is left is irony. Both art and advertising favour word games, paradoxes, juxtaposition, and cheap attention-grabbing tricks.

I'm a very strong believer in doing stuff for your own benefit. Ignore the one-trick ponies and gimmick art. Don't worry about who's hot or not. Stay away from what PKD called reflex-arc machines (people who've turned themselves into things). Just do what you like and get it out there, and hopefully you'll make connections with other authentic human beings.

14 November 2005

Ripping links off BoingBoing time again

These are both brilliant:

MIT scientists test aliminium foil hats and conclude the craze among conspiracy theorists was actually started by the government to improve the efficacy of their mind control rays.

A Japanese primatologist reckons mobile phones are making the young behave like chimpanzees.

13 November 2005

Okay then

A night off turned into a weekend off. I've been reading books, watching films, and sleeping a lot. It's something you need to do now and then.

10 November 2005

Various stuff

Night off from painting tonight. I haven't been overly productive of late (unless you count turning a perfectly good painting into an overworked mess that is), but I have been having some good conversations with visitors to the studio (which has been pretty productive in its own way).

Stephen's playing Happy tomorrow night. I haven't been to the Walters influence show at Pataka yet (I was going to go to the opening on Saturday but wasn't feeling well enough), but it definitely looks worth a visit or two. Also check out White Fungus if you haven't already.

05 November 2005

Three different stages

So they aren't the greatest photos, but at least you can compare them with earlier stages.

03 November 2005

How she's looking

Some of these are Paul's, but you'll have to work out which yourself.

01 November 2005

And now for something completely different

I thought those of you with no experience of it might be interested in the following:

Editing principles

The main aim of editing is to remove any barriers between the reader and what the writer wants to convey. Editing ensures the text is clear and consistent; has good grammar, spelling, and punctuation; and has a sensible structure. The reader usually only notices editing when it is lacking.

Strictly speaking, if something is not inconsistent, grammatically wrong, or factually incorrect, it should not be changed. A common error is for an editor to rewrite in their own style. Every change must be justifiable and must not affect the author’s intended meaning or voice.

Types of editing
Structural editing
Structural editing, which is sometimes called substantive editing, involves clarifying or reorganising the text’s content and structure. The editor may suggest changes for the author to make or may rearrange and rewrite the material in consultation with the author.

Copy-editing involves detailed editing for sense and checking for consistency. It is sometimes called line editing. When editing for sense, the editor looks at each sentence to clarify meaning, eliminate jargon, and ensure that it meets the requirements of house style and English grammar and usage.

House style
Every element in published material follows a style. Spelling, punctuation, capitalisation, etc can be rendered in different ways that are equally correct. In order to be consistent across publications, most publishers have preferences on which variant they use. These preferences are known as the publisher’s house style and are usually documented in a style guide. A house style is distinct from the generally accepted rules of grammar, spelling, and usage (which are usually inviolable in good writing). Editors apply both when carrying out their work.

Some common misconceptions

Put commas where you would pause when speaking or to break up a long sentence
Commas are arguably the most abused form of punctuation. Although there is great latitude in their use, there are some circumstances where including or omitting a comma is mandatory.

A common error is to use a comma to join two unrelated main clauses. This causes a comma splice and can be fixed by adding a co-ordinating conjunction, replacing the comma with a semicolon, or separating the clauses into two sentences.

A comma must never be used to separate a restrictive (defining) word, phrase, or clause. A restrictive word, phrase, or clause cannot be removed from a sentence without affecting the meaning. In the sentence “The man who was wearing a suit stood up”, “who was wearing a suit” defines which man stood up.

A comma must be used to separate a non-restrictive (non-defining) word, phrase, or clause. A non-restrictive word, phrase, or clause is not essential to the meaning of the sentence but comments on, or adds information to, the main clause. In the sentence “David, who was wearing a suit, stood up”, “who was wearing a suit” adds information about the man who stood up but could be removed without affecting the meaning of the sentence.

A comma must never separate the subject and verb of a sentence. This is a common fault in sentences where the subject is long and there would be a natural pause when speaking.

The semicolon is a “super” comma
There are only two legitimate circumstances where you can use a semicolon. One is to separate two unrelated main clauses that could have been joined by a co-ordinating conjunction or treated as separate sentences. The other is to separate elements in a list that themselves contain commas.

Never end a sentence with a preposition
Nineteenth-century grammarians, in a misguided attempt to make English more like Latin (which they considered more logical than, and hence superior to, English), made up some rules that have proved remarkably resilient despite their patent silliness. This is one of them. The artificiality that results from slavish adherence to this “rule” is exemplified by Winston Churchill’s cutting observation that “This is the sort of English up with which I will not put.”

Never split an infinitive
This is another pseudo-rule taken from Latin by nineteenth-century grammarians and inappropriately grafted on to English (which is a Germanic language). The only thing wrong with Captain Kirk’s injunction “to boldly go where no man has gone before” is its sexism, which leads me to…

“They” is not a singular pronoun
“They” has been used as a singular pronoun since at least the fourteenth century, until those pesky prescriptivist grammarians from the nineteenth century naively interpreted Latin-based rules of grammatical agreement and ruled that “they” should be used only in the plural. Therefore there is no need for cumbersome new constructions such as “he or she” when a perfectly good old word will do.

George Orwell’s rules

In his classic essay “Politics and the English Language”, George Orwell set out six rules for effective writing:
1. Never use a metaphor, simile, or other figure of speech which you are used to seeing in print.
2. Never use a long word where a short one will do.
3. If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out.
4. Never use the passive where you can use the active.
5. Never use a foreign phrase, a scientific word, or a jargon word if you can think of an everyday English equivalent.
6. Break any of these rules sooner than say anything outright barbarous.
visitors since 29 March 2004.