August 16 how to do a cartwheel

Last week in a children’s playground I saw a little girl turn a cartwheel. It was such a light easy charming revolution that I thought it can’t be that hard. So I thought my summer’s task could be to learn to do a cartwheel.
That was about ten day’s ago. I haven’t given it a go yet. In the park yesterday I felt the urge to step out onto the grass and follow my instincts but I didn’t. The problems crowded in upon me. I don’t want to bang my head. |I don’t like banging my head. And imagine the momentum required to push my 82kg over. And imagine the ugliness of a grotesque flailing cartwheel. I’ve come unstuck on stuff like this before. Once, leaping over a fence, confusing how spry I used to be with how less spry I now am, and my foot snagging on the top of the wire. Which me will emerge when I attempt that cartwheel? Maybe I’ll see over the next few days…

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14 August gromit and worship

In Bristol there is a city-wide exhibition of, I think, 79 statues of Gromit the dog from the Wallace and Gromit animation films. These are scattered throughout the city in various public areas, squares, gardens. One is even inside the cathedral as though catering for a new type of worshipper.
I am wandering round the city with my friend Chris and his three-year old daughter Clara and each time we come across a Gromit she wants to touch it, kiss it, be with it for a couple of minutes. Other city visitors, Gromit tourists, are more systematic. I think there is some kind of ‘be photographed with every Gromit in Bristol’ challenge going on. I do not know whether the rules of this challenge specify that a three-year old girl cannot also be in the photo near the Gromit or on the other side of its six-foot body. In any case, we witness considerable impatience with the three-year old. Why doesn’t she understand that modern people, not just kids but adults too, need to be photographed alone with these plastic effigies? We are confused by this desire to document an exclusive relationship with the imaginary dog. Last week I came across a similar compulsion when a grown man told me he had come all the way from Israel to be photographed alone repeat alone in front of the Peter Pan statue in Kensington Gardens. Again children had to be cleared away from the background, this time a five year old as well as a three-year old, before I took the picture of him ALONE in front of the Peter Pan statue. His committment to Peter Pan was such that he could not bear having any children sharing the frame with him.

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August 9 misattribution of arousal

Proust writes a lot about what psychologists have termed the ‘misattribution of arousal’. The way in which you think you are aroused or excited by someone when, in fact, it is the context or a peripheral detail in the meeting that excites you but you pin the arousal onto the person. Note: if you are stuck in a lift with a glamorous stranger for three hours it might be the lift you are falling in love with and not the stranger. So in Proust’s novel Marcel the narrator is often fascinated by material marginalia that surround Albertine (her hat or her golf club or the mystery that is where she keeps popping up from). Marcel is like an anthropologist analysing the cultural material around her. He is particularly struck by her obsessive use of the word ‘parfaitement’. I myself remember thrilling to a prospective mate’s use of the word ‘absolument’. There must be an erotic perfume that comes off a French adverb somehow.

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August 9 the venn diagram of desire

Our personal behaviour with and towards others tends to the Venn Diagram Principle. If two people are trying to decide what to do they tend to do what is in the shaded intersection area, what both will accept. This will be the least extreme or risky of the activities. When there are more than two people involved the shaded area gets smaller, less risky. We can see how this can make coalition governments unable to take radical action and why large groups of Italian tourists will always stand around blocking the exits to shops and tube stations. In government, consensus makes sense but in our private lives where we are looking for thrills one can see why things get boring pretty quickly and the attractions (perhaps only temporary) of someone who imposes him or herself and overrides the consensual position. Someone who acts from the unshaded zone. I suppose the solution should be for each member of a couple to take it in turns to dictate from what lies in their unshaded area, though this is tricky. Firstly, do I dare to tell you about my unshaded area, and secondly, if I do, it might put you off me forever. Thirdly, you might be so dull that you don’t have an unshaded area.

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August 9 money is time

We can all fight against the fetichisation produced by unthinking Capitalism. The inane mantra that ‘time is money’ can be inverted to ‘money is time’, through which you put greater value on your life than on your Halifax cash Isa. Equally, I like to say that for people with well paid, time consuming jobs money has ceased to be a currency that has any value. If you do not have time or energy to consume, the money in itself has no function. It is a mere fetish. On the same theme, I read about the money shredding alarm clock this week. This clever device will tear up your bank notes if you do not get up and out of bed prompto. Your early morning will play out the debate between Time and Money in high dramaturgical form. Of course, we are so rubbish. I dare say you have to put notes into the alarm clock the night before, a requirement many will not respect.

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