Brain brilliance from Reading the Maps

she's wearing her don't talk to me face
as she makes the kids lunches

(The Muttonbirds, "A Thing Well Made")

Last night when I was posting I felt ridiculously intellectually inept. To be honest I felt politically inept, which seems not the same thing but worse. Why couldn't I see clearly how things should be (as in not just how they should not be, but the positive stance on how things should be) ? This morning Favourite Handyman turned National Radio on before 7am and we listened in dismay to the details of the Hobbit stoush. Rounds 1-13 to Warner Studio for sure. That sense of the dark kitchen, of the grim but essential functional start to the family day in the Muttonbirds song seemed to link to my own mood as I made sandwiches and chopped salad vegetables this morning.

All day I lived in a different sphere, at work almost all day and dealing with the politics of the micro scene, not the national and global issues. The kids and I swore off Friday fish and chips (i.e. tomorrow's) in favour of eating all of our roast chicken and vegetables and then going out for pudding. As I tucked into orange and cardamon cheesecake made by the super talented Nell, I didn't think about the big issues then either. I'm solo parenting for the next 24+ hours so no adult to rant to now that it is quiet and I am back in my own head.

I have found a superb post on the subject of the Hobbit stoush and the wider context of class struggle. Reading the Maps has written Off the Fence, Comrade. I love it. His strongest contribution is in his discussion of what solidarity means in an era where politicians are proud not to have an ideology and focus groups and party policies circulate around each other in endless self centred vacuums.

Do I have any other news? Is the realisation that I may be knitting that damn purple cardigan well into old age count as news? Thought not. I have not even been for a stroll around my garden today. Paid work and solo parenting be damned. But out the front, I have five deep purple irises in front of our bedroom and they are beautiful. Bulbs didn't flower there for the first couple of years but they seem now to have adapted to the shady, south-facing conditions. There is a weka hanging out in the creek and at the neighbour's place today and if it decides to visit our place, my garden is in deep trouble.


maps said…
Thanks for your kind words, and for the title of your post, which I attempted to use yesterday to placate my wife, who had had to intervene to save my bacon after I slept in until one o'clock, lost my wallet, and failed to turn up on time to an important meeting - I said, after my bacon was safely saved, "how can I be a complete idiot, when a blogger - a blogger from the West Coast, no less! - said I had a brilliant brain" and she replied, completely truthfully, "if that person met you they would re-evaluate their position on your brain". Sigh...

Talking of the south: I'd be interested to hear your take on the hoary question of South Island regional/nationalism. I've addressed the arguments of the New Munster Party, which wants to establish a Presbyterian sectarian state in the south, on my blog lately, but I notice that there seem to be much more mainstream people - the editorialist for the Otago Daily Times, for example - talking about South Island exceptionalism.

I imagined that one of the barriers to a southern separatist agenda might be the sense of difference that South Island regions have from their neighbours. Certainly, the notion of unity with Auckland, solely on the basis of geographical proximity, would seem ridiculous to many citizens of the Waikato. Is there still a distinct, West Coast regional identity, which relies on a certain antipathy to Canterbury as well as Auckland, and which makes a pan-South Island identity problematic? The historian WH Oliver suggested that the West Coast was one of the most culturally distinct regions of New Zealand, and my old mate Leicester Kyle used to talk about Buller nationalism...
Hi Maps. Ah, hopeless brain brilliance... I have a husband with such tendencies, though small children are very effective insurance against the perils of sleeping in.

On regional identities, the short answer is yes. I'm planning on writing a more considered response to this interesting question in the next few days. You can buy car number plates with 'Republic of the West Coast' above and below the rego number here. A friend who moved here with her Auckland husband (they were partly moving south to reconnect with his West Coast relatives) bought such a number plate to make clear his new allegiances.

Your blog's comments also prompts me to reflect on the discourse styles of different blogs. It's been a while since I properly (read: in academic parlance) analysed language, but what I think of language collision is in interesting phenomenon to me. The Hand Mirror is a good site for watching it in action, as the diverse writers employ different codes on their own blogs.
Embedded in today's letter from Wetville is some reference to the regionalism/Southern nationalism topic.
maps said…
Thanks very much for considering the question. I will have a look at the letter tomorrow, because I'm up until I drop tonight doing last-ditch proofreading of my edition of Kendrick Smithyman's unpublished poems. Smithyman was a great regionalist. He thought that NZ nationalism was really a 'Canterbury myth' created by a few poets. Another interesting regionalist was my old mate Leicester Kyle, who lived in your part of the world:
His poetry, which openly denied the relevance of 'metropolitan' NZ culture to the Coast, was actually funded, on occasion, by (I think) the Buller District Council!
Btw, if it's not a dumb/overcurious question: whereabouts are you on the Coast?
Greymouth. Whitebait. Monteiths. Wingham Park. Up the road, the Blackball Museum of Working Class History. Bill Pearson country, once upon a time.

Hmmmmm on nationalism as a Canterbury myth. I can see the impetus. Is it just sport which prompts us to treasure a distinct identity from Australia? Cross Tasman migration, after all, has been a strong feature of New Zealand life since the gold rushes at least.

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