Economics, Literature and Scepticism

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I am a PhD student in Economics. I am originally from South Africa and plan to return there after my PhD. I completed my M. Comm in Economics and my MA In Creative Writing (Poetry) at the University of Cape Town, where I worked as a lecturer before starting my PhD.

Blog Archive

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Rants and Raves of a Silent Mind

Posted by Simon Halliday | Saturday, February 25, 2006 | Category: | 0 comments

Painting the Lion 18.02.06

It stands there in the glory of all who have stood before it

labouring to cover its surface, to fill the niches, to cover

its mane it the colours of their manifest expression. Its regal

nature overcomes any shade it has been painted and will

ever be covered in, deeming future and past a part of

its tribute, the victim of its sacrificial hunger and bathed

in the blood of its bacchanal glory.

She wept into the sheets upon which she had bled and

on which they had sweated and rolled and come together

she had fallen and fallen and felt so taken that his departure

had seemed natural, had seemed part of the course of an

evening, of the ritual of lovemaking and the way that

these things did and should evolve. That was until she

found him kneeling at its base, covering it in red paint

hallowing it, and giving it the love she deserved.

A fratboy turns

a freshgirl comes

the blood she bled

it runs it runs

the paint the blood

the lion's roar

the sounds beyond

a dormroom door

a scream a shout

the cream and pink

barely noticed

the vomit's stink

to wit to woo

to barely stand

but beyond the love

he's made a man

and she so cold

a virgin lost

her story told

her body's cost

placed 19.02.06

And now, in the moment of


there is such

lightweight movement, such

graced eyecontact

you are not here

knowing this gives

me happiness knowing

you are,

but sadness in your lackness

so a moment of waiting

of indefinite exposure

to between times,

the intervention of

the ill-timed

Relating to Josef K. 19.02.06

I claim precedence in hearing

that of which you speak

the words with which you

judge me: the actions, the

punishments that you seek.

As filmed from a camera

I stand behind a podium hands

spread seriously before me in

pleas of innocence and lacking

ballast for my position

although it is wholly defensible

you find ways to twist the words

to change my intents to

your own malice, to moments

of disengagement, of dismissal.

I claim deference in hearing

that to which you listen

the lashes on my skin

the water in my eyes

the worded torture you hasten.

I was unaware of the brash

dishonesty of truth of speaking

my mind and having its beauties

turned against me, their intents

damaged by your maligning of them

But I will continue on my dread

campaign to uncover my honesty

although you would arrest me for

its use, for its avid embrace of my

everyday, my violable liberation.

The Gone 19.02.06

A man stands on a hill

waving his arms to stop

the movement of the world

past him, he would arrest

its serial nature

but clouds and wind do

not stop and neither one

claims independent shape

of the other they revel in

their simultaneity

parallel he cannot help

being defined from moment

to moment to moment

as timed as sequential and

so trapped by the gone

corridors 20.02.06

It is a corridor with a grey carpet, the scratching of it as it

catches on my shoes, is reasonably typical and indicative

of the care that they don't put into looking after those

who make demands of them, there one sits behind a

glass door, the type that blurs the image beyond: they are

the black haired, dark-suited glossaries at the backs of

books about which no one cares and they know that

beyond their immediate ability to impede me, they have

no influence over life, neither mine nor their own and

the aggravation is made manifest in their slow ums and

aahs the debilitating nature of the law unknown to

those who are meant to enact its nature, its ignominy

At liberty 25.02.06

to discuss and dream

to think and suppose

and possibly imagine

a world of words

and a painted stream

of the thoughts running

through my untidy mind

caught up in uncertain

rhythms and a lack of time

in between thinking

that would be the liberty

to pause to stop for

a moment the goings

on inside to listen

to observe unencumbered

Discussions of Intimacy and Burgeoning Friendships

Posted by Simon Halliday | | Category: | 1 comments

It is a strange one when you think about it, the idea of intimacy. In what ways do we construct the methods by which we become intimate with people? How does our intimacy with certain people grow? Is it through the mutual uncovering of histories, of the objects and subject which make us 'us'? To what do we owe a discovery of relatedness, of the things that make us similar? Do we necessarily have to become sexually intimate in order to cross certain boundaries of understanding with other people?

For me, I have a genuine enjoyment of trying to understand peoples stories, I sometimes do so in an almost invasive manner because stories intrigue me so much – the things, the people, the ideals and values that people hold dear. These are important to me. Perhaps it is part of a personal quest to attempt to understand myself and that which I perceive is important to me. Perhaps it is simply because I am inquisitive and need to satisfy that desire. Regardless of either of these, the fact that I like to get to know people is interesting to me. I also like to meet and engage 'new' people, uncover and relate to new stories. This does not mean that I value the stories and the lives of the people that I know any less, it simply means that I derive enjoyment from the creation and relation to new connections, new ideas and the ways of life of people who I have not encountered before.

Of late I have been interacting with a group of US girls. They are variously from the East and West coasts of the US. This makes them far more liberal than the average US citizen. Apart from this fact, which makes it easier to relate to them, they have intriguing views on life, on people and the interconnectedness of different methods of living. We have had funny and interesting discussions on the differing cultural bases of our two societies (as much as either South African or US society can be accepted as a single agglomeration of 'one' titanic geo-culture). Apart from this, they are uniquely interesting women (I have interacted with the women more than any of their male friends).

Now this brings me to another interesting sphere of self-analysis, I am not that interested in relationships and/or flings right now, for whatever reason. I am enjoying just getting to know these ladies, something which relieves the pressure greatly (for there is almost inevitably social pressure to engage people sexually) is the fact that two of them have boyfriends. My accession to my disinclination to engage them sexually is not a comment on their attractiveness, in fact they are attractive, greatly so really. What is more important to me is the relating, the getting-to-know, the rapport and the dialogue. This equally does not mean that all of this is a 'learning process' for me, it is a combination of me enjoying meeting people and getting to know them, as well as needing to be away from the normal. I am restless at the moment, for numerous reasons really. Meeting and getting to know new people both relieves and spurs this on. What fun!

So yes, why am I restless? Is it simply because I need to get away from history? I definitely like the idea of blankness, of being something onto which people can project some idea. Equally my past, my history is a part of me now, it has aided in my construction. My restlessness is, I claim, part of a desire for distance. To use the common metaphor of burning, one is more sensitive immediately prior to such an experience, and even more so if it is exacerbated by other actions (of others or oneself). Notwithstanding this, I do also want to know more, experience more, and, because I am 'working during the day' (so to speak), I feel that my time is available for other things. Sociability. Avoidance. Intimacy. How do they relate? A subject for contemplation I am sure.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Posted by Simon Halliday | Thursday, February 16, 2006 | Category: | 0 comments

At Touch of Madness with Holly, Benna & Becky
New Photo from Si

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And us again with me!
New Photo from Si

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Posted by Simon Halliday | Wednesday, February 15, 2006 | Category: | 0 comments

Holly and Beer
New Photo from Si

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Video from US People Party
New Photo from Si

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More Random US Students from Valentine's Day Party
New Photo from Si

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Some More Random US Students
New Photo from Si

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Becky, Benna and Holly (US Students I met last week)
New Photo from Si

World Politics in My Head and Neighbourhood

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What's going on? (Something I would have submitted to the Mail and Guardian if I didn't think it had been all but written off)

There are several problems that have not seemed to be considered in terms of the publication of the Danish cartoons. The first, is whether publication of such material is responsible. Secondly, did it warrant the violent reactions that responded, several months subsequently to the publication. Thirdly, is the acceptance of liberal values such as the freedom of speech of the individual valid in the context of their the development which coincided with the Judeo-Christian dominance of international culture and economics. Lastly, is reproduction of the text viable for international news literature viable in terms of critiquing the original acts?

On the first topic, regardless of the constitutional right of freedom of speech, or whether the publication is deemed to be hate speech or not, in the current geo-political context it is outrightly irresponsible for any 'western' publisher to portray the Prophet Muhammed as a proponent of violence. Had we instead had Saddam Hussein or any Al Qaeda leader portrayed as carrying bombs it would have been far less likely to incite such hysteria, although there would most likely have been some repercussion for that. It is not politick to insult the historically peaceful and loving agent whom is the Prophet of Islam. On its own it was an irresponsible act.

The second point is equally important – did the initial act justify the violent reactions that we have seen worldwide? My personal, although secular, belief is that it did not. Islam at its core is meant to be a peaceful and gracious religion. It is meant to propagate itself through love of the family and through prayer on and study of the Qur'an. The Prophet Muhammed was not a violent man, nor did he advocate violence. Hence, I believe that the violent responses are unwarranted, and, more dangerously, to the right-wing prejudiced people who believe the texts themselves, they vindicate their publication because they now have an easily identifiable violent reaction which (to them) would prove that they are correct in believing that Muslims are intrinsically violent (a fallacious belief and a spurious conclusion to draw). If one assumes unilinear causality, it brings one back to the problem of identifying where a root cause lies. Coincidentally, the best response I have seen thus far are those by Muslims who condemn both the publication of the cartoon and the violent responses, instead advocating a peaceful response (the likes of which is more prevalent in South Africa).

Thirdly, many people in western culture have this automatic acceptance that neo-liberal values are 'right' or the 'correct' way that one should construct a society. We do not have any real factual basis for claiming that this is the case. Moreover, liberal values (originally coming out of Britain and Europe) are inherently connected to those who propagated them – the businesses and people coming from Europe and thus inherently linked to the Judeo-Christian people who were spreading this ideology. It is because of this that Jewish and Christian people are often less likely (but not at all less inclined) to act against texts that may insult or undermine their religious beliefs. Conversely, we then have to understand that attempting to place a western ideology that developed concurrently with the modern forms of Judaism and Christianity on a religious and ideological framework that does not incorporate such values will quite possibly be fallacious. To many Christian and Jewish people the violent protests will seem irrational and silly, this is because of the attachment to neo-liberal values which resulted in the disassociation of church, state and the individual. We cannot use such lenses of interpretation on the Islamic world. (Note: this is again not to claim that various Muslims do not ascribe to liberal values, many do, my comment is more on the concurrent development of ideological positioning and religiosity).

Lastly, the reproduction of the texts in my opinion was necessary in order to make the original acts and the original publications comprehensible. In my own anecdotal experience, I did not understand what all the furore was about until I saw the originals, as well as investigating the context out of which they came (right-wing newspaper that the original publisher is). As a social scientist it is necessary to view original, rather than secondary, texts in order to create an informed opinion. The access to such original texts would have been far more difficult were they not republished in South Africa (regardless of their accessibility online). As such, as a tool for understanding and re-interpreting their re-publication was a necessary evil in order to ensure that a valid dialogue would occur in South Africa, rather than something based on florid and often biased reports that came out of international news literature. For that I am grateful to Ferial Haffajee and her compatriots at the Mail and Guardian.

Thus the original production and publication of cartoons was irresponsible, the reactions by large numbers of the Islamic community were equally so, but the subsequent discussion and understanding needs to be located in a context that acknowledges cultural and ideological differences and the problems of moral absolutism (i.e. Assuming that liberalism is the political ideology). Lastly, for the sake of science and adequate response I thank the Mail and Guardian and I hope that they continue to facilitate the responses that they do in a responsible and peaceful manner.

A Poetry Update

Posted by Simon Halliday | | Category: | 2 comments

misremembered passages 06.02.06

the wind was

colour-burst alive

standing there

clad in the naked

darkness as I was

blown around me

were colours I had

forgotten to forget

in the abuse from

which you delivered me

shadow time purged

from me by wind

and words carried

on it from innocent

voices in restoration

the wet hair that clung

to my skull lightened

my child-blondness

and giggling a blessed

departure from memory

Delayed 06.02.06

It was her intent that morning

to be at work on time

until he caught her

at the bus stop

He told her there was something

important he needed to

talk to her about as

he closed the door

It was as important as him pulling

down his pants and tearing

her clothes off of her as

she cried futile Hayikona

She had a job in the city working

to save money so that she

could sell Bibles to feed

her family

Her employers did not understand

her taciturn silence or why she

now came late for work though

it was to avoid him

They also thought her irresponsible

when they found out she was

pregnant 'at such a young age'

and possibly sick

But that happens to black people

and it happens to women

the treasured virgin

in curing innocence

South African Streets 06.02.06

I walk down a pot-holed

street with a burden of

shame seeping from

my pockets

there it seeps past

my fingers, my inability

to keep my anger locked

away that root of the sin of

those who fuck children

and rape women whose

only dream is to save money

and care for sick sisters

And my anger makes me as

worthy of shame, I have

no power over them and

the powerlessness

is the root and the growing

rot of it crumbling certainty

of our compliance and our

growing acceptance

Dorian's Grey 10.02.06

Inside me there is a painting

that, although it could be ageing,

absorbs and emotes the living

the passing moments I'm engaging

it grows larger in my bellicosity

and shrinks in the occasions of my

emotional paucity, but the overriding,

the dominant message is the showing

I can see the reds in my face light

up in rages, while the colours of delight

range across my body in their desire

and the flaming grimaces of my ire

each momentary and feeling trace

that could cross my body my face

left abandoned to the painting

that inhabits the greyness of my living

the capture 06.02.06

easier to be caught

between polarities

the aurora of dawn

not as beautiful

as that of the sunset

their signal of some

end some beginning

linear opposed in

some real existence

independent free

but eternally caught by

the other the paradox

unspoken acquiescence

north-south bound

my attempts to float

in freedom are tied up

tied down to not-me

to women to the body

of the other and my age

is only relative to young

and the old in their living

I wish to be untied

to do so requires complete

loss no me no sex

no age no place

no memory of what

makes real real

no no no polarity

The issue of descent 12.02.06

I was once fearful of my descent into woman

of my movements into and through her, the

myriad ways that I could penetrate her and

feel myself held by her, gripped and fed

by our joinings, our mutuality.

It was the end of isolation which inspired

my fears so, which penetrated the depths

of my careless mind and caught my cringing

in some ineffable way, the shadowed places

of my spirit held me there.

That was until I began to understand that my

acts are not so detrimental to my loneliness

that I could not retreat were it necessary, but

that I could celebrate our fractious becomings

our passing creating of moments.

It is those moments when I am both alone

and together with you, when I am isolated

and intimate and unable to define when the

one becomes the other, when I have let go

but maintain my ultimate control.

These moments which make the loving of

you – woman – the more miraculous, the

moments of too much noise in my head

accompanied by a symphony of silences,

your breath in my hair.

Sense of 13.02.06

I am caught up in the smell of change rooms

clinging to the depths of my thoughtful nostrils

deep-tied to memory: the awkwardness of

growth, shaved head adolescence shy.

I smell the ones I've come out of barefoot

my feet cold slapping the plaster, the tiles

and nailed tight to the tar in an assurance

of acceptance of shared pain awareness

I remind the pinning up against walls and

pushing my way out striding and swearing

punching label-laden lockers, gay-boy, afro,

weird kid, with me brokenback stronger now.

I walk in and through them now with clichés

tumbling from my tired head my fists silent

but aiding recollection by pushing back my hair

in reminiscence-borne commands, I am not

that which I once was tired and lying back

against blue locker doors, screaming to get

away, to leave and be unburdened. But I

remained and so I shall, eternal resilience.

Something I wrote recently on regional political campaigns

Posted by Simon Halliday | | Category: | 0 comments

The DA and 'Racism' 22.01.06

Over the years in which I have been eligible to vote as a young man in South Africa, not much has made me more frustrated than the posters put up all over Cape Town before the national and regional elections. However, I have yet to be as annoyed and enraged by the recent posters that I have seen put up all over Rondebosch and Claremont around the university where I am currently studying to complete my masters.

The following are on the posters. A picture of Tony Leon (a white man) accompanied by the slogan 'The DA delivers', a poster of Helen Zille (a white female) with the slogan 'Zille for Mayor'. Neither of these are particularly inflammatory. However, the most angering of the posters is that which states 'End ANC Racism'. This slogan, combined with the two white faces that pre- or proceed the posters, immediately implies that the racism is of black individuals towards white individuals. It does not take much insight to construct this link.

Disregarding this insight for a moment, the fact that any party in South Africa, ten years after the advent of democracy, decides to plot its election strategy in terms of race politics is disturbing. In fact it is more than ill-conceived it is offensive. If the DA decided to attack the poor roll-out of anti-retrovirals (ARVs), or if they wished to interrogate the problems of service delivery (which I assume is what the 'The DA Delivers' slogan is intended to mean), or if they have problems with education and its management, then all of these attacks on policy would be at least in some way warranted. But, attempting to assert that the ANC in any way supports some racialistic ideology has the potential to damage the burgeoning democracy upon which this country is based. Accusing any one individual in a position of power, or any powerful of organisation, of racism is equally damaging and can undermine any achievements we have made thus far in terms of democratisation, deracialisation and the desegregation of politics, services and the institutions of South African society. I struggle to understand how the DA, their strategists and their members of parliament could possibly assent to a mode of political attack that involved the accusation of racism. At the minimum it is short-sighted, if nothing else it is grossly incompetent.

In terms of possible policy options I had considered voting for the Democratic Alliance. As soon as I saw the poster making the claim that the DA intended to 'End ANC Racism' I knew that I could not be a conscientious voter and support the DA in the upcoming regional elections. I wish that the DA had considered the gravity of their actions prior to taking this stand on domestic politics.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Irascible 'I'

Posted by Simon Halliday | Saturday, February 04, 2006 | Category: | 1 comments

Ok, so here are some more recent writings from me. I apologise for the possible limitations in terms of subject matter, but it is something that I have been thinking about. Not that I want any of you to worry, in my writing I am a multiplicity of people, not simply 'Simon Halliday' (whoever that person really is). Nonetheless, 'I' have written these pieces and you are welcome to indulge in them.

Clouds and Sun 20.01.06

The sun is running up, out and through the top

of the gutters on the side of the buildings

liberated from the plastics in the return, the

homecoming of sky and clouds: running

stalking their way across the skies of

Cape Town bashing their way past signal

hill and attempting the climb of Table

Mountain. Fatigued they limp their return

to the sea, briefly blocking the sky and

managing a brief dalliance with the

Table Bay coastline. The echoes of their

intermittent passing felt in the wetness

of faces, the damp ground momentarily

more fertile, the nascent dreams of plants,

grass and the ever growing and diminishing

clouds entreating the water to return to the sky.

Turned Hands 22.01.06

Instead of your upturned

hands in supplication, in

mute demands of me

your hands would

be better poised

turned downwards

wrists together

Although your movement

is free, the imprisonment

you feel is far

more stringent

and encapsulating:

your hands, turned down,

would indicate this.

The Mute 22.01.06

Are so made by

unhearing ears and

sightless eyes, blind

to requests for

money or employment

by the grace of

someone else's god

If I could offer

words of revival

or advice unwanted

as they may be,

I do not know

whether they would

be deciphered:

From my mouth

would come the moaning

attempts at speech

of the unendowed

the unvoiced and the

indiscriminate nonsense

of poverty

Clouds in my room 22.01.06

On occasion, I wish that fog were stronger, that it could make pause

the realities we so easily construct in our domesticity. A fog that

could penetrate through the open doors and windows of my home

and make these spaces unfamiliar, darken them with dampness and

opaqueness – clouds in my living room, my study, my each and every

private space invaded by the waters of alien spaces, penetrated by

air almost drinkable in its thickness.

It would take a strong movement for me to open my mouth and

begin quaffing it down, imbibing this invasion, taking it into me,

swallowing it down and ingesting it – the process of both alienation

and familiarisation with that in which I have lived, in which I have

made myself present and unforgivable. Having taken them in, I would

remove myself, I would spew the contents of my feasting out into

the streets, into the city, out.

Out of my body, how I hope that the process of being lost in the

familiar could liberate me, and that in my ingestion and in its

pursuant liberation, I would be free of memory.

Those Nights 24.01.06

It is those nights

when what feels

like need

burns from the

bottom-most bones of

my feet through and up

my deep set spine

it is those dark nights,

those nights when the wind

clamours against my windows

and doors, sounding like

your voice calling from

the depths of need

a need that only I could


that it is the most difficult

Those nights, replaced by

breeze-easy days

silent and well-lit

and I am made dumb

by this censure of days

on those my nights

Untaught 04.02.06

Love is not learnt

it is not thought

or contemplated

or written

it is obliviousness

of the world around me

faded pastels and unkempt

greys searching for the

injection of what a moment's

experience of this could provide

it is the anger and the bursting

consumption of my fleshy body

the browns and whites thrown

about blown apart from an

inadequate sense of attachment

to the part of me that is here

and it is immature and old the

fossilised body of a hominid child

cowering and clinging yet held

forever in stasis forever in perfection

forever in that moment, that instant and

held held held constant because it cannot be

you did not learn me and neither did

I ever think of learning you but

the moments of love were perfect

and engrossing in recollection and

worthy of every tear that I have shed and

now that love is not there, I will learn you.

It was not learnt

it has been thought,

contemplated and

so tragically written.

Forgiving separation 04.02.06

I am not good at letting go, at least not

in the moment in which it has to be done

and I detach and rationalise in hindsight

in the measured and practised defences of

one at comfort with disconnection

But that is far from accurate, in any sense

far too intellectually driven and unemotional

(although you could claim I am so disposed)

but all of the grammar, all of the correct

spelling and the efficiently placed words

are such clichéd approximations of separation

such an imitation of politesse for one in

suffering, one unable to wear hearts on sleeves

or collars for fear of their consumption and

their bloodied remains strewn across starched shirts.

It is thus with you, and I forgive myself daily for

those subjects undiscussed, the compliments ungiven

and the wonders I beheld at every moment watching

you walk through scratch-grass veld but which remained

interminably unshared. I forgive myself.

But I will not damn myself by asking for yours.