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.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Amy and Si

Posted by Simon Halliday | Thursday, October 05, 2006 | Category: | 1 comments

As Kate demanded - a picture of Amy and I. Here we were at dinner with my Dad last week in Camps Bay. She hadn't met him before. It was a load of fun. When you can, ask Amy about 'The Midlands'. Posted by Picasa

Poetic Processes

Posted by Simon Halliday | | Category: | 0 comments

The promised poetry of recent times. Covers some random things from funny to my focusing on a theme I currently have in mind (to do with, but not determined by Cape Town streets).

The sound 17.08.06

You are the sound of the sun's rays

as they strike me, my face

as they filter through me

as they resound in me

you have never been loud

the sun does not know

how to be loud

it shines

and you alight on me

you are that sun drawn sound

which no one but me hears

not because I will it

nor because I am different

but because every part of me

can't help but hear

each part of you

you are the sound as my face burns

as the heat of me flashes free

as we explode

as we give the sun sound

Fly 18.08.06

having spent hours

trying to find

its reflection

in a glass of milk

turns to black coffee

to see broken wings

the floating grains

its refractors

perplexed it

sees itself cut

and quartered

yet still living

the confusion

not my hands

is the reason

for its recess

Commercial Flight Monday 6.15am 21.08.06

The outside of my window

is dew-streaked glass

on lightening land

through its pane

the blocks of mined ground

are a scattered jigsaw.

These surfaces of Jo'burg

that are the burnt ochre

of deeper earths

were brought forth

by powered will

by past dominion.

Now, the scorched grounds

of disused mines

the dirt silver waters

are as much the city's

tarmacked roads,

its abandoned homes.

Aboard, I am tired.

The plane is too loud.

I am due in Cape Town.

Lexicon 02.09.06

the word 'sorry'

the word 'no'

the word 'change'

don't mean what they mean

on the rubbish ridden streets

of Jo'burg or Cape Town

the blood-mapped eyes of a man say more

than cupped hands

than cardboard signs

than black bags

that dangle from tired fingers

waiting for my trash

(he stands in this whirlwind

of bright blessings

but its dance of scattered scraps

don't carry change)

Lace 03.09.06

in lace or silk I imagine you

some similar cloth over you

holed satin the spaces

of your skin uncovered

lace dappled leaf dappled

sunlight on your skin me dappled

my fingerprints over each space

my palms and fingers

their lace-cloth over you

both imagined and beneath

both of us entangled

enlaced enclothed

We Made Videos 03.09.06

You my sister wanted me to kiss you

as you slept. I was Prince Charming

and you moved and spoke

a lot for Sleeping Beauty.

You awoke with abundant joy

when I deigned to move my lips

close enough, ever those distances

that weren’t crossed, aren’t crossed.

If I kissed you now on video

it would be easier, I am more skilled

you’d want it less, maybe your sleep

would be sleep, we wouldn’t be crowned.

A Vagina’s Monologue 04.09.06

the noise of the word Clitoris Clatters around

& so does its companion in revolution the Orgasm

now men lick for hours at the altar of My Flesh

attending anticipating the glorious big ‘O’

(not a sigh not a sound but the intimate resound

of Elle and Cosmo in his media wrenched mind)

I’m equally in awe of the sights and sounds

in Service to the (always singular) Penis

(but that’s required less revolution

& more momentary devotion)

Storytime 18.09.06

Daddy, you were happy

reading to me

I was buried in

the nooks of you

small, blonde me

big, brown-haired you

and you hoarse

from laughter at

Moonface, mice clanging.

I giggled easily.

Daddy, you don't laugh

as much when I read

to you across this table

tucked in strutted seats

scrawny children aren't funny

neither are people living

in pipes in dry dongas.

But I'm hoarse too.

small, grey-blonde you

big, brown-haired me

the language of the desert is wind 25.09.06

wind whirled dust's track

wind deepened desert's dark

wind wept water's wrack

wind makes my story stark

dark-light striated sand

ripples on desert's flesh

discarded snake skin

wind hurled you off

desert dust driven back

to desert's depths

undark always light

in moon stars sun bright

long time left till

when water will weep

weary of the wanting

from undrenched desert

wind called dust back

wind calmed sand's stirring

wind sharpened desert's desires

wind tells me untold stories

Robot Tango 04.10.06

The dashboard of my car

is self-consciously garish,

colourful, kitsch.

inhabited by the covers of

this and last month's Big Issue

It is the bed for far too many

beaded flowers that I've

been given as gifts, for a donation.

If I need jokes, my car houses

as large a collection as I'll ever need.

Yet every single stop that I make

at equally kitsch traffic lights

or stupidly colourful stop streets

I am asked if I want another issue

(that I already have)

or maybe my girlfriend would like

her own flowers

(as if she hasn't taken liberties with mine)

or another set of jokes,

(when three are already displayed)

Approaching robots has become

a tango of stop, go, go to evade

sellers who won't let me alone.

Rained Hard 04.10.06

I know it's rained hard

when there's copper silt

at the bottom of Klipper Road

if I am walking by the canal

there's more leaves, bark,

branches than trash in the water

there'll still be at least one

glass bottle, Bells or Jack Daniels,

taking its sweet, sedate time

to Rosebank Station, also messy

in the way rain dents old paint

that longs after lost whiteness

if I've time, I'll stop, pick up

the bottle, gather silt, store

it in the bottle and stopper it.

It's in this way, in the raucous

heights of summer, that I can

rest and recall hard winter rain.

What's been happening, reading and such

Posted by Simon Halliday | | Category: | 0 comments

I realized that it has been some time since I last posted anything. Consequently, I suppose that a massive update is required by the World At Large, those amies internationales who crave the input of the goings on in Simon’s life. Or at least gross approximations thereof.

Well, I am in the happy and relatively uncomplicated and longest standing relationship of my life (read relationship as girlfriend boyfriend thing). Amy Miller and I have broken the back of my 3 (or so) month curse and hit the 4 month mark on September 23rd. Which means that this Saturday we’ve been going out for 4 ½ Months! (No! What? Shock/Horror! Depredation!). It really is great, we’re both tend somewhat to intellectual narcissism, but not so much that we can’t laugh at ourselves, or each other. We are also both hopeless romantics, making random plans for touring Europe and ‘being’ with one another. Oh no… Not Simon too. It had to happen at some point and she’s a keeper.

Enough of that MASSIVE part of my life. What else have I been doing? Well… Reading is one of the things with which I keep myself occupied. So books:

David Mitchell: Cloud Atlas, Ghostwritten and Number9Dream are the books of his that I have recently read. I have also just bought, and will read soon, Black Swan Green. Mitchell’s command of language and of the interchange between narratives is extraordinary. I haven’t enjoyed reading someone as much in a very, very long time. He has rocketed his way up to my personal Top 5.

Michael Chabon: I read The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay earlier this year, which is the book for which he won the Pulitzer. I have more recently read The Final Solution, not at all about the Holocaust, but rather about an ex-police investigator, who remains nameless throughout the entire novel. He is an 89 year old man, in Britain in 1944. You realize later who he ‘could’ be. But I won’t tell you. Go and read it, it is a very short little novella about 120 pages or so and it is a really fun and dynamic read. I am currently reading another of his books: Wonder Boys. It was made into a film with Michael Douglas, Tobey Maguire and Kirsten Dunst if I accurately recall. To chant the customary ‘the book is better’ would be boring, but it is.

Toni Morrison: I read her Beloved recently and have ordered Song of Solomon. I found it very challenging reading Beloved. I didn’t follow the narrative that well and I didn’t grasp some of her characters or her modes of communication that well either. Nevertheless, the book is masterfully written and, despite my inability to relate to some of it, it recounts a very haunting and dynamic period in America’s history.

Don De Lillo: I have been trying to get hold of a number of his books recently, namely Americana and Underworld. Being unable to do so, I got hold of Libra which is a re-history of Lee Harvey Oswald and his assassination of JFK. It does so in a complex and challenging way – as the reader you can’t help but have paradoxical empathy and detestation for Oswald. Moreover, the people who surround him: his mother, people linked to US intelligence agencies, and so forth, make the narrative run in weird and fitful ways, making it both difficult to read, but also driving you on to read more. Cool stuff.

Mary Watson: I read her collection of linked short stories called Moss. I liked some of them, others I found quite boring. Nevertheless, she commands a new and original South Africa voice. I was quite pleased to read the book and impressed with what she wrote and how she wrote it. I look forward to seeing a novel, or something equally palpable from her.

Mike Nicol and Joanne Hitchens: Their co-authored Cape Town based crime novel Out To Score was a lot of fun and a really good change for me. I am so accustomed to reading ‘literary’ novels, that writing this slightly more commercial minded text was a load of fun. It pursues the lives of two Capetonian PIs pursuing independent cases, which end up being linked (as they would). I’d seriously recommend this as a cool SA read. It’s racy and captures much of CT and SA life well. Some really well-conjured images of the city.

Rayda Jacobs: I read My Father’s Orchid and I was incredibly disappointed. Here is this ‘award-winning’ author, who, I was told, delves into the political and social factors involved in Moslem/Cape Malay-Christian Capetonian/SA living. What I got instead was a dialogue driven soap opera, the characters of which were either Christian or Moslem ‘so-called coloured’. A bit of race and religion politics, but mostly a crap soap opera. I wouldn’t bother.

Etienne van Heerden: I tried my desperate best with the English translation of The Long Silence of Mario Salviati, but I got bored. Not my cup of tea. Picturesquely written, with beautiful sentences and marvelous characters, but just not my kind of story.

Koos Kombuis: His Secret Diary of God is a very comedic and not too challenging discussion of religion, the role of God, ‘big names’ in politics, psychology, etc and basically about having a bit of fun with beliefs. A fun and really easy read.

I read a couple of Fantasy/Sci-fi books in between, but nothing ground-breaking. I am seriously looking forward to reading the new Robin Hobb book though. Should be good.

Other than that? Hmm… I’ve been lecturing. I went away briefly with Al, Rich and Amy to Plett. We chilled, walked on the beach, played Trivial Pursuit, ate Pizza, made flapjacks, chilled some more. It was a load of fun!

I’ll try to think of other interesting morsels to feed to you, but right now I can’t think of anything. I’ll be putting some poetry up soon.