Pride and Perversion

You are a sexual deviant.

Talk about opening a book with a zinger! I’m looking forward to hearing Jesse Bering in person –  6pm on Sunday 30 August 2015, a WORD Christchurch event in the Shifting points of view section of the Christchurch Arts Festival. His topic? On Perversion. Get your tickets now yo. This is not a session for kids or the squeamish; it’s definitely adult in nature.

I’ve just read his book Perv: The sexual deviant in all of us. As a librarian, I’m an index checker and this is one that’d make your eyes water: sneeze fetishists, autoplushophiles, formicophilia, Miley Cyrus …

This is a book that asks some great questions:

We’ve become so focused as a society on the question of whether a given sexual behavior is evolutionarily “natural” or unnatural” that we’ve lost sight of the more important question: Is it harmful? (p.21)

Jesse takes us right back to the origins of the term:

For the longest time, in fact, to be a pervert wasn’t to be a sex deviant; it was to be an atheist … So if we applied this original definition to the present iconoclastic world of science, one of the world’s most recognizable perverts would be the famous evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins. (p.9 /10)

The book is a journey into the world of “erotic outliers” (doesn’t that sound much better than pervert). It contains a good dollop of the personal, as well as science, politics, history, literature, and psychology – and, of course, the nature of sexual arousal. There are also plenty of interesting examples of behaviours; you’ll never look at the yoghurt in your office fridge the same way.

Jesse quotes the Roman philosopher Terence (p. 8):

I consider nothing that is human alien to me.

More understanding. Less judginess.

Cover of Perv Cover of Why is the penis shaped like that? Cover ot The God instinct

 

… and the peasants rejoiced…*

Dancers in redAnyone who has anything to do with professional dancing knows that it requires extraordinary levels of physical fitness, control and dedication to make it as graceful and seemingly effortless as they do.

I’ve loved the ballet ever since my Mum took me to a Southern Ballet production of Stravinsky’s The Firebird as a six year old and pestered her into lessons. It still grabs me in a way that no other live performance does, surely a combination of the setting, music and movement, so I’m thrilled to be going along to the Royal New Zealand Ballet’s production of Midsummer Night’s Dream later this week.

I know the story well enough of course, it being based on one of Shakespeare’s most popular plays, but I am not at all familiar with the music by Felix Mendelssohn. According to liner notes for one recording found in the libraries’ Classical Music Library eResource (see below) the music was composed to be incidental music for a performance of the play in 1843.

Find out more about this production via their twitter feed.

More Ballet resources

Where Snowflakes Dance and Swear


* blog title is a bad ’90s TV show reference for which I apologise.

Te Reo Māori, ake, ake, ake

As Te Wiki o Te Reo Māori draws to a close we can all stop using our newly learned kupu and vastly improved pronunciation until next year, right?

KAO. (That’s a big NO, just in case you were wondering)

You can use te reo Māori and embrace the arts and culture of indigenous New Zealanders any time. And in Christchurch we’ve got some great opportunities coming up to do just that so let’s keep the poro rolling with –

Te Kupu o Te Wiki

Every Monday on this blog there’ll be a kupu hou (new word) to add to your vocabulary, complete with a link where you can listen online so no worries about not getting your pronunciation tino tika.

E Hoa

Māori art vector prints by Dallas Matoe and Lino cuts by George Aranui, until 15 August at Linwood Community Arts Centre/Eastside Gallery.

New Zealand International Film Festival logoEver the land

NZIFF documentary about the planning and building of New Zealand’s first “living building”, Te Wharehou o Tūhoe. This is no Grand Designs, it’s much more than that. Session on 15 & 16 August.

Ngā Whanaunga Māori Pasifika Shorts 2015

This year’s expression of ‘Ngā Whanaunga’ – which means relatedness and connectedness between peoples – is realised with films from Aotearoa, Hawaii, Samoa and Tuvalu. Session on 19 & 23 August.

The Price of Peace

Investigative journalist Kim Webby’s documentary about Tūhoe activist Tame Iti and the Urewera Four. A portrait of a man and his “rightly embittered philosophy”. Session on 10 & 11 August.

Belief: The Possession of Janet Moses

Documentary about the tragic death of Janet Moses in 2007 as the result of a mākutu lifting by her family. Session on 17 & 18 August.

Modern Māori Quartet

These guys are the business. Don’t believe me? Check out their te reo version of Lorde’s Royals and then tell me one of their shows wouldn’t be a great night out.

Tickets for their 10 & 11 September gigs are selling fast so kia tere!

Christchurch Arts Festival logoNgā Tai o Kurawaka: He Kura e Huna Ana

He Kure e Huna Ana is a Pounamu creation story of Poutini and Waitaki but one which develops with the help of the audience. At the Court Theatre 8-10 September.

Rama Tuna

Priscilla Cowie (Ngai Tahu, Ngati Kahu, Nga Puhi, Ngati Pakeha) presents a new sculptural installation honouring the tuna or long finned eel. View it between 28 August and 13 September at The Arts Centre Market Square.

Quick questions with Margaret Wilson

Cover of The Struggle for SovereigntyMargaret Wilson is coming to Christchurch on Sunday 30 August to speak on The Struggle for Sovererignty. This event is part of the Shifting Points of View – WORD Christchurch at the Christchurch Arts Festival.  Margaret is Professor of Law and Public Policy at the University of Waikato, and she has been an MP and Speaker of Parliament. She will be in conversation with Dr Bronwyn Hayward, author and political scientist at the University of Canterbury.

This session is timely and relevant:

In the era of public choice and free markets, and when widespread public protest against global treaties such as the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement is having little effect, does the New Zealand state still have the best interests of its individual citizens at heart? Margaret Wilson argues that the shift to a neo-liberal public policy framework has profoundly affected the country’s sovereignty and that New Zealanders must continue to engage in the struggle to retain it for the sake of individual and community wellbeing.

Thanks to Margaret for answering our quick questions.

What are you looking forward to doing in Christchurch?

I’m looking forward to meeting people in Christchurch who share my values.

What do you think about libraries?

Libraries are essential for a democratic community – they provide pleasure, knowledge and well being for a community. (My sister is a librarian!)

What would be your “desert island book”?

I would take the bible and the Koran to try understand why religion is so important to so many people.

Share a surprising fact about yourself.

If I had the time and money I would tour the world watching cricket.

Shifting points of view – WORD Christchurch 30 August and 7 September 2015

Shifting points of view gives you a bumper crop of sessions  from top writers and commentators. It’s WORD Christchurch’s part of the Christchurch Arts Festival and is guaranteed to warm the cockles of your enquiring mind.

There are five sessions on Sunday 30 August – it’s practically a mini-bookfest. Patricia Grace, Anna Smaill, Paula Morris, and Fiona Farrell are among the Kiwi writers on show, and also international writers Jesse Bering (talking about perversion, no less) and Suki Kim about North Korea. And on Monday 7 September there are two evening sessions – one on altruism, and one with novelist Sarah Waters – author of The Paying Guest and Tipping the Velvet. Blimey.

WORD authors WORD Christchurch authors WORD Christchurch authors

Our approach is to show off what’s on offer, but also to link to our catalogue so you can get reading. And book your tickets, because things do sell out! You can either pay $20 per session or buy a $115 Shifting Points of View pass, on sale NOW.

Here’s the programme in full:

Sunday 30 August

Cover of Chappy10am On Belonging: Patricia Grace and Paula Morris

…  Patricia Grace explores issues that permeate New Zealand history and society: racial intolerance, cross-cultural conflicts and the universal desire to belong. Spanning several decades and set against the backdrop of a changing New Zealand, Chappy is a story of enduring love. She discusses her work with Paula Morris, whose On Coming Home explores similar themes of nostalgia, memory and belonging …

Find works in our catalogue by:

Cover of The Villa at the edge of the empire12pm Imaginary Cities: Fiona Farrell, Anna Smaill, Hamish Clayton, Hugh Nicholson, chaired by Lara Strongman

Taking the Christchurch blueprint as a starting point, this panel will look at ways in which we imagine cities, either in fiction, in history, or in contemporary life; whether as utopias or dystopias, cities imagined or reimagined.

Find works in our catalogue by:

Cover of The Struggle for sovereignty2pm The Struggle for Sovereignty: Margaret Wilson

Margaret Wilson argues that the shift to a neo-liberal public policy framework has profoundly affected the country’s sovereignty and that New Zealanders must continue to engage in the struggle to retain it for the sake of individual and community wellbeing.

Find works in our catalogue by Margaret Wilson

Cover of Without you, there is no us4pm On North Korea: Inventing the Truth: Suki Kim, chaired by Paula Morris

A glimpse inside the mysterious closed-off world of North Korea, a country where a military dictatorship exploits the myth of a Great Leader to its own citizens, who are “imprisoned in a gulag posing as a nation”.

Find works in our catalogue by Suki Kim.

Cover of Why is the penis shaped like that?6pm On Perversion: Jesse Bering

Jesse Bering argues that we are all sexual deviants on one level or another. He challenges us to move beyond our attitudes towards ‘deviant’ sex and consider the alternative: what would happen if we rise above our fears and revulsions and accept our true natures? (Adult themes)

Find works in our catalogue by Jess Bering

Monday 7 September

Cover of The most good you can do6pm On Effective Altruism: Peter Singer, chaired by Eric Crampton

Effective altruism requires a rigorously unsentimental view of charitable giving, urging that a substantial proportion of our money or time should be donated to the organisations that will do the most good with those resources …

Find works in our catalogue by Peter Singer

8pm Crimes of Passion: Sarah Waters, chaired by Carole Beu

Sarah Waters’ hugely inventive novels usually have lesbian relationships at their heart, and are always set in the past, when remaining true to oneself came at great personal risk.

Find works in our catalogue by Sarah Waters

Cover of The Paying Guest Cover of Fingersmith Cover of The Little Stranger Cover of Tipping the velvet

Christchurch – this week in history (18 to 24 August)

Cover of French Akaroa.19 August 1840
French settlers land at Akaroa.

19 August 1859
Chamber of Commerce established in Lyttelton.

22 August 1910
Ilam homestead (on the site of the present university staff club) destroyed by fire.

22 August 1925
Radio Broadcasting Company of N.Z. incorporated in Christchurch – the country’s first public radio company. The company became the major force in early radio, eventually owning and operating a chain of YA stations throughout the country.

Photo of 3YA Christchurch Station
3YA Christchurch Station of the Radio Broadcasting Company of New Zealand [1927]
CCL PhotoCD 3, IMG0057, Christchurch City Libraries
It had steel towers 154 feet high, aerial 170 feet long, a 500-watt ouput, and operated on a wave length of 405 metres.
24 August 1857
Evans Pass road over the Port Hills opens.

Christchurch chronology
A timeline of Christchurch events in
chronological order from pre-European times to 1989.

More August events in the Chronology.

Novel ideas from novelists

Rachael KingThe Press Christchurch Writers Festival event A novel idea at Christchurch Arts Festival was a corker. Author (and Christchurch Writers Festival literary director) Rachael King talked to novelists Stephanie Johnson, Sarah Laing, and Carl Nixon.

The authors read from their latest books. It worked well; each author was quite different in style and personality. They also had a lot to say about the creative process of writing.

Here are some quotable quotes:

There are more people writing novels than buying the bloody things. (Rachael)

Writing novels is like being a piece of fly paper. (Sarah)

Novels enable you to inhabit another person’s space … your own personality becomes richer and more informed. (Carl)

It is good to be struggling to find time to write. (Stephanie)

I have the rhythm of stories in my head. (Sarah)

Writers should have a really good bullshit detector. (Stephanie)

How about a quote from a character in a novel? Here’s Merle, from Stephanie’s novel The writing class:

The beauty of the novel in full sail will never be lost even though we are choking in a plume of electrical soot.

Sarah Laing, Carl Nixon and Stephanie Johnson

Cover of The Writing Class Cover of The virgin and the whale  Cover of The fall of light

Search our catalogue for books by:

A night at the opera

cover of Imagining Don GiovanniI’m off to the opera! I haven’t been to a live opera for a long time so it will be a special occasion. The bonus is that it is my favourite opera Don Giovanni.

Rather to my surprise my daughter expressed an interest in going. Somehow these days I think of opera as a grey hairs preserve. It is often expensive to go to and doesn’t get much exposure to younger people. This is a shame as the music is beautiful and the stagings are often spectacular. Also the days of “messy sopranos” of large size are well gone. Opera stars are pretty glamorous – think Teddy Tahu Rhodes (sigh). Kiri Te Kanawa was stunning in the Joseph Losey movie of Don Giovanni  and continued to fly the flag for glamorous divas. Who can forget that outfit at the royal wedding as she warbled Let the bright seraphim. Now she is about to star as Dame Nellie Melba in Downton Abbey.

Kiwis have made a strong contribution to international opera over the years – we  have many recordings. Here are just a few:

Don Giovanni is a fabulous opera. I was seduced by Joseph Losey’s film version. I’d recommend watching that if you can get it. Since then I have listened to the music many times and watched the film over as well. That is one of the joys of opera – there are many DVDs of different stage performances and we have a large selection at our libraries.

The venue this time is the CBS Canterbury Arena, not the most sympathetic perhaps but the time is not that far away when the Theatre Royal will again be available for performances.

Of all the beautiful operatic arias do you have a favourite? Is there one opera which stands out for you?

Can’t go, won’t go – try listening at home!

MOZART: Don Giovanni (excerpts) (arr. for wind ensemble) MOZART, W.A.: Don Giovanni (Barenboim) MOZART, W.A.: Don Giovanni (arr. for string quartet) (Franz Joseph String Quartet)
MOZART, W.A.: Don Giovanni (Berlin Philharmonic, Barenboim) MOZART, W.A.: Don Giovanni (arr. for wind ensemble) (Linos Ensemble) MOZART, W.A.: Don Giovanni (Harding)
MOZART, W.A.: Don Giovanni (Giulini) MOZART, W.A.: Don Giovanni (Giulini) MOZART, W.A.: Don Giovanni (Norrington)
MOZART, W.A.: Don Giovanni, Act I [Opera](Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Vol. 6) (Krips) (1955) MOZART, W.A.: Don Giovanni [Opera] (Bohm) MOZART, W.A.: Don Giovanni [Opera] (Giulini) (1959)

Listen to the Don, at home with Naxos Music Library.

Fly me up to where you are

Photograph of the flagsA major visual arts project involving thousands of Canterbury schoolchildren will take place during this year’s Christchurch Arts Festival.

In the first announcement of the 2013 programme, the Festival reports contemporary New Zealand artist Tiffany Singh and her project, Fly Me Up To Where You Are, will be bringing colour back to Christchurch.The Festival is utilising The Art Foundation’s new crowd funding website, Boosted, to raise funds to bring the project to the city and hopes to raise $7000 over the next month.

Fly Me Up To Where You Are will see Singh visit Canterbury schools in August and September this year for children to develop the flags, which form the centre of the exhibition. Each child will create two flags expressing their hopes and dreams for themselves and for the city of Christchurch.

The flags will be stitched into strings similar to Tibetan prayer flags and will form a mass installation of colour and hope in the central city.

Fly Me Up To Where You Are is currently part of Auckland Arts Festival and has been described by Auckland audiences as “a truly breathtaking sight” as children’s hopes and dreams blow in the wind above the city’s central Aotea Square.

The project will be free for all participants and Singh believes it will be especially meaningful for Christchurch after everything the city has been through these past two years.

The Festival hopes to have more than 2000 children involved in creating their own flags.

Christchurch Arts Festival director Philip Tremewan says he hopes the people of Christchurch will gain huge satisfaction from the exhibition and “reading about the students’ hopes and dreams for the future”.

It is expected that more than 70,000 people will see the installation during the Festival in August and September this year.

Through Boosted, the Festival aims to raise $7000 between now and Sunday 21 April in order to get the project to Christchurch, and are appealing to the public to donate what they can afford to help them reach their goal.

To donate to the Christchurch Arts Festival ‘Fly Me Up To Where You Are’ project, visit www.boosted.org.nz

From the Christchurch Arts Festival media release