I can remember when I bought my first laptop. It was back in 2005 when I was working as a games programmer. Back then, Apple laptops were still the bee’s knees and were quite a special thing to own. I loved my Powerbook and called it fightingtiger. This was immediately after the Tiger release of OS X came out and the computer name tied in thematically with Battlecat, the title of my old blog.
Seagull the Cat considers the Lenovo packaging to be far superior to a tiny shiny box designed in California.
I’m pretty sure that I danced for joy while holding my matte aluminium baby. Way back in those days our sharehouse was trendsetting enough to have a wifi router and I traumatised my housemates by announcing to them (through the door and probably also by email) that I was using the internet while sitting on the toilet. Of course, today our smartphones go pretty much everywhere with us and I presume that even the most glamourous Instagrammer is making the best of their time on the loo by hashtagging pictures of sunsets with #nofilter.
Still, this was almost a decade ago. We had wifi, I had a portable computer and eventually, for a few months, we had a sharehouse blog. It was the future.
Of course, I have no memory of what happened to the computer that fightingtiger replaced. What was important was that I had a shiny piece of design that honestly worked very, very well and I thought I would never need to crawl under a dusty desk again.
Hah! Then last year my 4 year old Macbook (the second I owned) became less usable. Wifi would work intermittently, it received power but didn’t charge the battery and would often fail to boot beyond a creepy grey screen. Possibly we could try to get it repaired, but it didn’t feel like it would be cheap. For several months I ran Ubuntu hoping it would work on the failing hardware, but finally I needed to look for a new computer.
Back in Adelaide there were amazing costume parties at an ex-church which had become a very cool sharehouse. Over the years I did make the effort to dress up as Leeloo from The Fifth Element and The Log Lady from Twin Peaks. As dressing up is not a regular thing in Austria (here people lay flowers and candles on graves) I’ve had to put most costume ideas on hold. Still, I once saw an amazing costume inspired by Tippi Hedren in Hitchcock’s The Birds and that remains on my To Dress Up list.
This year I’m directing my Halloween thoughts to the political and activist connections with the carnivalesque of All Hallows Eve. In Austria, some of this chaotic energy is released a little later in the year with the Krampuslauf on December 5th. Young men dressed up as Krampus beasts parade the streets of mountain villages only to be scared away for the next year by the arrival of St Nicholas. In a world where the “holiday season” is almost totally commercialised it is very easy to draw connections between the anarchic spirit of the Krampus being subdued by Christianity (St Nicholas) and capitalism (Father Christmas / Santa Claus).
Which conveniently leads me to the motivation for this post, China Miéville‘s talk on Marxism and Halloween at this year’s Socialism Conference. Presumably, like me, you’ve already read all of Miéville’s weird fiction novels, if not get thee to a bookstore and start reading Perdido Street Station, The City and The City or Embassytown. While it doesn’t hurt that Dr China Miéville is this thinking woman’s cup of tea, his background as a novelist, academic and Marxist political candidate should recommend him. If that doesn’t help in this talk he discusses monsters, sentience, cephalopods and Hugo Chavez.
Once you’ve watched, learnt and swooned when he refers to you as “Comrades” you might want to find out more about the zombies and the right via John Powers on “The Political Economy of Zombies“. And then, once you’re wondering what comes after the zombie led fall of neo/liberal capitalism you can follow up with David Graeber on “The Practical Utopian’s Guide to the Coming Collapse“.
Whether you’re demanding debt cancellation and major changes to global financial structures, being delighted by Miéville’s tangents, dressing up, or decorating relative’s graves, I hope that you have a good October 31st.
The Maths Captain and I are buying property. A flat, or as some people say, an apartment.
It is a small flat, but still, a flat. You know, a physical space that comes with a mortgage and long-term commitment to one place?
Let’s complicate things a little shall we? The flat in question is in Austria, along with The Maths Captain, and right at this very moment I am on the other side of the world due to an illness in my family. I’m planning on getting back in time for the settlement and handing over of keys, but hey, life and love never run on time.
There are, obviously, many things that need to be done. A bathroom update, updated wiring, walls patched, floors laid, walls painted. And of course, there’s our old flat to pack up, clean and repair and loads of stuff to schlepp down and up stairs and across town. We’ll be doing this in late autumn, through to winter. Panic?
Honestly, panicking would use too much valuable energy. Instead I’ll just sit quietly for a while and have a listen to this.