Friday, January 08, 2010

Splitting the indifference

One lady I don't know said that we were very irreverent. Melbourne performance poet Tim Train gave a very non-committed review of "Uh... yeah... it was... okay." What the fuck, Melbourne performance poet Tim Train? Could you not have at least pretended to like it?
Cam, co-host of The Rue McClanahan Hour, on one of those Triple Something-or-Other radio channels.

It's true, you know. And it's not only those guys I do it for. Anybody who stands up on stage and does a thing, or who hangs one of their blotchy objects up on the wall, or who writes or draws a whatnot, or who sings or plays their furble to me, I will immediately respond to with a cutting ambiguity. If I can't react to an artwork with a bunch of irrelevancies, followed by some vague waffle, and possibly concluding with an awkward smile before I edge away to speak to the wall, then I won't say anything at all. I'm, on the one hand, so terrified of saying the wrong thing, and on the other, so utterly incapable of telling a lie, that I will desperately flounder around, searching for the most wildly inappropriate waffle in order to give the impression that, well, I got an impression, and the impression I got was an impressive impression indeed.

Admitting this, of course, I'm probably putting myself in a worse position than ever. I am, not to put too fine a point on it, handing a gigantic bucket of sludgulous crap to every artist who I have ever responded to in this way, and positioning my head in as advantageous a way as possible for the contents of those buckets to be upended onto it. After all, why on earth would I use a series of indifferent adjectives to describe the work of others if there wasn't something that I wanted to avoid saying?

It would perhaps be safer if I were to say, right out, and straight away, that the show - or the artwork, or the music, or the whatever I was responding to, because we don't want to go into specifics, not at all - was a horrendous and appalling waste of time and money, even - and especially - if it took no time and spent no money to produce. I could posit that the authors of the work would have spent their efforts better and more usefully putting pantaloons on a horde of lemmings, and then watching them run off the cliff. I could employ every expletive under the sun to express my hypothetical contempt for the hypothetically horrendous production of this hypothetically hypothetical artist. I could... though it wouldn't be a very good way to make friends. Unless, by friends, I meant enemies.

Even worse: I could be so effusively over the top in my praise, could solicit the listeners with so many offers of favours, bodily or spiritual or monetary, that I would find myself in an even worse position: a virtual slave, in point of fact.

Besides, neither reaction would be particularly truthful.

I'm not too sure why I'm supposed to have an immediate reaction on anything and everything, anyway. That is why some of my favourite adjectives are those of indifference: 'interesting'. 'Not bad'. 'All right'. 'Okay'. 'Fair enough.' These are the real words for a man!

So, the next time someone in your workplace gets a new hairdo, why don't you employ a sharply-worded equivocation and tell them their hairstyle looks completely, utterly, and absolutely sufficient. You'd be surprised how whelmed they'll be.


Clare Kirwan said...

I don't like being asked my opinion about stuff because I'm rarely certain what my opinion is.

If it's any consolation, I find the majority of your posts tremendously entertaining. Didn't know til I read this that you're performance poet in Melbourne. I performed there (at Dan O'Connell's) this time last year - did we meet?

TimT said...

Hee hee, I was kind of flattered to get caught out, in a weird way. Hi Clare! I've been going to the Dan O'Connell regularly but I may have been away on the week you were there. Thanks for the nice comments about my blog.

Ben Pobjie said...

This is why I don't ask people whether they liked something I did. If they liked it, they'll tell me without being asked, and if they didn't, I'm just putting them in an awkward position.

So don't worry, I'm not taking it personally.

Dr. Cam said...

Well, I didn't ask him if he liked it, I asked him what he thought! If I'd known it was going to be so awkward and lead us to being taken off the air, I wouldn't have asked!

That's right. Tim's ambivalence was specifically mentioned by management when they were giving us the boot. "Maybe," they said, "Maybe if Tim Train had been more supportive you would still have a show."

"Maybe?" I asked.

"I mean definitely," they replied.

Thanks a bundle, Melbourne performance poet Tim Train.

Word verification word: terse.

TimT said...

For my next trick, I will put John Laws back on air.

Email: timhtrain - at -

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