Monday, September 8, 2014


I’m turning my home into the world’s least useful reference library. The latest acquisition: a massive bound volume comprising every issue of the Illustrated London News from January to June of 1878. A rich, densely storied, pictorially sumptuous catalogue of the Empire.

Those are the only issues of Illustrated London News I possess, and I’m not actively looking for more. But if the first half of 1878 is of interest to you, I have it covered. Or perhaps your area of study are sartorial and culinary fashions ca. the spring of 1953.

You may be researching the beginnings of colour television in New Zealand, a glimpse of which was provided to readers of the Weekly News in November of 1970 via the medium of colour photography.

Or political satire in Italy in late 1947.

Or feminist cartoons in the mid-eighties.

I add to these haphazard holdings every year, then tell you about it in this, my blog anniversary post. Old books. Old magazines. I’ve almost stopped worrying that I have so little interest in what is current.

It isn’t nostalgia, but a genuine fascination with earlier argument, precursors, beginnings. Old cultural atlases, one from 1967, the other from 1976.

How we imagined the coming ecological catastrophe in the 1950s.

Or began to think our way out of it in the 1970s.

It all helps to unsimplify the past. And then there is the pursuit of classics, including the ongoing, patient rebuild of the science-fiction library I dismantled before coming to New Zealand. To the extent that they are still in print, these, too, are books I far prefer to read in their contemporary editions, as the objects of popular consumption they once were.

But this year there was another, less fortunate category of acquisitions: old treasured favourites of my mother’s that I was in no rush whatsoever to inherit. Like this one.


Another year of blogging in the archives. This one was rather eventful, but I’ll skip the obvious, newsy stuff. I hosted my first guest posts, by Megan Clayton and Peter Alsop. I put out my hat, to which you responded most generously. One post got anthologised in a forthcoming book by AUP. I was a guest on Kim Hill’s show, which might have been a dream of mine had I known how to entertain it. These are all things I owe to the weekly practice of keeping this blog. However, the most valuable thing of all was having somewhere to write about and through some very difficult times. It helped me a lot and I thank you for reading everything but especially those posts.


My favourite blog tradition is the ceremonial changing of the banner. So today we salute Tim Denee’s offering

which replaced Dylan Horrocks’

which came after successive designs by Shirley Carran

which were all inspired by the original banner, an old drawing of Bert Warter’s from Bruno Furst’s 1945 classic Stop Forgetting.

This year I asked the wonderful Sarah Laing, who came back with so many ideas I may never have to ask anyone else (but I probably will anyway). It was very hard to choose. She tells me that the gymnast in the picture is Olga Korbut.

I leave you with the last yearful of posts in clickable mosaic form.

 ‘Make my words worth something’ – a trip to the Christchurch Writers and Readers Festival  The Jane Clifton continuum  Of journalism and monsters
 The Autarch  The Pākehā grievance industry  Making the past strange: Justine Fletcher's '607'
 Sweet Dreams Maisy vs. Global Warming's Terrifying New Math  The politics of 'we must change the government'  Arjen Robben, or the art of the hyperreal football dive
 The yellow magician  The lost wedding album  The Tony Blair contingency
 The city of wives  Philemon and Baucis  The great white luxury shop in the sky
 My night at the Canon Media Awards  In the vernacular  The idea of London
 In search of found time  Inside Sherlock's mind palace  His Kampf
 The Brandis doctrine  When Marilyn met Molly  One picture of you, and no more
 My country is the world  Worlds collide  The mathematics of welfare
 Writing social  The cost of living  Seven thousand trillion floppy disks
 Mega Memory  Google wants to live forever  A Christmas for Shacktown
 The kiss  Reversing our commitment to exclusion  A family bestiary
 The business of free speech  A surge in the tide  The map vs. the territory
 One hundred years alive, ten days dead  Sixteen tales of information technology in education, 1991-2013  No one knows where you are
 The struggle for democracy  Faith in numbers  Commercial art no longer a crime
 Crepereia Tryphaena  Five.


Anonymous said...

EIGHTEEN seventy-eight. Although trying to fit them into 1978 was an interesting experience.

And those early sci-fis almost get better with societal and technological distance I think.

Ray said...

I do admire your taste
And what the, are those sailors launching out a porthole , a body or a torpedo?
I know it is not the same experience but those early SF are available as ebooks lacking only the smell and texture of reading a real book

Giovanni Tiso said...

Yes, it's British sailors practicing the launch of a whitehead torpedo. Whereas the chap above them is the freshly dead King of Italy, Victor Immanuel I.

Peter Bradburn said...

The Leopard?
Love your work Mr. Gio. Happy 6.

James Robb said...

Change a name or two here and there, and I'm sure the article on Balmoral, the Royal Holiday Home from the 1953 Woman and Home could be re-used today. Some things are timeless.