Contact

Benjamin George Griffin
58 Wentworth Ave
Unit 11 ‘Aspect’
Kingston ACT 2604
Australia
b.g.griffin@pm.me
m 0413 013 357
h 02 6179 3533
reach.bengriff.in
(+61) GMT+11

Sat, 27 Nov 2021

Hey there,

Likely you’ve lost my number and that’s why you’re here.

Update my details by tapping here. Clickable icons for my socials are below.

Seeing as I’ve got your attention, linger with me for a little to chat about happiness and privacy.

I promise to make you less bothered, safer and (with your help) substantially happier with some simple, immediate and practical advice.

I’ve trusted you with my home address, trust me with 20 mins of your time.

Yours,

B. G. Griffin

A friend

Signal


Practical Openness

An Argument Against Your Privacy

No doubt part of you is mildly alarmed that I’m so open with my details. ‘Isn’t it dangerous putting all this information out there?’ The short answer is No. Take my advice and breathe free air friend! I hope, for your sake, to prove this to you. But first, I must put your fears, if not aside, in their proper place.

One should be closed to companies and governments and criminals and nuisances (sure) but not at the expense of closing yourself to friends, old or new.

The Anxiety of Openness

You are unconvinced of my philosophy, and rightly so, I have not proved anything. Before you can really hear me, I need to deliver you from your fears. So, let’s dispense with the worst of them with practicality and common sense.

The Stoics say we should take our fears seriously and consciously, lest they take control of us. To imagine the worst, prepare for it, and that done, let go. That is to be less afraid, less anxious and more free; we first have to feel more afraid, more anxious and briefly trapped. Trust me, it will only hurt a little.

For argument sake, let’s say there are genuine monsters out there. Really bad ones. Omniscient phantoms with infinite resources. The ghost of Christmas past is listening to your clicks and watching through your camera and has no intent other than to nudge your life slowly and silently and surely toward a tragic mistake and thence to misery. The situation could not be worse, most tragically because you are hopelessly unaware. Let’s say this is in fact the case. Such a spectre will find you without google search and find me without this page. Hiding my address or my phone number will not make a whit of difference to the great malign invisible, ever. The attempt to hide will only succeed in making life difficult for you, now my dear dear anxious friend. In between then and now, we will pointlessly worry.

The reality of our situation might be worse. It is that it’s 2021. Scammers, Advertisers and Vote Riggers are waist-deep in your data. It has been out there for years. Every time you use a seemingly ‘free’ service, make no mistake: you are not getting some product for free. You are the product and you have been sold to Sam the Scam, Al the Adman and Vlad the Vote Rigger. Wisdom says that to whatever degree this is true, you need to accept it and deal with it.

It is at least silly, at worst dangerous, and certainly unwise to believe openness is the problem. The silly thing is believing that in this day and age, you can hide these basic details from anyone sufficiently motivated. The dangerous thing is believing that your number is the fact about you that matters in the first place.

This is perhaps not controversial and I’m not telling you much more than you already know. However, I suspect you have not done much about this because you don’t know quite how. Fear not! I’m here, and here to help! Following are my recommendations for some easy fixes for your digital life.

Then with your fears and annoyances put aside as they can be, I will argue with you for your happiness.

20 minutes to Freedom

Substantial Freedom from Spam, Scam and Surveilance

(1 min) First and foremost, help others and do your bit for democracy. Vlad the Vote Rigger is a dick and you should support the peeps keeping an eye on him: the Advertising Observatory has a thing for your browser. You can trust them. The Observatory is run by some nice engineering nerds at a University with support from a grab bag of non-profits you’d like, and the real-life Newspaper that inspired Superman/Clarke Kent’s The Daily Planet.

Next, help yourself out and switch to software that is meaningfully free because it is non-profit. It is common sense that a for-profit will always have the temptation to sell out, sell you, and sell you out. So, switch to these Open Source options.

  • (2 mins, 4 clicks) They have your data, why give them more? #ComeToTheDuckSide young Jedi. Leave Google for the Anti-tracker Search Engine DuckDuckGo. Make sure you install their anti-tracker plugin for your browser to keep blocking Al-the-Adman.
  • (3 mins, 5 clicks) But they have so much already. Yes, yes they do. Why let them use it? Install this non-profit Advertising Blocker, AdBlock Plus. Why this one? I’ve used it for almost 20 years. This one has stood the test of time with only one concession: they allow text-only and un-intrusive ads. If you’re a purist you can even turn this off. If you’re a pure purist (with 2 mins more) you can use double down with uBlock (FirefoxChromeOpera). I use both.
  • (7 mins, 20 clicks, 40 keystrokes) You want your anonymity? Do it properly and disappear in the crowd with a VPN. Use this free swiss option, ProtonVPN. Why? It’s the safest, cheapest and fastest. If they have ulterior motives, it’s to do with giant magnets: Their day job is smashing protons together to see whats in them at CERN.
    • It’s not widely known but has always been the case that Physicists have the biggest internet connections. They need to trade Petabytes of data from their experiments. Typically 10,000x of what would fill your laptop. So they’ve got some big internet pipes nearby.
    • As a claim to fame Proton comes out of the same labs that previously invented the web. If you want to support them to cover costs (for like $5) they also offer the worlds best secure email, calender and cloud-storage.
    • As a kicker you can also unlock all the cool American TV on Netflix that you’ve been blocked from.
  • (3 mins, 10 taps) Secure your texts. Don’t send an SMS, send a Signal. It’s the gold standard and is widely used by diplomats, military, journalists, activists et al. Also, the phone calls are much clearer than you’ll get from a phone company. Get your nearest and dearest onto it.
  • (5 mins, 15 taps) Secure your IM and group chats with an actual private messenger. Forget Facebook Messenger/WhatsApp/instagram which are neither secure nor private, no matter how much they protest. (How could they be, all three are owned and funded by Facebook advertising.) Instead use Telegram, “The messenger that stood up to the Kremlin– and won”, according to the Washington Post. Secure AF. Also, has the best gifs and stickers.

There is one for-profit thing that I recommend. Screen out scam phone calls with Hiya. They aren’t pure as the driven snow: they preference big corporates (boo!) however, they are pretty great at catching scams and spams (hurrah!)

On the Wisdom of Openness

That’s all the practical advice I have, and it will leave you less hassled and safer. This pleases me immensely. But, I also want you to avoid discomfort but to actually be happier in a substantial way. There is a bigger and much more important question here, and perhaps the true source of your original discomfort at my openness. “Is it dangerous to live a life of openness?” To my mind, it’s the safest choice. I think Aristotle is right (if a little dark) that “the antidote to 50 enemies is one friend” If he’s right, I’ll add that with those odds you should keep an open door unless you think more than 2% of people are actively out to get you. I’ll further add there is a real feeling of freedom that comes with being open. It feels good.

My worry for you is that being too private will make you unhappy; at the very least you could be happier than you are without this hesitation and I intend to cure you of it. You see friends are a real joy in life, one of the greatest, and one that modern life has taken away from us piecemeal over the centuries. If being locked down has taught us anything, it should have taught us that our friends are important. My advice in this regard is that you should, at the absolute minimum, be easy for your friends to find.

The difficulty is, that it takes some getting used to, and it can be oddly discomforting for one human to reach out to another. This is a real, genuine and very substantial problem. There are all manner of reasons for this, personal and cultural both, but let’s not intellectualise to numbness. It’s at least uncomfortable, and finding a way through these feelings has the reward of lightness and freedom. It is that far a worthwhile task. That being the case, I will not make it one moment harder for anyone, including you. This is why my details are here.

More than the apps, I recommend this attitude: That of openness.

I’ll also ask you to reach out to me, like … right now. A postcard or a physical letter to the address at the top would make by day, it truly would, but anything will do… promise not to bite, or to reply right away.

Reach out.

“J’aprende ton presence a le vent.”

S.E.M.

Bella Principessa in maxima brava … j’escrivere a te.

J’aprrendre ton presence comme le vent.

Je suis in le premiere place a la Napoli, room 302 in the UNA Napoli. And i think of you, and write to you in three tongues.. But from one heart. My Australian one. Which you stole the day we first met. I was overwhelmed then. And salved. In the way that Italia has saved me from my past, and that time, and … now i move towards you.

I look north, with the statue of ‘il munocipio di napoli’ to my left, and i try to stand … firmly but lightly looking toward you in Paris.

But instead my eyes well with tears.

When you believe that these words are mine, you will know that I am yours.

Benjamin George Griffin.
Naples, Italia.

Paper

Sing to me of the man, Muse, the man of twists and turns
driven time and again off course, once he had plundered …
-The Odyssey, Homer

I noticed how you tossed it down
this book
the very specific way the pages
floated and slapped
with just a slight disgust
an ugh
from the back of the throat
like youd just given up explaining something to a tradesman
your eyebrows slightly furrowed
as you moved your eyes to the next task

I used to look at your notes as a kid
Take an awe in the power they seemed to hold

Rheems and rheems of hammers
that looked like paper to a child
hammers and concrete trucks and joists and beams
contained all your thoughts and force
contained in your messy
mercurial scrawl
that griffonage
that contained the arms and legs
of all those men
that built all those hospitals
that saved all those lives
ugh

you look silently to the next task
and tell me i can have these pages
with a barely perceptible nod
a slight crinkle of the eyes
as the move off to the horizon

this paper
that you reluctantly give to the table rather than me

this other paper
that brought you to tears
minutes before is now in my hands
covered in other wrigglings
that you dont understand
that you dont want taking your eyes off the horizon
that you say will kill you

“It ll kill me if you dont sign it”
you say, pregnant with so much meaning
your eyes squinting with pain now
like youre looking at the place youll drown yourself
before the cancer has its way

your eyes go from squint to crinkle
and the tears start to fall like the echoes of hammers
and i move to your knee
place my hand on it
wafting slowly over the deck of the boat
and whisper

you turn to the horizon
not able to look me in the eyes
and as if the sea itself filled them
you cry
and the horizon blurs

“I cant take this shit anymore.”
you say, voice creaking like an old boat
as your tongue sticks to the top of your mouth
to stop the air in your lungs
releasing a sob

or a life

you get up awkwardly now
and you stumble because you cant quite see
away from me

so much

I keep throwing up
Is it that I miss you that much?
Is it that letting you go
Again
Leaves me physically love sick?

Or is it just the whole box of cigarettes I smoked

You kissed me in that way you do
With a big grin on your face
Your hands together in front of you

I want you back here now
so much
That I let you leave

erasure.

Time passes.
Memory fades, memory adjusts, memory conforms to what we think we remember.
Joan Didion, Blue Nights
quoted in an LARB review

I’m thinking now of erasure. That way that you can disappear from someone’s world even though you’ve just met them.

I often felt like this. Invisible and ghostlike. That great passions, intimate dreams and rare inspiration can so quickly evaporate in morning light. This last time reduced to a text message.

I’ve evaporated. Like so much red wine left at the bottom of a glass… Given a week, where angsty recollection, dreamy midnight pauses and the soft stubbornness not to clean the glasses and clear the table leave that time spent together a rippled dry plum red at the bottom of a glass.

Blood. Dead and dried, two metres away clinging to glass like the memory; but when approached still have the scent of that initial romance. Still, in it’s deadness when breathed recall that rarer time.

I have five poems.

But I know from too much experience that any effort to recall this time- To fix it in words, is its end. That drawing a mask from the feminine mystique constitutes a definitive symbolic violence– driving real love away with a symbolic replacement. Is it too much to turn a real moment into forms? Or is it never enough?

modern new wave

Those of you who know me might know that i have an unnatural attachment to mixtapes, whatever form they turn up in. Here is a find. I stumbled across this playlist rolled together by a guy(girl?) that calls him(her?)self ‘Datasuck‘ … I love being rewarded when I click blithely around, and the serendipity of this little find endears me to it all the more: The only reason I wound up discovering their cute sense of humour, and delicious sonic tastes was that it included what is now my favourite track from the new Smashing Pumpkins album.

This mix is wonderfully put together, passing through cute almost self effacing almost 8bit, through a driving polished house remix’, then reaching a sad creshendo in the final few tracks, finising on that new SP favourite of mine. I has left me simultaneously elated and nostalgic.

I don’t know if it’s ‘New Wave’, but if it is then it’s definitely more ‘modern’ for all the extra texture there wasnt in 1989.

And I love it.

It’s well timed. For me at least. It’s been a tough couple of weeks for me (or months? or years?) so it’s particularly pleasing to be reminded, right now, of how I adore the witching hour, and all these dreamy droning tones.

I’m wondering if I shouldn’t put up a little listening station with a microfm transmitter somewhere…

Consume

Rom:  …Then love-devouring death do what he dare;
It is enough I may but call her mine.
Friar:            These violent delights have violent ends
And in their triumph die, like fire and powder,
Which, as they kiss, consume. The sweetest honey
Is loathsome in his own deliciousness
And in the taste confounds the appetite.
Therefore love moderately; long love doth so;
Too swift arrives as tardy as too slow.

– W.S. R & J 2,vii 

i flipped on Baz’ version of R&J
a
nd half paid attention
treating it more like background radio
not having a radio here

these words leapt out
for some fairly obvious reasons

and reminded me of every old love
(and one or two)
(particular painful)
(in particular 

fire and powder
as they kiss
consume

The second line of final couplet
strikes me as forced

(but i’m probably just resistant)
(to restraint)

Lost Love

2012 …. Emma was the great, tortured, love of my young life.

I spent four days with Nicci, in a well of grief and abandonment, she reached out like an ever chuckling angel at just the right moment and, in just the right way. She hocked her camera too keep the wine flowing, and I bought her an emerald before the week was out. There was someone else, there always is for me. It’s my metier, my modus operandi, and my curse.

Marrysong

He never learned her, quite. Year after year
That territory, without seasons, shifted
under his eye. An hour he could be lost
in the walled anger of her quarried hurt
on turning, see cool water laughing where
the day before there were stones in her voice.
He charted. She made wilderness again.
Roads disappeared. The map was never true.
Wind brought him rain sometimes, tasting of sea –
and suddenly she would change the shape of shores
faultlessly calm. All, all was each day new;
the shadows of her love shortened or grew
like trees seen from an unexpected hill,
new country at each jaunty helpless journey.
So he accepted that geography, constantly strange.
Wondered. Stayed home increasingly to find
his way among the landscapes of her mind.

– Dennis Scott

No, mate, It’s MY country you Bogan Fuckwit.

Renae Jones posted on facebook

I LOVE A SUN BURNT COUNTRY..
WITH CHOPS N SNAGS N CHIPS,
KANGAROOS AND HOLDEN CARS,
I LOVE THIS PLACE TO BITS,
CAMPIN ON THE RIVER
OR SWIMMIN BY THE SEA,
AUSSIE AUSSIE AUSSIE
THIS WIDE BROWN LAND FOR ME,
SO CMON MATES
GRAB A BEER
A RUM OR BOURBON
AND RAISE, YA GLASSES HIGH,
AND GET SOMEONE WHO DOGS US,
AND PUNCH THEM IN THE EYE,
COZ IM A FLAMIN OZZIE,
ILL TAKE IT IN ME STRIDE,
DONT LIKE IT HERE THEN BUGGER OFF
COZ I HAVE AUSTRALIAN PRIDE

 11am Queensland time (my time), from somewhere near Adelaide
three likes

I respond:

“If it weren’t so bloody Australian to celebrate something of our bread-stealing convict past by robbing this poem, i’s get angry about you ruining it.” (sic)

After which i posted the original poem, two scathing retorts followed by the second verse of the National Anthem. Then I wished her a Happy Chinese New Year.

I should have said this

from Acclaim Magazine c/- 'Art Bitch' of facebook fame 

If it weren’t so bloody Australian to celebrate something of our bread-stealing convict past by robbing this poem, I’d get angry about you ruining it. Perhaps I’m being too kind.

Yes. Yes I am.

You do make me angry because this kind of ignorant shit isn’t as innocent as it is  awkward-funny.

The original poem is a gorgeous thing about being a hardworking open hearted grazier in the Outback. But you wouldn’t know a single thing about that because you’ve never lived through a drought or dug a single fence post, have you? Have you mate? Mate?

You can read it in all it’s glorious beauty at the end of this post, first I need to educate you on the National Anthem.

Let’s get this straight you stupid fuckwit. There’s nothing fucking Australian about racism. We’re so bloody lovely to strangers here. That’s why everyone visits, and shitloads of them stay, and bloody hero’s brave the fucking seas to get here on shitty boats from Indo. I’m a sailor, and I say anyone that tries that is fucking welcome at my joint.  We’re lovely to strangers here. This lovely: We even let pricks like you get around. This is why:- not because you fucking represent us when you tie a flag around your shoulders and belt some brown folk in Cronulla; We let you get around because you make the rest of us lovely folk look good. And, for sport, blokes like me enjoy putting you in your place when you dog our Turkish mates.

You’re sport. Not Art. Certainly not a Poem.

One of my pet hates is racism. (That’s an understatement.) I’d call you a crypto-fascist but, you wouldn’t understand the words, the academic or historical reference or, the dry English joke. So. Let me make this a little simpler for you, mate….  YOU, mate, can “Bugger off … cos I’ve got Australian Pride”.

People who profess Australian Pride like that are the people that don’t have any personal pride,  and with good reason. Shit poetry and worse insults get thrown around like dogshit, but one of the things I bloodly love is that it’s always done by people that don’t even know the Australian Anthem. Nor can sing it. Nor know where it came from. I consider not one a citizen of my Australia.

My grandfathers and great grandfathers all fought for this country, in the wars and after in the workplace, to make sure that even pricks like you got a fair go. They went to the other side of the earth to make sure some Jews got a fair go. They got jobs for Italians and Greeks and Turks. Because everyone deserves a fair go. This, mate, is Australian. And this, mate, is how their generation got about putting that into good poetry. It’s better than your ALLCAPS RACISM. Alot better. The second verse is the important one. This is from my Australian Anthem:

Beneath our radiant Southern Cross
We’ll toil with hearts and hands;
To make this Commonwealth of ours
Renowned of all the lands;
For those who’ve come across the seas
We’ve boundless plains to share;
With courage let us all combine
To Advance Australia Fair.

Do you know this by heart? Thought not. And you call yourself bloody Australian do you! That’s the bit of the National Anthem that isn’t in your head, or in your heart. I’m refering here to the ‘boundless plains to share’ and the ‘with courage let us ALL combine’.

Though it’s nice that you can find a piece of slang to express yourself (i refer here to the ‘Bugger off’ that could be removed from the poem with the last line, to make it perfectly fine), though it’s nice you can find some slang there’s better stuff around. Read Henry Lawson. Haven’t done that, have you? Mate? On your bike to the library then. Pick up the second volume of his Prose Works. You’ll have laughed and cried in the first 30 pages, mate. It’ll make you a better person, and finally, a better Australian.

So here it is, what we’ve all been waiting for, from a stockman’s wife called Dorothy–

The thing you stole and ruined, not just with your dogshit poem–to call it bullshit would lend it a dignity it doesn’t deserve– this beautiful thing you ruined with you ungenerous untested heart.

My Country

The love of field and coppice
Of green and shaded lanes,
Of ordered woods and gardens
Is running in your veins.
Strong love of grey-blue distance,
Brown streams and soft, dim skies
I know, but cannot share it,
My love is otherwise.
I love a sunburnt country,
A land of sweeping plains,
Of ragged mountain ranges,
Of droughts and flooding rains.
I love her far horizons,
I love her jewel-sea,
Her beauty and her terror
The wide brown land for me!
The stark white ring-barked forests,
All tragic to the moon,
The sapphire-misted mountains,
The hot gold hush of noon,
Green tangle of the brushes
Where lithe lianas coil,
And orchids deck the tree-tops,
And ferns the warm dark soil.
Core of my heart, my country!
Her pitiless blue sky,
When, sick at heart, around us
We see the cattle die
But then the grey clouds gather,
And we can bless again
The drumming of an army,
The steady soaking rain.
Core of my heart, my country!
Land of the rainbow gold,
For flood and fire and famine
She pays us back threefold.
Over the thirsty paddocks,
Watch, after many days,
The filmy veil of greenness
That thickens as we gaze …
An opal-hearted country,
A wilful, lavish land
All you who have not loved her,
You will not understand
though Earth holds many splendours,
Wherever I may die,
I know to what brown country
My homing thoughts will fly.

 – Dorothea MacKellar

My Auntie delivered that at my cousin’s wedding in Ireland.

It was well received. By the people that were left behind while we came here, my kith and kin, to this place that we didn’t like so much when we first arrived some two hundred and something years ago. They didn’t tell us to bugger off because we didn’t like it then.

Mate.

Now, let me get this final-clear for you.

It’s MY country you bogan fuckwit, and you should count your bloody blessings before you talk shit to every brown fella that you think doesn’t like this place well enough to stay. I say, it being my country, that anyone can come here. Guess what? I’ve got more mates than you and they agree with me. The new arrivals are more bloody Australian than you. Mate. They learn the anthem. Mate.

And in finishing, a poem for you:

Two likes for your post.
Just two.
THAT is what gives me Australian Pride.

I’ll think of you, your professed Australian Pride (and your French firstname) when I sing the second verse to my national anthem, at the RSL, this Australia Day.

Mate.

Meditation on the Plums II

She is thinking of the tart, thumb-sized plums
they ate together, and of one in particular.
Unremarkable, except it was the last he gave her.
Of what it was, to stand in the small stone
kitchen, tasting the bittersweet strings
of fruit clinigng to wood. The intimacy
in those ruins. Saying plum and not yet
meaning heartache. Letting the ordinary become the last.

 — Sarah Holland-Batt, Aria p56

NO I DO

for the Negev Desert, Sky

I DO LOVE YOU
you beat on my chest
years ago
a bottle of tequila and a bubble bath between us
your tiny fists rain painful thumps
Nakedly
I say I don’t believe you
you can’t
you don’t
they aren’t innocent words
and yours isn’t an innocent voice
I say this
So I don’t have to say
I love you
too nakedly

NO I DO LOVE YOU!
Yelling and thumping

You will be embarrassed by this tomorrow
You will be embraced by me tommorrow
as I tease you relentlessly
because you’re a non-violent hippy
and you hit me relentlessly
You will be embarrassed for months
But I will remember it
your love
your tiny fists
your ‘innocent’ voice
years later
in the desert of prophets
that knows no innocence
or all of it
when I stare at the sky
blue and hot
and blank
I will remember
and believe
when I pick up a stone
and write

I LOVE YOU
too nakedly.


Gallery

My mood in others’ Art

I’m too tired, or tense, or tested or…  to write or translate any poetry tonight. So i’m expressing myself by way of collecting. Here are three images that resonate and express my mood by Harland Miller, Rothko and Lautrec.

by Harland Miller

I found some huge originals of these hanging in a Hotel Lobby in Beirut earlier in the year. I thought they were wonderful, sad and very beautiful. This one seems appropriate to me right now, with so many strange silences lingering in the air of my life.

I wish I had a print.

by Mark Rothko

I first fell for this guy when I skimmed through Simon Schama’s History of Art (which was terrible when compared to his History of England) … the only episode that seemed honest and self reflective was the one on the old New York Jewish Impressionist. I’ve collected pictures of him ever since. This one captures my mood tonight. Warm and nostalgic, a little tense.

 by Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec

I love how mutable this image is. The sparkle in her smiling eyes, bright against the overhuge overheavy dress– And how there are two smiles, one with a hidden evil, or an allusion to death. This image speaks to me.