Writing inspirations – walking on the stones of years

Rugged beaches are amazingly inspiring places. The sea brings chaos to the stones, artfully displaying them in ways that almost look crafted, then layers them with the detritus of distant places. It leaves us wondering about where that debris came from, and how it ended up just there before your feet.

Beach stones, Makara, New Zealand.

Beach stones, Makara, New Zealand.

I think that’s pretty inspiring for any writer. And does anybody know what I am getting at with the title of this post?

Copyright © Matthew Wright 2015

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Writing inspirations – the wonder of Packard

When I think of classic American art deco cars it’s hard to go past the Packard Six. It was stylish, well-engineered, and set the look for the age. Think it looks a bit like a Morrie Thou? Well, that’s no coincidence.

A 1935 Packard Six, immaculately restored, Napier, New Zealand.

A 1935 Packard Six, immaculately restored, Napier, New Zealand. Sir Alec Issigonis styled the Morris Minor after its descendant, the 1941 Packard Clipper.

I spotted this one during the annual ‘art deco’ weekend in Napier, New Zealand. And it got me thinking. That celebration is light-hearted, owing more to Hollywood fantasy images of the 1930s than the reality of the day. But wouldn’t it have been just wonderful if the 1930s had really been like that! A thought to inspire.

Copyright © Matthew Wright 2015

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Writing inspirations – little house I used to live in

I used to live in one of the houses in this photo, on the south edge of Karori Park in Wellington, New Zealand. I won’t say which – it’s thirty years since I was there and I have no idea who lives there now. But I remember the place, and I remember being able to look out on the park while I tapped out my thesis on my mechanical typewriter, and Madonna got into the groove on the stereo.

Little house I used to live in...

Little house I used to live in…

The ‘Young Ones’ were still showing on New Zealand TV. And, on the other side of the park, Katherine Mansfield’s childhood home still stood. Actually, it’s still there now.

I’d already written my first books, as part of what amounted to an internship with the New Zealand Forest Service. But I had no idea where that might lead. Or whether I might ever really write professionally, though even then, that was what I wanted to do.

Copyright © Matthew Wright 2015

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Is vandalism part of the human condition?

I have a small gripe. Vandals keep tagging a power pole just along from where I live. Marking territory, animal-fashion. It happens every few weeks. The local council always has it painted out within the day; but it highlights what, for me, is one of the saddest sides of the human moral compass.

From http://public-domain.zorger.comVandalism. If somebody has something, it seems – even something as simple as a nicely painted power pole in a quiet suburban street – somebody else wants to break it, take it away or deny it to them. Anything humans have, it seems, is targeted in its own way. Take computing. Visionaries like Bill Gates and Sir Tim Berners Lee had a concept for a wonderful and better human world, connected by computer. So what happened? Other people wrote software to damage, steal, or cause inconvenience to users. Vandalism! Somebody trying to take away what you have – these days, usually the contents of your bank account.

I see the same phenomenon in the way academics always respond to others in their territory by denying the worth of the other’s skills and work – vandalising repute in intellectualised terms. To me that is conceptually no different from the way imbeciles with paint cans performed – it’s designed to take away something that somebody else has.

It’s been common enough through history. And it always works the same way:

1. “Someone’s got something I don’t have, so I have to show I’m better by breaking it or taking it off them.”
2. “I am marking my place and showing I am more important than others.”
3.”I feel validated by doing so.”

The motives, in short, are entwined with ego, status anxiety, and with validating a sense of self. Most human actions are. However, vandalism is a selfish form of self-validation.  It validates by taking away from others. To me this the exact reverse of the way we should behave.

In fact there are other – and better – ways of validating yourself. Helping others, for instance – being kind, taking a moment to help.

If we work together to build, isn’t that better than trying to tear down what others do? It is the difference between selfishness (vandalism) and generosity (kindness).  Bottom line is that kindness is the better path. And I think that, through history, there are times when society in general has taken that kinder path – overtly and obviously. But right now, as we roll into the twenty-first century, isn’t one of them. And I think we need to change that – to nurture kindness by taking the initiative – by expressing kindness, even in small ways, to each other.

I’ve said all this before, of course, but it’s worth saying again. Your thoughts?

Copyright © Matthew Wright 2015

Writing inspirations – the art of the radiator cap

Who’d have ever imagined that an Italian car company might produce radiator caps in the shape of a rearing elephant? Well, Bugatti did. Here’s the one adorning their 1930 Bugatti T-46.

1930 Bugatti T-46 radiator cap.

1930 Bugatti T-46 radiator cap.

It’s an amazing piece of 1930s sculpture by any measure – and here it is, as part of a vehicle. Of course, there’s no question that cars – and 1930s cars especially – were wonderful examples of industrial art. And I think that it’s in discoveries such as this that writers can find inspiration, if they know where to look for it.

Copyright © Matthew Wright 2015

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A magical moment from a 1930s deco fantasy

When night falls the deco-age Tom Parker fountain in Napier, New Zealand, glows in a multitude of colours. And it’s been doing it since 1936.

Tom Parker Fountain at night, Napier, New Zealand.

Tom Parker Fountain at night, Napier, New Zealand, New Year 2015. I knew the guy that used to replace the light bulbs.

You can imagine how this would have seemed in the 1930s, when a few minutes watching the pastel glows, with all their redolence of fantasy Hollywood on the other side of the Pacific, helped distract from the often grim world of inter-war New Zealand. An inspiring thought.

Copyright © Matthew Wright 2015

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Writing inspirations – harking back to a more stylish age

I am always inspired by Napier’s annual Art Deco weekend – particularly its vintage car parade, one of the largest in Australasia, all set against a city backdrop of classic 1930s deco architecture. For a moment, if you get the angles right, you can imagine yourself transported back 75 years or so to an age that was not simpler than ours, but which I think was certainly a lot more stylish.

Anybody would think it was a busy street some time in 1937...

Anybody would think it was a busy street some time in 1937…

A thought to inspire.

Copyright © Matthew Wright 2015

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