On Running and Avatars

After the lugubrious navel-gazing of my former post (this is what happens to writers when they spend too much time on their own; they go mad), I thought it would be nice to inject some jollity into this blog and begin with a joke. Apologies to my married, male heterosexual readers, for this is at your expense:

Q: Why are married women heavier than single women?

A: Single women come home, see what’s in the fridge and go to bed. Married women come home, see what’s in bed and go to the fridge.

O it made me laugh. I love clever jokes. I love all things and all people that make me laugh. When I’m happy (which is often, these days), I sometimes laugh myself to sleep.

Sister returned this week, with dogs but sans children. Sister can talk the leg off an iron pot, and after two weeks in solitude this was something of a shock. However, I’m relieved that she’s back as now I have someone to cook for and will eat properly again.

I was devastated to find the puppy greatly changed: he’d had all his beautiful fur cut off because it was matted with dreadlocks. His pelt was pretty much the reason why I loved him, because he was like a big, soft Persian cat that bit my ankles and escaped with pieces of underwear from my room. Proving that I am not a fickle creature, however, and compensating for fewer cuddles, I have made him my running partner. I used to run with our kelpie when we moved into town and she couldn’t chase sheep or rabbits anymore and went a bit bonkers, and I realised how much I’d missed running with a dog. I said to Sister that I didn’t know what I’d do when the puppy’s fur grew back; I’d look like an idiot running with a fluffy cocker spaniel instead of the lean, bare-faced pointer that he currently is. Anyhow, he loves it, and gallops along with his tongue hanging out, still a dumb blonde despite his manly haircut.

Running also has its uses in that AFL season has begun and the boys are training again. This, naturally, necessitates the use of the route past the oval by the fruit bat colony, which allows for the most marvellous vistas, in tandem with the anxiety of being attacked by bats gone mad from the lyssavirus.

Enjoying our child-free freedom, Sister and I went to see Avatar at Hawthorne. Not having had a 3D experience since Expo 88 when we wore cardboard glasses with blue and red cellophane lenses, we were a little unsure how the new versions worked.

‘I can’t see properly. Does yours have a black spot in it?’ I asked Sister.

‘Yes, I took mine off to clean them.’

‘I don’t think the 3D bit can have started yet.’

While we waited for the movie, Sister bailed up the manager and asked why there were no hearing facilities, as I was too tired for a fight. His contention was that, as it was a cinema that showed blockbusters which were incredibly loud, the hearing impaired didn’t need any special equipment to hear. I would have told him that this was a lazy excuse; for most hearing impaired people it isn’t loudness that helps you hear, but clarity.

As it happened, the dialogue was so bad that it didn’t bother me that I missed half of it, although trying to work out what was going on from the context was a bit difficult. I was also irritated that the subtitled translations of the Na’vi language were clichéd. Surely if you go to the effort of creating a new language, you can render its translations a little more subtly than some kind of colonial pidgin?

That aside, I loved the film. I loved that it was so visually gorgeous, that the female characters were capable and graceful, that the interaction between the Na’vi and their surroundings was evocative of Indigenous Australians. I loved the slippage between dream and reality, and that after a while you couldn’t tell which world you were in. It reminded me of Blade Runner (one of my favourite films), where Decker tells the android with whom he falls in love that she isn’t human, as she believes she is, that her memories are constructs, and that the world she’s in isn’t real to her the way it is to him (presuming that he isn’t a android himself, an enduring question).

I also liked the theme of connections – not just between the Na’vi and the natural world but between humans and the Na’vi. The way their hair curled into a plant or animal echoed Case in William Gibson’s novel Neuromancer, ‘jacking in’ to cyberspace and into another consciousness — which is of course what happened when the humans became avatars, jacking in to another world. The way the Na’vi’s eyes widened when accessing the consciousness of other creatures also made me think of the shock of connection during sex which, in essence, was what the film seemed to be about: the fight to survive, to reproduce, to sustain a way of life.

When the lights came up Sister and I blinked rapidly, our eyes sore. Sister pointed out that the 3D screen was how her world appeared when she didn’t have her driving glasses on. I mumbled a reply, concentrating on getting out the door which is always difficult in darkness with poor balance, and brightened when I saw that the glasses could be recycled.

I was starting work the next day and it was imperative that I sleep. Of course, after my heart pounding for three hours, I didn’t. I could have done with a run to get rid of the adrenalin in my body, or a good laugh.

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