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Nicholas Tamblyn is an author of both fiction and nonfiction. He was formerly a journalist, public policymaker, filmmaker, and researcher with an animal rights organization. His time based in Bangkok and Manila has also influenced the subjects of his writing. He lives just outside Melbourne, Australia, with his wife, author and illustrator Katherine Eglund. For the latest information, follow his blog and updates on social media.

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Latest Posts

Burning the Candle at Both Ends Again

June 10, 2019
The early hours of the morning are so great for working, but I notice that not only are my cognitive skills during the day reduced from or by overwork each night, I actually experience more anxiety, or less calm, by waking in this kind of not wholly rested atmosphere. When you have a child it becomes something trivial for you in comparison to the importance for them. Life passes usually without things out of the ordinary, but when strange things arrive you have little time to appreciate and to rise above them (to adopt the phrase of the famous words in The African Queen) and seconds count. To paraphrase another thing from this article, “A parent’s life is full of interruption.” I have been so busy with other things I haven’t had much time to post here, partly because I get the sense that, in the world of Twitter and Instagram, vlogs and podcasts and compulsively readable political articles (some of which started as or do have the more personable feel of blogs), even by those of massive celebrity, have to a large degree replaced personal or shorter kinds of blogs. It is far easier to absorb those things “on the go” or in a more passive way (longform journalism shared on Twitter is the exception, often tapping into the day’s most recent outrages and their multipronged responses), and so for those of us not interested in vlogging and podcasting perhaps there’s a future in blogs that are experienced in audio (if this isn’t happening already), and if a post is personal but its author is keen for a much larger number of views it had better tap into some of the latest outrages in an “evergreen” sort of way. The blog isn’t dead, but Twitter and Instagram posts are getting longer, podcasts in particular are the revitalised and overtly personalised radio-like future (if not present), and I know that posts these days have to have a lot to say to be worthwhile. You’ll forgive my having less to say in this one, as I will need to get more sleep in order for the next one to be as engaging and thought-provoking as the best videos, podcasts, and think pieces filled with analysis out there, shared, replaced, sometimes out of mind within the hour making way for the latest piece amidst this dynamic, unending flood of information.

Grieving the Death of a Near Stranger, Who Was Once a Friend

February 22, 2019
Most deaths we hear about must pass by like some remote thing – the latest sad news in the daily if now hourly round of it, a friend of a friend, and older people in loved ones’ extended circles for whom death has become expected, and yet when our own nearest loved ones die, at any age and in any condition, our natural grieving can be so close as to be near to suffocating. I was devastated to learn today of the death of an acquaintance – my former government colleague who, with her rare compassion as well as the sincere rapport of a fellow introvert, was also my friend – in her mid-thirties from bowel cancer. The thing is or was, I had not seen her for ten years, but had followed her journey through her online articles and blog and the occasional news stories they generated. She was, to take the line from The Killing of Georgie (adapting gender), “the kindest girl I ever knew” (before I met my wife). As her condition worsened throughout the past year, I drafted a couple of emails, saying, “We used to work near each other (as you well know – and we were even social on occasions now and then outside of the office!), and I’m so deeply sad about what you’re going through because you’re so incredibly kind, and it all is so totally unfair.” As time went by, the email got shorter, as I honed it to being less strangely out of the blue and, I hoped, gentler without offering fake hope at the most traumatic and last period of her life (the pain was, she wrote, at times barely endurable), and less focused on perhaps my own latent compulsion to analyse all earthly things through the lens of death (as I think they ought to be), and, looking down at so many new comments appearing on her Facebook posts, I knew that there were countless others saying what I was intending to say, and I put it off till after Christmas (a sad time for her), her birthday (a happy time for her), and then her most recent operation – but it turned out to be her last. I am filled with sadness at the situation, and know that she was loved and cared for by many others, who said everything that I had wanted to say and more and I am glad that they did so while she was alive. It is a death very separate to me, after so much time having passed from the years of our working acquaintance, and I was reluctant to create any strange feeling about my abrupt appearance after so much time (though her social media, and various passionate and heartbreakingly honest articles she wrote, aimed to bring greater awareness to bowel screening and better diet in aid of preventing bowel cancer, and ways to speak to cancer sufferers – which has genuinely struck home with me). “It’s chaos. Be kind,” says Patton Oswalt Read More

End of Year 2018 Top Ten Films

February 22, 2019
If we talk about moments that stay with us from films, the most memorable ones from the previous year (among the films I watched) would be the fatal jarring moment from “The Hate U Give,” the final shots of “Private Life” and “If Beale Street Could Talk,” the sustained strangeness of lingering shots in “Burning,” and the moving story as well as the moving camera in “Roma.” As the new year arrived, I realised—given in part due to the care of our young son—there were several acclaimed films that I or we hadn’t got round to watching yet—including “Roma.” There are at least five honourable mentions, as well, that I can think of: “Searching,” which is an excellent use of the computer screen-only style, yet the twist (both my wife and I felt) had not really been foreshadowed and so came as a total shock (yet saying that, I still found the ending quite moving); also, “Leave No Trace,” which was well-made and had moments of interesting, almost random, eccentricity, but I felt remote from the cold choice at the ending; the critically lauded “A Star is Born,” which drifted to the acutely ugly strangeness of the closing awards show; “The Favourite,” and its unusual approach to history; and lastly “First Man,” whose ending I discovered was, as moving as it was in enlivening the cool figure of Neil Armstrong, hopeful artistic license rather than history. With another year gone by, writing this post got me thinking about scenes from older movies that just pop into my head—while we were having pancakes this morning it reminded me of all the times we ordered breakfast at a cafe near the hospital we visited for monthly checkups with our son in Bangkok, where one day an elderly American couple asked us if we knew where the nearest pharmacy was, saying with relief, “We heard you were speaking in English!” This reminded me of the moment in “Barry Lyndon” (perhaps Kubrick’s most underrated film in terms of a general viewer seeking it out among his films, if you leave off my favourite of his, “Paths of Glory”) where the Irishman overseas breaks down, even while undercover, at meeting his fellow countryman so far from home. Life is paved and seemingly consolidated in certain ways with these kinds of moments. Any kind of grief or thought of mortality reminds me of Vada and Thomas J. in “My Girl” and Emma Thompson’s (as well as others’) moving performance in “Wit,” or the haunting beauty of the ending of “Ikiru” (or stark conclusion of “Ashes and Diamonds”), and the moment Mr. Banks, accompanied by stirring music, walks to the bank knowing he will be fired in “Mary Poppins.” Whenever I think of philosophy, I’m afraid I don’t think of Kieślowski or Tarkovsky, but several poignant moments in “Groundhog Day.” My father told me that every time he shaves (which is to say every day), he thinks of lyrics from The Monkees. Like the parts and moments of Read More

Schrödinger Was A Physicist But Also A Father

October 26, 2018
Our baby son was stirring yet again in the next room, and again returned to silence; and this time I thought I would read about the personal life of Edwin Schrödinger. Sure enough, while he led an unorthodox life when it came to relationships (when he moved to Dublin it was, on obtaining the visas, with a ménage à trois), he formulated his most popularly famous thought experiment—the cat in the box paradox where he asked, “when does a quantum system stop existing as a superposition of states and become one or the other?”—in 1935, the year after the birth of his daughter (albeit with an Austrian colleague’s wife). When your baby is in the crib in the next room, you are fairly sure everything is going fine, and yet the best way to be sure is to take a look, but then you might wake the baby—not causing the baby any real harm, but probably depriving them of further sleep and you (and perhaps even the neighbours) of rest. Rather than the poison and radioactivity of Schrödinger, all in their genetic makeup and everything in the world may be a potential threat to your newborn. The longer the nap, the greater the temptation you will have to look, or even to lean close and gently prod your baby. If they nap continuously for approaching three hours, in our house at least you begin to expect a cry (or a more conclusive movement in the near-dark), and if it doesn’t come—well, you wait longer; but how much longer do you wait? A nap can be short or intermittent, but at a certain point a nap becomes overly long from yours and your baby’s perspective. It’s possible that the birth of his first child had no impact of this kind on him, that, as it was an unconventional situation with his colleague and his colleague’s wife, he spent less time lingering outside the nursery of his baby daughter. But the somewhat sinister principle—of something or someone being alive and dead and only one or the other when you cannot help but take a look—comes readily to mind when we check fretfully if our baby is sleeping or awake, and alive or dead. That paradoxical cat in the box, however, could have seemed more reasonably poetic to Schrödinger than the baby in the nursery.
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