Sunday, November 30, 2008

Closed-cycle (single-broken-line) ecology

When I first got this tattoo I was in the early stages of developing a personal methodology for a closed-cycle ecology where the world is allowed to come in, pass through, participate and leave at will.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Reaping that which is possible

Today's harvest: broad beans and snow peas.

When growing food ceases to become a lifestyle choice (a mediation), but a life conscious act – or, rather a collective act for community health and defiance against governments who support industrialised agriculture – our society will begin its slow walk away from a culture of abuse to one of sustainability; one that fixes carbon, not one which burns it; one that produces no waste because everything is used and re-used in a closed-cycle ecology. Until that time government proclamations about the environment are empty and off the mark.

The food needs to be walking distance (relocalisation) and human brutality direct and seen for what it is, not disguised on the shelves of supermarkets. Our council tips need to move from methane producing toxic dumps to aerobic compost heaps and community gardens.

All of this is possible if enough of us stop waiting for governments to act or watch them lead us in the opposite direction (John Brumby). Which leads me to my current read (a gift from Jason), which I highly recommend:

David Graeber, p23 –
Sexual relations, after all, need not be represented as a matter of one partner consuming the other; they can also be imagined as two people sharing food.
More on Possibilities later.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Nothing more, nothing less

There is nothing more self-determining, anarchical, pleasurable, poetic, subversive, exhilarating and intensely rewarding than growing your food. Today I planted 6 varieties of Banksia, two Blackwood wattles and about twenty stalks of sweet corn in the free soil, now weeded and mulched, that council dropped off last week.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Double=white=Australia=line (flour works, 2004)


A well-composted soil fixes carbon in the earth where it’s needed most.

Permaculture bases its design principles on agro-ecology. A permaculturalist understands local ecology and applies this understanding to food production. This changes social, economic and cultural structures. If a poet’s food, which in part provides the material for poesis, is produced with her involvement, and within walking distance of her primary dwelling, her text is altered from one of capitalisation (reliance upon importation of resources) to one of ecology. The poet now participates actively within the environment that supports her, and the form and content of her life and work change accordingly.

The Readings Summer book catalogue arrived today which woke me from my slow text fantasy. I flicked through it in horror before heading back to my soil sifting. As I worked I imagined a publishing industry based on permaculture design and writers and poets stripped bare of their mediated existences; once dislocated, now active participants in the world that supports them.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Hairy soil (for Peter O'Mara)

We had two truck loads of unwanted soil dumped by council workers who were moving earth in our street. Unwanted because of the weed factor. The soil was originally brought in by the council only 6 months ago to top dress the nature strip, it then became overgrown and complaints were made. I thought that it was better the soil stay in the area than be transported away again and asked Paul the truck driver, who used to run the Trentham hardware next door to my old bookshop, if he could bring it down.

Pete turned up and said 'what's with the hairy soil?'

We are beginning to go through it with the pitchfork, separating all the grass and thistle and other organic matter into a separate pile. We will then cook it in a compost to kill the seed. The filtered soil will be used to top dress the property before being mulched to improve the overall humus and grow more food.

A nice little self-serving exercise within this hairy ecology.

Friday, November 21, 2008

The Australian

To the Letters Editor:

I bought your paper today for the first time in years. Reading it was like sneaking into a black tie dinner at a men's only club. Wow! I thought, people still think like this, but of course I was joking, you're just representing what we all think, right?

What I found since my last read (back in your glorious Howard years) was an even greater ramping up of heroic capitalist rhetoric, finer crafted greenwashing, and a border-line sociopathic hyper-mediated psyche, with the subtext embedded dispassionately: 'power invents a mask for powerlessness to wear' (TS). All this, despite the writing on the wall signaling the end, thank fuck, of capitalism.

Knowing a little of the territory marked by your bullish jock journos who champion pop-fascists like Rupert Murdoch – why wouldn't you, he's your boss right? – I should hardly have been surprised, but to witness again the dogmatic clutching on to an economics based upon profit growth and the refusal to advocate for a commerce that mimics ecological systems illustrates your bloody-minded stupidity and out-moded ideology.

Even after the nature crunch (which will make the sinking global-pool-of-money seem like just another family holiday spent at home), your paper (in the unlikely event that it survives) will no doubt once again twist the story of capitalism's failure to one of triumph. But capitalism's real triumph will be our extinction.

Your newspaper, to borrow McKenzie Wark's words, is a shopping guide where news breaks up the commercial page and filters the right stock advice throughout it. Your newspaper preaches the reliance upon the importation of resources when we know this to be our species' death wish. Therefore, your paper is illogical.

Luckily for me, my money is not totally wasted in buying today's, nor the material you print your capitalist propaganda on as it will go nicely in my compost, and feed the worms who enrich the soil to grow the food that is in walking distance to my home.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Hamish's gift

Response to my Tagged post by Hamish Morgan. 

You talk about in your 'How to do Words with Things' about city based artists feeding off their own disconnection/abstraction in order to do their art (I would have to check up on that); their angst becomes generative of the work itself, and because everyone in the city has this disconnection there is a good market for this kind of work. Consumers buy the art in order to express their solidarity with disconnection and consumption. Your play in the city (along with an interest in graffiti, tagging, fonting!), to me, expresses a critique of those kind of artistic practices. That is, an art practice not built around consumption, one that is decapitalised. You propose an exchange, or gift-ecology. (The idea of a gift-economy began with Marcel Mauss, an anthropologist writing in the late 1920s after the destruction of Europe – through war and the industrial revolution – and wanting to rediscover a point of human connection without economic and industrial subterfuge. His book, 'The Gift', is a rather interesting critique of capitalism). I digress, back to my long-winded point. So you are interested in an art practice that generates responsibilities, obligations, debts, counter-gifts that keep a cycle of exchange going, that connects and keeps us in play with each other. (Another side point, the word for gift in German 'Gib' is the same word as poison - i.e. the gift is not 'free' but indebts us to give back, which is not necessarily a bad thing. The gift; antidote and poison! Also the English derivative of gift comes from the same word as 'take': the gift economy is one where we give and take; by giving we take something from the other - we take their sense of debt so that they give back!).

Perhaps all I want to say is that a truly decapitalised practice would have nothing to do with the city; would have no play with its structures, because this is what gives and takes our (creative) energy. I love a good ideas stoush; this shows my terrible reliance on critique (this is what the university teaches). I retreat from creativity through the self-defense of critique - now there is another provocation... PJ, I might add, I find your work terribly hopeful and evocative of a post-industrial future. Please keep sharing and indebting us all in a gift-ecology.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008


The great social and ecological perversion that became Christian-capitalism.

Tagged Post (a response to Hamish Morgan)

The following writing is in response to Hamish Morgan's comment on Tag yesterday.

I don’t think Tag is ‘against the city’; at least it is not a negation in total. It is difficult for play to be against something when it is caught up in the surprise and the joy of the new.

We have made similar work in the country, and of course the environment alters the work we make wherever it is. A rule of our practice, set out by John Cage, is ‘a work of art should include its environment’.

So, I see this new work not so much a critique, nor a logical attack, rather states of permanent play (permaplay) in everyday space and poesis (meaning-making) through activity before langauge. Making art without producing anything consumable is an obvious eco-politic that is 'against' the city (civis, civilisation, centre, transportation of resources, capitalisation, etc), but the work overall, I think, is more than this.

We specifically chose non-heroic, non-spectacular outer parts of Melbourne for no other reason than CBDs (toxicities) are so last century.

In relation to tagging itself I have a developing interest in the urban phenomenon of self-determining font making, graffitists who through the act of generating their own personalised fonts decentralise and demiltarise the alphabet in public space. This is important and exciting territory, and the body as tag is an extension of this line of graffic thought.

To make Tag we caught a train down to Melbourne, thus burning carbon, so this is a negation of our own making. A zero carbon footprint comes in small gradual steps over the next 6-7 years. Just in terms of carbon, we have a very small distance to go compared with, say, Fox Studios.

Additionally this film is part of a gift-ecology, a concept I'm developing so as my overall practice continues to contribute to the global movement of decapitalised art. I use gift-ecology instead of 'gift-economy' (a term developed by capitalists), because art should produce no waste – hence permanent culture (permaculture) as antidote to toxiculture.

Again, all this is transitional thought, on the way to a post-industrial, post-consumerist modality.

Thanks to all the commenteers – such generosity!

Monday, November 17, 2008


Jason and I had a day making new work in Melbourne last Friday. On Saturday we put together this collage.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

WorkmanJones tag Brunswick

The printing of the poem appears as a tag on the retina of the passer-by – a poetry of memory, of a pure consumption of time and of a pure materialism – generated by chance, spitting everything back onto the street as a compost activator for culture.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Thursday, November 13, 2008

One die mash around

Recalling: Daniel Spoerri post, Wednesday 29, October:
Spoerri's Magic รก la Noix, p9’.

If the fact of becoming an architect after having built castles in the sand, of becoming a butcher after having pulled the wings off flies, of becoming a professor after having stuck one's nose in books, if all that indicates an incapacity to grow up, then I agree...

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Compost & Cos

Today I killed Bill. She wasn't getting better with the garlic water and we couldn't justify the expense of a vet, nor the fantasy of industrial pharmaceuticals. I killed her as part of redressing the compost area, which looked like this at about 5pm. 

At 4.30pm I brought the black and white bins, full of kitchen scraps, back from Ben's cafe, laid Billy to rest at the base of the right-hand bay, tore up several cardboard boxes and placed them over her. I then wet down this elegiac layer and heaped on Ben's scraps, straw from the coup and Meg's day's weeding material, before covering up both bays to cook the compost.

The bay on the left (above), that I last turned here for Hamish Morgan – who today sent more reference humus: Katherine Gibson's 'The End of Capitalism' – is almost ready for use on the garden.

I picked our finest cos lettuce (above right) and returned Ben's bins, proudly presenting the first exchange of our casual gift-ecology.

Merciless Prose, 1947

My friend Bradley sent me George Orwell's essay 'Politics and the English Language' after seeing Best Sellers. In it Orwell argues for a written language that is not exporting surplus and waste. Here are the fast and hard rules:

i. Never use a metaphor, simile or other figure of speech which you are used to seeing in print. 
ii. Never use a long word where a short one will do. 
iii. If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out. 
iv. Never use the passive where you can use the active. 
v. Never use a foreign phrase, a scientific word or a jargon word if you can think of an everyday English equivalent. 
vi. Break any of these rules sooner than say anything outright barbarous. 

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Excerpt (Garden as Collective Offensive)

In less than a generation we have used half the world’s oil supply and are rapidly depleting other fossil fuels. Cheap food and cheap energy are becoming things of the past. The machinations of growth-obsessed industrial civilisation result in the continual transfer of carbon from the ground, where it is good, to the atmosphere, in ever-increasing quantities that make it toxic. Despite all the evidence demonstrating this, the governing corporations remain committed to the growth model - acting as though the environment has an infinite capacity to absorb the relentless production of toxicological wastes.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Best Sellers

The Centre for Collective Wealth is a project-based initiative founded by Jason Workman and Larisa Marossine in Brooklyn, NY. The centre facilitates online projects, discussions, events, public works and shows.

For its inaugural project, the Center for Collective Wealth presents Best Sellers, a new video work by Patrick Jones. 

Rain, finally

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Out of print

I've thought for a long time about how to make publishing books more a part of a closed-cycle ecology.

As the wireless reading device is still relatively non-existent, we really only have an industrial model of publishing: thousands of tonnes of books and draft manuscripts annually depopulating forests and by extension, releasing carbon into the atmosphere as greenhouse gas. It's a pretty fucked-up industry, like water bottled in plastic, that few seem to be critiquing.

Books I've published in the past use materials such as vegetable-based inks and recycled and chlorine-free pulp, however, production is still industrialised. Finsbury Green is the printery Ian and I generally use, and while they are leading the transition in cleaner technologies, I'm not convinced this will make all that much difference to the mammoth task we have of dismantling our toxiculture.

I think that change has to come from writers, who now have to decide their level of output, material use and distribution method – especially if we consider that transportation is an assault on the landbase that supports us. It helps when writers are also the publishers and distributors, like David Prater, a poet and early advocate of online publishing. He edits Cordite and knows first hand how much paper and ink has not passed through his office in the past ten years.

However, where the digital age has the potential to reduce pulp consumption on the planet, there's still the problem of digital hardware and the capitalisation (toxicology) of new technology – new equipment is upgraded while old equipment is offloaded as non-compostable waste.

Then there's the materiality of books – their objecthoodness. Words and Things (2004) is an anthology of chance, concrete poetics and mutable literatures I edited, contributed to and co-produced with Ian Robertson. It includes Richard Tipping, Peter Tyndall, Peter O'Mara, Marie Sierra, Jeff Stewart, Aleks Danko, Alex Selenitsch and Geoffrey Baxter. It's now out of print and the 600 copies we manufactured are out in the world ready for some sort of decomposition.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008


We're a little worried about Billy. She hasn't been looking that great of late. Our friend Jo said it sounds like she has a respiratory infection – budding vets and other chook experts can see Billy's condition for themselves here. On Jo's recommendation we have put a solution of boiled garlic in their drinking water. If Billy has not improved in the next day or two we will take her to the vet. Cuba and Dirt on the other hand are fighting fit – as demonstrated by their day's joyous offerings.

Monday, November 3, 2008

The Blogatron

Derrick Jensen's core premise, that industrial civilisation is not and can never be sustainable, is central to my move towards a post-industrial poetry. Together with friends, neighbours, the garden and a four-year old, de-logoed blogatron on Wi-Fi (above), we move towards a digi-primitivism; de-industrialised and de-capitalised.

Industrial civilisation is a toxiculture – from every modernised (genetically vulnerable) wheat seed to the next (carbon dioxide producing) Man Booker Prize novel. Yes, the blogatron too!

Part of the solution is permaculture, an antidote to the toxiculture that is capitalism.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Soldiers of the Garden of Self Defence

Mashup with Ian Robertson

From The Garden as Collective Offensive: 
Industrial civilisation functions in a broken cycle: product is separated from process, production and consumption are geographically dislocated, cause is distanced from eventual (deferred) effect. The production of waste is unavoidable in this modality. There is no ecology of commerce in place, nor is capitalism capable of implementing one.