Saturday, January 31, 2009

Gifts of civilisation (or, how did we get here?)

In my Free-dragging Manifesto I talk about de-civilising activities aimed at mitigating civilisation's brutality. Composting plays a big part, as does the dispersal of cities (the word 'civilisation' comes from the Latin word civilis meaning centre or city). Derrick Jensen's massive two-volume tome Endgame: The Problem of Civilisation played a large role in the forming of my manifesto, especially his idea that any centre large enough to rely upon the importation of resources can never be sustainable. If you haven't got time to read Jensen's or my work then this little film, that I found today, is a micro-summary.

I close the screen and pick up David Graeber's book Possibilities, and the first thing I read is:
This leads to the interesting suggestion that, from the perspective of Medieval psychological theory, our entire really a form of clinical depression. p67.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Dispersal (or, images bind/offend)

If human beings tend to become dominated by powerful, emotionally charged images, then anyone who developed a comprehensive, scientific understanding of the mechanics by which such images work could become a master manipulator. It should be possible to develop techniques for "binding" and influencing other's minds: for instance, by fixing certain emotionally charged images in their heads, or even little bits of music (jingles, basically) that could be designed in such a way that could keep coming back into people's minds despite themselves, and pull them in one direction or another. David Graeber on Romanian historian Ioan Couliano's work.
It's been a week of 40 plus degree days, so with Graeber, juicy comments and a week of cancelled work I wrote and recorded this little hip-hop-punk mutation. 

Did you pick the mind-washing jingles? Yes, they're very subtle. More Peej here.

Yesterday I read about how atheists were knocked back from advertising on Australian buses, following the highly successful campaign in Britain. So I wrote this letter to the editor of The Age, which was published today.
Ad nauseam
"ANY advertisement that might offend the community is not permitted on public buses" (The Age, 29/1) Great! Then can we see the immediate removal of all advertising courting young people to buy junk food and any other products that are packaged, transported and unnecessary?
and this one, by Wayne Llewellyn of Hampton, followed.
Pity free speech
ATHEISTS denied a voice on the buses. Aborigines denied debate over Australia Day. Government censorship of the internet. Are these not direct attacks on the way of life we so stridently fought for? Equality and freedom of speech are cornerstones of Western culture, protected in the US, practised in Britain and pilloried in Australia.
Sensibilities are meant to be challenged so why are we suppressing opinion, homogenising perspectives and becoming so fearful of change?
DISCLAIMER: I'm an atheist who doesn't doubt the existence of God - God is a three lettered word that also exists as an idea, a law, or a joke in our minds. And I'm an anarchist who fantasises about top down government for the sole purpose of dissolving the states, returning to social collectives who define their lands in terms of food/water bowls and their relationship to these ecologies.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Old theories of love, today

Some Medieval and Renaissance thought pertaining to love, according to David Graeber, went like this:
...when a man fell in love with a woman, he was really in love not with the woman herself but with her image; one that once lodged in his pneumatic system, gradually came to hijack it, vampirizing his imagination...Medical writers tended to represent this as a disease that needed to be cured; poets and lovers, a heroic state that combined pleasures (in fantasy, but also, somewhat perversely in the very experience of frustration and denial) with an intrinsic spiritual or mystical value in itself.
And the interrelations, between the Medieval medic and the spin-doctors of capitalism, continue in terms of how capitalism strives for the clean and the sanitised while beneath its images of wholesomeness and plastic patinas, ecologies are devastated and wasted. Language, it has been said by many, does play a big part in capitalism's veiling and mediation, it paves a civil way clear for the savagery. Think "clean coal" for example, or Coca-Cola's greenwashing in light of its production of bottled water and highly sugared, early-onset-diabetes-drinks for young people. Get 'em early says the church. Get 'em early says the corporation. Anyway, back to Graeber's Possibilities.
...lonely brooding is punctuated by frustrated urges to seize what cannot really be seized... A fair amount of "embracing" certainly did go on in Medieval Europe, as elsewhere. Still, this [lonely brooding] was the ideal, and critically, it became the model not just for sexual desire, but for desire in general.
In my early twenties, a country boy living in the city, I became obsessed with soft-porn advertising billboards, how corporate images promoting desire sanatised sex, and how graf artists played with or attacked these images. "Through her legs the tollways", was a line from a poem I later wrote called Billbored Sex when Australia's roads were beginning to be privatised and mega-billboards were popping up everywhere. Bugger-Up campaigners and graffitists were the local Oz wing of the global ad-busting movement. I was studying feminist art practices at the time and looking critically at gender representation in art and the media. And at the same time I was slavering over these images; broodingly, longingly.

Hamish's second gift

A very low-fi song to go with your low-end art; I made it a few years ago when we were looking for a house in Northcote. 
Hamish Morgan

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Possibilities (or, this is what an anarchist government might look like)

OK, we've just stepped into office. We got there because we asked everyday Aussies to donate five bucks to our campaign (Obama style). We raised truck loads and while campaigning hard we used the excess money to implement 78 community permaculture gardens Australia-wide. We have another 221 ear-marked to start up in the next six months. We don't owe business one dollar, and like George Monbiot we refuse to dine with industry. As you can imagine they are shitting themselves.

The first 7 changes in this first week in office will include:

1. In consultation with indigenous Australia demolish the states and reform local governments based on traditional aboriginal tribal lands - the natural food and water bowls of Australia. Our federal government will merely oversee and encourage localised initiatives, education and activities based on indigenous knowledge and ecologically-sound economics.

2. An education programme to slow breeding. Indigenous Australia have practiced a highly successful 'biophysical economics' (Herman Daly) for over 40,000 years. Aboriginal culture is based on breeding only to numbers that the land can support. Infanticide was a strategy of their permanent sustainability. We would adapt this to a voluntary extinction gift, or a non-baby bonus (PO) in the form of heirloom vegetable seeds, recycled costumes (MU), spices wind-sailed from Asia (JW), the latest in recycled computer technology and traditional musical instruments. Breeding today is not a noble and selfless act, especially in large numbers, it's a religio-capitalist ploy to boost productivity-profit and therefore violate the landbase (just ask Peter Costello, who we've sent to work in one of the Djadja wurrung compost fields). Capitalism, based on dangling eternal fantasies in front of the dutiful consumer-parent, so as the idea of more consumerables is even more pleasurable than the products themselves (David Graeber), feeds directly into the fantasy of the ever-expanding family and therefore into baby production. Australians will be educated and rewarded to only have one or two children at most, preferably none - the most noblest act of all.

3. All rights relinquished (IR). A community-specific programme for the abolition of copyright and the advancing of the arts as a fully de-capitalised social gift ecology. Artists, writers, poets, filmmakers and musicians will gift their work to the communities that they themselves participate in. In return the community will support them in terms of shared resources. Celebrities and other toxicultural figures will join Peter Costello in the compost fields. More on this here.

4. Non-compostable waste producing industries (including the arts) will be cast adrift with no government backing or future support. The government will insist that local governments only back industries that use a 'biophysical economics' model. All previously government-supported private industry will be axed and industries that can not adapt ecologically will be bought by the government. Privatisation of public commons will become a thing of history. All other industries will be put on notice to change their operations within 12 months.

5. Aboriginal land tax for the sale of all private property (PO). Each time a piece of land is sold or resold revenue will be taken from the sale and go directly to the establishment of a local indigenous centre, or the maintaining and further developing of existing ones. These centers will foster indigenous culture - art and food covers all areas of life - and foster indigenous sustainability knowledges, which would feed directly back into the wider community. Private property owners who plant and maintain permaculture gardens will be exempt from paying tax or rates on the land, and will be given a permacultural allowance to provide food ethically - 'within walking distance' (RP) - grown for their families and friends. Private property owners who employ indigenous land consultants will be given further incentives (to be advised by the local indigenous communities at a later date).

6. The removal of all religious indoctrination and packaged-processed foods from schools. This hardly needs justification, but if you require more information please leave a comment below. Similarly, secular ignorance of religion will not be tolerated. All schools will teach the history of religions, focussing on religion's involvement in the establishment of private property and the tendency for religious supremacy to create resource wars. Food gardening will replace all religious indoctrination lessons.

7. Art auction houses (such as Christies and Sothebys) will turn all of their artifacts over to public cultural centers. Those works deemed to be not interesting or amusing enough will be garage-sold to the public. Each household can choose up to three works only, collectors will also be delegated to the compost fields. The proceeds from the art sales will go to detoxifying the arts industry with education programmes aimed at educating artists about food and survival in a post-capitalist world. The film and music industry will become heavily digitised and everything freely available online. Film projects that produce as much as one empty Mt Franklin plastic bottle (or equivalent) will be shut down.

After such a good start we're all going to celebrate with some Astrid Lorange home brew. Over to you comenteers for our next week in office.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Language warning

I've launched a new room to my creative caravan – Peej – which has revamped an old MySpace page I once used for spoken word, and turned it into a dumping ground for my musical amusements. 

My first track, Red Ecology, was written for Meg on her birthday - part of our developing gift ecology where no gift is produced that creates waste or uses new material. I made it into a film clip that I posted last week. The second, stein, is for Stein09, a year long celebration of Gertrude which is being organised by a number of poet friends around Australia. I'll blog about it in detail throughout the year. The third, 'ornylil'sexpot, is an attempt to marry ideas about cyclic and lineal time with a smutty dance jingo. Astrid Lorange and WB Yeats' provide the ideas, my life as a waiter when I first met Meg, the smut. The fourth, shutdafugup, is a return to my punk days. This track is for Nick Keys who left a smashing comment on my Fugs post, which inspired this piece of musical violence (against 'copy-righteousness' - NK). 

Most of the lyrics have come from posts and comments that have appeared on this blog. Be warned! Your comments might be next in line to be Peej'd.

NB I have made these tracks freely downloadable in the settings, however the antiquated beast that is MySpace doesn't seem to give you the option when you're on the homepage. If you want a copy of a particular track I can email you a MP3 - they're about 3MB each.

Thursday, January 22, 2009


I haven't paid much attention to the Obama-land-of-hope-fest that's been playing out in the abstract world of global media, until this morning. I sat in my local drinking coffee, reading the papers and after only a short while I was taken by an overwhelming compulsion to cry. For the first time in innumerable years I was actually moved by two-party politics.

All the cynicism in me remained. Obama will either be shot or fully bought within 12-24 months. And most likely we'll be just as disappointed as we are with Kevin07. So I think the emotional dunking was more for the outgoing rather than the incoming. Reading and seeing the great relief of everyday Americans while at the same time flashing through the past eight years of my own life (under Bush) was extraordinary. Fuck! he's gone. The fucker's gone.

Later in the morning a guy called Neil came to inspect our solar panels and connect us up. We watched with immense joy our electricity meter stop, then go in reverse. After he left, and in celebration of the moment, we also turned off our mains water and turned on our previously stored tank supply. Bliss.

Then an hour later we had a blackout and our solar system, which is connected to the main grid supply, went out. Because we have a small electric pump to push our water supply, we were also without water.

This naturally returned me to my hopeless-homeostasis that I've come to function so well under before two lovely peeps, Geraldine and Kyla from Monash University came to talk to me about a WorkmanJones component for a group exhibition based on detours and the absurd for later in 09.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Monday, January 19, 2009

All rights relinquished (or, 'Copyright Nothing' after The Fugs)

To get this post started, here is my 3-step, de-evolutionary path for a fully de-capitalised (and de-celebritised) culture - permanent culture (permaculture); culture of the mutable and unwashed.

1. All rights reserved - antiquated copyright and intellectual (private) property laws.
2. Some rights reserved - creative commons (transitional phase).
3. 'All rights relinquished' (Ian Robertson) – total abolition of the arts-as-capitalism's-slut.

Today I received a generous, although inflexible, comment from one of my favourite counter-culture bands of the sixties – The Fugs.
Hi Patrick. We, The Fugs, strongly recommend you delete your soundtrack from your film. We are honored that you have chosen us as a backing for your flicks, but unfortunately you are breaching copyright. We wanna keep the music bizo clean if you know what we mean. Musak is always a safe option. Love your blog btw. Fugz
What surprised me most was the language: "clean" and "safe". If you know The Fugs you'll know their music is neither clean nor safe, but very much unwashed and alive.

I chose to comply to the request for two reasons: Firstly, the bourgeois-training of my boyhood still responds well to politeness and good manners, and secondly, because I don't want to use music to accompany my (incidental and non-commercial) films by artist's who have contradictory values between what they make and how they act. My art and my values aim to 'bring down civilisation' (Derrick Jensen) and the culture of the 'Great Washed' (Alastair McIntosh), in small, everyday, bite-sized pieces. And besides, there are plenty of musicians who support this kind of de-capitalising anarchy. Artists and bands I have used for my films in the past, and who have not censored me (as yet), include:

Nightmares on Wax
DJ Spooky
godspeedyou! blackemperor
Aesop Rock
Howe Gelb
Justin Townes Earle

To name a few. Although once again, I have not sought approval to use their material as my work is strictly non-commercial and, in general, I do not acknowledge property rights for art. I do however take very seriously due acknowledgment of borrowed material, especially because it shows nothing is autonomous (and private) and everything is borrowed and shared.

Copyright is an embedded pathology of a civilised toxicology (impermanent culture) obsessed with transporting resources (mediated goods and food) and mediated celebrity. This toxiculture is an unstoppable fireball so ingrained in our skulls that even our beautiful (and dirty) old hippies buy into it. Who cares that artists are supported in the communties that they inspire (online and offline)? I do. Who cares that artists aren't paid for their goods? Not me. Who cares where artist's food comes from? I do! It comes from the soil that they help to improve and de-toxify, so as the vegetables, meat and fruit they eat and share no longer participate in a petroleum-based agriculture responsible for so much violence.

Yes, I acknowledge that my digital-anarcho-primitivism is problematic as the waste generated by the tools that make online art is unfathomable. My belief that 'progress is killing us as much as it is enabling us new possibilities' is, I admit, representative of my values in contradiction. However, the blogosphere has the potential to curb the secondary tier of art (the first being the conceptual) – the manufacturing of goods and other property including the intellectual. Online art also has the opportunity to take art back to its roots: to play in the space of the everyday. The film that The Fugs required I take down (I couldn't just delete the sound because I'd already deleted the master file from my ancient, overloaded laptop, and it only exists as an uneditable compressed Mpeg4), showed the flying fox I made for Zephyr and his friends. This 1.36 min film was called 'Permaplay' after 'permanent play', a fundamental of permaculture (Holmgren, Mollison), or permanent (sustainable) culture.

Impermanent culture is based on the immutable (the idea of universals such as copyright and God) – and on the toxicultural activity that springs from mediated life, removed from the landbase that supports us. On the other hand permanent culture (permaculture) is based on the mutable – the flux and chance of ecological life, where waste does not exist as everything is used and reused in a dynamic cycle of regeneration. Ironically, The Fugs' track that I used was their piss-take on the great immutable Ten Commandments.

W B Yeats' line from his poem Lapis Lazuli, 'all thing fall and are built again', is not a flawed generational hangup, and its timelessness doesn't make its very idea immutable, rather generationally adaptable. One of my favourite Fugs song is the 'Nothing' song, where everything is nothing, "Monday nothing... New Yorker nothing... Hanging out in Folkways nothing..."etc., including big Fug-fan Allen Ginsberg - "Nothing, nothing nothing!" This is the spirit in which the world becomes everything, where things' values aren't placed in an order of hierarchy or private property (David Graeber), but are shared monistly on ecologic grounds.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Stateless Gestures

And from public fruit (yesterday's post) to another form of self-pollination – Jason Workman and Ian Gamble in North Carolina.

Friday, January 16, 2009

That which is possible

Several years ago Jason Workman and Esther Buder carried out a small food project in the Castlemaine district that filled their larder with bottled preserves and generated relations of sharing that continue today. The project was called That which is possible, and one of the gifts to come from it (that wasn't food-based) was a hand-made postcard series which contained pictures of claimed roadside food, recipes for preserving and a map of where the various plums, pears, apples, blackberries, and quince are and when, approximately, they bare fruit. The postcards were sent to friends but also to random strangers, not necessarily in the area, to promote a poetic of resourcefulness.

Today I had to go to Castlemaine to choose some stone for a small wall I'm building. I asked PO if he wanted to test Jason and Esther's 2005 map. Bingo! Early season cherry plums. We picked together a bag full for Meg's pancake breakfast on Sunday.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Consumption (or, it's Permablitzing time!)

So far I've been impressed with David Graeber's book, Possibilities. His first essay, "Manners, Deference, and Private Property: or Elements for a General theory of Hierarchy", has been used in various posts here over the past several weeks. His second essay concerns the very idea of consumption, and he naturally begins with some etymology.
The English "to consume" derives from the Latin verb consumere, meaning "to seize or take over completely," and hence, by extension, to "eat up, devour, waste, destroy, or spend". p.59
Graeber argues that if we were still speaking a fourteenth century dialectic a consumer society would mean 'a society of wastrels and destroyers'. 
...wasting diseases "consumed" their victims: a usage that according to the Oxford English Dictionary is already documented by 1395. This is why tuberculosis came to be known as "consumption". At first, the now-familiar sense of consumption as eating or drinking was very much a secondary meaning. Rather, when applied to material goods, consumption was almost always synonymous with waste: it meant destroying something that did not have to be (at least quite so thoroughly) destroyed. p59.
I fail to see how anything has changed since the fourteenth century. Waste and destruction have only intensified with population expansion placing greater and greater pressures on the Earth's ecologies. Graeber almost never writes using ecologic language, and I would guess he is an urban dweller who buys his food in from across the country and from overseas wrapped in plastic. However, his writing is nearly always suggesting an ecological revolution because he understands the toxic corollaries of twenty-first century capitalism, and where it has come from. Once we have a fair grasp of the pathologies of late-capitalism, it's time to turn to the solutions, as David Holmgren might say; it's time to permablitz the world.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

The mutable

No hierarchy is ever immutable. Indeed, like capitalism, one could well argue that all hierarchies by their own internal logic must necessarily create images of rebellious disorder – images, indeed, of their own negation – that they then have to exert enormous amounts of energy to contain... Such systems are always vulnerable. David Graeber, Possibilities, p.48

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Ockham's Razor (or, man on a) wire

What we know is based on direct experience, and the things we experience are twofold: the things we can see and touch, and our own mental activity... p.105
Leszek Kolakowski suggests Ockham's philosophy "opens up a deep rift, an unbridgeable chasm, between natural knowledge and faith"; the physical and the abstract, at least in the thirteenth century.

War generally is the result of unbridgeable chasms between the physical and the mental; of resource and land sovereingty and ideological or religious superiority. There is generally the oppressor (who's in expansion mode) and the oppressed (who's in resistance mode). 

When wars are fought Ockham's Razor goes out the window, and therefore multiplicity is posited beyond necessity. I used the following Orwell quote in my last book to begin a chapter titled The problem of civilisation.
Actions are held to be good or bad, not on their own merits, but according to who does them, and there is almost no kind of moral outrage – torture, the use of hostages, forced labour, mass deportations, imprisonment without trial, forgery, assassination, the bombing of civilians – which does not change its moral colour when it is committed by "our" side. George Orwell, Notes on Nationalism, 1945
Anthony Loewenstein's Zionism is a clear-eyed practice of Ockham's Razor; in other words, 'all other things being equal, the simplest solution is the best' – two states, no greed, permanent peace, checked superiority. Or, as my friends Peter O'Mara and Jeff Stewart have posited among the gum trees –

Friday, January 9, 2009

The flux and detritus of the immutable

Every atheist must admit that God exists, because God exists in our minds, as an idea, a concept, a joke and as such God exists as an intellectual thing, a word made up of three letters.

I've been reading Why is there something rather than nothing, which is a kind of compendium of philosophical constructs from Socrates to Heidegger set out by Polish philosopher Leszek Kolakowski. His summary of St Augustine is alarming:
For Augustine there is only one historical process; here, contrary to the doctrines of some Greek philosophers, there are no cycles, regenerations or returns. And the things we consider to be the result of chance are all parts of the the wise plan of Providence, which is veiled from us. p.70
Wow! Judeo-Christian-capitalism is outlined in the 4th Century, which is essentially this: turn your back on ecology and chance by creating veils and mediations based on an idea of God; the desire for the immutable.

St Anselm, 600 years later, again summarised by Kolakowski, is similarly interesting: experience is necessary to attain intellectual certainty of God's existence. p74
I wonder if no experience is necessary (of ecological life) to believe in the idea of cycles, regenerations or returns. On the way to the train and out of the city tonight we came across this Church of Returns; a Christian-based op shop had dumped its excess and some of us were skip-scabbing in celebration.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Stake and Veg

Tent city

Camping in a caravan park is essentially returning to social habits that are more welcoming and less gated. The thin sheets of canvas or tarpaulin that barely separate us all allow for greater spontaneous play and sharing of resources.

Where Permaculture is a blueprint for our species' survival in terms of food, tent cities are the future for sustainable shelter and social warming.

A permanent culture designs for constant flux. Flux and mutability is possible when land is made available for collective use, and not owned privately. Impermanent culture, or Judeo-Christian-capitalism, designs for dominance and permanency at the expense of the landbase, and thus the social base. Judeo-Christian-capitalism is the dominant hegemony responsible for global warming. No doubt the fine Jew, Jesus Christ, is deeply saddened by the 1600 years between St Augustine and George W Bush, that have paved the way for hierarchy and sociopathy to so blatantly lead the attack on the ecologies which support biodiverse life.

Zeph finishing breakfast, about to join the neighbouring kids for a hit of cricket at the council-run caravan park at Port Fairy.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Beyond judgement, towards criticality

It's somewhere between 12am and sunrise and I'm listening to the drunks in the tent next door to ours. One guy is yelling, "me foreskin's wearing out" over and over until he invents another, "Julie, give me your finger, he's passed out, stick it up his arsehole". I consider getting up and asking him to lower the volume. Instead I lay there a little longer and eventually we all pass out.

Today I've been thinking about the drunk guy's graffic language, its volume and its incursion upon a sleeping campsite. And I've been thinking about my initial judgement (and avoidance) of these night raiders, or air graffitists, in light of my recent championing of both joking relations and relations of common substance.  

A few things come to mind. Firstly, it is clear that my immediate judgement stemmed from fear. As I lay in my tent I perceived a level of drunkeness in the loud guy's voice which I knew could quickly transmogrify into irritation, possibly even some level of violence. It seems to me that when a man is joking about sticking his finger up a mate's arse, he's either hanging for a fuck or looking for a fight. With extreme drunkenness either will suffice (in order to put the baby to sleep). The second judgement was based on community insensitivity. The four drunks had come back from a binge and loudly announced it to the sleeping world. The intervention was simply selfish in the quiet of the night.

Good manners are synomonous with the bourgeiose. In his book Possibilities, David Graeber tracks the course of manners through the Middle Ages and their correlation with relations of avoidance and property; most fiercly indoctrinated by the English puritans and the Scotsman Calvin.
...avoidance became generalized: in the sense that principals of behaviour which once applied mainly to relations of formal deference gradually came to set the terms for all social relations, until they became so thoroughly internalized they ended up transforming people's most basic relations with the world around them. David Graeber, p31.
My primary and secondary school education was Calvanist in flavour, or what I came to brand: Christian-capitalist. So my judgement, at an entrenched level, stems from the prejudices of prudishness and wealth generation (at the expense of the landbase) that Christian-based private schools promote.

In contrast my adult, self-formed self is more of the eco-anarchic-atheist, the frameworks within which I practice a critical life heavily reliant upon chance encounters, an attempt at permanent culture (permaculture) and a long standing admiration for common substance and indigenous intelligence.  

My two selves – a bourgeiose-Calvanist and a utopian embracing hopelessness – make up my whole, albeit unpopular, self. In this world it may seem far more simple to take a path of least resistance – join a proper club – and live supposedly free from judgement and critical thought, but I figure that eventually stupidity's dangerous side catches up with people, as it does with planets.

Monday, January 5, 2009

We breed the pathologies

Today I stumbled across a small booklet published in 1945 called We breed the Platypus written by local naturalist David Fleay. The introduction was written by Alec H Chisholm, F.R.Z.S., who refers to Fleay as the 'god-father' to the first platypus born in captivity.

The language of Chisholm is what is most interesting about this introduction. Chisholm obsesses with Fleay's noteriety as he does with a shy Australian mammal's global image.
Fame, of course, usually selects her subjects in more or less orthodox fashion, but occassionally she indulges a whimsy and makes her choice on novel lines.
Chisholm introduces to us the platypus in terms of her gradual shift from monist indigenous being, to invader's hoax, to spectacular zoological curiosity and worthy of civilised scholary investigation. 
Aborigines had stated that the animal actually burrowed into the ground for breeding purposes and laid soft-shelled eggs, and a number of white men had made the same claim. But no definitive evidence on the point was forth-coming until as late as 1884.
Chisholm notes that English zoologist, W H Caldwell's "...hard work in the bush" to make the discovery that the platypus actually lays eggs "...caused a major scientific sensation". Then he gets to the crux of what this post is about:
As the years rolled on the platypus continued with persistence worthy of a film star, to keep itself in the news.
In 1927 the first book about the platypus was written by actor turned naturalist Harry Burrell. Earlier Burrell took five 'water-moles' to America, and for the one that survived the voyage, for a mere forty-nine days in the New York Zoo, the authorities declared that the $1400 it cost and the interest it aroused was "fully justified".

Chisholm's invader's voice speaks for itself. A voice we have inherited without acknowledging the subtext. Today academics speak of post-industrialism and post-colonialism but the attitudes that exploit and colonise go on unchecked, as if celebrity culture has delivered us from the cult of the aristocrat.

I can't get out of my mind the poet's words: "Our elders are sick". It seems to say everything about how white Australia has, for the most part, ignored Aboriginal eldership and replaced it with abstraction and mediation.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

What we build

There are children swimming in the ocean. Many are what health specialists would, no doubt, call unhealthily overweight. Their parents have seen to it that they are covered up with sunscreen and that they wear long shorts, hats and arm length body tops to keep the harmful radiation off their skin. While most of us become increasingly aware of the science, we continue to burn our wages preparing the sun for its increasing assault on our skin and our soil. Our bodies are also products of industrialised agriculture – we eat food that is overly-refined, sugar rich and highly processed, we pass this on to our children. 

The interrelation between intensifying radiation from the sun on our skin and increased levels of unburnt fat in our bodies is obvious enough – oil-based economics based on profit growth. What is less discussed is that our society is an impermanent culture, not possible of ever being sustainable. We have lived a deluded, perma-boom existence, and our high levels of skin cancer and diabetes are the physical corollaries of this Australian life.

We have taught our children how to protect themselves from the sun (from nature), and how to eat (from supermarkets), we have introduced them to a global culture of progress. We have told our children that transporting resources, investing in economic growth and producing immeasurable waste is progressive. We have not told them that progress is killing us. We'd prefer to veil our kids from the inevitable horrors that await us, and the horrors that we've allowed to endorse our way of life.

Why is this? It is easy for us to attack nature – the sun is enemy, and therefore we can defend ourselves against enemies. But how do we defend ourselves from ourselves? How do we cease to participate in the great global toxiculture our elders have built for us?

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Mashed (elegy for the city)

Our elders are sick. Written on the wall of a child's tree-house by a Scottish poet.
Since Plato we have been conscious of the ill-logic of our cities but struggled to do away with them. Now for the first time in human history there are more people in cities than in rural areas. It is no wonder, therefore, that human existence is at its most abstract, most violent, most 'civil', most veiled, most mediated, most toxic, most insane.

Jason Workman gave me permission to do a mashup of WorkmanJones city interventions between 2006 and 2008, which I've just finished. The main track is by Esmerine, who I think are a Canadian band that don members of godspeed you! black emperor.

The great unwashed

Supermarkets represent society's woeful handling of death. Like the city, the supermarket is a petroleum-based assualt on the earth by the Great Washed – the civilised; the centralised. When all our vegetables once again look like these dirty irregular carrots (top right), grown locally, we will have given up the dependance upon credit, veils, abstractions and mediations that constitute a woeful and disconnected relation to death.

For a more succinct and inspirational version of this rant check out Alastair McIntosh's Do Lecture.