Thursday, February 26, 2009

Excess is killing us

I'm not sure if it is helpful to be thinking of re-distributing wealth. The idea is very capitalist in its thinking: 'that as long as there is ever-expanding growth we can curb poverty...', etc. Perhaps instead we should be thinking of redistributing poverty. Doing without stuff. Making the world safe for mass poverty (John Cage), time-rich, thing-poor, that sort of poverty.

And now, for something relatively...

A few meaning-beatings

Xbox – the naturalisation of avoidance in young males.
capitalism – the naturalisation of destruction and slavery (David Graeber).
hatred – the externalisation of internal loathing.
mass hatred – the collective externalisation of internal loathing developed by a mutual ideology.
hunger – the experience of internal longing.

more M-Bs later...

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Embers On

             firE ball
public kM/h
      another’s Brilliance
               (roadsidE reflection)
                                         buRnt out prohibitions
                                                   Shoulder leg neck wing
                                 rack woOd red ring (80km/h)

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Friday, February 20, 2009

Gift ecology (or, towards a biophysical economics)

click for bigger.

Peddle, gather, cook, bottle (food activity alphabetised by return)

Our community has a local benefit concert and fundraiser for the survivors of the fires this coming Sunday and I spent the early part of the week thinking what I could contribute that didn't mean burning cash or burning carbon. We both have no work at present, which makes us time-rich and extremely productive in all manner of non-capitalist activity, while at the same time shitting ourselves with mounting bills.

I borrowed Meg's bike, which has a handy detachable front basket, and trawled the town for street fruit. I asked the local librarian, Janet, if I could harvest the rhubarb from the small community garden at the back of the library and she happily agreed, and I found some feral apples and pears ripe and delicious. I also noted other varieties of apples, nectarines and pears that would be ripe over the next few weeks and noted that many of the feral trees which had a substantial build up of humus at their base had disease-free apples. I cooked all the fruit together and added local honey.

I then peddled to O's to exchange some of our old glass jars for his larger, uniformed, black-lidded ones. I stayed for lunch, talked about brewing beer and gathered more apples and a branch of red-flowering eucalypt for my gal on the way home.

These small bottled gifts are for the organisers of the event – friends – folk who have worked hard over the past few weeks to organise the forthcoming day. As a child my folks had a successful cottage industry manufacturing jellies, mustards, chutneys and jams and this week I felt the spirit of that familial activity return.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009


  1. gathering
  2. gleaning
  3. growing

What else is intelligence but adapting to one's continuously changing environment? And when environments change, no longer providing the conditions for life as we know it, new life, new thought and new activity flourish; remixing ancient modes of survival with new social and technological phenomena.

A young boy is alone in his room, feeding himself industrialised chips, drinking plastic-coated junk, playing with his Xbox. He represents an old dying world.
The technologies that fail us are the one's that help construct relations of avoidance, wholly attached to capitalism's cult of the individual. The technologies for a new world are those that will help us remain connected and supported as collectives of common substance.


Monday, February 16, 2009


d) that society can thus be seen as a gigantic engine of production and destruction in which the only significant human activity is either manufacturing things, or engaging in acts of ceremonial destruction so as to make way for more: a vision which, in fact, sidelines most things that real people actually do and, insofar as it is translated into actual economic behaviour, is obviously unsustainable. David Graeber, Possibilities, p78.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Getting to work (or, undoing the fixing of carbon)

Planting trees fixes carbon, mulching fixes carbon, aerobic composting fixes carbon, buying op-shop clothes fixes carbon, growing your own food fixes carbon, reducing your plastic consumption fixes carbon, driving to work burns carbon.

On Tuesday I finished a job using stone age materials that I've been working on for the past several weeks. I drove about 40 minutes there and back every day until the job was done. Needless to say there was no public transport option.

Yesterday, I drove 25 minutes to Ballan, caught a train to Melbourne, then a tram to St Kilda to do a day's work painting at the Prince.

It seems all the good work we do in the garden, especially fixing carbon, is undone by the travel we are required to do to earn the income we need in order to survive.

Whereas all our changes have come about by first identifying the problem, then chipping away at it – such as a 75% reduction of plastics in our household waste, including bin liners (because we compost all food and liquid scraps) – transport for work is an ongoing dilemma. 

My work is part digital, and therefore requires little transport, and part light-industrial – building, painting, dry-stone walling, anything, you name it, I'll do it. I have had the idea for a while of buying a cargo bike and specialising in bikepentry (carpentry on a bike). I've even purchased the web address. But until that time as I can afford the bike I take what I can get and go to it.

In 1996, when John Howard came to power, followed shortly afterwards by George W Bush, the rich nations had the opportunity to be driving electric (therefore solar) powered cars. See the film Who Stole the Electric Car? I wonder whether 13 years of government-corporate support of these cars, as opposed to what really happened – government-corporate shafting – would have mitigated climate change enough to have avoided the severe weather conditions that caused the latest, never-before-seen fires in Victoria. Roll on with your Grand Prix Mr Brumby. Soon we will see a time where irresponsible politicians and corporates will be tried in a court of crimes against humanity (and other animals), having had the scientific evidence of climate change on their desks for decades, and choosing to ignore it.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Cucumber on a fork - cucupop

Street food: some minor alternatives to capitalism

Peter Tyndall opened my first (awarded) public work, Poemscape: a physical anthology, with a considerable talk critiquing the use of the word 'scape' and its problematic mediation of the natural world. We all baked facing west to a hot afternoon sun, listening to Peter outside the public library. The 18 Fujis that I planted, across the road from the town's supermarket, clung pathetically to sturdy timber plinths, each capped with a poem etched into a brass plaque. One of these poems was Michel Deguys' O great apposition of the world. I used three local poems, six Australian (from other parts) and twelve from other countries, each based environmental themes. Nearly ten years on, with various re-plantings due to drought and social idiocy, the trees struggle on. Each year I prune, water and feed them, and this is the first year the apples have coddling moth, which I'll need to treat over a period of time. 

This afternoon Maria, our neighbour, dropped over a large bag of green apples, produced by her trees. "No good for eating", she said, "but, OK for stewing". So I harvested what little rhubarb we had left and made a combined stew. For breakfast in summer we usually have organic rolled oats, that we buy in bulk, with stewed fruit or currants and local apple juice. In winter we make porridge and add local honey. The only time we have to visit a supermarket is when we have been disorganised, and missed the small produce shops or the Sunday market. Each time I walk into a supermarket I feel ambushed, and the more I learn about industrial agriculture and the plastics industry the more difficult it is to actually buy anything from these centers of mediated and fluorescent violence. 

Many people are talking about post-capitalist strategies. Here's a few of mine: If you are in the city join or start a permablitzing community, if you're in a rural area grow your own food and buy, swap and glean from local growers. If you're into graffiti, plant fruit trees Рthink espaliered tags Рwhere council workers might ignore or not see them until they are established. Official public art, such as my Poemscape, seems pass̩ today, but all of this thought and activity is in transition from a broken cycle toxicology to a closed-cycle ecology. We need to get incrementally better at the latter in order to mitigate the former.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Possessions of the sun

We're at the local lake. Dogs, ducks, yabbies, redfin, swans, swamp hens, flies, wasps, bees, mosquitos, jumping jacks, bull-ants, foxes, snakes, swamp wallabies, children and adult human beings share the water. I swim, cool down, then sit on the bank and continue my slow read of David Graeber's Possibilities: Essays on Hierarchy, Rebellion, and Desire.
The ultimate proof that one has sovereign power over another human being is one's ability to have them executed. In a similar fashion, one might argue, the ultimate proof of possession, of one's personal dominium over a thing, is one's ability to destroy it – and indeed this remains one of the key legal ways of defining dominium, as a property right, to this day. p73
Zeph gets out of the water and comes over to us, his towel wraps his shivering body, "You are under a rest Dad!" Which is true, so I reply "Yes, I'm under a tree, resting". "No Dad! You're under arrest!" he shouts. 

Until this Summer the highest recorded local temperature was 39 degrees celsius. This area of south-east Australia is known for its high rainfall and cool highland climate. Things are rapidly changing. Today is the fourth day of 41 degrees this past fortnight, and it is the most brutal, wind-charged and apocalyptic of all of the 4928 days that I've been living here. We're all on a high fire alert.
When you eat something, you do indeed destroy it (as an autonomous entity), but at the same time, it remains "included in" you in the most material of senses. Eating food, then, became the perfect idiom for talking about desire and gratification in a world in which everything, all human relations, were being re-imagined as questions of property. p74
After today "sovereignty" over something in terms of social relations, say between parents and children, masters and slaves, private property and public lakes (to name a few) has changed. Today the unsinkable Murdoch media empire crumbles, while the sun takes up the heirarchical slack, as if the financial crash and the nature crunch are wholly linked organisms. Of course they are. We are standing on the bank looking out over a body of cool water. Nearby, Ballarat's majestic Lake Wendouree is barren. Runaway climate change is just over the horizon, and our politicians and our own comfortable incontestability have sentenced us to nature's complete rule and wrath.

David Holmgren, at a recent meeting in our town hall (with climatologist Rob Gell), stated that growing your own food by permaculture methods uses between a fifth and a tenth less water than supermarket food. Additionally, Gell stated that by 2013, according to the most recent science, the Arctic ice will be gone, and that the southern part of Australia will burn and the northern part will become much wetter.

So I return to all I know: making useless art, embracing hopelessness, growing what food is possible, living intensely and actively with few expectations and sharing what's possible to share. Astrid Lorange, in her review of my book, writes it this way –
By decentring the kind of symbolism we might attach to an artistic manifesto for a sustainable future–that is, that hope will manifest as change–Jones sets up a far more mobilising set of propositions. Rather than hope and desire, we need to practise free-dragging, where non-delusional play and civil disobedience are the productive ferment of critical and creative hopelessness.
Others call it excrement.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

"O great apposition of the world"

I finished this new track today - Aussie hip-hop goes rock opera (or, Frank Zappa, whatever!). You can read Michel Deguy's poem, that I use for the lyrics, in the previous post.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Our corn gets a splash of Michel Deguy compost tea

    O great apposition of the world

                                                  a rose field near a wheat field and two red
children in the field bordering on the rose field and a corn field near the
wheat field and two old willows where they join; the song of two rose
children in the wheat field near the rose field and two old willows
keeping watch over the roses the wheat the red children and the corn

     The blue blots like a spot
     The white ink of clouds
     Children are also my
     Country path

Michel Deguy, 1930–. Translation from the French by Clayton Eshleman.

Monday, February 2, 2009

The garden cops a beating

After a week of record breaking temperatures, some of our food supplies are being knocked around. Where are the wild chickpeas and ancient grains that can withstand extreme temperatures? They may be all we can grow in years to come.

Visit the Seed Hunter here to give you an idea of what's most likely to come.