Dear Dear Enemy

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Thursday, 27 February 2014

Dear Dear Enemy,

Firstly, sorry about the double "dear" thing.  It's perhaps a bit confusing.  But this is one of a group of posts I have on here called Dear ... which are addressed to different musicians about different song lyrics, and so while it is a little clunky having "Dear Dear Enemy" it's sort of cool at the same time.

Because I like your weird name, Dear Enemy.  I don't know what it means but it sounds nice and kind and compassionate, and I'm quite fond of those sorts of things.

Just like I'm fond of your song Computer One.  International visitors probably won't know this song because I don't think it charted out of its native Australia in 1983 (they can see the bottom of this post for the YouTube clip, if they so desire.  What's a post, you ask from 1983.  What's a YouTube clip? You'll just have to wait and see, Dear Enemies).

I loved this song in 1983 and I love it now 31 years later, in 2014.  I even bought the album Ransom Note.  It was one of the albums I bought from that mail order music club whose name escapes me.  I remember the LPs coming in the mail - geez, giant things they were.  We had enormous storage mediums in the 1970's and 1980's.  They matched our enormous computer systems and our enormous pubic hair.  I remember when I first started working we stored our stuff on these bloody disks that were so big you had to almost hold them with both hands to slot them into the computer.  They stored a whopping one megabyte of data on them.

Anyway, where was I?  Yes, that's right.  I was complimenting you on your song Computer One.  I still love it. I still love so many songs from 1983.  I gotta say though, dudes, it sounds a bit dated - from the lyrics though, rather than the music.

The film clip features a modern, streamlined and rather steel-encrusted beginning, all cool blues and greys, signifying a brave new world of impersonality.  Hmm, guys, I don't want to scare you or anything, but it gets just a tad more impersonal after 1983. I guess the popularity of computers might have something to do with that, I hate to say.  Though I love them, they do seem to have taken over just a smidge.  Whereas in 1983, you, Ron Martini, are at work because none of us have computers at home yet, and because your work is some sort of top secret operation hidden behind steel doors.  Your workspace is surrounded by banks of computer-ish looking thingymies ... and a photocopier!  Dude, where on earth do you work?  I didn't think photocopiers were around in 1983?  And if they were, I'm pretty sure a toner cartridge cost, like, $983 each and you copying pictures of your girlfriend who has left you probably wouldn't have gone down all that well.

Oh, hang on.  Is it a printer?  It looks like a photocopier but I actually think it's a printer.  Sorry.  I don't mean to come across all laughy and sneery at your technology.  I hate that whole technological disdain thing.  It's why we have giant piles of ewaste because we're too easily beholden to the latest version that's really not all that much more awesome.  But looking at your printer, I see how amazingly far we've come.  You can print photo quality now, at home, in colour, for a fraction of the price, Dear Enemy.  So I'm sorry to laugh, but it just gets a bit better.

I'm very sorry your girlfriend left you.  You seem like a lovely bloke with a beautiful singing voice and you're a bit of a spunk too. 

I feel a great nostalgia for the colour of that green that is the text on your computer.  Green on a black background.  Ohhh, you have no idea how much better those computer screens are going to get.  Which might be a problem for you because I sort of get the feeling that Computer One has been the cause of your breakup.  It has come between you and your girlfriend.  And now she has gone with her suitcase of clothes.

:(

I like how you talk to your computer as if it's real.  You say, "Computer One, if you know all you say you do, why isn't the answer on the screen?  Do you sleep at night, when the program's through, or do you lie awake at night like me?" 

I'm really interested in knowing what program it is that Computer One is running through. Is it something governmental?  You just wait - a couple of decades down the track you will be amazed at what happens in terms of computers and top secret information.  The internet, Julian Assange, Edward Snowden - the internet will be a force for social change, just you wait and see.  What's the internet?  It's a collection of computers all joined together that can talk to each other!  I imagine you have something like that in your top secret governmental office, yeah?  Well, it goes mainstream, baby.  And then people like Assange hack into computers of big governments and tell the rest of us how they are spying on us and what bastards humans are when they're in power.  And people will take to the streets because we're all just fucking sick and tired of the way these top level people behave, and people will have these sort of hand-held computers that they can take photos on while they're out and about and send them to the internet.  This is a pretty cool force for democracy, but it gets messier before it gets better.  You'll see.

Plus, the hand-held computers are also phones.  You don't need a house phone anymore that's connected to a cable.  You can talk to someone across the world if you want, from your mobile phone.  They're wonderful.  Perhaps if you and your girlfriend had email and SMS it might have kept you together.  I can't be bothered explaining what those are.  But, as I'm sure you're starting to pick up, computers and mobile phones are a bit of a blight as well as being wonderful.  They've made us even more distrustful of each other in some ways.  Our public social skills, Dear Enemy, have decimated a little since 1983.  But I guess you're probably aware of the theme beginning to occur here about technology being awesome and having unforseen nasty underbites.

I think it's really sort of sweet that you are concerned about Computer One's psychological health.  You really love that computer, even though you can't look at any porn on it.  You probably can't play any game on it either, other than the types that I played in Grade Six at school the year before, called Worms I think, with that same green on blackness that was just different types of lines.  I thought it was so awesome!  Worms involved moving the cursor around which grew and grew as you went like a rampaging worm, and the object was for the worm not to touch any part of itself or the game was over.

That was cutting edge stuff that was exciting to me, even though it is very easy to laugh about it now.

There are a few things I wish to know, Dear Enemy, that have me curious.  The questions come into my head on occasions - like in the Aldi car park a few weeks ago, and now every time I think of Computer One the Aldi car park comes into my head.  We're weird creatures, are we not? But what I'm curious about is where Ron Martini says, "Computer One, you are the one I've been talking to.  Maybe that's where I went wrong.  All the secrets that I told to you I should have told to her all along."

I don't understand this bit - why are you telling your secrets to Computer One in the first place?  Do you mean you're writing a diary on it?  In work time, again?  Because I'm pretty sure there weren't any BBSs or anything like back then for you to be talking to anyone else on, and, well, Computer One doesn't really seem like it would have a program that would give you the impression that it's listening and cares about you.  It seems pretty limited.  If you are writing a diary that happens to be situated on Computer One, you can't really blame the computer that once you've written it out to yourself you didn't then go and talk to your girlfriend about it. I mean, if you were writing a diary in a paper notebook, the same thing could happen.  But then I guess if that was the case you'd be writing a song called Notebook 78.  And that would probably be a bit more naff than this techno-groovy 1983ness.

And I'm interested also in knowing why it's called Computer One.  I mean, is it the first computer in the country, or in your office, or what?

If any members of Dear Enemy would like to leave a comment I would really appreciate it.

Dear Enemy, you foresaw the alienation that computerisation could bring.  You don't know the extent of it.  And yet ~ ending this long post on a note of sunniness and cheeriness ~ it's also done amazing things.  I think, in the end, computerisation is a balancing force for democracy.  People could not uprise in quite the way they do now without it.  We just have to learn how to manage it all a bit more so it doesn't get quite so much in the way of our relating with each other face to face.

But I think you know enough about that.

A Human Being

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A human being is a part of the whole, called by us the "Universe", a part limited in time and space.  He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings, as something separate from the rest - a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness.  This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us.  Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.  Nobody is able to achieve this completely, but the striving for such achievement is in itself a part of the liberation and a foundation for inner security.
- Albert Einstein

~

If our ruinous civilization is built on a struggle of good versus evil, then its healing demands the opposite: self-acceptance, self-love, and self-trust. Contrary to our best intentions, we will never end the evil and violence of our civilization by trying harder to overcome, regulate, and control a human nature we deem evil, for the war on human nature, no less than the war on nature, generates only more separation, more violence, more hatred. "You can kill the haters," said Martin Luther King, "but you cannot kill the hate." The master's tools will never dismantle the master's house. The same applies internally. You can go to war against parts of yourself you think are bad, but even if you win, like the Bolsheviks and the Maoists, the victors become the new villains. The separation from self that the campaign of willpower entails cannot but be projected, eventually, in some form, onto the outside world.

Yeah, sure, self-acceptance. . . the concept is pretty much a cliché these days. In its full expression though, the path to Reunion of self-acceptance, self-love, and self-trust is utterly radical, challenging cherished doctrines of how to be a good person. Let me state it as purely as I can: the path to salvation for us as individuals and as a society lies in being more selfish, not less.
- Charles Eisenstein

~

The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed
that someone took and sowed in their field.
It is the smallest of all seeds, but when it is grown
it is the greatest of shrubs and becomes a tree
so that the birds of the air can come
and can make their nests in its branches

- Jesus

~

The kingdom of heaven is within you.
- Jesus

~

The most universal and uplifting prayers and teachings describe love as the power that connects us to one another and also to the Source of Love that we might call God.  Such writings exhort us to know love as the power that 'wakes us up' and moves us on from small-self feelings of isolation, hopelessness, despair.  In fact, those teachings don't just praise love.  They evoke it as the only possible salvation, not salvation for the unfathomable 'next life' but for this familiar one:  for each one of us moving through a human existence that will uniformly be marked by fear, sorrow, stupidity, ignorance, cruelty, loss and death, as well as insight, hope, grace, forgiveness and bliss.
- Stephanie Dowrick

Before or After Love by Agudelo Gungaro

Hanging On

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Tuesday, 25 February 2014

The hardest thing to do is to hang on to the things that are the best.  They are the things that in our despair we can snarl at as if they are enemies.  Their beauty pains.  Hanging onto these things may possibly cause some to consider you naive at best and maybe a bit batty at worst.

You may be considered childish if you hang onto those things that are beautiful, like hope combined with action, like human goodness, kindness and compassion.  It's not that those things have failed;  it's that they are routinely squashed by the imposed system of artificiality we have swum in from the day we were born and by blind and stupid people who want to take shortcuts.

Go ahead and consider those who hang onto these hopes childish all you want, if it helps you in your despair.  Just remember that those who hang on also despair.  Hanging on to a vision of the best is nothing to do with childishness.  It is not a weak state though it may appear that way when you've fallen into the despair pit.

In actual fact it is the ultimate in fucking strength.  It is not childishness ~ it is childlikeness.  Something as beautiful and fragile as gossamer.  Even if the whole civilisation was collapsed around my ears, after my despair I would reserve the right and the pleasure of continuing to muster up as much of that as I possibly could.

When Getting Ahead Is Going Backwards

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Friday, 21 February 2014

Last night I watched a special edition of Q&A.  This is a weekly show filmed live here in Australia, where a panel of different guests each week take questions from the audience, while tweeters lucky enough to be chosen from the 20,000 plus that come in each episode can see their tweet run along the bottom of the screen.

Last night's special episode was a one-woman panel - a Q&A session with Christine Lagarde, Managing Director of the IMF.  Ms Lagarde is most eloquent, as we would expect someone in her position to be.  As is always the case when anyone who is not vaguely stupid is on the show, there were therefore the requisite collection of tweets singing the praises of Ms Lagarde's intelligence.  As if it's astounding, as if millions of other people aren't also regularly having intelligently thought-through commonsense thoughts.  But I guess it's comparative - when you've been Murdoched for as long as we have, even basic commonsense seems a little miraculous.

I couldn't make way past my anger to be all that impressed.  I wish I could have paid more attention to what Ms Lagarde was saying about the economy and the way it works.  I'm sure I would have learned something helpful.  But I confess I couldn't get past my mistrust of someone who, no matter how smart, heads up an organisation that perpetuates injustice.  For decades the IMF has been giving loans to poor countries who have nowhere to turn.  They are forced into loan conditions that make them virtually unpayable, ensuring that they stay poor and in servitude simply because the IMF is too greedy.

There's not all that much that's eloquent about that.

As if it wasn't frustrating enough having everybody fawning over a Managing Director of an organisation that regularly deals in reverse Robin Hoodism, a couple of tweets in response to a question and response about multinational companies sent me literally to tears.  I can't remember what the question was now because of my sieve brain, but I think it was something to do with getting multinationals to pay their fair share of taxes.  Two responses were this:

"As a shareholder, I'm glad corporations are minimising their tax obligations."

"As a shareholder, I don't want to share my wealth with lazy people who didn't plan ahead."

Wow.  I notice that that second tweet is written by someone who's very young, so I guess you can't hold his myopia too much against him.  And if you're a company, he's exactly the kind of shareholder you want.   One who is ambitious in getting ahead.  Eager to build their portfolio.  Contemptuous of those who obviously must be "lazy" and "not planning ahead" if they don't wanna come to that particular party.

Well, I've never felt comfortable with the stock market.  I can't play in that pool even if I want to.

Luckily this tweet balanced it out somewhat:
"As a shareholder and a person I want to help people who can't help themselves."

Nice.

This is the battle on our hands - there are those who see the bigger picture and understand that this economic system plays us as pawns against each other while servicing those at the top.  Those who know that a way of living which benefits everyone is a good and sane thing, not an evil socialistic thing.  That the way we do stuff now is nowhere near anything like the best way of doing it.  But then there are those whose ambition in getting ahead cuts off their ability to see properly that they don't live on a virtual island where their future bucks are going to make them safe.  Fuck, as if this whole economic system doesn't have a giant pus-filled cyst on itself that's just WAITING to burst.

"Get ahead" however you want.  Good luck in not stepping on someone else's feet to get there.  Although I wonder if that second tweeter would care much about that.  He's a part of the system that creates the dog-eat-dog conditions, but hey, if that's how it's rolling, then he's gonna go for the biggest piece, and that somehow makes him more awesome than you.

And meanwhile, it all continues to flow up to the top of the pyramid with relentless tedium.  We are not free.

Fuck that.  I don't want to play that game.  I care too much about my own sense of self-worth to play in pools of fetid water.  I'm holding out for something better than that sort of shit that's ruining the earth I live on and the community I live in. 

Take one person who by their initiative starts a company.  That company grows and suddenly you find yourself with the great good fortune to really "get ahead" - say Amazon offers to buy you out with a big fat cheque.  Hard to resist that but don't fool yourself that you haven't abandoned your child to a pimp and that it might leave a bad taste in your mouth somewhere.  Or else you can publicly list your company.  That feels like a win/win - you can keep a certain ownership of it while gaining a lot more money for your business to expand.  As if giant business aren't routinely shite.  But hey, you're getting ahead, right?  It's your opportunity to nest egg yourself into early retirement, and you might feel bad in some way for playing in a crappy system but there isn't any new one on the horizon, so what's a girl gonna do?

I get it.  But it doesn't mean it's not shit.  So many businesses that small groups of people started and they end up being part of the massive portfolio of Glaxo Smith Kline Wellcome or Lever and Kitchen or whatever the fuck they're called now.  Flowing relentlessly up to the top on the back of a bunch of people wanting to "get ahead".

And we all know that multinationals are their own juggernauts with their own rules.  Full of people, and yet they act so inhumanely.  Rich beyond measure, yet they'll try and worm their way out of paying any of the taxes that are their due.  Too big to fail, and too big to not be shit.  Full up with shareholders - everyday people who "just want to get ahead", and whose financial planners will help them realise their dreams by investing in blah blah boring boring fuck fuck give me some matchsticks to keep me awake.  I have transcribed far too many financial planner interviews over the years.  They record their interviews with new clients so as to be able to have a record of what their clients say in response to their questions that are exactly the same across the board, no matter what financial planner I've been transcribing.  Questions that are about dreams.  About where you'd like to be in 10 years.  About how we're going to help you get there.  Nice and friendly questions that feel lovely.  But they never fail to make me feel slightly uncomfortable.

I wonder how many people really know exactly how the whole system works?  I sure know I don't.  But I can see enough to know that someone wins at the expense of someone else.  And the someone who is winning usually has a big fat piece of greedy pie anyway and just wants more.  To feel safe.  Because of the dog eat dogness of the big bad world out there. 

I wonder how many of those husbands and wives visiting financial planners think much beyond a hazy sort of conception of share markets being like magical Santa Clauses where they put money in and then get even more out that they didn't lift a finger to earn themselves.  I wonder how many of them feel a sense of pride and accomplishment in their portfolios so that they then feel justified in calling others "lazy" who don't want to swim in those particular pools?

Maybe it's partly unexamined guilt that their getting ahead continues to strengthen those most desirous of perpetuating an untenable status quo.

I don't know what the answers are to all this.  It's so complex and I know there are probably things I've said here that others more knowledgeable can dismiss as the ravings of someone who doesn't know what she's talking about.

I know what I can smell though.  A rancid system that's really, really old.  It's getting just about ready to fall apart.  But don't expect to see anyone daring to discuss that sort of thing on Q&A or anywhere else.

All Is Well and All Shall Be Well

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Tuesday, 18 February 2014

Pic by HKD Hartwig.  Free to use with attribution;  please no derivatives.


Everything is ecstasy, inside. We just don’t know it because of our thinking-minds. But in our true blissful essence of mind it is known that everything is alright forever and forever and forever. Close your eyes, let your hands and nerve-ends drop, stop breathing for 3 seconds, listen to the silence inside the illusion of the world, and you will remember the lesson you forgot, which was taught in immense milky ways of cloudy innumerable worlds long ago and not even at all. It is all one vast awakened thing. I call it the golden eternity. It is perfect. We were never really born, we will never really die. It has nothing to do with the imaginary idea of a personal self, other selves, many selves everywhere, or one universal self. Self is only an idea, a mortal idea. That which passes through everything, is one thing. It’s a dream already ended. There’s nothing to be afraid of and nothing to be glad about. I know this from staring at mountains months on end. They never show any expression, they are like empty space. Do you think the emptiness of space will ever crumble away? Mountains will crumble, but the emptiness of space, which is the one universal essence of mind, the one vast awakenerhood, empty and awake, will never crumble away because it was never born.

~ Jack Kerouac

The jury's still out for me on the self thing not lasting, Jack.  And the whole emptiness thing can be misinterpreted if you don't iterate that it's the most full and abundant and creative emptiness you've ever saw in your life.  As far as the self not lasting thing goes, I guess I'm probably a little too in love with the idea of That Which Passes Through Everything going on a mad cosmic creative-fest, making Herself bigger by birthing people who birth her in turn only to die but live to let that go just yet.

But for all of that, that idea, like my self, might just be one more beautiful idea I am privileged to swim in for a while :)  She may well be just as happy to let it all wash away, like some beautiful beach mandala.  Or maybe it never ends.

Recent days have been anxiety-fuelled, and I haven't very easily been able to find the end of the thread that runs out past the anxiety.  Or if I do, and I follow it out past the inflammation and other symptoms going on in my body which are creating the anxiety, and I find the lotus space in which to sit even in the midst of shit, then it only lasts for 10 minutes and then I'm freaking out, man, over nothing and everything. 

It is hard in those days.  It is hard and it is fucking shit and yet I am learning in those days how to care for myself better, and I can't begin to tell you how awesome it feels to continue to befriending the things inside me that I hate and project.  It feels like I can't talk about it because I will ruin it by it sounding mushy.  But it's wonderful.. 

And so everything passes, even those days, and I am learning just a little more to ride them all.

Well, sometimes :)

Pic by Danny Howard under a attribution-share-alike licence



Book Review ~ Mullumbimby by Melissa Lucashenko

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Thursday, 13 February 2014

"Everything changes, Jo thought, as the current carried her mentally upriver to the fresh water, but not at random.  There's a deep system and order to it, because everything is forever turning into its own opposite.  Swimming fish becoming flying hawk.  Swift hawk dying and decaying into solid earth.  Earth reaching skyward as trees, turning to fruits and honey and flowers, falling back down again as leaves.  Everything in the world was shapeshifting around her, every moment of every day.  Nothing remained as it was."

I loved this book.  Melissa Lucashenko wrote it as an "ode to country."   While she was writing the manuscript, fellow indigenous writer Alexis Wright told her it should be a "hymn to the ancestors" (see Radio National's Books and Arts Daily review from early 2013).  The feel of both of those sentiments runs like water throughout this novel for me.

As a whitey, reading a novel set in Queensland, a few thousand k's away from me both geographically and otherwise, I feel a rather keen sense of jealousy, running alongside a feeling of kinship, alongside a conscious need to check my romanticism.  I also feel a sense of defensiveness.  Don't lump me in with those who don't give a shit, because while the songlines are not mine, on wilder whimsy days I fancy I can feel the echo of them through suburban concrete, even if I wouldn't understand them.  Or at least perhaps I'd just like to think so, grasping for some sense of place and solidarity in a country that's seeped itself into my bones in my 43 travels round the sun, but which is not of my extended heritage.  I still feel that disconnect.

I have the requisite collection of a couple of ancestors transported here for stealing meat to feed their starving brothers and sisters, along with a gaggle of settlers, but go back five generations and all of my roots dig down into UK and Guernsey Islands soils.  Places I haven't even visited.  Australia is my home, though this book reminds me that so much of it is still alien and not-yet-known to me in comparison to the ancestors of those who can lay claim to hundreds of thousands of years of custodianship. 

Bill Gammage, in his book The Biggest Estate on Earth, opened my eyes up to a little of that a couple of years ago.  He spells out in detail the intricacies of the land that were known to those original custodians.  How early settlers described the land as akin to the parkland of a manor house, it was that well-ordered.  That the land and its inhabitants were understood and managed to such a degree that fire-sensitive trees and shrubs lived next door to fire-retardant ones, that fire management practices were ongoing, structured and complex, not written down in books or on websites, but passed along via generation-to-generation knowledge.

For the first time in her life, the novel's protagonist, Jo Breen, owns the land she lives on.  After a messy and traumatic divorce, she buys 20 acres of farmland 20 k's inland from Byron Bay on New South Wales's North Coast.  She's moved to Bundjalung land, the land of her ancestors, from Brisbane with her 13 year old daughter, Ellen.

Then Jo meets Twoboy, a looker with dreads who takes her fancy the first time she sees him raunch out of a bookstore with a book under his arm.  Not only a spunk, but Bunjalung, smart as, who's moved back here with his brother up from where he's been studying law in Melbourne.  They're going for a Native Title claim and are about to learn a little more about the cost of reclaiming what's been lost and how some bodies carry that cost in themselves.

Lucashenko is so deft with language and in Jo she creates such a likeable character who is both down to earth but smart and sassy:  "She gazed out over the saltwater, where a distant late-season whale was spouting.  A crow perched in the nearby lemon-scented gums, directly above a plaque proclaiming that somebody Devine had discovered this place.  Jo would normally have been delighted to see that the crow had crapped purple fig-seeded bullshit all over this spurious claim."

This book is about dualities. About the ways language is used as a tool, as a proof of identity.  About barbed wire spaced throughout land once stolen, fences which keep out or keep in.  It is about misconceptions, on both sides of the black and white divide, and about generosity.  It is about a familiar Australia and a foreign one. The dugais (whites) Jo meets out on the roads are dim and stupid and disconnected.  A woman with a camera stops to take an unasked photo of Jo on her horse and then speeds off, without even the consideration of showing her what she's taken.  Idiots driving around in Hummers with "Support our Troops" stickers.

If I wax a little romantic about this book, then forgive me my perceived weakness.  It's only because in the Australia of my currency, spirituality - even if it's earth-based - is still something of an embarrassment, to be kept private, an internal state unrelated to the outer world.  But Jo hangs easy with an unabashed earthy spirituality that is all about the land that is alive, that speaks back, and it makes me sink in.  Like it's safe to see the land in this way, even while I look over my shoulder, waiting for snide remarks about my floweriness.  The cynicism and alienation of 21st century Westerners hangs around my head like Fukushima.

Here, on the one hand DJ's child learns to count using ugari (shellfish) shells "which the full moon had left in its wake"  while on the other Humbug is locked up and belted in the cells for D&D.   Here, I smell a scent of people who are a little closer than mine to remembering that they belong to the earth.  People who rather than "go out" with a bang or anything else, "go in" when they die.

And yet this isn't a modern "noble savage" kind of story by any means.  Lucashenko's characters are layered and contradictory and judgmental, sometimes believing caricatures, not always what they seem, sometimes surprising and sometimes plain batshit annoying, regardless of their heritage.

Of course, the bitter irony is that I am jealous of the belonging of a people to land which for many of them is something they're relearning themselves, putting together pieces of the jigsaw puzzle, vast patches of songlines still unknown or lost forever.  Some people don't understand why January 26 is being made political by some.  This is the reason for me.

Mullumbimby has just been longlisted for the 2014 Stella Prize.  This review is part of the 2014 Australian Women Writers Challenge.
I was going to have a break from writing here, where barely anyone reads anyway (except for those of you who do, who I like very much).  Sometimes blogging feels like a luxury and I feel like I should turn my energy towards something more worthwhile, like some half-written essays that are collecting a bit of dust on them, being written by hand and then left in piles on the floor or on tables.  I'm feeling encouraged to return to essay writing (I love her so) after a big morsel of recent encouragement from Creative Nonfiction, who think they might have possibly found space for a piece I submitted something like nine months ago and while they understand that someone else might pick it up in the meantime (being a classy and understanding unit that accepts simultaneous submissions) could they hang onto it for a bit longer? Well, I figure another few months isn't going to make much of a difference, and I understand the difficulties that come with being a small enterprise having to plough through submissions from the world over. So while I understand and yet feel frustrated, I also feel heartened that a journal I love is considering putting some of my words inside it.  Even though payment won't extend to me being able to compost some of it back into a new subscription because I'm so bloody broke.

Sigh. Money.  I'll repeat here my mantra that money is meant to be a tool and a device that allows us to share our stuff amongst each other.  While there are lovely cinnamon-smelling whiffs of people doing it differently, money has on the whole become something that keeps us slogging and slugging and serving the machine instead. This HAS to change - and it will. The most surprising thing is that so little has changed half a decade after the GFC, except in pockets of sanity like Iceland, and even then that's not a systemic change but a facing of damage done.

Gazing into my crystal ball of future trends, I'll say expect to see more and more discussion over the next months and years about interest (or usury as it used to be called in the days where it was widely recognized as a great and destructive evil) and the concept of demurrage, which is something I'm still getting my head around but which basically is an element inserted into the economic system which would mean that the longer you hang onto money the more you lose because it will lose some of its value, so that hoarding it ends up becoming a ridiculous concept.  Which means that money again would become something that is meant to flow, not something some of us hang onto in a bid for security, and just this one thing would change so, so, so, so, so much.  We would begin resembling again the gift economics of the past and less the beholden and enslaved populace we are now.

~

I began panicking a little yesterday morning because when I woke up, I felt simply awful.  I felt like the sinusitis that's plagued me over the last year was making another return.  Congested head, dizzy, nauseous.  Buddhism talks about learning to face the things we are averse to, that cause a strong reaction of disgust within us.  I struggled with this aversion yesterday morning because I have had four weeks where I have begun to have a bit more energy, and where I have actually felt happy, and where my creative juices have begun dripping all over the floor.  To have to return to this small and ugly area was not something that I was savouring in the least.

So I tried to work with it.  I didn't want to be there, but instead of being averse I tried to embrace it.  Which meant going back to bed.  I surrounded myself with my phone, with some books, and with some paper and pen, and I wrote a complaining blog post, and I began putting my meandering thoughts down for a competition I've been meaning to begin exploring for a while.  And eventually, the aversion felt like it loosened its grip a little.  I even felt happy while feeling awful.  And so I chilled, drank lots of neem tea, flushed my sinuses with a xylitol rinse, and got through the day.  It was not where I wanted to be, but I managed to chillax with where I was.  I was very pleased.

I'm feeling so much better today than yesterday, but still weak.  But what felt like the beginnings of a full-blown sinus infection I think may have simply been a strong reaction to the smoke haze that hung like curtains all over the place yesterday from several fires on the outskirts of northern Melbourne, most of which have been deliberately lit by people who really need to get a handle on whatever shit they're projecting onto a bunch of innocent animals. 

I struggle so much with feeling so vulnerable with a body that does not work properly.  It really is a vulnerable position to be in.  And yet I keep reminding myself that vulnerabilities can also be strengths.  They help us stay open, and compassionate, and understanding of others who feel the same way.  They slow us down in certain areas, which may be exactly what other parts of us are screaming for.  I guess it's all in the way you get to look at it, if your anxiety levels will distil enough to let you see the sandbars. 

Pshick

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Wednesday, 12 February 2014

"No, you can't do that, that's not possible," say small-minded, fragile-egoed, fearful people all over the Internet.

Proving over and over again that in our fear we are so desirous of knowing what IS, what we can put a tiny bit of hope into that it'll be stable enough to hold some of our mental weight, that we become the people that the same sorts as us in 50 years will look back on and laugh at because how stupid were we not to see That Thing There That's So Obvious, sitting in the blind spot of the prejudices we can't even see we have.

That sentence really is way too long for the interwebs.

I know this makes me sound like a preachy girl guide and I don't mean to convey the impression that I'm not a bit of a fucktard with some glaring personality problems, because I am. I guess I get so frustrated at this sort of behaviour because it's unfruitful. It means that people who are curious and intuitive enough to think there's something worth exploring in a given area have to walk through a wafty fart smell of other people's "No, that's not possible."  Mostly, I would suspect, because there's some fear-based reason for the no.  Or a lack of imagination. Or a being derailed by this fact over here that apparently contradicts the possibility of this over here, as if we don't know that the chair we're sitting on to make our definitive no statements have more space between its particles than particles, and that even the particles themselves are sorta more not here than here.

Hubris in the hands of fearful people who think the last word has been spoken, especially when there's an enemy in the room (read, anyone not you or in your gang) who needs the benefit of your superior insight, is the shit that hits the collective fan over and over again.  It's pretty fucking tedious. But more than that, it's corrosive to freedom of exploration. The pond I most like to swim in. One that makes me feel spacious and more magnanimous so I can resist writing posts like this focussing on the tedium of  people's fragility when there's so much better stuff to focus on.

Like the people who explore despite the naysayers. 'Cause you'll always have them, right? I think that's something I'd like to develop further somehow, some tinea cream for my Achilles heel - the internal freedom to go out exploring despite whatever criticism comes that way. A childhood full of criticism has made it quite the terror for me. Funny, isn't it - disapproval from others is just that.  The world has never once imploded just because someone once disapproved of something I did.

If anyone finds any Antidisapproval Achilles Heel cream on eBay, can ya let me know?

Short Stories

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1).  I saw a video today about some people in Ouyen in country Victoria who bought and renovated an old theatre.  One of the people's names was Don Dundee.  That is such a great name it automatically smashed itself into my head and if I was organised I would have rushed to put it in my writer's notebook as a possible future short story character.

2).  I was washing my hands after having a poo before (quite pebbly, irritatingly but thanks for asking.  I'd probably class it as a Bristol 5 but it's heading precariously towards a 1;  unfortunate side effect of the d-ribose but I will take whatever side effects there are for the extra energy).  I was washing my hands and wondering about the first time someone discovered that despite our best efforts there's a fine layer of fecal matter over everything.  I was immediately flung into the fictitious head of someone in exactly this position, wondering how they are going to tell their findings to their partner, who is obsessively compulsive when it comes to cleanliness.

3).  Perhaps I should combine 1) and 2)

4).  I went and had a look at a commercial property today, in my ongoing Ooh, This Idea Might Possibly Have Some Legs But We're Not Quite Sure.  Let's Just Have Fun Following It And See What Happens quest, which I haven't told you about yet in full detail but the bones of which are scattered all over this blog, like here and here.  Well, maybe bones isn't the right word seeing it's more of a yet-to-be-born thing rather than a something that has already died and been strewn around the yard by scavenging birds.  I will tell you about it more at some point if it ever gets off the ground.  The property was not appropriate, as I knew it would not be, but it's good to check stuff out because it's fun and because knowing what you don't want is just as helpful as knowing what you do.  The only problem with looking at scenarios is having to make small talk with real estate agents but oh well, you can't have everything.

5).  I didn't even say in 4). what I was intending to say in it.  Those contents have now moved to 6).

6). The best thing about the property I looked at was the pig.  He was on the decking of the house next door, along with a man and a golden retriever.  The pig is a rusty colour.  He apparently has a bit of an attitude problem.  The pig, said the man, is overly demanding.  This made me like him even more, for some reason.  He does not get along very well with the blue heeler, who remained mysteriously indoors and did not make an appearance on the decking with the man, the pig and the golden retriever.  The pig does like the golden retriever, who remained outside, staring at me over the fence with his tongue hanging out and smiling.

7). There has never in the entire history of the world ever been an inwardly focussed golden retriever.

7). I do not eat pork, but bacon does taste very yummy, doesn't it?  I hardly ever eat bacon, but yet a while ago I bought a whole packet of it.  Sighting the pig has made me feel like I'm not going to be doing that for a while now.  This in turn makes me feel bad that when we had backyard chooks, their existence did not make me stop eating chicken.  It made me feel bad, though and I had to tell myself some convoluted bullshit I didn't even believe about how the flatpacked plastic-wrapped stuff wasn't the same as the girls outside.

8).  I wish the Netherlandian lab meat would hurry up and get commercialised.

9).   

Under the Dirt

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Tuesday, 11 February 2014

Last night I watched a very young Louis Theroux traversing the wilds of Texas Christianity, venturing into churches where people spoke in tongues and the slick minister man made people fall over under the power of God.

I do not think that God is contained within church buildings, nor is her power contained within slick marketing men for the Lord.  Christianity as it stands in that version is a creepy and manipulative practice.  Unfortunately, it's the only one that non-Christians see in mass form.  To lots of non-Christians, Benny Hinn IS Christianity.

The early Christian Gnostics did not believe in a literal Jesus.  I must say, I'm quite partial to a literal Jesus but there is compelling evidence that if he existed, that his story has been tweaked and refined to make him into something he was not.

But like I've said before, if Jesus didn't exist, we would invent him.  He is an archetype for something that we need.  The same story that's been told before, in Mithras and Osiris and others I haven't even begun to explore yet.

The early Christian Gnostics believed that Jesus was representative of God - spirit - descending down into matter and dying, in a sense.  Fragmenting into people, lying dormant within each of us, waiting to be reborn.

I quite love that idea.  I know from my own personal experience that there has certainly been something going on, but it's been God rising up from within me rather than an outward sky daddy comin' on down to Susie as long as she claimed the blood of Christ and promised not to have sex with people who weren't her husband.

The kingdom of God is within you. God-birthing - the ultimate creative enterprise.

I dunno, there is still something compelling about Christianity for me.  It's just that it's nothing like what so many of its adherents claim.  It's like I'm trying to see through a window that's been smudged with centuries of grotty hands and snotty noses from without and which has funhouse mirrors within reflecting back at me the distorted version of what it's become in the hands of the powerful.

I was frustrated watching Mr Theroux* displaying yet another example of Christianity-Gone-Bung.  I personally think Christianity went bung a couple of hundred years after it began and ever since it's been twisted into a tool for the powerful to exert over the majority and a convenient little hideyhole for pedophiles.  Fear hell, fear your sinfulness, fear the wrath of God. 

Which ironically leads people away from their own inner lives.  In this version, whatever hells you've got going on on the inside stay unquenched and feared.  Whatever sinfulness you have going on, whatever is eating you up and corroding you, you are not empowered to face it down squarely and be creative with it.  Whatever wrath of God you might be experiencing is not a corrective device for the now, but simply a taste of things to come.  Now, with its suffering and its mass evil is a hazy dream in comparison to the real wrath of God lying on the other side where you never know if you'll be the one being consigned to flames of eternal hell for not jumping through a bunch of doctrinal hoops.

That all just feels like bollocks to me.  Like sows' ears made out of silk purses.

The early Christian Gnostics followed on from Plato in believing that hell or hades was the earth.  It was the place where God was in the underworld, trapped inside matter, waiting to be freed.  

Despite all of the rolling and roiling bullshit that is Christianity, there is something underneath it, something older and buried in the dirt, that compels me.  Something entirely non-literal, mythological and archetypal.  Something that makes sense and is very, very beautiful and so much more sophisticated and psychologically helpful and creatively satisfying than that crap. Perhaps it is God lying underneath the layers.

Whatever he/she/it is.

* Louis Theroux would be a most welcome addition to my hypothetical dinner party.  A conversation oiler.  Interesting in his own right, and yet one of those wonderful accepting people who others feel comfortable opening up to express themselves with.  Regardless of his personal view of someone's stand, he is always respectful.  It is perhaps the quality most sorely needed by us in our interactions with each other if we are going to move forward beyond our own little confined selves, defending our ramparts against the Evil Other.  A world full of people fearing the Evil Other is a world full of, well, people behaving evilly themselves.  The ultimate irony.


Stream of Consciousness

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Monday, 10 February 2014

In approximately 8 minutes and 33 seconds the alarm on the oven will go off, signifying the end to the cooking time of the muesli bars.  It is nice to be cooking muesli bars in the oven because it has been too darn hot to cook bloody well anything in the oven.  I miss the oven when I don't cook things in it.  Let's see how much I can write before the alarm goes off.  I went out yesterday, to the Toolangi Tavern and hung out for several hours with some of my relatives.  This is the second time in half a week that I have spent hours hanging out.  It feels very delicious.  It is probably impossible to be able to convey how good it feels being able to go out and do such a simple and taken-for-granted thing such as this.  And enjoy it.  Because for most of last year pretty much every single thing I did was an effort of some sort.  To have gained something like 20% more energy than I had before I started taking d-ribose makes me want to shout to people with fatigue that it is most definitely something worth giving a shot.  A study on CFS patients found something like 67% of them reported benefits from taking it.  I was very hesitant about having many expectations at all about whether I would be in that 67% but I am gratified to find that I am.  The good thing about having been so restricted is that it's an almost orgasmic experience when you find yourself sweeping the floor.  This, however, is a honeymoon period and I'm sure if I find myself with sturdier energy levels on an ongoing basis, that in five years' time it'll be the boring as batshit experience that it really is.  I wonder how much time before the oven alarm starts going, "Beep.  Beep.  Beep"?  We went and ate in Hungry Jack's the other night and mein gott, it should be illegal to force people to work for shit money in a shit and plastic environment and then insert on top of it beeping things.  Those beeping things get ignored by your brain after a while, which is very cool, but I'm willing to bet Gina Rinehart's bank balance that your central nervous system doesn't feel the same way.  This is most likely why living in our current culture is so patently shit some of the time.  Not for me, however, right now.  Because energy.  And because all I can hear is the clicking of my fingers on the keyboard and the slow whirr of the oven.  Yesterday, I stopped with the Woman who Bore me from her Womb in the middle of Old Toolangi Road, where we'd just been for a quick squiz at my dear old auntie and uncle's house.  They're both long gone now and the people who own their house have done much sprucing, with lovely hedges and cute gates set into them.  I stopped on the driveway outside of their gates and the view ahead of me of a far bank of trees threw me straight back into my childhood with all of the sense that Christmas at Auntie Shirl and Uncle Bob's entailed (freedom and masses of space ahead, going with Andrea and Auntie Dawn and Uncle Alec back to their place.  Weeks of play and fun.  Noice).  Mum and I stopped on Old Toolangi Road and all we could hear was wind in the trees and nothing else, and it reminded me yet again that I crave silence, that it doesn't scare me, that whatever lies behind it feels beautiful and benign, and oh, there goes the oven.

Bloggingly Meet-Ups

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Saturday, 8 February 2014

A couple of days ago I met up with the most lovely Vicki from Home in a Heartbeat.  We hung out in Sassafras drinking coffee and tea and eating cake and rambling in a three-hour wide-ranging discussion over many hills and down many dales.

Yea, it was very, very good, and we shall do it again hopefully soon.

Blogging, I have found, is a wonderful way to meet new people.  I have met several people from my blogroll, and without exception they are all rather wonderful people.


I Would like to take LSD ...

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Tuesday, 4 February 2014

... but to be able to retain my eyes (squinty and not-quite-aligned though they be).

I like how taking LSD apparently makes you feel like you're a cat ... until you turn into a bit of an alien.  I especially like what a trippy ole colourhead of the sea it makes you feel after 6 hours and 45 minutes.

http://www.webburgr.com/before-after-lsd/

I wouldn't really like to take LSD.  Except I sort of would.  But I wouldn't because risky and flashbackness.  But I would because mind expansion.

I find it funny how common drug-taking has been amongst humans of past cultures.  How different cultures used it for initiation purposes and for rituals.  Contained it within shared spaces.  Sitting on the couch with your mates shagging bongs is most certainly a shared space, and a ritual, but it's probably not an initiation after the first time.  And it's certainly not something shared towards a cultural end.  The drug made sacred, in a sense.

Maybe that's the key to proper use.  Use it as a tool.  A pencil to draw upon the people and draw them into something bigger than them, something that encompasses them inside the folds of their whole culture, an experience greater and more sacred than getting pissed at the footy.  Perhaps that would have made people less inclined to snatch it every weekend as the vehicle to leaving, to get ber-lind, mayte.

Maybe that will be how it will be once again in the future, in the days when we have recreated and redrawn for ourselves stories we like, with us and the earth as the characters, where we all fit, where everything once more belongs.  Even a bit of ceremonial spin-outery.

Or maybe I'm just a doped-out hippie with no brain cells.  Except I never smoked enough quantities of dope for it to have that effect.   CFS has done that all by itself :)

Hills Ambivalence

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Monday, 3 February 2014

I remember when I first started seeing my partner.  He lived in Belgrave in the Dandenong Ranges on the outskirts of Melbourne (still does - and now I do too), and when I came to visit I'd get enraptured about the animal life in abundance out the door.   I still do - the kookaburras, the rosellas, the king parrots (especially the king parrots.  The combination of their beautiful silky eye and the sweet sounds that come from their throats won me over immediately).

And I fell in love with the cockatoos.  Such enormous things.  So smart.  You could see them sussing you out and thinking about stuff.


I fell in love with a cockatoo who I worked with for a day.  Our boss was away and so my co-worker brought in his pet to work.  Now, if I was at school with Mary and she'd brought her lamb, I'd be the kid vomiting from overexcitement, laughing and playing like a mad thing, to see a lamb at school.  It just breaks up the monotony, right?   An adult bringing in their cockatoo to work while the boss was away was altogether too delightful for even my shite memory to forget.  I commandeered Ollie for as much time as I possibly could that day.  I sat, working on a typesetting machine that seems now like it's something out of the 1890's even though it was 1987, while Ollie nibbled occasionally upon my ear.

It was a good day.

And so because cockatoos are so cool, I was a little curious about why my partner was so antagonistic towards them.  What's there to hate, right?

Well, this, for example, done entirely at the hand - or beak, rather - of those gorgeous cockies.


I think cockatoos chew up stuff for pleasure, along with other practical reasons like beak-sharpening and cleaning purposes.

Wouldn't it be nice if cockatoos could be trained to mess only with wood that's not attached to your house.  Like the masses of trees surrounding it, for instance.  If I could become the cockatoo whisperer, I'd be in great demand amongst Australian house owners.  Or if I could build a beaking post that cockatoos were insanely attracted to, that was painted in an environmentally friendly cockatoolian version of catnip, I'm pretty sure there'd be a market for that, too.

Nature is amazing in its resourcefulness and reuse and upcycling.  Animals (including people, before Bunnings existed) use what's there in creative ways.  And that's why one bird's pleasurable destruction has become (at least temporarily) another mammal's home.  Take a squiz, a little closer.



See that greyish-lookin' thing?  That's a bit of a possum. 

Perhaps there aren't enough hollowed-out bits of logs to go around, and the last possum in for the night is stuck with the crappy digs, like a shitty, cheap motel with poo stains on the carpet.  This is not the biggest of spaces - I've felt inside.  That possum sleeping in there would be squashed.  And it was hot last night.  It sure can't be all that comfortable rammed in there with fur on top.