Leaving Facebook


Wednesday, 30 October 2013

So Rima Staines finally joins Facebook ...

... and I leave it.


I've done this before.  I know how it feels - the familiar jittery, "What the hell am I doing?" feeling.  The awful thought that you have removed yourself from the entire front loungeroom of the global house.  That you will probably lose touch with a whole bunch of people who if you never get on Facebook again you'll probably never talk to again.

The "What the hell am I doing?" feeling is like when you quit smoking.  It's a panic.  It's a wondering what you're going to do to fill up the space where you used to look at Facebook 30 times a day.

Which is exactly why I'm doing it.  I want more space.

I partially blame Rima's post.  Because this:

I have a theory that using the internet occupies a very particular place in us. I think it takes the place of dreaming. Not night-dreaming, but that very shamanic soul-travelling that we all do to a greater or lesser extent when our mind wanders, when we create art, when we day-dream, imagine, journey in our minds and spirits to elsewhere, elsewhen. Internet-travelling uses the same metaphorical muscle I think, but is utterly hollow in comparison because it is not creative in that same sense. It is not magical. And worst of all it replaces the dreaming.
This really speaks to me.  I haven't been writing much in recent weeks, after the latest sinus bout.  It fills up my head and makes it feel like there is not room enough both for sinus and for words.  And so I've fallen off the writing habit again for the moment.  But even if my head is relatively clear, it still feels full up with the internet.  With the mass amount of information I've taken in over one day that the majority of people in the entire history of the world would not take in over their entire lifetimes, I feel completely full, and often very overwhelmed, even when I'm rolling around inside the house all day all by myself with no work to do.  It's not very conducive to characterisation, to essay-writing, to thrumming.  And so while I can't get rid of the entire internet, I can at least get rid of Facebook.  Because it frees up space, and I know it does because it has done so before.  And I wish to fill that extra space with real-time interaction with breathing, living people, and real-time interaction with clay, with pens, and with the keyboard where I am writing stuff that sits in a document waiting to be added to tomorrow, instead of being pasted as a Facebook status update.

Rima is speaking about the internet as a whole, and I agree fulsomely that even if I quit Facebook, I still have to try to manage my internet info intake each day.  But Facebook is like the methamphetamine of the internet for me.  Even more so than Twitter, strangely.  Twitter annoys me too much for it to ever be a meth addiction.  Twitter is like a once a week bong-on sesh with your mates.  Facebook is like mainlining.  I need the space. 

I went outside before, after getting home from my Aged Care class, and sat, with my feet bare in the grass, and read a wonderful novel, and felt blissed out from the sun that had poked through the clouds on my way home and which was now heading his way in a slant over to the west.  And I made pictures out of the clouds, and thrummed in my dreaming space, and read a story set in the future generations and generations after a giant meteorite has hit the moon and flung it off its trajectory so that every seventh night it looms scarily close to the earth before moving away again in its new spheric orbit.  A story most certainly set elsewhen, further off into the future around a church of women, the Sisters of Selene, whose influence has already risen in their small periphery and, over several generations, now begins to wane.  It is a book captivating my attention, and hence I was incredibly rich sitting there, more than you could ever guess, out out on the grass, feet buried in grass, reading the words of an author who sounds like he's writing in some Icelandic country - his name is Torsten Krol, if he is indeed a he - but who apparently lives in Queensland.  There is apparently some mystery surrounding Torsten Krol, about whether he is a famous author writing under a pseudonym.  I think in some ways I like it like that - an anonymous writer.  There is sometimes something nice about not knowing who the author is, of the story just wafting to you all on its own.

But I also really like it when a piece of writing is attached to an author.  It's why I will always prefer blogs over Facebook, even as Facebook has stolen many bloggers away.  I prefer being able to go to read someone's extended thoughtfulness, where my reading is a little more longform, even if it means that I can read less, because it's more fun to spend time inside one person's mind for five minutes rather than flicking my attention between 13 different people in two.

And so my love-hate relationship with this online space, and my haggling with it over how much of an effect it gets to have on my attention span and mindspace continues.  Rima says it better:
But do you not also share my frustration and loathing for the way the internet has squirmed into our every minute, addicting us to updates, and overloading us with eons more information each second than we are naturally made to process in a lifetime? Even if we ignore the endless shite and horror that the internet contains, it is still spilling over with wonder. There are so many beautiful things out there, genuine heartfelt pieces of writing, ideas and images - too many - so we have learnt to skim, to take in only the bubbles from the top of every slowly crafted brew. And I for one feel this is not a true and considered honouring of these beautiful works, not to mention of the eyes and hearts and souls and bodies of the people who are consuming these streams of information every millisecond, utterly removed from the place and land where they sit, out in the ether somewhere, following a trail whilst their extremities get gradually colder and they forget to eat lunch.
... I speak from a concerned and somewhat frightened yet simultaneously grateful and amazed viewpoint. If we use this thing, we still need to remember the land on which we stand, remember our bodies and the faces of those we love. I think we should be frightened that all intercity trains these days are filled with blue-faced passengers, every one of them swiping their fingers across a tiny screen, oblivious of the people around them acting identically. If we use this thing, then we should use it to find other faces in the throng and go and really touch them, in real life. Arrange it so that you can look into their real eyes and hear their real stories. This amazing network can be used for proliferating inane fluff or it can be used to organize and gather for good and real reasons, and to stir souls.
Sometimes the soul you need to stir is your own.  To make more space for the daydreaming.  To not let connecting on Facebook replace connecting with people in real time.  To go cold turkey once again.  To disconnect to reconnect.  A mighty challenge for us all ~ internet newbies all as we are ~ to navigate.

Mind Porn


Saturday, 26 October 2013

It's mind porn, that's what it is.

It's not like Russell Brand is saying anything that millions of people around the world haven't been saying, many of us for years.  It's not even like he's saying anything new and enlightening.  Everything he says tons of us have already been thinking ourselves.

It's that what he is saying is about a future that comparatively speaking is fresh and wonderful, and even talking about it on the BBC feels so radical because they pretend for so long that nothing needs to change, and what he says about the paradigm-change is absolutely necessary, and he's fucking funny along with it so that it doesn't matter how many times you hear it, it always renews your inner vigour even if you're in the midst of outer fatigue.

It inspires you anew, keeps you going on in this fucked-up paradigm we're still stuck in, where a very small minority of unbelievably powerful people are prepared to fuck the entire world for their own insane benefit.  It's like the freedom that whallops in on a kid who has been living in the house of a madman all his life, and who for the first time really trusts his own sanity, and a chink of light floods in.  Every time anyone else talks about this stuff, that chink of light comes in all over again, heartens and enheartens. 

Hell, it's not even like we're envisioning a world where there wouldn't still be bloody horrible things happening sometimes, and people won't still be suffering and dying.  We're not talking about living in a utopia of no suffering.  We're talking about living in balance, where suffering is not perpetuated by the few onto the many for the benefits only of the few.

Those running this ship have spent and will go on spending millions trying to convince the majority of the world that what is vision and freedom and sanity is utopian.

But it's not.  It's just vision and freedom and sanity for everybody, instead of a paradigm of smoke and mirrors serving the few.

Happy weekend, everybody. 

Seeing Australia

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Wednesday, 23 October 2013

I fell in love a little last night with a painting.  Tom Roberts's Mosman's Bay.

I saw this painting last night on the first episode of a TV show called The Art of Australia (you can watch it here on iView for a couple of weeks). 

The show was an interesting example of how where you come from colours where you are.  So many of the early painters in Australia painted it as if it was England, whereas Tom Roberts and Arthur Streeton were two artists who had grown up in the country, and who could see its beauty.

It's true that after the deep greens of England, parts of Australia would have appeared washed out in their colours ... unless you were in the deep rusty orange-reds and sky blues of the outback, with its backdrop of trees and shrubs whose greens verged from olive to lime.  Australia's light must have been excessively harsh to northeners.  Hard to see anything beyond the harshness of a landscape they had yet to learn to read.

To be able to see what is in front of you is like a turning of the lens.  Bring the land itself into focus and the colour starts appearing everywhere.  Like Vegemite, some of the land is an acquired taste.  It hides itself away until suddenly its beauty springs into view.

Free Energy


Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Ian Muttoo (Creative Commons attribution/share-alike)
If money is the thing we use so that we can exchange things - our energies and our talents and things we've made and stuff - amongst each other, why are there groups of people controlling it then?

If money is something we invented as a means of exchange, why is there so little of it to go around?

If the world was a body, the greedy ones controlling the finances of the world would be something akin to a big wad of chronic fatigue syndrome, stopping us from freely moving about doing our thang.

If the world is to stop being a mentally ill body, it will remove control from those greedy people and change the way it distributes its energy.

Money in itself has become way too much of a focus, making us smaller.

The world can be a very different place to what it currently is.

Much more lively, with its people suddenly much more interesting and fascinating, much richer.  Sane.

Survival Day 2014

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If I don't head off to Belgrave Survival Day again next January 26, going to the movies to see the Australian release of John Pilger's latest, Utopia, will be a time rather well spent on that day, mereckons.

Human Sovereignty

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Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Perhaps when we start to see the effects of the deals that are regularly done above the heads of our own governments, we will start doing something about the fact that billions of us are being ruled by a very small and powerful group of people who have their best interests at heart, but definitely not ours - and nor, seemingly, the earth's.

Perhaps when we see the Global Government of Goldman Sachs Et Al (TM) really really really repress our freedoms we will stand up.  The Trans Pacific Partnership, which is in the process of being finalised right now, is one such example of this.  In this version of events, the sovereignty of the Australian government will be regularly overridden - they will even be sued if they step out of line - by the real powers in the world, the multinational corporations.

Perhaps we need that to come to hand so that we can all see in front of us - feel its oppression on our own skin - what has been the hidden reality for many years now.

Perhaps if it comes into effect and Glaxo Smith Kline get to override the laws of our own country (however stupid and dodgy they may be - they need changing as well) in the name of profiteering, then we will start to understand the extent of this proposed agreement and why we need to do something about it.

How strange it is that the majority allow such a small band of people to control them.  But that has been the history of the world.  Perhaps it is going to come to an end soon.

Golden Nebula by Fennius (CC noncommercial, share-alike)
But then there are people who will stand up, like Mulala Yousafzai, fearlessly.  My admiration for that girl is just boundless.  She is so fearless!!  Her courage inspires me.  Just as fear is contagious, so is courage.  And luckily you don't need to be entirely free of the grip of fear to act in courage.  You act despite it.

Is a point going to come when the people in the street start refusing any longer to live under this system we live under?  Will we inflate our stymied imaginations and our deflated critical thinking skills to start imagining a world where things can be way different to how they are now?  More suitable for us?  A win/win world?

Of course, creating that world involves turning aside from what is and dreaming and putting into action what could be. Ghandi's being the change you wish to see in the world.  There are many exciting and inspiring people in the world doing just that.  But that is not enough.  The problem is with the level of domination by these corporations - if we don't do something to stop them, we won't have the opportunity to continue imagining and envisaging and birthing a better world, in the way that so many inspirational people are.

Are we going to one day take back our own sovereignty - or perhaps, to start off with, to even care that it's being taken away from us in the first place?  Or are we waiting for Jesus to come back and make it all right so we don't have to lift ourselves out of our own apathy, or our own lovely little shiny New Age world where facing the darkness is a no-no because it's too "negative"? 

This isn't about whether you are into politics or not.  That whole thing seems to be a mass of mazes and mirrors.  It's about taking back what is rightfully ours FROM those who operate within the political spectrum.

If Jesus does come back, I imagine one of the first things he would ask us is why the hell are we so willing to be slaves when there is so much beauty and awesomeness within us bursting to come out, if it has the opportunity?  I imagine he would ask where has our imagination gone?  And if we claim to care so much about the future of our kids, why are we so unwilling to examine what their future might be if our apathy continues?  And he might ask why have we been willing to allow others to destroy the earth and put us in the position where we have to bury our own talents in order to serve the machine.

All very good questions that we should be asking ourselves.

Oh, and I don't much care if this post is "inappropriate" or if I appear angry or self-righteous, if these things make people uncomfortable by their "negativity", because people's apathy about the things happening in the world at the hands of corporations makes me WAY more uncomfortable.  I'm tired of watching the spectacle.  I can't not speak about these things.  They are disgusting injustice.  They kill me.  They burn in my guts.  I simply don't understand how so many people can stay silent or turn away when there is such a sinister elephant in the room.

Golden Sea by Tonyelieh (CC noncommercial, share-alike)
We have to turn and face this stuff down.   It's part of our challenge of being humans on the earth at this point in time.  It is not "negative" to turn and face the dark.  It is just simply fucking terrifying. 

And there are gifts to be reclaimed from that space, things which are rightfully ours, which expand our humanity.  Because the vast majority of us seem to be people who wish to and who are capable of living in peace on the earth. This is what we want.

Email or Facebook message or tweet Tony Abbott, Prime Minister of Australia
Tweet Minister for Trade, Andrew Robb
Email Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade

This Too Shall Pass


Sunday, 13 October 2013

It's a liberating - or unnerving - concept that this too shall pass. But it shall. All of it, whether good or bad. For me right now, feeling bogged down by slowness and infected sinuses and molasses, it is a beauty of a thought, shooting me across the sky into some sort of perspective.

As some of you know, I work as a transcriber. Work that I am very good at, and which my conscientious self takes pride in doing well. And work that I'm also not very disciplined with, because it's not really suited to my temperament.  A word of advice:  if you're going to work from home, make sure it's something you love.  It makes it just that little bit easier :)

I'm also in the process of studying to work as a personal care worker for people requiring assistance in their homes, and to get out and about in the community.  The space between this job and the next feels like it's going to drag on forever and ever, but in reality I will be trained and ready to go in my new work in five months. Hopefully. I am still to organise my placement - all 120 hours of it - before I can get out and working.  Hopefully I will be able to have all of that done and dusted and in five months be off and running ... or as off and running as a CFSey person can be :)

My anxiety screams that five months is way too long because money. Money is tight and I have not been contributing much at all in recent times, leaving my partner to shoulder most of the burden, which awakens pretty much every demon that I have, giving ample opportunity to feel depressed and like a useless loser, basically.  I've been trying to drum up extra transcription work, but it's not been all that forthcoming.

And so once I move into my new part-time work situation, combined with the disability support pension I hope to begin receiving soon, and suddenly the world of Susie will feel a little less precarious. And I will be able to resume a regular writing practice again.  Because my world has been as wobbly as a fault line for some time now, and I need it to stabilise for my health's sake, both mentally and physically.

So I will hang on till then. Wait in the fire, wait in the fire.  This too shall pass, and what has felt like it's forever coming will be here and I can relax.

To be brutally honest, the thought of washing old men's testicles is terrifying to me. The thought of assisting the old man who lives on the end of the testicles to remain independent in his home for as long as possible is exciting and gratifying. The former I will get used to. Hopefully not the latter.

And so I wait until then. But it's a stressful wait. To be honest with you, I'm struggling. Money woes, old trauma that rears it's head up and threatens to devour. Health going up and down like a bride's nightie so I can't get any purchase on anything, so I'm not productive, so I feel like shit. 

I feel like shit. And I feel apologetic about it because I'm paranoid.  And I feel paranoid because almost menopause.  And so this post is turning into a whinge, but I'm sorry, I'm just simply not shiny.  I'm tarnished.  Too much time on my hands with menopause looming so close to be able to resist overthinking.  Which contributes to the extra health things.  But I'm trying.  I'm trying so hard to climb out of this pit.

(In fact, I think the problem with me is not so much that I don't try as I overtry.  And I overcare.  I know this, but I've come to know it just a little bit better lately.  I so want to be free of the past ...)

And so I can't wait to get out there working, in whatever capacity my chronically fatigued body will allow me.  I really can't wait.  I know I am going to be so much happier when I do.  Perhaps then I will be able to write posts that are about things that extend a little beyond my very own navel ;)

To finish, in my class last week we watched two episodes of Derek.  Have you seen it?  Ricky Gervais plays Derek, a worker in a nursing home, and all it took was 29 minutes or so to have me gathered in and in love with these characters.  A lovely light-hearted look at ageing, disability, and what it means to be human in the very best sense.  Gervais is so brilliant in this.

Floodline - Kathryn Heyman

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Thursday, 3 October 2013

This is my first time reading Kathryn Heyman, and not to be my last.  I very much enjoyed the feeling of safety that comes from being in the hands of someone who is confident in what they're doing. This is Kathryn's fifth published novel, and it feels like it.

Which is good, because she tackles a few large subjects of biblical proportions - floods, like, and loss, and disasters and faith.  Different types of faith. 

There's the faith that sometimes comes easily and sometimes is lost just as easily.  It's a faith that looks like faith but sometimes it can really just be a cover for something else, or someone else, or for not acting.  And then there's the faith that is also lost easily - faith in life, in humanity.  It's easy in our everyday world to be cynical and think that that has entirely eroded.  People, after all, as a community, to turn to when you need them, can be very disappointing. They do not want to see your suffering.  We do not know, in our culture, how to handle another's suffering very well.  We do not know how to handle each other very well.

Horneville is flooded.  And the waters keep on rising around the hospital where Gina Donaldson works as a nurse.  She's a good one, too.  She is able to provide care for patients along with the requisite detachment that is required to stop you from burning out.  Gina's problem isn't detaching.  It's detaching too much.  And then really, Gina feels like she burned out years ago.

Mikey Brown has faith in spades.  Or at least she thought she did.  The host of the Shop for Jesus channel, Mikey's refuge has become NuDay, the megachurch began by her and her then-husband as a house church in their lounge room, but which sprung out into monolithic status by the vision of their pastor, Gary, who wanted to do big things for God.  The result is NuDay, a sprawling complex of thousands of members.

Mikey is lonely.  It's just hard to realise it.

With NuDay, you were never alone.  Each day was stretched full with work for the ministry; by the time Mikey had given her hours in the NuDay store, then worked on designs for the services, gathered together the children's worship resources, filmed Shop for Jesus - well, she didn't have a lot of time left over to feel alone.  Silence didn't come into it much, either - what with prayer and song and thankfulness and praise.  Without silence, it got pretty easy not to notice whether you were lonely.
Mikey was originally going to travel to Horneville to protest against the gay pride march occurring there, to make a stand.  But then when news of the flood came, her and Gary decided instead to use the care packages they had put together for overseas aid and use them instead in Horneville.  So Mikey and her two sons, Talent and Mustard, drive the packages down there.

What Mikey and Gina both find within this disaster zone, amongst awful death and suffering, is renewal, and hope.  

This version of the book came to Kathryn after she'd already written 60,000 words:
It dawned on Kathryn Heyman way too late that she had it all wrong. The novel she was writing about a woman called by God to take her sons on a road trip around Australia was unsparing in its portrait of certain absurdities of charismatic Christianity. But it lacked something. It lacked love. And there was another treacherous thought that, try as she might, she could not swat away.

 "In that earlier book, I had a lot about the church and about setting off - and the church dynamic was a much bigger story and, really, right towards the end, I had this tiny moment in the hospital,'' Heyman says.

''I had read a report about the events that happened in Memorial [Medical Centre] in New Orleans and I was haunted by it. It was a life-or-death situation where the medical staff had to make extreme ethical decisions. It was a horrible feeling; I got to the end of the draft and thought, 'That's the moment; that's where the novel is.' I've never done this before. I threw away 60,000 words.'' (excerpt from Linda Morris's interview in The Age).
That's the thing about criticising - it's hard to do it without ending up seeming somehow as shabby as the thing you're criticising.  It's easy, after all to stand against things, but just that much harder to actually stand for stuff.  And charismatic Christianity is surely an easy potshot.  So if Heyman needed to throw 60,000 words away to find a greater level of compassion, then it was worth it, because she doesn't come across as judgmental.  The brush strokes with which she paints Mikey are just as generous, well-rounded and compassionate as they are for the other characters in the book.

I Need Your Help

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I need your help with a story I want to write.

It's set in a fictional universe and in a fictional world (which looks just like this one, pretty much).  And it turns out that that entire universe is actually a simulation game that this person is playing on their computer.

This person is a little nice but they're also a little nasty, a bit of a bully, which is often reflected in the way their fictional world operates.

But then there's this other component that is in the world that gets stronger and stronger as it goes on, and that component is sometimes called love, and sometimes called Love because it's so good that people want to make a capital letter out of it.  And that component grows and grows until it starts to change the world, and it changes this person right along with it.

My question is, do you foresee a way in which the people in this fictional world end up seeing the person playing the simulation game?  If so, how?

Or maybe it's better if the people never even know that they're in a simulation game.

Your thoughts?