Jim Jimenon


Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Jim Jimenon was a canola farmer, a leathermaker and a shoemaker, amongst other things, who had fallen deeply in love with every single cow that he had ever owned.  He didn't like to say that he owned them however - for Jim Jimenon, the cow/man relationship was a street of two ways.  He lived next door to The Smeddlers

The Smeddlers did not know that they were the sorts of people who hated beauty and wastefulness and wanted everyone to live life in the most boring and unimaginative style possible.  They did not know that they feared people who have an inkling of how the world is meant to be beautiful.  If they did know those two things, even so they still may not have been able to admit that they preferred people who were boring and unimaginative because they were easier for people like The Smeddlers to move around on a spreadsheet.  If people knew that they had the power to live beautifully, they would turn and take power back from those like The Smeddlers, who were composed of hollow centres - and you can imagine what hell it would be to be a hollow-centred beauty-hater and to lose your ability to control other people.  You would be hollowed out twice over.

These are the sorts of things The Smeddlers believed, which made them very successful, but they didn't know that this was what they believed because The Smeddler's intuition had dried up around 1972.

The Smeddlers owned a massive dairy enterprise the next town over and they thought Jim Jimenon was a bloody dill.

Jim Jimenon kept putting off slaughtering his cows for their hides to make his footwear and their meat, which he ate.  Jim Jimenon sometimes ran out of hides and had to buy more from the tannery in town.  At the moment there were seven cows living on his property and one calf and apart from milk, Jim didn't actually take anything from them except for man/cow friendship and things that were useful to him once they became no longer useful to the cows.

Jim Jimenon's crappy next door enterprise made The Smeddlers glare out their windows at him.  Jim Jimenon wandered around his property at odd times talking to his cows and feeling rich because he had learned how to communicate with cows though they did not speak the same language.  He would leave off farming or making another pair of exquisite boots (he was currently branching out into suede and investigating dying techniques on the internet) in order to go and see how his cows were going and to telepathically communicate with them through their eyes.  It was a very beautiful life.

Then, as sometimes happens, Maisie got sick.  She went down and though sometimes they got up again, she didn't.  She stayed down for days and no manner of extra calcium or an examination from the vet would help.  It happens from time to time even with cows living in luxury conditions like those blessed to live with Jim Jimenon.

Now was one of those times - Jim Jimenon knew that Maisie was not going to get back up again.  He got the boltgun and the knife.  The bolt caused Maisie to be brain dead before her life ebbed slowly from her throat.  Jim Jimenon said goodbye, kissed and caress her smooth, shiny body.

It took Jim Jimenon all night to strip Maisie's beautiful, soft fur.  "By this I will remember you," he said, and wiped the tears that streamed down his cheeks that, if there were anyone there to view them, he wouldn't have apologised for.  He and Maisie went back a decade.  He envisioned the boots and shoes that he would be making in a few weeks once the leather had gone through all the steps it took to go from being the outside of Maisie to the outside of the footwear that covered the feet of the people in Jim Jimenon's town and their friends and family and beyond.  (Word of mouth was the best form of advertising and Jim Jimenon's boots were a superb form of shoewear).

Jim Jimenon took until sunrise to carve up Maisie's flesh for refrigeration and eating.  Maisie was a younger cow than some he'd carved up, and so her flesh would be more tender for preparing and eating the sort of dinners that would be worthy of her life and their friendship.  Whereas contrast that with Old Bob, for example - he'd been 15, and a tougher hide.  Old Bob's flesh had toughened up a little in the same way Jim Jimenon's was toughening up too, but it was nothing that a little long, slow cooking didn't solve.

Jim Jimenon knew why The Smeddlers glared out their windows at him.  But he knew that the best way through grief was to take it and make beautiful things from it.  It was what made Jim Jimenon rich.  The Smeddlers might laugh at the way he went to the tannery down the road to buy hide because he couldn't bring himself to kill his own cows.  They might say that if he was that pissweak he should just damn it all and plant chia paddocks to add to his canola and go buy all of his hide from the tannery.

But Jim Jimenon knew they only had a portion of the story.  While it was true that it was from weakness that he couldn't bring himself to slaughter his friends before their time, within this lay strength.  Jim Jimenon and his customers swore they could tell the difference between a pair of boots made out of Jim's cows and those from tannery cows.  Jim's was softer, better, more lush.  It was quite simple really:  Jim's cows were less stressed and happier.  Some of the stock from the tannery would have come from the The Smeddlers' own dairy cows, who were born, raised and died according to the exigencies of modern, efficient farming practice.

It was true Jim's place was as unprofessional and messy as a dag hanging off a sheep's bum.  The cows wandered wherever there weren't fences to keep them out.  Seven cows wandering round the place, not earning their keep, turning into red on the balance sheet.  But Jim knew his cows.  He knew that Bess and Jeevie hung out together, just as he knew Beavis would most likely be found taking some quiet solitudinal time by herself up the far end of the paddock each day.  Jim Jimenon liked to imagine Beavis as a bit of a cow poet - she needed time off by herself to gaze off into the distance and ponder.

Beavis, Bess and Jeevie, when each of their times came, would be found, if anyone cared to experiment, to have much greater levels of collagen in their tissues than the unfortunate bovine relatives belonging to those next door.  Better meat, better leather, better life.  But the greatest of these was love, even if there was no column for that on the spreadsheet. 

Angle on the Feedback


Thursday, 24 April 2014

I have had some pretty nice feedback from editors in the past couple of months about my submitted writing.  One piece The American Scholar very much enjoyed reading.  The Monthly enjoyed it too.  Another was "read with interest" by Creative Nonfiction.  Another piece made the 10-person shortlist in New Philosopher's competition.  The same piece was enjoyed also by The Monthly but wasn't quite the right fit for their mag.

Adorn by Jenny Downing (cc attribution)

Concentrating on any available encouraging feedback is the best way to look at rejections.  They come thick and fast after all, and as my skin is not thick but translucent, some days I go away and curl up in a sad, deflated ball.  And yet even when I'm feeling like that, a part of me knows that in a few days' time I'll get up and get going again.  And you need to when it comes to writing.  You know the stories - Dune was rejected 20 times before being accepted for publication;  Gertrude Stein was rejected for 22 years before her first poem was published. 

Some days - like this morning and Monday morning (two rejections in three days) - I read the email, feel a bit despondent but stay unfurled, and simply reread, reedit and then resend the piece out somewhere else.

Yay.  And if I can handle being rejected, then any writer can.  I guess it just depends on how much you want to write, in the end.  If your desire to write and the tiny little twinge of flame on the inside of the guts that says that you can do this, that you need to keep practising and getting better but you can do this - if that flame is bigger than the pain you feel when people say, "Nah, thanks," then you get back on your bike again, squire.

Now, the really professional writers curl up in a sad, deflated ball but then get up and back on the bike in the same day, rather than let a day or two go past while their despair flares and dampens down the flame. After all, writing can be approached through many pathways.  Even if the despair is flaring and threatening your fire, you can still write.  In fact, writing is a wonderfully creative way to envelop your despair in comfort and help it melt on through.

I still get sucked under by it a little, unfortunately.  But then I always bob up again.  Sometimes it just takes a few days.

Because rejection is part of the business and as my friend Jane says in relation to the upsetting elements of interacting with other people (she is wiser than I): "Don't take it personally." This fits even more so when it comes to writing and not being accepted for publication.

And anyway, to have some personalised feedback at all is an encouraging thing.  A rejection that is not a form letter is gold-edged rejection.  Believe it or not, to actually get to that space is an achievement.  Form letters tend to be the initial type of rejection you receive when you first start sending stuff out and so I actually feel that I have come somewhere in recent years, with the amount of personalised rejection emails I've been receiving.  And to know that The Monthly enjoyed reading my writing still fills a certain part of me with magical disbelief.  Even if I won't be reading that particular piece within their pages, it means that maybe one day I will.

Spirit and Matter


Wednesday, 16 April 2014

I'm trying to understand just what is is about a certain group of people that terrifies me so.  They feel like a certain kind of extremist to me, and I'm trying to understand what part of that may be correct and what part is projecting from my own flabby innards the fears that I'm still in the process of letting go of.

I think ultimately my fear is really about how terrifyingly destructive people can be at certain ends of extremes - at what they can do in the name of their own rightness.  It's an ongoing source of unfunny amusement to me that though the ends of the particular spectrum I'm thinking of contain people almost diametrically opposed to each other, people at extremes end up sounding and acting remarkably alike in their ugliness and narrowing of insight in defense of their space. 

Which of course both would take umbrage at, their tiny lens on proceedings apparently being the kind that enables them to know the whole world.  That is the way of these things, isn't it - we find truth in one area and insist on smearing it over everything.

I love science.  I don't love religion.  I'm amenable and open and experienced in the realm of life packaged up as "the spiritual".  And yet though I love science, love exploring the wonders of the beautiful world, scientific materialists stink up my corner.  They seem to carry behind them a large suitcase of preconceptions about how the world is and how it isn't, which is not very scientific;  it's the same surety that is displayed just as creepily in their opposing fundamentalist Christian counterparts. 

This part of human nature more than anything makes me wish to run away from this world and live on Pluto.

So I'm trying to understand why I react so hard to those who occupy the scientific materialist space - the idea that there is nothing beyond the physical or the measurable.  Their end of the spectrum is a complete flipside to those waaaaaaay up the other end, who tend to view the physical being on its way out and the spiritual being where it's at.  (The spiritual, however, in the fundamentalist paradigm does not give any kind of human-sized easy turning circle to a person.  It is a space full of restriction, of laws, of regulations, of fear). 

Do I somehow link that expanded side of living that some criticise and even refuse to acknowledge as existing with opening, growth, awakening in myself of the most beautiful, and so therefore if someone criticises that aspect of life as being unscientific and therefore not to be contemplated, I automatically fear them as potentially evil?  It seems so, though I feel a bit embarrassed writing that word "evil". 

It is hard to not look at both fundamentalist Christians and scientific materialists in their narrow rooms as being both fear-ridden and fear-mongering.  And yet my view of them is also fear-ridden and fear-mongering, isn't it?  All of this narrowness just perpetuates more narrowness and fear.  And how much of reality do I then see in this instance when so much fear abounds?

And I think we have had enough of fear.  Indeed, it's what drives the status quo of the world's imbalance.  Fear.

And yet also, if I get quiet and thoughtful, I can also awaken an element of ... I dunno, what do I call that?  Love?  Well-wishing?  Whatever I call it, I can awaken it and direct it towards those people who I fear and at times hate.  It can sit alongside the fear and even dispel it.  I know, because I do it sometimes.  

Acceptance.  The carpenter said it in a way that is a radical - almost insane - level of acceptance of what is:  turn the other cheek when someone slaps the first.  There is something profound that lies underneath the initial knee-jerk reaction of this being about the awesomeness of passivity and being a doormat.  I don't reckon it's about externals;  I reckon it's about managing internals, about managing what actually happens so as to not stay caught up in it.  It's about getting past resisting the bad shit that happens to us to a monumental freedom.  So monumental that we can fly way beyond the fear that is engendered by those who are doing the slapping, who, more often than not, are perpetuating the me-win/you-lose paradigm that is so destructive to us and to our earth.  So monumental that we are freed then to act out of something other than fear.

In our conceptions, so many of us end up acting with aggression rather than love towards those who may differ, though both sides are equally as capable as cultivating openness and understanding and a refusal to belittle towards those who differ.

When I examine the knee-jerk way I react to those of the scientific materialist persuasion I think I understand partly why there is such a mass level of fear and reactivity that comes from me.  Partly it's because I have found such great awakening through the aspect of life that so many of them dismiss with criticism.  And so therefore I feel defensive that they criticise a way of being that apparently, perhaps for reasons of temperament, they do not walk in themselves.  It is this way of being that has opened up so much in me and has given me the gift of seeing both me and the world as something special.  This side of being has made me a better humanist.  It is from its perspective that I see future change and possibility of freedom.

And so that's partly why I am so knee-jerk to scientific materialists.  It's also because this particular paradigm is a powerful one, and yet it is capable of much damage.  There have been many, many cultures in the past, each with their own paradigms of viewing the world.  It can seem a little befuddling to us learning how certain people saw the world the way they did, and the actions that stemmed from those worldviews.  It is much easier to see with a long-range perspective the absurdities that come from particular paradigms than to link our own causes and effects.  Ours of course is no different.  It's hard to avoid seeing how much damage the western style of living can do to the earth (though there is much conjecture around how much we humans are contributing to it) and it's hard for me to avoid concluding that it is this narrowly focussed version of seeing - from which the scientific materialist mindset directly springs - that is the culprit.  It is a way of seeing, a mindset - a brainset, really - that has vast and great and massive benefits, but which needs to be reined in lest it becomes a tyrant.

If you don't know what you're missing and what you don't understand, will you necessarily go searching for it?  If your view is unbalanced and skewed, sometimes you can sense that, and you go stepping forward in the dark towards trying to find something that you don't even know what it is.  But then what happens if what is required to balance is located in a giant container you have named Irrelevance?  What if balance gets located for you over there to the right that you associate with those hippies and those creepy druids dancing round trees and bleating about the sanctity of stuff?  Do you walk away then because for you the labels and the categories are more important than the contents?  Do you think that if god is dead then this whole container is dead?

Of course I'm caricaturising here.  Both ways of seeing the world are absolutely compatible inside the one human being.  In fact, it's the balanced amongst us that carry my hope for the future righting of the many wrongs we see.  Somewhere in the middle of these two spectrums of being and of defending our own worldviews lie people open to both spectrums.  And it's there, with the meeting if you like of matter and spirit, that the bestest and truest examples of humanity emerge.

Boys on Trains


Saturday, 12 April 2014

We are on the train on the way home from the Melbourne March in March.  This would explain why several people in our carriage are wearing black t-shirts that unceremoniously proclaim in white lettering Fuck Abbott.

The train is approaching Southern Cross Station.  There is a woman with two children in the seats opposite us.  We know she has been marching in March as well because she is talking loudly to her children, aged somewhere in the vicinity of four and 10, about how marching is something to be proud of.  There is something about her that instantly makes me dislike her.  From out of nowhere I get the feeling - either sniffed from the field or else made up in my own judgmental head - that she is attention-seeking and try-hard and it makes me immediately cool towards her.  For all I know she could be horribly lonely and totally at the end of her tether and I am judging her on this whim that I so dislike when I see it in others.

The woman is wearing purple and white striped pants but even they don't endear me to her.  I get the feeling that she is talking to the rest of her carriage through her children.

"Why are we on this train?  How did we get here?" the little boy asks.  I ask myself the same sorts of questions, but I'm not sure if he is asking from an Albert Camus absurdity position or not.  He's about four, so anything goes when you're four and I wouldn't be too quick to discredit a four year old's ability to pick up on absurdity.  The difference is, when you're four you just roll with it.  The things that seem absurd when you're 30 have enough of a rut worn into them that the pit can more easily roll into cynicism.  It also continues on to freedom and some kind of Buddhist stance if you keep rolling in a particular direction, which is probably where the four year old rolls to in the first place, without the ruts.

"Why is that train going the other way?" the little boy asks, pointing to a train going the other way.

Anthony points to a new model V/Line diesel to our left  He says he has never been on one and that he wants to go on one.  I get strangely excited about this.  Which is weird I know, but I like taking little trips that have absolutely no requirement to them other than the trip itself.  I think Anthony does too.  Maybe that's why when I asked him the other day if he would care to travel the entire length of the Hurstbridge line with me - twice - he readily agreed.  We are, perhaps, a little strange.

The little boy points to the same streamlined purple-looking V/Line train that we are looking at and says, "Hey!  There's the same one we saw before!"

I suggest that Anthony should go and talk to the little boy about Hitachis and Siemens because he would probably have a captive audience.  I correctly identify the train we are on now as the model Extrapolis.  But I always get the Extrapolis right - it's the easiest model to identify because it has bendy concertina bits in-between the carriages.

The train is making that awful screeching and grating noise as it goes through the City Loop and the boy spills his takeaway coke into his mother's handbag.

The boy wants to know which station they're getting off at (Mitcham).

He wants to know can they go to Nana's when they get home (no).

He wants to know how we will get out of the tunnel (no response).

The boy has a lot of questions.  "Why are you so inquisitive?" my dad asked me in exasperation when I was young.  But my major question is, why are so many other people less inquisitive.  I'm with the boy, exhausting though it might be.

The boy's mother is now telling him something about how a man is getting on the train and that he shouldn't put his dirty sticky hands on the man's nice clean shirt.  She says he needs to have a shower or a bath when he gets home.  She says this loudly, as if it's for the train's benefit, as if this is a performance of Look What A Good Mother I Am.

"Can I have a bath now?" the boy asks.

There is a man sitting in the next row back from the woman and her children  who has an eyebrow ring.  I feel that it doesn't suit him.  There is something indefinable about the shape of his face that says that he does not look like the type of person who should have an eyebrow ring but that he should instead be someone who works in the office of a Kalgoorlie mine.  I have absolutely no idea why I think these stupid thoughts, but I am having a tired-but-wired CFS day where the extra noradrenaline runs stupid labelling thoughts through my speedy tired brain and shutting down the thoughts is extremely hard.

At these times I so wish I would stop thinking these pointless and stupid thoughts.  But actually, no.  I wish not so much that I would stop thinking them as that I would stop them catching on the brambles in my mind so that I stay with them.  Some thoughts are simply there to be dismissed.  Let them flow on through to the other side, wherever that may be.  The Department of Lost Thoughts.

Let anybody who wishes to have an eyebrow ring, no matter the configuration of their faces, have an eyebrow ring for God's sake.

"Why can't I have a bath on the train?" the boy asks to the air, while his Mum and brother both look at their smartphones.

The boy begins shouting as the coke takes full effect in his bloodstream.  His mother tells him that he had an opportunity to shout earlier at the march and he should have done it then, adding another stupid thing to say to her collection.  As if a four year old has any understanding of the conception of  Seizing The Right Time To Do Something In Case You Might Want To Do It Later.  I am beginning to think that maybe this woman has some kind of meth habit going on that is rotting her brain.  Which is another not very nice thing to think, isn't it?   Because really, as if a naughty four year old with relentless and ongoing questions wouldn't potentially cause brainmelt without any drugs needing to be involved whatsoever.

The train's automated voiceover lady very kindly announces the name of the station as we approach it.  The boy repeats the names after she says them - Hawton, Campbellfree, Surrey, Box Hill, Burnam.

The boy is getting cheekier now, getting him perilously close to the annoying status of his own mother.  He begins mouthing off, pinching his brother and his mother and generally behaving like a bit of a snot.  The boy's mother recites a litany of the damage he has done to her today:  He has kicked her, punched her and pinched her, and she's tired of it.  Why does he hurt her like that?  My annoyance parts and a tinge of sympathy rushes in.

The boy goes to throw a toy at his mother.  The weakness I have picked up on in her, he senses it too.  I can tell he senses it too.  All children sense this about adults and it increases with the amount of idle threats that are issued forth.  He decides against throwing the toy at his mum.  Perhaps what she just said to him has sunk in.

Or maybe not, because a minute later he spits on her.  Maybe that coke wasn't such a great idea after all.

"Mum, do you need to go to the toilet again?" he enquires.

The yukky burning rubber smell that besets train trips is wafting into the carriage.  "Yum, that smells like noodles," the boy says.  Taste and smell are funny things, aren't they?  They change not only from person to person from through the space of a life.

We have reached Mitcham Station and the boy, his mother and his brother get off.  

Anthony looks out the window, checking out the station's new configuration.  The train now runs underground, helping reduce traffic flow congestion along Mitcham Road, and the station has been largely rebuilt.  He looks like a little boy himself and I am drawn to gaze at his eyelashes as he stares out at the station's new digs.

Anthony wonders out loud if we are in the last carriage and then surmises that we must be, considering the three-carriage motor/trailer/motor configuration of the Extrapolis model of trains.  I have never once noticed the configuration of the Extrapolis, nor indeed any other model.

As we travel again he informs me, "I wanted to stick my finger up at that kid we just went past so that it would give him something to talk about." Anthony likes to rattle the mental cages of people who believe that 44 year old men should behave in certain ways. Sometimes he waves at people he doesn't know as we're driving past.  He likes to leave people curious.

The seats we are sitting on have a metal bit on the top of them that serves as a handle for people to hold onto in case the train lurches wildly around corners.  As we approach Upper Ferntree Gully, Anthony is shoving his fist through the hole in the handle in a rude thrusting gesture.  It is, he informs me, for the benefit of the security camera in the roof.  Just to shake things up a little.

The Two-Ways

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Friday, 11 April 2014

"You can't stop the waves but you can learn how to surf" - Swami Satchidananda

There is such a wild difference in what I see when I look out at the state of the world - reeling and rocking as she is, and all of us in her too - that is dependent upon how much I'm reeling and rocking myself.

Like a giant onion that keeps unrolling another layer, I peel back another one and that too is yet again about not knowing how to flow with life.  It's about this way of living in fear and resistance that has been passed down to me and which has infiltered me like some kind of crazy full-on balsamic vinegar marinade.

When I look at the world through those eyes and with that view I harbour little belief that things will improve from the current state they are in.  And I hate the people that I see.

But there is another view, another slant, another angle.  It is a couple of inches away and 79 billion light years all at the same time.  Some describe it in terms of moving from your head to your heart, and depending upon your ability to handle Hallmark-appropriated lyrics that way of describing it might make you feel a little queasy.  Beyond the language used to frame it, its experienced reality remains beautiful and fresh and full of wonder.

This is the space without the monkey mind, without the story.  It is a space of just being.  It really is such a vast and different feeling of being home that it is no wonder that people down through the ages have used terms like awakening to describe it.

When I look out at the world through these eyes, I feel it firing up each cell's furnace and I know, in a way which that earlier view will never, ever be able to comprehend, that this is that space that Einstein speaks of, the larger space we need to learn to think out of in order to solve the problems that the smaller space has created by its limitations.

I know and I feel the newness that is to come, this greater expansion.  When I look at the world through these eyes, I see only challenges to change where my earlier view sees problems insurmountable.  I love the people that I see. I see people empowered to own their shit while acknowledging the shitscapes out in the world also because it's become safe enough to do it.

It is very, very beautiful.   It is the space of wholeness which encompasses the more limited earlier space and redeems it.  It is beyond categorisation, beyond religion, beyond separation.  It is the space that we are meant to live in.



Thursday, 10 April 2014

The ratio of landline callers who I know versus callers who want something while telling me they don't is approximately 1:9 at this stage. 


Whilst I haven't yet read Hannah Kent's Burial Rites, I plan to. Reading her piece about how she came to write it was like smoking crack for any "I can just about write short stories but a novel would kill me" writer.

I don't agree with those writers who say that reading writers write about writing is a useless enterprise. Of course it's procrastination - an extremely valid, 99% sugar-free guiltless form of it.  It's also encouraging, enlightening and entertaining.


I have been reading up a little on my Great Great Grandmother, Jane. She was born in Tasmania and moved to Victoria at some point in time where she married Jean Brehaut, who had also moved to Victoria from his homeland of St Peter Port in Guernsey in the Channel Islands. Jane cuts a bit of a tragic figure in my family tree, dying at the age of 43 after a life where she lost a child in infancy, then her five year old daughter and husband in the same year, and then finally herself to the bottle if the rumours are true.

I can hear that voice in my head. Hmm, why don't you research this? You could do her justice by writing her story, help her bones settle. Why don't you just explore a little bit - say, for example, trying to find out a little of what Hobart was like in the 1840s when she was born?


I finished a short story the other day. Honestly, my days are very strange. But I confess I do like their irregularity, when it's not stressing me off my dial. I dislike being beholden to a clock that always runs too fast when I want it to run slow and too slow when I want it to speed. I like working odd hours here and there. The lack of work part isn't so great in terms of stress, but it has given me time to keep on with researching Liminal, and it has given me time to write. And I simply can't explain in words how much better typing my own words are compared to transcribing someone else's. A world of difference. A very vast one.

I struggle to know how to end my stories. They always start off with a bang - that lovely feeling of a lens shifting into view that comes sometimes from bunches thoughts and ideas and impressions and pictures rolling around in my head - often from in the shower. One takes hold and, "Ooh, that'd be a good idea for a story." And so off I roll. But then, as is evidenced by the files on my computer and the pieces of paper floating around in my life, often they fizzle out.

And so this time with a stab of nervousness I decided to stick with writing this one. The fact that it was 10.30pm when I started felt rather impractical and could have been an excuse to not do it if I was less clued into the wiliness of procrastination, but what can you do?

And so I wrote it for a couple of hours and then finished it and went to bed and then I slept and then I got up and wrote some more and I actually truly ruly think that it is finished. It feels finished.


I told my mum when she came to visit yesterday that I have written a short story that I hope to send to The Big Issue for its annual fiction edition, and that she needs to be forewarned that if they publish it it contains the words "fuck" and "cunt".

She didn't bat an eye. I guess she's had a bit of time to get used to me.

I take so much delight in being able to legitimately say the words "fuck" and "cunt" to my mother that it's really a wonder that I am not 14, but 43.  I have come to the conclusion that there is a part of me that will always be 14.  Perhaps we contain within us all of the people that we have been in all of the years that we have lived, like complicated trees.
Interesting thought for the morning seen in my blog feed:

You know those studies that are done of rats where they're addicted to a drug like heroin, and they end up pressing down on that lever ahead of food until they die?  A man by the name of Bruce Alexander took that experiment a step further. 

Alexander found that when you take rats out of tiny separate cages and put them in a spacious “rat park” with ample exercise, food, and social interaction, they no longer choose drugs; indeed, already-addicted rats will wean themselves off drugs after they are transferred from cages to the rat park.

The implication is that drug addiction is not a moral failing or physiological malfunction, but an adaptive response to circumstances. It would be the height of cruelty to put rats in cages and then, when they start using drugs, to punish them for it. That would be like suppressing the symptoms of a disease while maintaining the necessary conditions for the disease itself. Alexander's studies, if not a contributing factor in the drug war's slow unraveling, are certainly aligned with it in metaphor.

... Here are some ways to put a human being in a cage:

  • Cut people off from nature and from place. At most let nature be a spectacle or venue for recreation, but remove any real intimacy with the land. Source food and medicine from thousands of miles away.
  • Move life – especially children's lives – indoors. Let as many sounds as possible be manufactured sounds, and as many sights be virtual sights.
  • Destroy community bonds by casting people into a society of strangers, in which you don't rely on and needn't even know by name the people living around you.
  • Create constant survival anxiety by making survival depend on money, and then making money artificially scarce. Administer a money system in which there is always more debt than there is money.
  • Divide the world up into property, and confine people to spaces that they own or pay to occupy.
  • Replace the infinite variety of the natural and artisanal world, where every object is unique, with the sameness of commodity goods.
  • Reduce the intimate realm of social interaction to the nuclear family and put that family in a box. Destroy the tribe, the village, the clan, and the extended family as a functioning social unit.
  • Make children stay indoors in age-segregated classrooms in a competitive environment where they are conditioned to perform tasks that they don't really care about or want to do, for the sake of external rewards.
  • Destroy the local stories and relationships that build identity, and replace them with celebrity news, sports team identification, brand identification, and world views imposed by authority.
  • Delegitimize  or illegalize folk knowledge of how to heal and care for one another, and replace it with the paradigm of the “patient” dependent on medical authorities for health.

  • Gateway Drug to What? by Charles Eisenstein

    Liminal Spaces


    Tuesday, 1 April 2014

    Liminal means threshold in Latin. 

    Pic by A. Davey
    In Celtic lore these spaces are "thin spaces," where the veil between the worlds is so gossamer thin that one world seeps into another. 

    Liminal spaces are disorientating spaces.  In rituals around the world it is the middling space where you have moved on from what was before ~ orientation and normality and everydayness ~ into a space of disorientation.  Everything's flipped.  Alice is down the rabbithole and nothing is the same size anymore. 

    In rituals, the disorientation is for a purpose.  Out the other side of the initiation, the participant comes changed from their experience.  They are back in the topside world once more, but everything has changed.  Or, at least, they have, and therefore the world looks different and they walk in it differently.  They have gone from orientation to disorientation to reorientation.  Order out of chaos.

    Some of us find ourselves in these spaces on a physical level and on an ongoing basis ~ through chronic illness or trauma or both.  These are difficult spaces to hold.  You can easily lose track of any kind of meaning attached to your suffering or of any transformation coming from your experience.
    But now the earth's climate is changing, and along with it monumental seismic cultural seizures happening around the world.  Now, we all find ourselves in this strange space, where it feels like everything is disorientated, everything shaking, everything falling apart.

    This liminal space is where we are now.  It is anything but comfortable.

    But amazing things come from this space.  It is the space of possibility.  It is the space where creative acts come out of necessity.  Amazing energy flows from out of this space.

    And while it feels like everything is up for grabs and we seesaw between abject despair and furious hope, we need to remember that we are in the middle of the process.

    The reorientation is still to come and none of us know what it will look like.  It may even, just possibly, be better than we could have hoped for.

    This is the logo for the space that I am hoping to birth into being.  It is probably quite appropriate that I am swinging myself between abject despair and furious hope about its formation.

    I do not even know if it is a viable space.  What I do know is that it is an idea that will not leave me alone.

    I envision a space that involves relaxation and stimulation, where no matter how halt or infirm or on the edges you feel, that you feel welcome.  A space that explores ways of feeling more at home in discomfort, and creative ways to envision the future.  A space that has a swing inside.  For adults.

    I am planning a newsletter to send out to anyone who wants to be kept in the loop on what's happening (which may be a little or may be a lot - I am trying to start this up with $1.71 in my bank account and 14 years of chronic fatigue syndrome under my belt :).

    If you'd like to receive the newsletter, drop me a line at susieq777@dodo.com.au.
    Fuck you.

    Fuck you even to the coalminer's granddaughter.  See, it is rather egalitarian when you think about it ...