Wednesday, March 15, 2017

@realdonaldtrump

#MakeAGreatAlbum1997

Honey, bring it close to my lips
The sun will shine from time to time
You can't make no money if you can't keep an artist
Mingle with the good people we meet, yeah!

See me I'm all about my money mane
Peeping your steelo
I could never spend my life with a man like you

People hold on, we've got to be strong
A quarter past eleven on a Saturday in 1999
You know you cannot hide, from what's inside

So I chose freedom
A light still shining
Remember me, I'm the one who had your babies

addict-insane, come play my game, inhale inhale
you're the firestarter, twisted firestarter
high density random blond boy blond country

I have run away, run away
Heaven on earth, paradise for a price
Sexism, baptism and wisdom
will this deja vu never end?

I wish I could turn back time
fools begin to open up their eyes
oh I know what you're thinking
paint it black and white and easy

They don't like the game we play
and i'm a simple selfish son
He's fighting and biting and riding on his horse

Don't push us, 'cause we're close to the, edge
wasting my precious energy
Is this how it all will end

We're 'bout ready to rock steady
Your baby's got rabies
And you jumped in with your eyes closed

wanted to be satisfied, i tried to be dignified
around the world

Monday, June 13, 2016

1119 Roundup


"The crucial difference between
Lesbian, Gay, Transgender, Bi-Sexual,
Intersex and Questioning people
and other minorities is this:

In every other minority group the family shares the minority status.
In fact it is often something that unites them.
But gay people are a minority group within the family.
A minority of one."

Magda Szubanski
Yesterday I went to see the exhibition A History of the World in 100 Objects, and I was thrilled to be able to see many objects from throughout history that I felt I knew so well - the podcast that inspired the exhibition being my favourite listening for relaxation and inspiration.

I walked through the exhibition with four women who are part of the external safe space in my life - the writing group I run which welcomes all writers in all genres, as long as they do not identify as male. This group is full of humans of great intellect and passion, and on Sunday three of them were discussing each object so completely that a volunteer guide asked me if we were a guided tour group. No, I replied, just some learned humans who like to share their knowledge.

Many of the objects that I walked through in the exhibition form part of the internal safe space in my life - history, which over and over again teaches us that today's discrimination and fears did not exist at many points in the past.

Statue of Mithras, replaced by Christ across the Roman Empire

Every culture on every continent throughout time acknowledges the self-evident spectrum of gender identification and sexuality; it is reflected in their pantheons of gods, their shamans and spirit leaders, in their societies and culture. Only Western Christian capitalist culture is obsessed with the binary and fears the spectrum that is right before their very eyes in their friends and family; and that fear and discrimination is outside of humanity and outside of rational, scientific and historical observation.

Arabian Bronze Hand and Seated Buddha from Gandhara

History also shows that religion is a universal human need, and for all its variety the basics are similar across time; there is polytheism or monotheism, and the basic precepts are care for your family and neighbour, and seek to act with your life after death in mind; whether that is the idea of your own life after death, or that of your descendants. The absurd concept of a modern "clash of cultures" dated from a certain day at the start of the 21st century needs only be rebutted with a look at any 100-year-span of history from any continent to prove that religions rise and fall, clash and combine, and it is not caused by anything other than human irrationality or fear.

Today as the world spun on, as our friends who are minorities in their families mourned death in their created families, as Australian and American politicians tried to squish two irrational fears into one short-term political slogan, I longed to push through time into the past, where the stories of all those who were not white, christian and male wait for us, and I longed to bring back to my time a little humanity from those who were wiser and more observant than we.

Carving from the Great Stupa of Amaravati

Bending the Faith to the Facts

To me the most humanist aspects of each set of beliefs speak of three pillars, not three schisms. Science speaks in terms of rigour of inquiry into the real, Philosophy in terms of individual vision and speculative progress, Religion in terms of selfless connection with the past, present and future. I do not see that these three sets of belief cannot work together, especially as all serve humanity; humanity is, after all their creator, their subject and their future.

Friday, June 10, 2016

1422 Roundup


It's two weeks now to the reading of my first adaption of a short story to stage in Melbourne for wit Incorporated, and of course I've decided that blogging some link roundups of the final countdown towards that and the Federal Election is exactly the kind of procrastination I need to participate in :)

14 DAYS

What I enjoyed about this gif was how succinctly it summed up the reasons 'A Scandal in the Weimar', as an adaptation of Conan Doyle, was conceived by Jen in the first place; much menz, wow science, very easy to change characters to women because science and logic are universal skills ...

Credit here

22 DAYS

My election campaign took a turn for the Nineties with Alex McKinnon's call for Australian Pop from the end of the 20th Century to guide us into the 21st century:
Savage Garden’s ‘Affirmation’ Is The Best Policy Platform Of The 2016 Election
Given I still own one of Daniel Jones' guitar picks from Savage Garden's first Perth concert, this suggestion has my full endorsement for both considering pop as art (whoot!) and the comfort of considering the values of my generation as valid.

Please imagine I am singing this to the day known as 2 July 2016:


In more serious, but also pop culture related news, I am watching three non-Western Australian Federal seats with great interest this election - those being Batman Indi New England - because if you say them fast enough it sounds like a legitimate sentence, and also, they are interesting contests, especially Indi!

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Exceptional Conversation


I used to cry so seldom I would read ‘Bridge to Terabithia' each year to induce a minute or two of cathartic crying, but in the last years that has changed.

Now all I have to do is catch a sentence in a news item about a particular section of humans on this earth and I will be crying and fighting for breath so fast I won’t have time to notice I’ve disintegrated. I’ll just be doubled over in shock, and usually the rest of the day is spent trying to avoid reading any further reportage.

Rather esoterically the trigger that sets me off is the application of a certain legal philosophy known as the ‘state of exception’, which will mean nothing to people who haven’t had the dubious pleasure of studying the terrible beauty of Roman Law or reading the work of its fanboys ... I mean, the legal jurists who write on Roman Law.

Only yesterday I attended an exceptionally dry lecture on the medieval concepts of heresy, and in the Q&A the lecturer did remind us that Western Law is based on Roman Law, and “Roman Law is very good if you are a dominant leader who wants to expand your power.”

My Honors thesis required me to learn about Roman Law and its commentators. Coupled with my Catholic upbringing and my undergraduate degree in Medievalism and Modern Fascism, I can assure you that Roman Law, in religious application, literary re-imagination and deadly mechanisation, is my jam.

And it used to be my very anachronistic jam, a topic that was rarely ever discussed in contemporary situations, it was history and I assumed it was dead and buried. Then a certain cadre of Australian Catholics became the Australian Cabinet and my worst nightmares wriggled out from between the pages of the books on my shelf and stalked me across the news cycle.

I stopped sleeping, I started feeling incomprehensively angry, then I started seeing the future, and then I started crying. I’m crying now. It’s the new normal for me, watching the devils of the past dancing across my country.

I’m crying tonight mostly because of this exceptional piece of writing
Australia, exceptional in its brutality
By Behrouz Boochani
25 April 2016
I’d seen glancing references on Facebook to Boochani and his writing, but I’d never read his work until finally a friend posted a link to the article that discussed Australian Law in relation to Giorgio Agamben’s theory on the ‘state of exception’. I cried because, well, it's about the 'state of exception', obviously, but I also cried because I can finally discuss my own knowledge in conversation with another piece of writing that applies this particular branch of Roman Law to modern Australian politics.

So strap in folks, we are going deep and we are going Roman, although thankfully our Latin will not have to be perfect. I’m going to be talking about genre literature, I’m going to be talking about history, and I’m going to using screencaps of my Facebook comments from over the last three years. Because finally, finally, I can talk about why I cry all the time now. Why I cry when I read what look like completely innocent sentences. Why I cry when one human is counted as somehow illegal on their own planet because of a law made by another human.

You may legitimately not expect the Spanish Inquisition, but when it comes to the real terrors of Roman Law, I assure you, you may not be expecting it, but you will feel it when it comes for you.

And oh, how it’s coming for you ...

Tuesday, February 02, 2016

Idiotic Didactics

The words chosen for the didactic panels in an exhibition set the ideological framework through which the visitor absorbs knowledge as they progress.
Didactic texts are interpretive/educational texts related to an exhibition, usually written by exhibition curators, that are displayed on panels on exhibition gallery walls or as part of art object labels. Didactic panels orient exhibition-goers to a particular topic or theme.
I recently attended Treasure Ships: Art in the Age of Spices in which a disturbingly retrograde word/idea was used in the didactic panels in one specific part of the exhibition.

That word/idea was 'discover', and it is generally acknowledged now that the West did not 'discover' any other continent or culture. Each continent and culture existed independent of the West setting eyes on it, and the moment that Europeans first encountered other continents or cultures is now called 'first contact'.

Unfortunately, the curators of Treasure Ships were unable to use 'first contact' for a specific continent and culture out of the four discussed in the exhibition. So let's step through the didactic panels and see if we cannot find the problem ...

the Portuguese discovered a direct sea route


The modern era of global art commenced with Europe's insatiable appetite for spices, especially pepper, nutmeg and cloves - products found only in tropical India, Sri Lanka and the remote islands of Indonesia. These condiments were prized as symbols of luxury and status, providing flavouring for food and drinks, as well as being regarded as essential ingredients in medicines.

In 1498 the Portuguese discovered a direct sea route, via the Cape of Good Hope, to Asia, and Spanish, Dutch and English ships soon followed to directly access the sources of the valuable foodstuffs and other exotic treasures. The Europeans arriving in Asia encountered shipping networks extending from the Middle East to East Asia, along with cosmopolitan societies such as Indonesia, where art was valued both as a commodity and an expression of cultural identity.

The East-West trade in spices inevitably inspired the exchange of ideas, styles and fashions in diverse media in the fine arts and in material culture, including book printing, which played a key role in promoting understanding of the East. The West's mapping of the world no longer referenced religious cosmologies but emphasised maritime cartography, to ensure the success of the long sea voyages by which Europe engaged Asia.

CORRECT USE OF THE WORD 'DISCOVER': a sea route is something that can be discovered, brava! A sea route requires many years of exploration and mapping, and knowledge of that route and how to find it can be lost by a culture and discovered again later, or by other cultures willing to put in the work. A sea route is a physical manifestation of knowledge, and thus is infinitely discoverable by each sailor. Let's go make our own discoveries via knowledge and learning!

initiating the first contact with Europeans


In 1543, Portuguese adventurers aboard a Chinese junk ship landed on the small island of Tanegashima in southern Japan, initiating the first contact with Europeans. The establishment of the ports of Macau and Nagasaki enabled the Portuguese to access the entirety of Asia, including the lucrative trade of Chinese silk for Japanese silver.

Known as the Southern Barbarians (nanban), the Portuguese introduced firearms and Christianity, and were integral to the inter-Asian trade of ceramic and Indian cotton textiles (sarasa) to Japan. The unexpected arrival of their massive black ships inspired depictions by Japanese artists and the adoption in Japan of European painting techniques and aesthetics, particularly in lacquerware, which was created for local Jesuit communities and export.

The waning prestige and viability of Portuguese mercantile concerns in Asia during the seventeenth century enabled the Dutch East India Company (VOC) to establish new ports and annex others. Sequestered on the small island of Dejima, at Nagasaki, the Dutch became the sole European nation allowed to trade with Japan and introduced a wealth of fashionable Indian textiles as well as novel items such as the kaleidoscope, European ceramics and printed books, which had a profound impact on the arts and sciences.

NO USE OF THE WORD 'DISCOVER': brava! Japan existed whether Europeans had made contact with the island and the culture or not. Everything seems to be in order, I would like to learn more!

Europe was yet to achieve a comparable level of technological sophistication in these art forms



Asian textiles, including carpets, and glazed porcelain were among the most globally desired cargoes carried by ships during the Age of Spices. Europe was yet to achieve a comparable level of technological sophistication in these art forms, and it was the attractive designs of these items as well as the industrial scale of production that ensured their universal demand.

Indian dye-printed clothes were unequalled in the vividness of their colours and the variety of patterns catering to niche markets in destinations as distant as Europe and Southeast Asia. The Tree of Life motif, with its eclectic combination of Indian, Chinese and European elements, typifies the role of fashionable textiles as a medium of artistic exchange between East and West.

Chinese and Japanese high-fired ceramics, notably blue-and-white 'china', was likewise exported along the international shipping lanes of the spice trade. The decoration, vessel shapes and brilliant glazes of East Asian porcelain subsequently inspired Southeast Asian, Middle Eastern and European ceramic artists to emulate their appearance.

NO USE OF THE WORD 'DISCOVER': brava! Ideas and skills move along trade routes, existing in their own right, not being 'discovered' by Europeans. In fact, definitely not 'discovered' when Europeans couldn't replicate the skills and scope needed to build the successful industries needed for the global market. How we take our beautiful items for granted today!

Islam and Christendom both co-opted images of each other to support domestic narratives of cultural identity



The international trafficking in goods and ideas, which inspired cross-cultural art in the Age of Spices, transcended the differing ideologies of Islam and Christianity. The emphasis of Islamic aesthetics on floral and geometric motifs profoundly influenced global art forms, while Muslim artists readily adopted elements of foreign styles for local audiences.

Islam and Christendom both co-opted images of each other to support domestic narratives of cultural identity in miniature painting and engravings. Indian textile artists, often Hindus, produced court garments for the Muslim sultanates of Indonesia, while weavers in Iran created carpets whose style responded to the tastes of non-Muslim clients.

It was the European craze for tulip flowers, first introduced from Ottoman Turkey in the sixteenth century, which epitomised the eclecticism of cultural exchange. Turkish artists valued the tulip for its beauty and association with divinity, while the Dutch perceived these exotic flowers, bought and sold at wildly inflated prices, as symbolic of the republic's wealth gained through the spice trade.

NO USE OF THE WORD 'DISCOVER'
: brava! Instead, we have the movement of ideas mapped out for us over land and sea borders and the note that art was used for political purposes. The irony of the 'domestic narratives of cultural identity' aside, we are in the last lap of the exhibition, only one more continent and culture to discuss with respect ...

The discovery of Australia by Europe



By the early seventeenth century, European sailors had landed on the shores of every continent, including Australia, either by intentional exploration or accidental shipwreck. The discovery of new species of animals, birds and plants in foreign lands inspired artists to seek to accurately record their appearance in meticulous scientific drawings and paintings.

In the urban centres of Europe, the increasing availability of Asian art inspired a fashionable craze called 'chinoiserie', which expressed the West's fantasy vision of the distant Orient. Ceramics, lacquerware, textiles and furniture were decorated with a pastiche of motifs derived from Chinese, Japanese and Indian art.

The discovery of Australia by Europe and the eventual establishment of the British settlement of Sydney town was a by-product of the Age of Spices and Europe's shift from trade to the pursuit of geopolitical domination in Australasia. Nevertheless, it was the Indonesian fishermen from South Sulawesi who first regularly sailed to Australian shores, calling the continent Marege, and who engaged in peaceful exchanges with Indigenous people.

Reader, I got intellectual whiplash standing in front of that didactic panel. So I want to FIX IT!, with thanks to Jane Gilmore for the idea of fixing shit up so it is less shit.

CORRECTION:

Indonesian fishermen from South Sulawesi regularly traded with Indigenous people

Indonesian fishermen from South Sulawesi regularly engaged in peaceful exchanges with Indigenous people, calling the continent Marege. Sporadic European contact with the Indigenous people of the continent eventually resulted in the establishment of the British settlement of Sydney town, reflecting Europe's shift from trade to the pursuit of geopolitical domination in Australasia. The Indigenous people of Australia never ceded sovereignty to, nor signed a treaty with the British invaders.
Obviously I had two main things to correct in this single paragraph (the others will have to wait):

1. Australia was not discovered by Europe. The Indigenous people on the continent existed whether European eyes were looking at them or not. First contact was made by various isolated Europeans over time, but no European 'discovered' the continent nor its inhabitants.

2. Indonesian fishermen and the Indigenous people of this continent had trading partnerships before European first contact. That fact should be listed first, and without the diminishing 'nevertheless'.

And I have one thing to add, especially as there were beautiful pieces of Indigenous art in the exhibition, right alongside this stupidly worded didactic panel: Australia was and always will be Aboriginal land.

I am still startled that the composition of the didactic panels was so clearly political and regressive. To have composed four panels that used 'first contact', and language that placed no culture above another, only to revert to boring Australian racism in the last panel is incomprehensible. To have listed Indigenous maritime trading relationships last and diminished in an exhibition about maritime trading routes is similarly hard to justify in an exhibition created for Australia.

I had expected better, so much better.
Below, the east coast of Australia being 'discovered' by Captain James Cook. Good work James, no one else knew it was there ...
The terrestrial globe incorporates the latest information gained from exploratory voyages, notably Captain James Cook's 1768-1771 circumnavigation of the world. It was during this voyage Cook discovered the east coast of Australia that led to the founding of Sydney in 1788.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Here be Dragons (laughing to live)

Dragons.

It was a cool, fine day in Perth. I was out swimming at Inglewood. Suddenly a black cloud covered the sun. Everyone looked up and saw a big green dragon. I looked up and saw a yellow belly coming towards me with its black claws ready to grab. I thought that since dragons like pretty ladies, he was going to take Sarah or Astrid. He stopped and said in a kind, dragonlike way, "Which one of you knows the funniest jokes?" Sarah and Astrid pointed to me. The claw came down and scooped me up and flew up. One minute I was in my bathers, the next minute I was in a long, silky, purple skirt and a wide green silk blouse. I had green shoes. My hair was dry, permed and held back with an Amethyst and Emerald tiara. I asked the dragon where we were going and he answered, "I am taking you to my land where the King can't laugh." He sighed then continued, "We tried every funny joke we knew but they just made him sad or angry. I set out to find a person who knew the most jokes. When I saw you I knew you were the one. There was silence, then I said "My name is Claire and I am fifteen." The dragon replied "My name is Merlin and I am a thousand and fifty." Suddenly we were in the court of the King. Merlin said, "Claire there are four hours til our King dies from lack of laughter, we are relaying on you." I nodded and went to the King, courtesied and started to tell him lots of jokes. After three and a half hours I shrugged my shoulders then I said "How did Jack defeat the Giant?" The King shrugged. I replied, " With his bean" I didn't get it, but to everyone's surprise the King roared with laughter. Then everyone cried "Goodbye Claire and Thankyou!" I suddenly woke up on the floor of the swimming pool's office with people rushing around calling for a doctor for me. I smiled and said under my breathe "My Pleasure Merlin." and looked around for Mum.

THE END

Written in 1991, for Yr 5 Creative Writing

Thursday, August 06, 2015

Climate Change: Human Behaviour and Economic Modelling


Here are two practical and useful lectures about climate change for those of us who take the time to discuss such things with other people.

These talks have given me some incredibly quotable ideas, and I have used the arguments in Carmen Lawrence's talk for five years now to understand this issue.

How to win a fight about the budget: How economic modelling is used to circumvent democracy and shut down debate

A public lecture by Richard Denniss, Chief Economist, The Australia Institute

The Federal Budget and much economic discussion is based on economic modelling. People who use economic models want you to think that modelling is boring. The last thing they want you to do is to pay attention. Economic models claim an amazing degree of precision and this is used by the people who commission them to build a case for their preferred policies and projects.

The recent Intergenerational Report (IGR) used modelling to scare the public into accepting that we can never afford to tackle climate change or spend more on health. But this modelling rests on ridiculous assumptions – like that income-tax rates will be cut every year between 2020 and 2055. In this lecture, Dr Richard Denniss discussed how economic modelling has been used and abused on a range of issues.

Essay: Spreadsheets of power: How economic modelling is used to circumvent democracy and shut down debate by Richard Denniss in The Monthly

What we need to know about ourselves to deal with climate change

Winthrop Professor Carmen Lawrence, Director, Centre for the Study of Social Change, School of Psychology, The University of Western Australia

Scientific evidence indicates that climate change is the result of rising levels of greenhouse gases which are, in turn, due to human behaviours, such as burning fossil fuels and clearing forests. Equally, many of the recommendations to reduce these emissions and to facilitate adaptation to a changed climate depend on people changing their behaviour. From changing our patterns of settlement to modifying our diets, there is no doubt that we need to change - and on a scale that has never before been contemplated.

Yet the scientists who study human behaviour and societies have not been part of the global debate about climate change and how to deal with it. In this lecture, Carmen Lawrence explored why this must be remedied and outline what we know – and need to know - about human psychology (including our occasional irrationality) to make any progress in crafting workable solutions to the problem of climate change.
MORE LECTURES
STEM and the human atom
Ian Chubb, Chief Scientist of Australia, gave a lecture on the need for a Scientific Enterprise for Australia to provide leadership in schools, universities, industry and government to encourage and utilize STEM graduates was timely and challenging.

Lyn Beazley, WA Chief Scientist, gave a lecture that was informative, inspiring and grand in scale; it took the concept of vision and mapped out one of many knowledge trajectories from the photoreceptors of human and animal eyes through the advances in Australian bionic eye technology to looking at the stars and talking to Indigenous Australians about the Milky Way.
OTHER THOUGHTS ON AUSTRALIAN POLITICS
It's Time
Australia has three major political parties, each backed by their own training and voting block: the Australian Greens have the Environmental and Activist movements, Labor has the Unions and the Liberal Party has the business sector.

The largest population in Australia without a voice is women; our very urgent needs for parity, safety and leaders are being ignored and wound back, our leadership is locked out of power and as voters we are unable to direct our vote to a party that champions us.

Australian women do, however, have an established and proven mentorship and training ground for female candidates to gain political experience and female voters to gain access to candidates to influence policy; the Country Women's Association.
Not our circus, not our monkeys
So, women of Australia, take thee to the CWA, become involved with all manner of practical local politics, all manner of women as mentors and all manner of consulting to Government, and participate in politics on your terms.

Find your own policies, build your own campaign teams, field your own candidates and vote for the candidates who have the best vision for new politics you can find. You are the only people who can build the future, because the existing systems are dying, and trying to take us all down with them.

And for all of our sakes, be militantly inclusive; as 51% of the Australian population, the women of Australia include Indigenous Australians, refugees/immigrants, the LGBTIQ community and anyone who has additional access and medical requirements. Our new politics must include everyone excluded from the current systems so our votes and candidates count the first time, and into the future.
Fighting Winter with Summer
I credit the 1% with being fully aware of the impending water and energy conflicts, and it is clear from their actions that they are taking the requisite steps to survive while preventing the population from taking the same steps. Unfortunately their pride and entitlement will never allow them to consider the fact that their place in the 1% means nothing to the environment. Water and energy do not obey, and never have obeyed, the forces of nations, economies and capitalism.
Textbook
Anyone who thinks they can argue for 21st Century Climate Aware action with 20th Century Climate Ignorant ideologies is going to be pulled back into historical patterns of conflict and paralysis, which is exactly where the Government and their corporate partners want their population.
Ask for me tomorrow
The current Australian Government makes announcements that destabilise the news cycle, and these announcements come in two forms:

1. An outrageous suggestion designed to let opponents react with scorn and satire, but neither suggestion nor satire achieves anything but noise, and a false sense of protest for those who did not vote for this current Australian Government.

2. A very real threat that opponents cannot ignore, but is sure to be withdrawn or watered down once it has short circuited the news cycle and wasted the time and resources of those who did not vote for this current Australian Government.