Johanna

December 23, 2011

Johanna

Johanna 1                                                                                           15/12/11

I stand upon the brink of these southern seas,

in view the rushing white, and bright aquamarine.

The beautiful chaos, the unknown of old,

fatefully claiming explorers too bold.

I stand upon this rugged southernmost shore,

which plagues the imaginary of those gone before.

The rumbling waters, the warm wind hums her riff,

spritely scaling each lofty sandstone cliff.

Johanna 2                                                                                          15/12/11

Dad called him Joe, that little tan dog.

He welcomed us both, wandering up to our camp,

he smiled brightly, the soft breeze ruffling his fur.

Transients we were, but for he this was home, from

the rushing of the waves, to the crisp air on the

sloping hillside. Contented, he lay about the reserve

yet wandered free at will.

Let to ponder, we suspected a life for Joe both filled

with joy, and at once swept with swells of melancholy.

As friends came and formed a temporal place of refuge,

a site upon which old Joe found communion with creatures

of heart. Still, on those evenings cold and grey, when the brutal

gale raged through the vale from the west, when the warmth of

a hand, and the sweet meats contingent upon the human

encampment were long gone – Joe lay alone,

in a dark hollow in the coastal scrub.

He was himself intrinsicly intimate with the space,

inseparable was Joe from the Sheoaks, whispering

tales of folks from times gone by. To the balding heights

Joe belonged, and his was each tuft of grass upon the

ground.

To speak of Joe was to reference Johanna, for he was

a life form elemental to the region. He shifted freely

in a territory uniquely his; characterising place

as the wind shapes the cliff face, and the melody

of the wren is woven into the air, as the people come

and soon have gone – it was all one.

Johanna 3                                                                                          15/12/11

We respond.

Golden now, the grass over the dunes shimmers,

alive in the gentle breath exhaled upon the land.

The waves, they do not stop – we relish in what

is an unmitigable constant, beyond the force of our

hand.

It is a fare we watch, sink in the sky – slowly first,

before the sudden passing of the earth into shadow.

It is a corposant above the structures of the world,

from this vessel we set our eyes on that light in

fear and wonder.

Now darkened, the land runs vague in our minds.

Dusk is ever the end, the plunge beyond the known,

it resonates in the deep of our dislocated forms, ever

thrown back and forth on the sea of comparison,

strong, yet weak, large and still so insignificant.

We respond.

For breath – it is not ours, what is within us

is around us. We are the earth, and the waters

hold within us, and the air it is that shifts us.

Waters writhe before us, waters roll above us,

the breeze bears within the slighter, salene

seaspray.

The waves thunder as my blood, as my mother’s

heartbeat, as my father’s spirit.

Ever time evades, a moment gone, it slips

so fast, we cannot grasp it.

We breathe the wind, we cry the sea, our complex

structures return to dirt.

And soon enough I shall not sit here, soon five hundred

years shall I have slept in the heart of the earth,

whilst my spirit sings with the perpetual dawn –

for ever the sun is rising on the world, and

ever passing around the world is the

morning song.

Let that be my song. As night rests upon me I await

the first melody, echoing in the woods, brought on wing

across the sheer cliff tops. Messengers of the skies sing

to us a new day. We are created anew,

we rise into being once more.

Johanna 4                                                                                            16/12/11

Paths we form – creatures who clear a way;

linear, familiar.

Mild morning light reveals one way in the

hillside, a track roughly hewn in earth and

rock. Now wings waver, bodies gliding

through space; the graceful, sweeping

flight of the black cockatoo, to the speedy,

darting of the splendid fairy wren.

No path is made, their way is limitless,

passengers of the upper strata of

our world.

Yet, here below, we own and possess, crafting

lines, borders, encapsulating space; dividing,

alienating.

The Goldfinch lands briefly on the fence –

to him no more than a moments respite; no modes

of restraint, no means to orient.

The sun now breaks through in the east,

the dunes are lit and the sea cast gold. Upon the

sand our paths erased, the canvas cleared,

and I dare not descend from these heights and

impress upon the shore my own way.

For the sea has renewed; let that which was been

reclaimed beyond our touch remain for but a

moment.

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The Journey In

September 30, 2011

Rain falling in the deep of the night.

We lie in the dark.

 

We close our eyes and return

within,

to our genesis, our first home.

We are suspended in a space of safety,

of timelessness

and dependancy.

There is no yesterday, no tomorrow.

Consciousness lying in her depths.

Consciousness sleeping, waking,

dreaming.

 

Rain falls heavily, thundering

heart beats, wrapped in

warmth.

Returning to our home.

Float.

 

Slowly, thread by thread, you are

inscribed in the depths of

the mother.

Her heart lowing over you,

thunder rolling above you,

your rhythm.

I wonder if you sit by choice. Why do you not choose to fly?
The skys are your domain, high you will rise,
to gaze down on the earth below.
Little Thrush, it will take courage, to leap forth,
to spread your winds and break free.
Yet, move you do not.
Are you idle, refusing to rise and meet the challnge that awaits you?
You must take up your lot to become what you must,
or forever you will scamper from shrub to shrub, hiding from the world.
Are you caught there, paralysed and unable to escape?
For your breast heaves with fear as ou remain there alone.
Perhaps all you need is a gentle nudge, or so you would think,
a friend to guide you our of your labrynth of uncertainty.
However, this is but your first challenge,
and your character shall be defined by your willingness to set yourself free.

Our Place

November 10, 2010

 

Its one sixth of an acre fenced in by monotonous dull palings. The two-tone, seventies brick-veneer is caged in tightly on its block; an image akin to Howard Arkley’s depictions of suburban Australia. It certainly isn’t a cosy, mudbrick cottage surrounded by green space, in fact, the folks from number 17 next door can get a nice glimpse right into my bedroom anytime the blinds open.

As a child, the little bit of space we had in Healesville seemed endless. The multitude of different trees, the grassy slopes, the red brick path and the small two-story mudbrick all came together as a veritable playground for my overactive imagination. We rode our bikes all about, picked grass to make soup, we climbed trees, made cubby houses, picked fresh fruit to eat and simply played pretend in the back yard for hours on end. It was all home-baked goods and second hand clothes, yet as kids we were clueless as to this intentional way of life our parents had chosen – it was normal.

The Mud-Brick Home I grew up in

 

We moved to this tiny clump of suburbia, Coldstream, when I was nine – it was more practical. If only I had known then how much we lost leaving our old place.

——————————————

Since finishing school I have had time to think and learn a great deal about the way Westerners are living. It is now I compare our simple upbringing with the consumer culture we are stuck in and long for those easy days to return. I guess I ought to save my anti-capitalist rant for another day, but may I say the competition that is resultant of this economic system has seen product advertising become so enmeshed with our day to day lives that we have lost much autonomy in our own decision making and even in the maintainance of a healthy identity and perspective of ones self.

My Mum in her Vegie Garden at our old place

Industrialisation and mass production of food stuff has meant that our diets are severely affected, and deviated from what they ought to naturally look like. And this ugly, 21st century diet of convenience can only lead to a great variety of other conditions we find ourselves subjected to. This is beyond affluence, its just damn unhealthy.

I don’t write all this as an outsider looking in criticising the failure of the mindless masses to take action – for this is me too. Yet, I see the way we live as problematic and I long for some simpler, healthier; something a little more fresh and organic.

I know there is no return for me, at least for the moment, to a spacious block of land with a whole lot of native vegetation and no fences. Perhaps I will be fortunate enough to reside in such an environment in the future, but for now its suburbia, and I have understood my mission and chosen to accept. Therefore, I have, over the last little while, worked diligently to try and ‘green-up’ the place as much as possible. It is my parents home, and hence I cannot my self invest in rainwater tanks and renewable energy, nevertheless, I have taken on several projects that appeal to me as important in pursuing a healthier, happier, more natural way to live.

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Allow me to introduce you to our place.

Oscar takes one of many merry jaunts about the back yard

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Composting fruit and vegie scraps is a great way to return organic materials straigt back into the soil on your own block, and avoid shipping more unnecessary waste to landfill sites

Spring is certainly about with the Apple Trees blossoming. Dad establised several fruit trees on our block not long after we moved in.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This Myer Lemon Tree was rescued from my Grandparents house in Blackburn, and it really seems to love the soil out here as it provides us with endless amounts of lemons!

Growing your own vegies is, of course, an excellent way to monitor the journey of your food before it is eaten - and it encourages one to eat healthier foods. These Cos Lettuces are going to be great in our salads this summer.

This is one of several tomato plants in the second vegie patch I just established. Its companions are: sweet corn, pumkins, snow peas, capsicums, zucchinis and eggplants - when we get a bit more sun things will really get growing

This is the front yard vegie patch. Whilst not ideally located during winter in terms of sunlight, it has grown a whole lot since day light savings. In here we have: potatoes, rhubarb, strawberries, snow peas, carrots, onions, lettuces, broccoli, silver beat, spinach, zucchinis, tomato berrys, garlic, parsley, coriander, rosemary, oregano, thyme and sage.

I certainly inherited my Dad's love for antiquated old lanterns. While pretty much irrelevant, these may be seen hanging here and there about our place

These 3 keep us sorted in the egg department daily!

Enjoying a good dust bath - they healthily free range rather than being trapped in a cage or a shed their whole lives for mass production of eggs

Once you're used to fresh home baked bread - the stuff from the supermarket just doesn't cut it anymore!

 

Come round some time!

September 2, 2010

Ode to the Yarra

Now here beside us river’s voice compounds,

My mind now sees the real; it is absurd,

For many folk your song have never heard.

And it would seem that soothing sights and sounds

Most dismally are ‘ere long now unfound.

Yet nigh to nature youth here have wandered,

Beauteous place where young folk have pondered,

And only here does such freedom abound.

Hidden – night lays on our restful vale,

Safely sister slumbers sailing streams song.

Lamp glows steadily, peace grows verily,

And lo! Western wonts are an ill, I know;

Ample flows, but greedily goes our thirst.

It is for me to decide

January 14, 2010

Flicking through the final pages of Simone de Beauvoir’s novel The Blood of Others succeeded in drawing back into the consciousness the messy network of thoughts associated with Sartrean philosophy, primarily  that of an individual’s responsibility for their personal decisions.

Fascist Poster stating that members of the French Resistance were criminals

Hélène is dying after choosing to engage in a risky, undercover mission against the Fascist forces occupying France in order to save an old friend.

In doing this not only does she finally validate her love with Jean Blomart, but she distinctly exercises her freedom to decide for herself regardless of him, the man she loved, and whom she had long centred much of her life around in the past.

de Beauvoir explores the ethics of choosing through the dialogue of her characters throughout the text.

                                                          

Temporarily assuming truth in the primary existentialist premise that ‘man is nothing else but what he makes of himself,’ it is possible to understand each person as entirely free to make decisions for themselves.

Sartrean philosophy insists that the subjectivity of the self must be the starting point, with a person existing prior to their essential self, which is created through the individual’s decisions. In the words of Sartre – ‘first of all, man exists, turns up, appears on the scene, and, only afterwards, defines himself.’

Without becoming too heavily engaged in existentialist philosophy, Sartre makes the point that though one chooses for oneself,  simultaneously, in this choice, one ‘[chooses] all men.’

In this sense, Sartre insists that an individual is not only responsible for their own individuality, but is responsible for all of humanity in decisions made.

                                                          

This way of thinking is present in the character of Blomart, who, from the beginning of the novel, is illustrated as being weighed down with the burdensome responsibilty of his own choice. He is only too aware of the impact of his decisions, when in the early pages of the novel he acknowledges his fault in the death of his friend Jacques Ledru.

Murderer! Murderer! I walked in the night, I staggered, I ran, I fled. He had been there, so quiet, in the midst of his poems and his books. I took him by the hand, I gave him a revolver and I pushed him into the track of the bullets. Murderer.

Hélène lives life ignoarnt of the responsibility of her choices. One of the first episodes in which she is involved consists of her theft of a neighbours bicycle. Her then boyfriend Paul berates her, telling her to ‘put [herself] for a moment in that poor creature’s shoes when she can’t find her bike.’ To this she simply responds that the thought delights her.

Certainly by the end of the story Hélène has changed. She is aware of the power of her choices, and her self-sacrifice is a demonstration of a decision in which she chooses not only for herself but for others.

‘My only love,’ [Jean] said. ‘You are here, and through my fault.’

‘Wherein lies the fault?’ she said. ‘It was I who wanted to go.’

‘But I could have forbidden you.’

She smiled. ‘You had no right to decide for me.’

The same words. He looked at her. It is indeed her.

She used to say, ‘It is for me to decide.’

Sitting in the Shade

November 2, 2009

The hidden river moves

Somewhere I know

Children all believe

Mothers say they know

Sorry we got lost

I liked the forest when we first arrived.

We sit under shady arbors

safe and unsafe

we wander through the wood

climbing, we fall

again again again again;

the puzzle mystifies.

Only in reflection of the past is it possible to begin to understand the present. The multitude of smaller happenings are continually conglomerated into singularly titled events, which, in reflection, are percieved as the historical events that have determined present day occurences.

Looking back can infuriate one regarding past injustices that have occurred, and lead to then wondering why? It is inevitable that future generations shall look upon happenings in our society, which we perceive as acceptable and normal, with utter abhorrence and question why things were such a way.

One such instance for our contemporaries is the racial inequality that has existed so predominantly in the past. Can one forget that todays African-Americans were yesterday the slaves of Anglo Saxons settled on that vast land?

Discrimination backed with scientific evidence; Social Darwinism has done society no favours, providing evidence to ‘prove’ the superiority of those with fair skin.

Australia, too, has this stained history. Terra Nullius; it was said to be an empty land, rather than the home of an entire race who already occupied that country; a supposedly less evolved, ‘primitive’ people were said to be present.

1788 – the begginning of the malignation, abuse, degradation and attempted extermination of the various nations of Indigenous Australians who occupied this Terra Nullius; this uninhabited land.

Change comes slowly.

Thank you Kevin Rudd – it certainly was time for this nation to publicly recognise the atrocities committed against the Indigenous Australians.

“We apologise for the laws and policies of successive Parliaments and governments that have inflicted profound grief, suffering and loss on these our fellow Australians.” – Rudd: February 13, 2008.

True – the forcible removal of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders from their families has resulted in uncomparable pain and destruction; individuals, families, communities and the diverse Indigenous cultures. Yet, these laws and policies were not merely designed on the basis of prejudice. This was a political attempt to annihilate a whole people group.

Of course, there were many overt, physically reaslised massacres, such as upon the Convincing Ground in southwest Victoria, amongst a great variety of other such heinous occurences. However, these laws and policies Rudd harkens back to were imposed to assimilate Indigenous peoples into a Anglo existence; a passive plan of extermination realised in a confrontational disbandment of the Indigenous family unit. This was to progress into a generational change in the appearance of Aborigines through ‘breeding’ with Europeans; a eugenical genocide.

But of course, it would be too much to ‘spell this out’, wouldn’t it Rudd?

Do contemporary Australians truly acknowledge the depth and gravity of what was attempted with the Stolen Generations?

Its easy to say sorry now.

Sorry we took over your land; oppressed you; physically attacked, assaulted and killed you; abducted your children; decided we were better than you; penned you up on reserves like we did with our livestock, and, you know, just tried to genetically dominate you – our bad; but – bit late to pack up and leave now…

The damage is undeniable, uncomprehensible and unjustifiable.

We have to recognise:

 

  • The value and worth of our Aboriginal brothers and sisters to whom we are tied through the common bond of humanity.

 

  • Yes, our wrong and their pain – unchangeable.

 

  • The importance of action – Mum has always told me that ‘sorry is as sorry does’.

 

  • The necessity of fighting negative perceptions of Indigenous people, and anti-Aboriginal sentiment; age-old racism.

 

  • The importance of restoration of culture: language, family, spirituality, customs and so on.

 

  • Their land.

 

 

Some Personal tributes:

 

David Unaipon

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

David Unaipon – Inventor, Anthropologist, Preacher, Activist.

The anthropological work undertaken by David Unaipon in recording ethnographic research about his people was taken by Ramsay Smith and wrongly published in Smith’s name. This is, therefore, my public recognition of Unaipon and his achievements.

 

Nicky Winmar

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Nicky Winmar – Footballer for St. Kilda

Acted as is depicted above in response to racist sentiment from Collingwood spectators. A significant moment in AFL history, empowering not only himself but other Indigenous people in their Aboriginal identity.

 

Gough and Vincent

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Vincent Lingiari – Leader and Activist on behalf of the Gurindji people.

Vincent Lingiari led the Gurindji off Wave Hill station to Dagarugu in protest of wages, and this eventually developed into the demand for the return of Gurindji land. This was granted in an area of 3300 square kilometres; an iconic victory in Indigenous land rights.

 

Paul Kelly

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Paul Kelly – Musician/Songwriter

Personally just one of my favorite artists! Paul Kelly documents the Lingiari affair perfectly in ‘From Little Things Big Things Grow.’ 

 Liam Jungarrayi Jurrah

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Liam Jungarrayi Jurrah – Warlpiri Footballer for Melbourne Demons

Carn the dees. Liam you’re my bro.

lacking elucidation

June 10, 2009

complaining in that quiet corner

we watch ephemeral sands shifting

no that breeze will not blow

in our direction

 

and nothing is real anymore;

the equivocal dreams will not lift

for that breeze will not blow

in our direction