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2 Jun


Perception is a weird thing. It’s natural, so the neuroscientists tell us, to divide the world into value-laden binaries: good/bad; good/Evil/black and white. That black and white make shades of grey is some disconsolation. Grey is the colour of an impending storm. Grey is winter and old age. Shades of grey can be complicated and hard to understand. A sharp line twixt darkness and light is preferred.

Black/white. Time was the Moors raided the coasts of Ireland and Scotland (places where the poor lived next to the sea). During the Middle Ages, I’ve read somewhere, they took millions of slaves. Later as Islam receded militarily and scientifically, as Europe rose, the slave trade’s direction reversed itself. This tide between Islam and Christendom, between Africa and Europe (not the same thing) has been coming in and going out for hundreds of years. It’s on a geo-tectonic scale, if you permit the metaphor, human individuals on this scale are like the blades of grass. They pay no attention. It’s too big for them.

Centuries of the human race fucking each other in the arse without permission: rape, murder! Face it.

The colour wing-ding’s a curious thing ladies and gentlemen. In ancient Egypt the aristocrats were light skinned and this gave them prestige. Or rather because of their prestige they were a lighter shade of brown and this became a mark of status. It was an indicator of wealth that one was not tanned by the sun. Also, and with the aid of the cosmetics available to cashed-up Egyptians, your ‘youth’ lasted longer.

The semantic alignment of ‘black’ (dark) and ‘white’ (light) with the spectrum of human complexion is the modern era’s most nefarious invention. It is an unintended consequence of Christianity. Followers of Jesus Christ are not permitted to enslave others. To eliminate slavery was of course very difficult, the economy of Agrarian Civilization depended on it. But, by the second century of the second millennium it had been accomplished.

And then the Spanish court acquired territory in central America.

The story is complex and I’m not intimately familiar with it. But in essence the Catholic Church decided that Africans didn’t have souls, hence it was okay to enslave them. Europeans couldn’t handle the Sun in what is now Cuba. The local inhabitants were dropping dead of the fierce Eurasian diseases which would soon decimate the American continents. And some Portugese captain received a gift of slaves from an African king. Well, when there’s money in it, let’s just bend the rules… um ah.

The love of money is the root of all Evil, and the closer to the bottom line you live, the more liable to sin. Europe was a shithole. Europeans were hungry. But they were also Christians. The Catholics decided yes. But Protestants and Jews (mostly) agreed.

Much has been made of the stark doublethink involved in these half-civilized brutes at once regarding African humans as animals whilst baptizing them by force. Carrying on sexual relationships with them and selling the children: the l’il bucks and bitches. Surveyed like a horse or a hunting dog assigned a role in the machinery of imperial agriculture. A resource for exploitation all the while being subjected to a cultural oppression that centres on adherence to the faith of Jesus Christ?

Women too. Any male slave confronted with a wily enough woman, especially a very attractive, sexually frustrated one, will not be able to refuse. Even tho’ the consequences might be fatal. Crying rape on a lover can be a useful tactic if he’s become inconvenient or you’ve been sprung. The accusation will not be disputed and ruthlessly proceeds to execution, sometimes in the midst of a drunken picnic. White people in the South used to have a grand old time at a lynching – yessir!

And we modern people, those of us on the planet who have entered the 21st century – intellectually and emotionally – we who find theories that hold one race superior and others inferior literally laughable, we…

Because of those morons the Nazis, the heirs to Empire can not speak of it in the very literary circles that require the enunciation. The divided mind, the divided self, the schizophrenia infecting the culture all surfeit of a complete lack of basic courtesy. Each side thinks itself relatively guiltless – they started it. Who started it. When did it start? This hacking each at other on the basis of some difference which does one no harm. When? Oh…. way back when.

That’s not the question, the question is have we stopped?



30 May

I am contemplating my tough life

Before, it was the bitter and dry Victorian set doing the John Bracks shuffle wrapped in navy blue and grey; the inevitable black stylists (me included). The lonely crowd pushing Despair to the side as a matter of the habit of slaves starting another grim week of duty. Duty to the almighty Grand March forward to a world with a dollar sign on everything.

And because of that grand march, dig it, the buildings behind me. The docklands development of Melbourne is part of a global phenomena. Brisbane got its back in the 80s (at last a cultural first). Excellent place to imbibe of lysergic acid dyethlemide #25.

Sydney had theirs built in the halcyon 90s decade. It might still be there, you never know with Sydney. I’ve been there, stayed there. Out on the town there. It reminds me of the lives of battery hens if you let ’em go to the pub in the mall on Friday night.

Barcelona has its as well, haven’t been there.

The conversion of old, environmentally-dangerous, inner-city docking facilities, infamously awash with junkie bars and criminal networks, to new Jetsons-type living where once again the river is the star attraction the architecture serves and not just a place to spew our filth into – is grand. It makes (maybe) that whole crazy dance worth it. Here, in this beautiful and peaceful place where the Monday morning racket is a far away drone, we have a glimpse of the long-promised Brave New World.

People will complain that this is only something the rich can afford. And naturally it is. Will waterside views always be the privilege of those higher up in the chain? Will the chain always be based on money and education? What of it when those things are freely available to entire populations? How will we feed our need for command and obedience and hierarchy then?

No matter, inhale deep and pause…. enjoy the Sun. You won’t see it for a while, doesn’t matter how much money you got.


5 Apr

Here we are, the beginning of the third millennium and what have we done? We’ve been places, we’ve eradicated the Pox, the Plague, the Scourge, almost. We have not done away with the Curse, tho’ the tampon ads get slicker every year.


I remember some ad from the late 70s. Lots of David Hamilton photography; a beautiful mother with her blossoming teenage’d daughter walking thru the forest in springtime. The reassuring maternal voice-over in the compulsory diction of the private-school educated Sydneysider hard-nosed career bitch: navy suits, pearls, Oil of Ulan. Fundraiser committees associated with the Liberal Party. What euphemism did she use? Heavy days. Heavy days seem a bit of concern. Heavy days may ruin a sun-blessed walk in the bush.

Some time ago, trashy historical novels tell me, working class women referred to their periods matter-of-factly while those women that did no housework kept it strictly discreet. The hard-boiled 19th century with its frenetic sexual morals, it’s cold lit analysis, its silent anxieties. Menstruation? Unmentionable save in medical circles where puritanical men got together and tried to solve this bit of biological madness called Woman. Now it’s the basis for specialization in the spreading apparatus of information processing: symbols, sounds, colour and form pitting you up against impossible dreams, all in aid of moving the merchandise. And still there’s the need to use euphemism about something as basic as a placental mammal’s menstrual cycle and the blood that comes forth from it.

We’ve gone to the moon but still can’t face that? White pants? Well at least the ad doesn’t refer to heavy days. Sometime later there was an ad where a slick young supermodel type uses a maxi-pad to clean blood from the floor before the men in the trenchcoats arrive. Can we see a story that evolves from the days when advertising tampons and pads was a clinical euphemism. Internal protection? That’s a bit saucy? Kids might ask questions. Internal, what’s inside?

If there’s continuity in these ads it’s in the stress on privacy, comfort and non-interference with work. The 50s ad says to the housewife that she can rely on tampons not to have her menstrual cycle interfere with her work; the 90s ad says to the young career bitches that the threatening masculine pack will be held at bay; the current ad says we know this is stupid, we know that we’re being manipulated but hey, at least they’re honest and… cool pack! The thread that runs thru the ads is that this is the solution to a problem: mass manufactured and wrapped in clean fresh plastic.

“Are you sure I’ll still be a virgin?” There was a time not so long ago that that was an actual concern. These days the world agrees with Clint Eastwood, what’s so great about virgins? Well that’s the mainstream position. Coming up the rear, religion returns and girls in certain circles pledge to their father they’ll remain pure until their wedding night. A revival of tradition? Ah.. but these are 21st century girls so of course there’s promise of a material pay-off.

I have my doubts that satisfaction is guaranteed.

Time was when the Moon Cycle was a mystic thing, then it was a symbol of degradation – a basis for disgust. And now it’s a problem that must be solved rationally in a mode consistent with Modern Civilization’s requirements that everything have a smooth pristine clinical and colour-co-ordinated surface. People say, well at least it’s not a big deal anymore. And I say: exactly! It isn’t. Shouldn’t it be? I’m sure there are families for which it is still, bewildering as it might seem, a moment of profound shame and embarrassment.

Are there families out there that celebrate?


28 Mar


Oh the protests in the city over the week-end. Saturday morning there was the campaign to change the law so that same-sex attracted couples can commit to their relationships legally. Funny that there’ such a fuss. Given that objections to gay marriage are something that stems in part from the high levels of promiscuity amongst gay men (lesbianism has been relatively accepted) one would think a traditional conservative would affirm monogamy amongst these wild people.

Oh well it stifled my ability to conduct an intelligent conversation, all that chanting of ill-baked slogans, but it seems to me the final step to a truly liberal society. Why disrupt love? Perhaps it has something to do with the little Drama Queen who included gratuitous humour viz loss of bowel control on a dance floor in his speech. I liked his joke myself but I doubt it’ll do anything to persuade Tony Abbott’s circle of acquaintance.

After that, yes after the gay marriage rally came another (is there a roster?) Anyway, after that there was small group of Libyans whose slogans were so pathetic that they stopped and simply sang their national anthem which is moving because melodically lugubrious. How appropriate. But what purpose does it serve? Their protest is useless. I know, I know, it’s only… human. It’s human to resort to ineffective symbolism in the face of that that makes one helpless. But it will change nothing.

Are they asking for my money? For what? Guns? Guns and bullets are what helps the Libyans now. I’d say they’d be in contravention of the law if they asked for money for that. But they shouldn’t be, it’s hardly the act of a terrorist to strive to rid one’s country of the kleptocratic nutbag that’s been running it into the ground for decades now is it? Still they can’t. And, because they can’t, their protest is useless. Would they get it if they asked for it? Something tells me that those inclined to pony their cash to alleviate the plight of foreign people in distant lands would also be very uncomfortable about buying tools for killing. But that’s what it takes.

Feel the power, it’s inside you. It’s in every single one of us. The power to bind and to loose. The potential to do; or not to do. And yet the world is bleeding.

Who else was there? There were the Trots. There’s always the Trots. They do the work. (Do they?) You know there’ll be a protest when you see their A3 photocopied posters taped to everything. They campaign for action on climate change, they campaign for the queer set’s marriage rights, they advocate on behalf of the Iranian people and their struggle against US imperialism. They never mention how the Iranians deal with the gay marriage rights issue.


Next day it’s the Japanese. Students in matching yellow shirts, lots of conspicuously pretty girls. Very polite and very much in earnest. Japan needs money they’ve been wrecked by a tsunami. New Zealand needs money, Christchurch got wiped. The Africans need money. We/they’ve fucked up their world and armed them to the teeth. We gave them inoculation against disease and their profit on’t is AIDS. The Libyans need money and we are donating an extra 15 million dollars or something, so Kevvie tells us. That’s the best part of a dollar from each of us.

Doesn’t sound much but it adds up. We got payments on this, that and the other thing. We got children who need a fighting chance and we got a million people out there ready to make a buck on that. We got desperate people on the streets. They cut off the dole or it doesn’t last like it used to and they just wanna know if you can spare a dollar. No really! I can hear it jangling in yer pockets. Spare a dollar? Cunt!

All thru your life man aaaaarrrrrrrrgggghhhhhh!!!!!!

This is all happening on the streets of every city in the world. Every modern developed city. Just what does that mean? Modern? Developed?

Well for one thing it means that beggars don’t qualify for a disability pension. For another there’s little by the way of matching t-shirts. Those Japanese, they’re so po-mo daddy-o, they know how to operate in the Modern Market Economy. They should, they’re the second largest in the world. Oops sorry, third.

The second is a nominally communist dictatorship. Innovative, those Chinese (don’t laugh). They raided Western culture, Western techniques and Western intellectual property and combined the worst aspects of socialism and capitalism. Great! Works a treat. Especially if the world’s largest economy is into you for three-hundred zillion very large.

Japan seems to’ve gone from world power to sinking slowly in record time. Finally they beat the Americans at something besides cheap cars. And their kids are here collecting for their countrymen. Remember, they’re still rich. As a country very rich. And even their tins a jingling on the streets of this still very lucky country’s cultural capital. Are we still lucky. Do we notice the sinking? Do we do anything more than indulge in the usual religious warfare. All are flotsam in the angry face of Nature.

The rich bleed too.

Oh dear. Dear, dear, dear. The shark and his pearly teeth.


27 Mar


New Gods cover, 1971
Jack Kirby (1917-1994)