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THE HAND OF A FISH SO SMALL

2 Jun

TurnerSlaveShit

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?

THE REVOLUTION BEGINS HERE

26 May

They’re on about solar power. They say the revolution begins here. Of their sincerity I have no doubts. But what I want to know is, what I want to know is what happens after the revolution? Who will be in charge? And how do we stop them from grinding us into the ground.

In one corner the Left who after two centuries of rapid change propelled by a cycle of constant change made possible courtesy of the perpetual innovations of capitalist technology that make manifest this form of writing and publishing, this style of music. That produces the liquor we drink and the food we eat and the spliffs we blow… that makes all this possible – in that corner are the avatars of those who would change it without understanding that this is change. In the other the Right who just keep singing the same old tune, indifferent to those who get crushed, who are left out, who lose.

Congo slum

The music goes back to the beginning. It’s a new global style harking way back to the fractured tribes of pre-history. A stomp, a clap and a chant: words that testify. Full circle we’ve come and now the tribes are transcontinental associations connected by the internet, the phone and the camera.

Outside on the street the scents of an ancient and most useful herb blend in with the familiar braggadoccio jive viz slicin’ and dicin’. An impro freestyle rap session. But no-one stomps. There’s no machine to tell them what to do. The revolution starts here? I sense the same old instincts, the same aggression that took centuries to control and channel constructively enough to get here to this point where the different tribes can blend in peace and harmony. Inside on the dance floor there’s a greenhair’d heavy metal dude who likes to push people around on the dance floor. To my left a couple of sophistos you’ll never see anywhere near the floor dismissing an acquaintance: he’s a junkie.

You can smash the state, it’s been done. Tho’ these days methinks it a might more difficult than once it used to be. You can put the oil barons and media lords and mainstream party politicians up ‘gainst the wall. You can murder the tax department, the cops, the soldiers and anyone who works in a human resources department. You can make laws of peace but you can’t change the monkey…

After the revolution – what?

IN THE DARKNESS OF THE MORNING

23 May

Gwenvear

“Genoveva in der Waldeinsamkeit”, 1841
Adrian Ludwig Richter (1803-1884)
Germany

I can see it but I can’t explain it, I am exhilirated by my setbacks and failures. Made mistakes, broke, come up’s a bitch – so what? I am immune to the sky’s slings and arrows. Blow ye hurricanos blow, I don’t give a fuck. I am bursting wit and love, half in love with a girl I’ll never see again. But still I feel glad. There’s whiskey in the jar and I’ll drink to her health. The world is an even more beautiful place because of her.

I can explain but I cannot plan. I know what is happening to me. Some of it. Some I pretend not to know, it’s the only way. My memory has reached a certain place on the highway. It is a downhill slope from here. I must set to and fire off some neurons into history before time to shuffle off.

I can plan but I cannot determine the outcome. There are things in your control and there are things not. The things in your control are certain aspects of your body, your mind if you can be bothered, and whatever tools you’re thus able to operate. Your soul (if you know it’s there)… well that controls you. Or rather it is you. Your heart? You cannot control your heart. Your heart and everything else – forget it.

I have convictions. I am free at last. And tonight I am a raving egotist. No apologies. I, me, mine: Transmitting….

Back into the noöspherical webtronic surveillance system and brainfart confabulator. I have come from my season in Hell. I have seen the kings of the earth there, I have seen the servants and the women of the street. I have heard the minstrels and taken ale with them on a sometime sunny afternoon. I have spoken with the new generation and understand a little more how they are different; how they are the same. I am calling out to the few who listen for this final instalment: StillChaos. My first e-Book.

And tomorrow perhaps I’ll write something that ain’t masturbation.

HAVEN’T SQUANDERED MY RESISTANCE

11 Apr

I was born with much luck, early sufferings – actually surfeit of said luck – had convinced me otherwise, so much so that I squandered many an opportunity to advance higher in the socio-economic pyramid. You have to start at the bottom of the ladder.

My grandfather’s people came here in the nineteenth century when Australia was, as Eric Hobsbawm put it, a paradise of labour. They prospered and became part of that most Corinthian of columns in the Sydney Establishment: the prosperous Irish, products of the excellence of Catholic education. They were dead set in the middle of that column; modestly well-off.

The family business was a small to medium sized firm attached to the construction industry. An Australian institution: the Blue Collar Enterprise. The son and heir always had to start of at the bottom and work his way up. Of course, promotion was assured. 🙂

But what wisdom in such a monarchy? By the time the Son became the Boss he knew the business from the ground up. He’d see what needed changing and what didn’t. How it all worked. What it was like to work here and there. Trouble was the limited pool from which to draw labour. It was, of course, explicitly sexist (girl had babies, boys had jobs). And the son might be guided by tradition but the chances are, sooner or later, you’d get a right berk or downright nasty bastard. It’s difficult for the rich to not spoil their children. Another rub. Thing is sometimes, fellas (quite often really) it’s the girls who’d make a better boss. The Spartans were miserable old sods, but they had wisdom when is came to their women.

It occurs to me that, in my own weird way, I’ve pretty much done the same thing. For what end I don’t know. I do not own the future, but, it is still open. I have relinquished opportunities yes: for prosperity, for advancement, for sex. But I have not relinquished my capacity to choose the many paths available to me in this Our Year of the Almighty Whatever – two-oh-one-one. I have a wide experience, I know what it’s like night shift in a factory. I know what it’s like 7am right thru to the early hours of the next morning. Paper cup coffee swallowed in gulps on the run while answering the relentless call of an electronic master. It never stops long enough for you to quietly view the beauty of the city skyline from high up behind a glass and steel window.

Ferris Bueller said life moves pretty fast, if you don’t stop and look around every once in a while you might miss it. If you work the skyscraper high-life; if you get all the way to helicopter level where you only ever need touch the ground to switch to the Gulfstream en route to allover; the higher you go… The more you need to remember what Ferris said. I like the view from high up but it ain’t worth the palava.

Other people I’ve known are heading for that apex of the democratic monoliths that mark the architectural symbol of early Technological Civilization. And, if they’re well-grounded in a spiritual tradition, it doesn’t drive them crazy. If not, well I’ve seen these people – drink.

Dry-cleaning everything is a bitch, forget about it. But I could’ve chosen that life. If I had, I wouldn’t be me tho’, I’d be someone else. And, if it was me personally, I don’t think that someone else would be very nice. It’s moot now because that life is a path closed to me. That sort’ve thing you have to commit when you’re at what Americans call Junior High. I have options but also many burnt bridges.

I am privileged and fortunate. Others are not, they have been chosen for a difficult path. Hard, hard, hard! From the time they’re born. Last night I made another friend (weird: Sunday nights!) and he’s Jewish and Muslim and Christian. We met and spent hours talking, so different and yet connected. He’s struggling, he has a kid, chancy employment opportuities. The migrant experience. The refugee experience. I saw a fragment of his world. Interesting, this city’s third-world underground.

Born on the roof of a Saudi jail, this guy. Truly. Brought up an ultra-orthodox Muslim and now converted to Christianity. Still he’s a son of Beta Israel, believed by many to be famed lost tribe of the ancient Hebrews. He believes Jesus was black. My friend has changed his name to that of a very popular saint (not Francesco d’Assisi). We ate dinner in a restaurant run by Hindus. Lots of Ohm signs about. But also a painting of the Buddha and a newsclipping of Mary MacKillop’s canonization.

Amongst the Faithful, these days, there are those that crave war and there are those instinctively moving toward other creeds – including Atheism – in a spirit of catallaxy. My friend is a mystic and it’s hard to follow him sometimes but he is amongst the latter, he moves toward convergence in a spirit of peace. All the while knowing that outside in the cold distance, a wild cat growls. He knows a lot more about religion then I ever will. I am lucky, I have have been born lucky consequence of war-torn centuries and persistent wilfulness. Of conquest, plunder, slavery, lies: and glory too. What a piece of work is Man:

Jeffersonuniversity

My friend has it tough because his ancestors were on the other side of all that business. I am lucky to meet him. He thinks I am his guide perhaps, but he is mine. I am lost, I think I’m found, I realize I’m still lost and then I find one also lost. But he has read the map. He will show me the way on the other side of the wall erected ‘twixt Reason and Dream in the Western World. What will I show him? How should I know, I don’t own the future. No-one does.

THE CHINESE PROSPERO

23 Mar

Knowing I lov’d my books,
He furnish’d me from mine own library
With volumes that I prize
Above my dukedom.

William Shakespeare
The Tempest

Huizong

Early in the year 1127 outside Kaifeng, capital city of China’s northern Song dynasty, the barbarians stirred. For years the empire had grown steadily weaker whilst the scholars who ran the system quarreled with the emperor. To the north the rustic kingdom of Liao had been held at bay with annual payments of 200 000 ounces of silver and 300 000 bolts of silk. In exchange for this treasure they promised not to invade.

In the early years of the 12th century a vassal state of the Liao kingdom Jurchens, the Jin had risen up. Finally, in alliance with Song China, and laid waste to the Liao kingdom. The problem was, in the event, the Jin did it all by themselves. Thru an accident of fortune they had, finally, not needed what feeble support the Song could’ve supplied. They came to realize that the Song Dynasty was weak and went after them next. After penetrating their border and laying waste to the land they put Kaifeng under siege.

What a terrible year to be a woman in Kaifeng. The Jin had invaded the country and brought the state to its knees and for months had demanded sums of gold that the empire did not have. Get us the gold they said and we won’t let our soldiers invade the city to do what they want. By January of 1127 the empire was out of time and gold and luck. The Jin demanded women instead. These were valued according to rank. A princess was worth a thousand gold bars. They reserved the right to pick and choose. They only wanted the pretty ones. By mid-February the invaders had well taken over, no bones. They held a feast and forced the emperor and his family to attend. When the Jin king’s son took a fancy to the Emperor Huizong’s daughter Fujin, Huizong protested that Fujin was already married. The king of the Jin replied that each of his guests could take two women each, whoever they chose.

To those of us safe on streets under the umbrella of American Imperium this is horror beyond comprehension. The Song dynasty lasted a little while longer moving to the south. But the Emperor was taken back to the Jin homeland in Manchuria where he was ritually humiliated, dying broken and forlorn in captivity in 1135. What a fall. The treasures of the Song palace had been a legendary catalog of cultured enlightenment. The library contained 8 489 scrolls on philosophy alone. Huizong was a devout Taoist, a composer of poetry and an accomplished painter whose work survives to this day in the Chinese canon. His artists’ academy demanded the highest standards. But his decisions in defense of the State were appalling. His interest in military matters, negligible.

It had been traditional in the Confucian capital for courtiers and lords to be accomplished poets as well as practitioners of the political arts. Given that the one seems to me to be the opposite of the other, to demand very different frames of mind, I have my doubts that many individuals can become accomplished at both. By the time the Emperor Huizong fell the catalog of treasures – calligraphic texts, books of classics and poetry, scroll paintings, jade, sculpture – filled books that had long numbered tens of thousands of pages. By the start of 1127 most of this was booty, stacked in the tents of the invading Jin.

Most of it is lost, no-one knows what happened to it.

In The Prince Machiavelli quotes Tacitus: quod nihil sit tam infirmum aut instabile quam fama potenntiae non sua vi nixa. Nothing is so weak or unstable as a reputation for power which is not based on one’s own forces. Believe it.

Huizongbird
“Plum Tree and Birds”
Emperor Huizong (1082-1135)

TIME FOR NEW DOGMA

14 Mar

There seems to be a new vogue in good-looking Oxbridge video stars. Sexy historians who give the goods on the human story in easy sound-byte sized episodes. Brittany Hughes, for example. Her simple, serious minded English Rose act doesn’t cover the free and easy way she has with a summer dress, you can almost smell her thick brown hair. For those who dig the lads I guess there’s Nigel Spivey. The same thick brown wave of hair cut in the style of an Etonian schoolboy who’s escaped to Greece.

His book How Art Made the World is part of a wave of Art History tomes that’ve found their way into the marketplace over the last ten years or so. I’ve only read half so far. The first chapter is the one I find most interesting. He starts off with the discovery of the Altamira cave in the late 19th century by the nine year old daughter of the Spanish amateur archaeologist Marcelino Sanz de Sautuola. He later was accused of forging the paintings. They were too good.

Altamiracaveart.

He died without knowing that they would one day be verified. During the second world war a group of teenagers and their dog (how Romantic is that?) found the Lascaux cave complex in southern France. This is the oldest art gallery in the world – that we know about.

Lascauxbison

There were people who made marks. There have always been people making marks. And in the West this has always been partially analytical, materialistic. These Lascaux people, they really wanted to represent nature with accuracy and detail.

That’s not Spivey’s theory it’s mine. His is that art originates as a Shamanic activity. With deft diplomacy he skates around the requirements of political correctness and enters into a comparison of the ancient European tribes with the 21st century still indigenous. Art originates as religious expression.. That’s his take and I agree, I really agree. It’s my dogma.

Think of a Shaman as a priest, a painter, a poet and a musician. Think of the Shaman as the MC, the DJ and the funkiest cat on the floor. Dig it. Before the division of labor that brought such benefits but made the Dreaming recede into the recesses of our consciousness, these jobs were all done by the same person. Naked in the face of Nature our ancestors felt the Spirit intense. It was more real to them then anything else in their world.

What has happened to our yellow bird folks. Religions die and are reborn as mere entertainment. Those these days that lyrically wax on about this:

christflagellation

Aren’t likely to be found in Church Sunday morning. And those that are will be looking at kitsch version of antique imagery, like so:

jesus

The serious Christian art still being done usually provokes hatred from the Faithful. Does that perhaps give pause for thought amongst those of us who still see the Light shining thru the true Art?

This is my mission statement. Before the career path strategy, before the maverick innovations, before the high style, the wit, the shrewd observation and the magnificent evocations, before the beauty of your shade of blue, before the chime in your beat – before all that – you’re a Shaman and that bears on you with a certain responsibility.

That was not always the creed. Time was it was an artist’s duty to spurn the way, the truth and the light. To be the Advocate.Some other time an artist was a Church propagandist. These days neither, no. These days we have made a wreckage of the meaning of life. The pieces lie all about us. And it’s the century for putting it back together again. As usual, architects lead the way. Now we need the images for the walls, the music bouncing off them and the words read inside. Words for humans to live by.

God is our witness.

WORDS

6 Mar

The Romans had an intuitive sense if not a rational understanding of the origin of commonwealths in these eternal principles of fiefs. This is shown by the formula they had for laying claim to a piece of land, which has come down to us as follows: Aio hunc fundum meum esse ex iure quiritium (I declare this piece of land to be mine by the law of the Quirites). By this formula they bought the civil action of vindication into bear on the ownership of the land, an ownership depending on the state and proceeding from the, so to speak, central power by which every Roman citizen is the recognized master of estate and owns it pro indiviso and for that reason called ownership ex iure quiritium “by the law of the Quirites who, as shown by a thousand proofs already adduced or to be adduced, were originally the Romans armed with spears in public assembly…

Giambattista Vico (1668 – 1744)
The New Science, 1744
# 603

Vicoportrait

Francesco Solimena (1657-1747)
Italy