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Tahlia Palmer: Steady Eye

Filtering by Category: culture

Being a Nerd

Andrew Ryan

Last week I began watching Star trek for the first time. It was one of those shows that I kind of mostly ignored, for years, too much pop cultural influence without anyone in my life being in to it, until a good friend recently recommended it, over and over, as a counter to the occasional bouts of compassion fatigue I experience as I continue with my studies and Australian history research without the aid of a therapist. There’s only so many case-studies and accounts of horrible violence+colonial genocidal practices you can take it before it all gets a liiiiiiiitle bit too much, you know?

And the show works, as my friend said it would! It’s fucking great. Really. Quality viewing for everyone with a decent command of English. It champions diplomacy, cultural sensitivity, and highlights the importance of recognizing how values can shape a society. It’s inspiring. And to top it off, each of the main characters is, generally, treated by every other character with complete respect and appreciation of their skills, knowledge and background. Empathy, on that spaceship, abounds beautifully.

Funny things is though, the show was originally created through inspiration gathered from Captain Cook’s voyages around Earth. James Kirk. James Cook. I haven’t seen the Star Trek featuring Captain Kirk. I cannot comment on that aspect. Though I’m sure Captain Cook wouldn’t have ever come even remotely close to the amount of compassion and respect for other cultures that Captain Picard displays as he navigates through unknown space… not saying Cook was necessarily an asshole or nothing, but you know, different times, different minds…

Anyway, thank fuck for Star Trek.

The enjoyment I take is not unlike that which I gain from playing Civilization V (specifically Brave New World expansion pack).

Diplomacy, culture, technological evolution.

Avoiding war at all costs.

I have played Civ for a few years now, quite regularly. Some might say too much. I sometimes think I play too much. It’s exciting to start a new game: what conditions will there be? How will I shape my first few cities? How well I can I train particular units to defend neighbouring city-states from invading barbarians? Sometimes I sit down to play, look up at the clock and realize with a start that it’s been 4 hours since I started and I’ve been chain smoking for most of that time, especially if my position on the map is in close proximity to war-mongering AI players and they hella want my land.

It’s easy to get lost in the game. It is complex; you have to consider every element, have to have a strategy, have to have a goal for victory.

You don’t want to neglect your culture points as you boost your science points, otherwise your citizens mayy become dissatisfied and push for a revolt against your chosen ideology. You can’t let the happiness of your empire drop whilst building up your army, otherwise overall productivity is severely affected, as is the performance of your military units. You can’t neglect the building up of your military forces while you strive for quick accrual of culture and tourism points, otherwise stronger civilisations will attack and totally fuck you up. You can’t ignore global technological advancements because they may be charging ahead towards a scientific victory, or may obliterate you with atomic weapons before you’re able to decrease their effects.

Also, you get to see, hear and read excerpts from great works of art/music/writing occasionally too.

It is complicated, time consuming, and immensely satisfying when a cultural or diplomatic victory is finally achieved. I strive for cultural victories, it is always my end goal, and I avoid wars as much as possible. I think, for me, it comes down to wanting to prove to myself that it is not necessary to be a Military Might in order to achieve “greatness”. You must defend yourself, of course, because a few other civilisations are programmed to just want to destroy everything in their paths, but it’s Doesn’t Have to Be Like That, especially, I’m told, if you’re playing with like-minded individuals (friends, even) in a LAN setting. I wouldn’t know about that, because I’m a loner.

That’s why Start Trek is so good too. For loners! Not really, but kinda. The value system championed in the show is that Aggression is Loathsome, and I absolutely agree. It is only necessary in a fight for survival, if someone is attacking you first, but with such great technological advancements and apparent ease of food and energy production, fighting other people just ain’t a thing that needs to be done. In the show, I mean. Not today’s world. We’re still too troubled for all that.

And it is when I get to those thoughts, the “we’re still too troubled” thoughts, that I turn away from my screens and sit in front of a canvas to paint it all out.

I feel like playing Civilization V and watching Star trek: Next Generation have a useful purpose, for me at least. In times when I do not want to create something, in times when I do not want to spend time with other people, in times when I do not feel like studying, or reading books, I will play that game or watch that show and learn, without evening trying, some vitals clues as to how our world functions, how values shape our attitudes, how culture can emerge and move and be exchanged, with the idea of harmony never really too out of reach. Hell, if I can ensure my Polynesia civilization wins a cultural victory before war-mongers try their best to tear it apart, then I feel that, you know, maybe there is hope in this world after all.

Also, it’s a very good feeling when you notice yourself getting better at the art of strategy.

Also, I lied: tonight I started a war with America because they were sending their archeologists to dig through ruins within my territory. I ain’t having that. A blatant attack on my interests! Cheeky buggers.

My Breasts are Shameful and the World is F***ed.

Andrew Ryan

This week saw International Women’s Day fall within its boundaries. I took a photo of myself topless, and posted it on Facebook with the following just-woke-up rant:

“For my contribution to International Women’s Day, I would like to publicly free my woman nipples. I find it super unfair that my heart pounds hectically at the thought of walking around topless in public in hot weather like all the boys get to do just because society has, for a long time, considered female nipples to be rude and/or sexual only. It is absolutely ridiculous that photos of female nipples get taken off Facebook while men’s do not. It’s not like I’m scared of my body or anything; I have done plenty of nude modeling, I don’t mind getting my kit off in situations where it’s totally acceptable around people I know I can trust to not be disrespectful, but publicly, it is not possible, for many reasons, while for men, it generally is.

(and on that note, some extremely talented artists have to censor their work on social media if it features a female nipple, but not if it features a male nipple, which totally changes the image they are sharing with the world, changing their work and the way it’s read by people, reinforcing the weirdness around the female nipple and instantly highlighting the fact that some nipples are considered more acceptable to be viewed than others…)

mostly, I want the simple freedom of not having to gross-up a t-shirt or singlet when I’m sweating and the simple freedom of an equal every-day-built tan across my tits, and I don’t have that freedom, and it pisses me off, because not only does it mean extra washing and an uneven aesthetic, but it’s just plain stupid to be so fucking obviously and shamefully unequal about such a simple thing, a really, really fucking simple thing.

to me it is a simple thing that is actually a huge thing that proves how many simple inequalities are everywhere between the way women have been and are treated in comparison to men, how we are expected to behave compared to men, how mass society still has a lot of work to do in terms of getting rid of destructive, obsolete ideas about the way humans function, how they interact, including not only gender and racial issues, but fucking economic and political ones too.

we are at a critical stage in human history- a massive, massive amount of people on this earth, so many people who cannot eat while a few others are far richer than any of us could ever imagine, more money around the world spent on updating military technology than ensuring citizens are fed and sheltered, and mediums with which humans communicate publicly to share ideas and have discussions are not only monitored but also must bow-down to stupid old-idea pressure about how distasteful it is to see a woman’s nipple, one click of a button and it’s taken down, when it can take weeks and hundreds of people to successfully take down overtly racist and hateful images, FUCK THAT SHIT, FUCK ALL OF THAT INEQUALITY, IT’S FUCKING SICKENING AND TIRING, free the fucking female nipple from shame, fuck the white supremacist patriarchy, justice for all the oppressed.

phew, is it hot in here or is it just my fucking frustration?

love to all.”

After a few hours and much applaud from ladies and men alike, it was taken down. My nipples, but not the nipples of my male friends, were a violation of community guidelines, so the post was taken down.

A part of the problem I have with it is, as I mentioned in my rant, is that other things, which are far more offensive than my nipples, such as grossly racist content/pages, or grossly sexist content/pages, can take a lot longer to get rid of. I recently reported a page that was anti-feminist, making fun of a well-known Australian feminist writer whilst being obviously sexist, and Facebook told me it didn’t violate community guidelines, presumably because it can get away with satire. A friend commented that she reported The United Patriots Front Facebook page for hate speech, as they are overtly Islamaphobic: “Shut down all Mosques until this ISIS shit is over”, “They’re ruining our way of life” etc, but because they’ve stopped using straight up derogatory language and just dog-whistle
(https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dog-whistle_politics)
instead, they have avoided breaching community guidelines and still remain, with tens of thousands of followers, spreading misinformation, fear-mongering, and extremist right-wing circle-jerking.

But that gender inequality thing still feels weird. I was enraged when my posts were taken down, enraged though vaguely amused, and I fantasised about launching a campaign to change the community guidelines so that there was gender equality in topless hot weather photos. I imagined creating a Facebook page in which photos of men and women, trans included, in the exact same, non-sexual poses are posted, including breast feeding photos, as a challenge to the wider community to recognise the absurdity of creating a situation in which women are not allowed to display the same parts of their body as men. No one likes to be shamed for their bodies, and this particular community guideline is perpetuating the distorted notion that breasts can only be seen as sexual objects. Women cannot post photos of themselves breastfeeding their babies without them being taken down. If you are comfortable with your body and you want to take your shirt off in hot weather and post of a photo of it online so people can see you enjoying the beach with your pals or your dog or whatever, you can only do this if you are a man. “ON INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY?? THIS IS FUCKED!” is what I screamed in to the void.

Later, I read articles about #freethenipple, and I realised that not only had I missed the boat on this topic, but that boat made no real waves in rectifying the inequality of men and women’s torsos on social media, as was evidenced anyway by the deletion of my photo. The movement seemed to have made a few women feel stronger, which is good, but straight afterwards I read an article about a 10 year old girl who killed herself in a Northern Australian Aboriginal Community the other day and now the chances of her friends and family doing the same thing are statistically higher than they already were, and she was only 10 and she experienced the worst kind of suffering as a result of institutionalised racism that manifested itself through social issues experienced in places where citizens are left to rot in their mental health problems and cultural disconnection… I am not sure if trying to create a situation of nipple-showing equality on social media is the most important thing to be focusing on. It made me sad again; frustrated again.

I started my day feeling empowered to show my tits because fuck it, gender inequality with body photos is stupid, boosted throughout the day by friends and acquaintances appreciating the gesture, and ended my day with another heart-break, kicking myself for not being able to make a similar gesture to highlight the gross racial inequality existing in Australia concerning First Nations people: mental health, education, opportunity, cultural sensitivity.

I feel at a loss, especially since my boobies got far more “likes” than anything I have ever posted about social injustice in the real world, which I suppose shows why these problems continue to exist despite the work many people have done over the years to rectify them: it is easier to see boobs and say “yeah, don’t take them off my facebook feed!” than to see a headline about the suicide or death in custody of an Aboriginal person and critically engage with the reality of white supremacist paternalistic economic management + untreated intergenerational trauma cycles in this country.

Massive, massive sigh.

For good reads by writers much more informed and clever than I, about issues much more important than my breasts, please take yourself here:

Let’s stop neglecting the unique struggles of Aboriginal women, by Celeste Liddle
http://www.dailylife.com.au/news-and-views/dl-opinion/lets-stop-neglecting-the-unique-struggles-of-aboriginal-women-20160307-gnccax.html
Self determination will reduce the suicides, by Dameyon Bonson
http://thestringer.com.au/self-determination-will-reduce-the-suicides-11726#.Vt-w6ZN96M4

Punk is Dead but Gardens are Not

Andrew Ryan

I’ve gotten this idea in my head that I can gain skills in medicinal herbology. It comes as an extension of my interest in Australian native plants, my desire to help people, and my lack of trust/faith in global capitalism.

I want to be a botanist, or a witch, or something, or at least have some skills in that scientific area; I want to be able to recognise a plant anywhere it may be growing and know by sight if it would be good for stopping bleeding, or for reducing swelling, or reducing blood pressure, or helping a sore throat, or any of the bajillion other properties plants have when interacting with human/animal physiology, and I want to know how to properly prepare and administer these plants. I kinda want to be an expert in Australia medicinal plants in whichever area of country I settle in and I want to learn the history of the use of those plants and I want to learn everything else: not even just medicinal, but all the edible plants too, because well-rounded diet is number one thing for health, after all.

I reckon if people were filling their gardens with edible natives, that would be a very nice thing, for many reasons. And I reckon if the information about what plants are edible was spread, and people could just go and eat the food when they’re going for walks, instead of munching on doritoes or tiny teddies, that would be pretty nice too.

I would like to live in a world where this way of thinking is the norm, but I can’t see it happening in my lifetime, and that makes me a bit sad. There’s too much entrenched systemic workings going on in society, too many people with too much money and not enough inclination to change. It’s not as if I want to force the world to change or anything (I say this because I have been accused of such thinking before), because forcing people to do things isn’t very good for creating an environment where people are comfortable and not scared. I mean, how can you force people to do things without making them fearful of brutal repercussions? You can’t. And what kind of life is one where you are always uncomfortable and scared? Not great. I live it, to a very small extent, every day, and so do many others, in much more pronounced ways too, and the whole point of this change of lifestyle I am dreaming of is to not be scared any more; to know where my food comes from, to understand the land I live on, to have control over my life, to survive on my own, to not be at the whim of global food trading, to cuts costs, to opt out of certain modern ways of being that I feel morally uncomfortable with, and to raise my children to have the same knowledge, knowledge I will have to work incredibly hard to gain myself.

I’m gonna be traveling through big non-ubran areas for a little while again, eventually ending up back at the place of my birth. And once I get there, I’m pretty intent on building up my skills as quickly as possible so I can make up for all the time I lost while I was figuring out which skills I wanted to build up (see: my youth). I am keen to get working on creating a world for myself (and anyone who wants to join) where good food and natural medicine is easily obtainable, a world where I am self-reliant; a world where I’m working from a mixture of traditional knowledge and modern scientific understandings to make a nice time.

Last time I had an AH-HAH moment like this, it was Social Work. Now it’s fucking Botany. My intellectual, emotional and creative needs seem all over the place, but I think I’ve found a couple of courses that will provide some satisfaction, and more importantly a good push towards the academic and badass practical applications of these skills:

- Involvement in environmental regeneration? Tick.

- Native food and medicine understanding to decrease personal reliance on introduced crops and commercial products and then pass on the knowledge to young people through youth work programs and community development initiatives? Sure.

- Involvement in biofuel research? Possibly!

But there is still a part of me that feels like I’m too old. Just turned 28, and it feels weird to think that once I’ve finished the three TAFE courses in wildly different fields I’d like to do before I enter university again, one of which I have started but have had to put on hold while I’m homeless and waiting for Pete to rock up in his van to drive us back to Perth… once I’ve finished those courses I will probably be in my 30s. That kind of weirds me out, and that little bit is almost enough to make me not want to do it. Almost.

But, I have had to ask myself seriously, what else would I rather be doing with the rest of my 20s? Certainly not what I have been doing up until this point. I’ve been sick of boozing for the sake of party for a while now, completely sick of bar work too, sick of going places just to take photos of musicians, sick of getting bummed out every time I leave the house and see that despite our “best efforts”, punk – the thing that drove me and got me through my youth – has done nothing to change society for the better, because advertising and marketing only gets more insidious, sturdy old buildings still get replaced by not-built-to-last units, ancient trees still get felled, and real estate agents still get paid more than social workers.

The day after David Bowie died, I watched an interview with him from the 90’s in which he talked about the power of the internet as a communication technology, as a new media. In this interview, he mentioned that rock and roll was no longer revolutionary, not like it used to be, and it hasn’t been for decades now. I’ve been thinking about that a lot, and I agree. It gave me the same feeling I had as I walked around this exhibition a few months ago that contemporary music culture, especially in Australia, leaves a lot to be desired. There is nothing left in rock and roll culture that cannot be commercialized and bastardised by assholes for their own personal gains. And so there is a big, cultural gap that begs to be filled.

I mean, the amount of things that I, and so many others, perceive as cruel or wrong or shit or embarrassing about the way this nation is run, the way people are treated, the way resources are distributed, all that stuff, is pretty large. For how rich this country is, we’re not doing a great job of looking after people in need. This nation is pretty good at being an asshole these days, and very few people are expressing their frustration with it through music, and if they are, not many people are listening and getting inspired. But people still feel the anger.

I remember when Tony Abbott came in, both myself and fellow CPN writer Lyndon Blue both came to the conclusion that perhaps some interesting punk sensibility would come out of the inevitable political and societal shit-fight we both saw coming. But in the time since then, I haven’t really clocked anything that fits what I was expecting/hoping for. Which isn’t to say there has been nothing interesting going on. I am lucky enough to have seen a few fucking inspiring, intelligent and downright enjoyable musical expressions of political dissent and social critique… but their audiences are always too small for how good they are.

I’ve seen some great brutal, heavy music that is quite popular, but it’s nihilistic and aggressive. I’ve seen some great brutal, almost unlistenable noise acts play, but it’s anarchistic and kind of solitary. Same with the dark ambient stuff I was listening to last year- rich, satisfying, creatively inspirational, good listening… but revolution doesn’t seem to exist in music anymore without being covered by layers of melancholy, sadness, or hopelessness.

So as I said, I perceive a gap there, a gap I feel would be well filled (and indeed are beginning to be filled) by the revolutionary voices of those who are not of predominantly Anglo-European descent. But that’s an exploration for another time.

The point is, I refuse to lie down and cry anymore, refuse to agree with so many people I know when they say: “there’s nothing we can do about it”, it being frustration with political situation, frustration with social inequalities, because there are so many fucking things we can do about it, you just have to use your head and follow your heart and all that shit. Everyone is capable of doing it, especially if you exist anywhere between the middle and upper classes in Australia, but everyone has the ability to care, and show care, for your fellow human being. And, I guess, you know, my style is, when I have a garden to figure it all out in, is to become a Good Witch and train to be a Good Scientist and learn how to harness the healing powers of plants. Revolutionary.

Photo: Penny Rimbaud, of Crass, in the garden of the artist commune started by the band

Anecdotes of a Pipeline Town

Andrew Ryan

A few years ago I spent some time in a small town in rural Western Australia. I’ve written about it for Cool Perth Nights before, but it’s been on my mind lately, as I’m heading back to WA soon to live within walking distance from the ocean. So here is the story of my time in the town.

After living in Melbourne from age 21-26, I got a one-way ticket back home for a friends wedding – my mum paid for it, and I couldn’t afford a return ticket – so I ended up staying west and taking a job in a hotel in this country town, because I was sick of the city, and I wanted to do something different.

This country town is positioned along C.Y. O’Connor’s pipeline, on in-between-er mining/agricultural zoning on Kaprun lands, home of the Kalaamaya language. The town has a population of around 700 people, a number that has decreased massively since the mining boom days, and it seems to be kept from becoming a ghost town (like many others around it) because the highway between Perth and Kalgoorlie runs right through it. That is where the hotel I lived and worked at was situated: on the highway.

The town was lined with empty shops owned by one man, the man who owned the hotel I worked at, and the shops were all empty because he wouldn’t reduce the rent on them in order to encourage small businesses to flourish. In the windows of these shops, there were printed and laminated signs that helpfully reminded passerbys to smile. The town used a lot of water to keep the ornamental plants healthy, but the fruit and veg they imported to sell in the local supermarket was expensive and nearly rotting.

~~~

One time while I was working, I met a guy who was riding his bike from the eastern states to Perth. His face was red with wind+sun burn. He was the only person I met who came through the hotel who was around my age and not a bogan or a businessman. I bought a six-pack after I knocked off work that night, went to his room, knocked on the door, and invited him to sit on the pipeline and share the beers with me. He told me about his travels and we got along fine, though I remember worrying that I was too much of a downer to be asking a stranger to join me in beers and conversation.

I got to know the guy who ran the junk shop on the main street; he was the only person in the town I could talk to about permaculture without being scoffed at. He was lovely, worked for the council, had a little mine somewhere out of town so her could fossick for gold, a little extra income, and he taught the local kids how to play chess. We drank wine and smoked ciggies in his shop and talked about philosophy, spirituality, writing, music and art. He wanted to meet my mother, and gave me a gift to give to her when I left town.

I spent some time with a lady who volunteered at the museum; I think she liked me at first because her grand-daughter and I share the same name. She drove us around to show me some of the local sights, told me about growing up in the area, told me about her mother being taken away from her family’s lands near the Nullabor, showed me how to recognise a kangaroo resting spot, allowed me in to her home and showed me the photos of her family that completely cover the walls of her loungeroom. She was kind and gentle, but fierce.

One day, in a moment of frustration during one of my visits, she told me that the father of her children takes advantage of his role as a social worker in Kalgoorlie: he and his brother would supply some of the women who come in from the remote areas with booze and cigarettes in exchange for sex. The way she spoke about it was telling, and heartbreaking. Not only was she disgusted with the behaviour of the man, but she was also disgusted with the women. She spat the word “Black” when she described them, even though she too was an Aboriginal woman, though of more Caucasian heritage than the women she was speaking of.

In another conversation, she told me she suspects that even though she has won more Bowls tournaments than any other member of her Bowls Club, she will never be promoted from Vice President to President, purely because of her skin colour. She is the only Aboriginal lady in the team. I sighed, nodded my head, then shook it, and told her I think that is unfair.

A young woman I met, granddaughter of my boss, told me about some people close to her. The boy she most recently kissed at the time of our conversation witnessed his father stab his mother to death. He lives in a tiny room behind the local chemist. She brought food to him most days. I saw him riding his BMX around the town every day, always alone. She also told me that her brother’s girlfriend stabbed her step-father because he was physically abusive to the girl’s mother and sister.

When I first started working at the hotel, my boss told me I wasn’t allowed to go to the other pub in town, and at first I saw no reason to, so complied. But then I was invited by my new friends, and I went there because I do what I damn well please, and I experienced the revelery that was lacking in my workplace, the freedom of stories being shared, the personalities of humans that one can only see after the sun goes down and blood streams flow with booze.

The town suffers, a lot, but there is beauty amongst the pain, the monotony, the failing crops and shut down mines. I just wish the people there weren’t so fucking stubborn so as to completely ignore ideas about sustainable localized food production, but I feel like maybe the junk-shop owner will teach the local kids more than just chess skills, and then maybe things in the town will start to change for the better.

VIC/NSW Border in Spring with Races

Andrew Ryan

We left Melbourne City for a country get-a-way on a sports-based public holiday.

Southern Cross Station was full of humans; it was very, very busy, and many, many, many of them were waiting to get on a specially-specified train that would take them from that biggest train+bus station in the City straight to the station that was the one next to the Race-Course, where the horses ran around in a circle and The Nation Was Stopped because loads of people thought it was good and proper and expected and fun to dress a certain way and get drunk and do gambling on the outcome of the constructed competition of some beautiful animals who were bred specifically to do running around in a circle for the entertainment of humans who thought that it was good and fun and proper and expected and entertaining to take pleasure in that thing.

hashtag raceday hashtag cupday hashtag racethatstopsanation hashtag colosseum hashtag cocaine hashtag downfall

So Pete and I weaved through and sat near that cultural and corporate muck for about 40 minutes longer than we originally intended to, because we’re good travellers who prefer the ease of being early than the stress of being too close to being on time, waiting for the train that would take us to Bendigo, from which we would take a bus to the border of Victoria and New South Wales, to a town of about 12,000 humans, a town named Echuca. Took about four hours of solid public transport travelling through regional area, something I would recommend to everyone who eats food in this country.

Why? Because you see it, you see heaps of it. Regional Australia is where heaps of our food grows, and where most of the Liberal/National Party Coalition voters grow, and viewing some of it from a coach-bus that winds through towns you’ve never heard of that have loads of humans living their lives in and around all that agriculture is an interesting thing if you’re open to the experience of it.

You see where the cows that you eat live. You see where some apples and pears come from. You wonder where the pigs are. You look at the pastures and the sky, the clouds, and the road and the intermittent suburban sprawl from a strangely bus-elevated view-point through polarized windows with protection from Victorian (European understanding of climate) spring rain, and everyone on that bus is just doing their thing, going where they gotta go, and everyone outside of that bus is just doing their thing, and it’s a funny brain thing to move through that country so quick and wonder what the stars are like without all of the light pollution and then you can connect-wonder to be like: “what the fuck was it like to live in this climate before colonialism?”, and it’s a fucking awful bummer that very few people can even attempt to answer that question with true knowledge, because the people who lived there first were brutally removed from that land for the sake of the cows and the wheat and unseen-pigs and the apples and pears and everything else. Fields and Fields and Fields of it.

And the traditional ancestral owners of that land? They’re either fighting a badly weighed legal battle for claims on that land, or they’re unknowing of their ancestral ownership because of colonial land-grabbing-forced-removal-with-heaps-of-people-with-guns,

and then the decades upon decades of governmental policies that made sure their great-grandparents and every generation after that had no more connection with the land their families were born-and-raised on (sustainably) for thousands of years before the guns, for the continued sake of the cows and the wheat and the unseen pigs;

and/or maybe the true owners straight up can’t even think about that stuff because of the many other reasons that any human that lives on any part of this planet can’t deal with anything outside of their own immediate survival+the survival of their children;

like how it’s hard to be flush with cash and legal resources if you don’t have access to affordable education and affordable healthcare and all that stuff that some people easily get and not everyone else can easily get…

…and on that Cup Day on the bus on the way to Echuca the bus driver decided to play the radio feed of the Horse Race while we drove north north north inland and I remember looking out the window with my hand gripping a little anxiously on Pete’s leg, enamoured by the view, and also confronted by the older gent wearing colourful suspenders who walked up and down the aisle forcing conversation with strangers who didn’t want it, creeping around, looking for a chat on a packed bus, I didn’t trust him… (I wish I could have walked the journey with rain-proof clothing and rain-proof portable shelter because I want to experience what that is like one day but whatever; another time): BUT: Murray River for the first time, and an old-time colonial port that still stands;;;;;;;;;; Oh the photos, the history, the bushland, the water.

Border town: We slept on someone else’s property, as we always do, always.

We walked through riverside bushland close to residential areas on paths made by decades of non-mindful feet but also cars. I pissed in the bush and no one looked, not even Pete. We saw introduced weeds and graffiti on trees and bridges, saw piles of burnt clothes and bags of clothes possibly waiting to be burnt, and I saw cow’s milk being poured in to the river by the tired old white guy who made coffees for tourists on the tourist paddle steamer we paid tourist dollars to stand and sit on, while I drank my tourist priced glass of wine and watched Pete watch the rain drops fall in to the river. I took photos like a tourist. I took photos of some of the tourists. I took photos of all the staircases I saw that lead from the water up to the bank on the New South Wales side of the river;;;;; How’s that epic bank erosion?

And I didn’t see a single mention of the Yorta Yorta Nation on any of the tourist placards touting seriously stupid colonial historical information around the tourist walks and points of tourist interest, or anywhere else in the town for that matter, and the only pub that was open on Cup Day was The America Hotel, which was hosting a big ol’ Cup Day Celebration complete with a dude of Islander ethnicity playing covers of shitty American pop/rock songs for hours while everyone in the venue ate overpriced “contemporary American cuisine” and got drunk on whatever booze they felt like ordering, and I could see them posting photos of themselves being dressed up in their cheaply-made special hats, special dresses, special suits and shoes on social media. We sat amongst that muck until we couldn’t take that culture anymore and got the fuck out of there. Hashtag bourgeois.

The next day, we visited the local antique shop and I paid $2 to take home an old photograph of a white man smoking a ciggy in what looks like war bunker + a letter that was sent by a man named Brian from 1st Battalion, The Royal Australian Regiment, from Korea, to a woman named Helen for her 21st birthday. I can’t make solid assumptions about the date because the stamp has been torn off. But. Korea, maybe the 50’s? Brain said he’d been trudging through water, and had seen no battle as yet, and more to the point, had seen no “Chinamen”.

And on the bus home, looking at more Fields and Fields and Fields out the polarized windows, with those #history items in the backpack I carry my camera around in everywhere, the one that has the Aboriginal flag painted on the front, I wonder: “How the fuck would you feel trying to defending your land against a foreign invader who’s coming at you with more advanced weaponry than your culture has ever considered even being as a thing that is necessary?”

Pretty fucking flabbergasted, I imagine. And then angry. And then fucked up when you couldn’t defend against those military weapons anymore.

The descendants of the people who survived those wars on this land, they’re likely to feel pretty fucked up too. And everyone who lives on this land has to deal with that.

But it doesn’t have to be guns any more. We’ve got cultural understanding. We’ve got social inclusion. Humanity is a family.

Straya.

Perception, Time, Depth Etc

Andrew Ryan

I’ve been having weird sleep times recently, weird sleep from readjusting to many things; a changeable and ever changing life, nothing stays the same for long ever, not the weather, not the bus or tram time tables, not the work schedule, not the environment, nothing. I’m not used to sameness, haven’t been for ages. Even when I think it’s the same, it’s not.

Sometimes I find myself feeling and thinking that I’m in a monotony sort of thing, and feel uncomfortable with the sameness, but I’ve recently figured out that it’s not actually monotony, it’s actually only about like three weeks of mostly the same sort of experiences. There’s been so long of ever-change that to stay in similar routine for a certain amount of time is to feel stagnant.

But it’s not three weeks; that’s just the easiest time block to explain it in. I’ve been feeling like these constructions of time might be detrimental to feel-nice-times. I work weird hours based on the fluctuations of other people’s drinking habits and live music performances, and end up having weird sleep patterns based around those things, always trying to fit in the other work I have to do based around other peoples’ free times for communications and my own free time for actually doing things. And then I am asked how many hours I work for any given “job”, and I find I have no definitive answer. What are hours when one “hour” feels longer than a different “hour”? What are days when the amount of daylight and sunlight is different in each waking experience?

Funny weather changes have been going on in Melbourne. I’ve been back here for a little bit after doing a mega weather change by going up to the top-end and then coming back to bottom-end after two weeks. I haven’t enjoyed re-acclimatising at all. Tropical Dry up there changing slowly in to The Build Up and then back to Melbourne with its cold cold cold bit of warm cold warm WARM hot HOT HOT WIND HOT cold again.

My therapist told me the other day that when she was in an Indigenous culture training thing recently she was told about “deep listening”; in the way that you would sit with someone and listen to them talk, no talking back, just listening for ages and ages ages, just listening, but to the Earth, not just people, because the environment is as much a part of reality as the humans on it; she described it with an example about the recent blustery wind … she said that the person who was teaching her said that in that Indigenous Deep Listening thing, means that the Earth is angry.

I found myself both questioning whether that is actually what heavy wind means and to whom exactly, but I was also drifting on a little tangent thought of: well, if the Earth is indeed angry, what can I do to appease it? And then I said something about honouring the presence of the angry wind of the Earth, just the idea of doing so, not having any thoughts on how to do so, just feeling of 1: being at the whim of my own emotions and 2: being overwhelmed by the knowledge that I know fucking nothing of the movements of things that I have not been taught of or about.

So how does one honour that?

And I brought that question up and looked at the plants outside the window for a long time, watching the people with high protein diets that drip off their bones walking through the hospital grounds, and my therapist had a moment of feeling bad that she had offered at the beginning of our session to turn the aircon on to appease my sweating (I had politely refused it) and I saw suddenly that we co-existed in a mutual-learning experience.

Change of weather messes with my sleepin’. My recent dreams and hypnogogic states and sleep paralysis times have made me increasingly aware that reality depends on your perspective. It depends on how you treat your time, depends how you approach time, how you approach movements that make you think time is a certain kind of thing. You can do whatever you decide to do and things will get done if you will it, but the fourth dimension always exists deep within our cellular structure or something, maybe, feels like it when you really, really think about it, and if we don’t spend enough of our constructed moments knowing that then there are some serious problems to come up against when you’re at any kind of stand-still in yr life (whatever that life is) when you think “what is this?” or “how did I get here?” or “why”? Because the answer is in your own ignorance of the known truth of your physical make-up.

Darwin Musing

Andrew Ryan

I’ve been in Darwin for the last week, a place I’ve imagined many times over, the imaginings of which have been distorted by multiple stories from multiple generations and a distinct lack of visual media input originating from the city and its people, other than from the time of Cyclone Tracy (that bitch). As I flew in I saw the fires of burn-offs doing their orange thing in the black of the night. It was a sight to behold, something I’ll never forget. It looked like fractals from up so high. My heart pounded. Environmental conservation is important in this country, in all of the country. Traditional knowledge+science is the way: can’t turn this shit in to a dust bowl. Can’t rely on mining for long term income, long term life sustaining. Gotta take care of land bros.

Anyway. My dad grew up here. A good friend did too, he is younger than my dad, and younger than me. I’m staying with this friend – Finn – at his parents’ home in Rapid Creek; a beautiful house with plenty of tropical woodland trees in a beach-side suburb. Finn’s parents are art types, and involved in politics. They have lived in that house for 17 years, a 15 drive from the city proper.

The city is smaller and sparser than any city I’ve known, closer to a large country town than my home city of Perth, which I used to be prone to describing as such. Darwin feels weird. The city is kind of visually sterile, except for the humans and the trees, even thought there doesn’t seem to be enough trees sometimes, especially in areas where the big box apartments stand. There is so much architecture that is terribly suited to the climate that I wonder if those buildings weren’t just picked out of a magazine for cheap or something?

BUT! The humans and the trees. Especially the trees. Especially the humans. Lotsa people of many distinct cultures and parts of the world roam the streets; some sunburnt visitors like myself, some recent migrant folk from around Africa and Asia as well as Europe, some new arrivals who were kicked off their homelands further inland and have nowhere else to go, and there are some of those well worn bush-bashing grizzled types who exist only to drink beer and talk smack about women while drinking beer, and some people who’s grand-parents were forced to live here by the colonial government, and some who’s grand-parents to the power of 1400 greats had grand-parents who’s great-great-great-great-grand-parents were more likely than mine and anyone-I-know’s to be the first humans to step foot on the patch of earth I am currently writing from. So, you know, all types, and everyone gotta do their thing.

The Larrakia are the local mob, their welcome greets you from a shiny placard as you walk off the airport runway in to the airport. Their kin’s artwork and craft is hung not only in the Territory’s museum but also on the walls of tourists and local homes. There is a community up here that has been an “Aboriginal Reserve”, according to historical sources, since the 1930s. It is nestled on the edges of commercial land and suburbia, at the end of an unmarked turn-off on the freeway. Bagot. Welcome to the community of Bagot, the sign read as Pete turned the car in to it, a wrong turn on our search for op-shops in which to find cheap camping gear, the map mistakingly telling us we could drive through it to our destination. Nope, that gate was shut, had to turn around, turn around and drive past the open homes and unimpressed eyes. Sorry for the intrusion guys, just another couple of clueless tourists, there’s so many of us here this time of year.

Later I read an article from 2012 in the Green Left Weekly that said there was a politician fella who was pushing to have the Bagot area bulldozed and turned in to
“a normal, peaceful suburb”. About a year later, the ABC publishes a story about the community in a positive light. This year NAIDOC week was kicked off there. Fkn yeah Bagot! Don’t let the assholes get you down!

~~

Life is different up here, different to anywhere else in the country. There’s still air-conditioned shopping centres and petrol stations and bowls clubs, boat clubs, race tracks, TABS, but it’s all of that with fucking tropical weather and it changes everything. Sweating lots of the time, lots of sun in the dry season, even more heat and humidity in the wet. It is only the well off who can afford to be the kind of big babies who try to shut themselves out of the weather with an air-conditioned box apartment- that shit is expensive to run in a climate like this. Open doors, lots of shade, ceiling fans and well placed water features is all you need to keep sane and economically comfortable in it, and why would you move up here if you can’t handle the heat anyway? So everyone feels it, it makes your priorities shift. I, for example, feel calmer in this heat. More relaxed. It’s only been a week though. Tomorrow Pete and I go driving inland for some camping- I guess I’ll have more to say about the heat after a second week of it, but without the luxury of a ceiling fan. NO AIRCON ALLOWED. If you don’t hear from me again, plz don’t go hunting the crocodile that got me. It was just being a crocodile.

Does all this political turmoil mean some more interesting art is on its way?

Andrew Ryan

I’m having internet nostalgia. I’m digging up things that were very much suited to my depressed-and-internet-addicted-tastes from like 10 years ago. I’m even getting music nostalgia to match. I remembered Sparklehorse, and now I’m listening to “Vivadixiesubmarinemissionplot”, something I haven’t heard for nearly 10 years. Jeez, why did I used to like Sparklehorse?

Anyway, so times right now are pretty interesting.

Aboriginal activism in Australia appears to be making some big ol’ steps towards recognition and acceptance of sovereignty, with previously far more disparate groups coming together thanks to the recent creation of internet based community and activist groups. We are seeing a new generation of activists strengthened by the work and passion of their elders, and it’s downright exciting.

Also:

The Liberals have blocked a conscience vote on same-sex marriage. This means that the people who can make the law cannot allow it to pass by voting according to their personal moral compass, which opposes their party line. It’s a bit gross to be in a political party in which the official line doesn’t support your beliefs though, isn’t it? That’s probably why the two party system in Australia is so gross, why people have lost faith in it. Politicians everywhere just being a bit gross.

Some commentators are predicting this move to be the downfall of this government. It could be. And the timing is pretty good for Aboriginal activists looking to connect with the portions of Australian citizenry who are not aware of their concerns and their environmentally sustainable culture. Many Australians want sustainability. Many Australians want equality. Looks like we’re actually one big mob hungry for connection and stability ey?

~~~

I went on big hunts for art on the internet over the last few days, and in my travels I came across the aforementioned internet nostalgia bringers. Images and videos, memes from years ago that used to feel so cutting edge, so exciting. Little tidbits of proclamations saying “I’m here, I feel, and I’m uncomfortable with all of that but I’m making stuff about it anyway”. It was an aesthetic I enjoyed. Within those early memes were implications of deep depression not-quite-hidden within idealism. I totally got it. The world is doomed, we all know it, yet we carry on. I was there with them. That feeling of “Guess I’ll just stare at this computer until I find something to save me from my crippling doubts about the worthiness of existence- oh there’s a pretty picture of a kangaroo, yep, that slogan written on it sums up my feelings, the irony and meaningless of the juxtaposition is absurd and I laughed, that’s exactly what I needed, thanks internet” click scroll scroll scroll click.

Now I look at them through more years of living amongst that kind of absurdity, I’ve seen it all slowly become absorbed in to the mainstream, and I recognise in me a sense of “well, that was interesting, but it’s all actually totally pointless now it’s not even funny” because it’s no longer relevant, no longer thought provoking, it’s swept up in to the commodified mess of internet culture and marketing meta-insides.

Lemme explain.

One of the points of the underground post-ironic creative movement that sprung up in the late 90s (and filtered through culture for the next 10 years) was that there is a sense of hope to it, despite complete awareness of nothingness, meaninglessness. World was crumbling but things were still chill. A subdued hope fluttered. What they were doing was new.

The commodified “inyourface” youth culture of the 90’s seemed so… gross, and the ironic imagery and attitude of it all doing a feedback loop through mass media made it all seem so… funny. It was a brave new world with MTV and Tom Green and all that. For ten years by that point, they were already living in a world where a woman could make art from her list of sexual partners and a man could make art by cutting a cow down the middle, but there was room for the seekers to keep going down that path, searching for the meaning that was lost in the Young British Artists, despite knowing it was gone forever thanks to them, but still, that little ray of hope for something more always glimmered because it was pretty fun to make new funnies.

I suppose the late 2000 and early 2010s brought in a slow complacency with the evolution of that just-described new world… And so post-irony exploded and quickly became the voice for so many of us filled with apathy because of all the choices available to consumers of film and television and supermarket culture; tired from so much choice, unsure because of so much choice, our ability to focus sapped from us by so much choice, but just getting on with life and jobs and relationships and parties and whatever anyway, those new funnies sure were funny… and then Tim and Eric peaked and their style of comedy was absorbed in to the mainstream, which meant that so did post-irony as a concept, it finally became commodified, and that little flame of hope just. fucking. died.

And now? Those artists from the 90’s are sellouts, and their actual sales are plummeting. Social activism and a decade of high-youth-use-of-internet culture has shifted everything to become meta-jokes. A decade of idealising the images of purity from our youth whilst also taking the piss out of them has left us tired. There’s some full on meta post-irony going on in meme culture now, weirdly shaped heads floating in empty space with misc items that betray an absolutely no-hope attitude, (wars, wars, codeine (see picture above)).

Art by young artists seems to be fucking stuck in the detritus of organic culture, drying out under the harsh blue glow of our computer screens… and I’m all like: did western art get so close to the edge that it’s just totally fallen off now? What is exciting in art right now? Where is the passion? Those things certainly ain’t on the path of western art no more.

So it has no choice but to meet up with other paths, if something can’t adapt, it dies, and I certainly don’t want to be involved with a culture lacking in oxygen because the flames of its own making have burnt everything in sight; right now cultures are mingling good and proper from the connections being made and the conversations being had instantly across vast oceans and cultural understandings that previously took years, then months, then weeks to bridge. Instant access to a whole planet and a combined history full of inspiration changes everything, again, new life is breathed in to bodies and minds made sickly by the abuse of global capitalism…

As I said before, Australia is at an interesting point. Potential fall of a socially disappointing government – a socially neglectful government – the rise of a powerful minority group, united First Nations within the borders of this colonial nation, other First Nations people from around the globe getting fucking sick of dealing with capitalist colonial governments… I can only hope that artists from all groups are preparing for this proper conversion of paths. And I wish they’d hurry up and make their work available to view online already because I would really, really like to publish them in the online magazine I’ve just started to work for, because everything else feels pretty irrelevant.

Media Ownership + Culture + Stuff

Andrew Ryan

///
I did some journalism units at university, and because of this I am always wary of anything that calls itself journalism (same as the result of doing one year of a fine art degree: wary about anything that calls itself art). I think the term “journalism” is a little misunderstood, and I think that Australian democracy suffers as a result. This week, I am about to make no attempts to define “journalism” – that ain’t my role right now – nah, I just wanna explore how I feel about that stuff as a result of reading annoying Australian “journalism” and feeling despondent because of it.

So: last year I enrolled for a degree in communications at a well-respected in-that-field university. I was doing it online because that university is in Queensland and I wasn’t prepared to up and move to Brisbane just for study; even though the weather is pretty agreeable with me up there, I needed a little more time than I had to prepare for cultural and social and financial switches to move to a state I’ve never lived in before.

And I got the text books and I read right through them, and I started some of the assignments but didn’t finish all of them, got pretty fucking good marks when I did finish them and hand them in, and I engaged with the online course discussion groups no matter if it was compulsory or not, and I got good feedback and thumbs ups from my online tutors; I’m sure I would have had some kind of bright future in that path if I’d followed it but, yanno, I went to Tasmania last minute for the thrill of following musicians around the country so I dropped out because I fell behind in my school work. Also, that was around the time that politicians were proposing to send any journalist who reports on information provided by “whistleblowers” (see: concerned citizens) to jail for ten years, and I was like “that’s the most important journalism to me, that’s what I would morally prefer to be doing when I graduate” and I got scared of that gross authority and dropped out. Better to just paint and make music videos; can’t get thrown in jail for that right? No prison for artists in Australia right? Yeah, you’re right. She’ll be right mate.

But the point is, I’ve got some book learnin’ on top of my street smarts. Got some theoretical understanding, from peer reviewed sources no less. Academia. Ethics and philosophy and psychology and sociology and non-humanties based sciences, on top of 10 years working as a bar tender in Perth and Melbourne and a little time spent in country towns and a general global internet culture mind-view stretching. So I look at current journalistic practices in this nation I was born in to and my mind is a little blown in to despondency.

~~~

Media ownership in Australia is gross. It is essentially a duopoly. One could write a book on it; books have been written in the past about this issue, and they’re worth the time it takes to read a book. But I don’t have time to write a book, and you don’t have time to read one, so here we are and I’ll touch on one tiny, tiny little portion of a much bigger and complicated thing for the rest of this word blurt:

Did you know that Gina Rinehart has a 10% share in Channel 10 (and also that Rupert Murdoch has 5% share in Vice, but that won’t be expanded on any further today)? She was on the board from 2010-2014; when she stepped off the board, the chief development officer of her company (Hancock Prospecting) took her place as a director.

~

A big thing I learnt during my studies, when I would go on epic 12 hour long research tangents that were more suited to late-degree assignments than first semester of first year assignments, was that media ownership is an important factor in how news – and culture as a whole – is projected (see: sold) back to citizens, to consumers. Cui bono? To who’s benefit are the actions in question? How much money is involved? How much greed is involved?

~~~

Waleed Aly is on Ten Network’s “The Project”, and that guy has an incredibly grounded and fairly nuanced understanding of political and social issues happening in Australia, which is a pleasure to watch in the snippets I see of his media appearances online when I open facebook. A much-shared-on-the-facebook guy. He’s a hit with progressives because he speaks justified criticisms of neo-liberal mentality. He’s a very good speaker, and a clever man; well suited to public discussion. Board of directors for Ten Network is watching him closely I’m sure, but his popularity must keep it all (his job) afloat. I’d like to see him in politics, but it seems like being in politics pretty much sucks the life out of everyone because of the pre-existing shitty culture of multi-generational-business-and-political-elite-rich-white-man bullshit that everyone who is interested in that world has to contend with. Exclusionary. Awful.

Side note: I first encountered Waleed Aly in 2011, when he was the opening speaker at Abdul Abdullah’s “Them and Us” exhibition. I recognised him vaguely, vaguely, and could tell by Abdul’s excitement that he was a fellow to be listened to, a fellow to note. My camera was there too.

I can’t remember exactly what was said in his speech, but Aly was standing in front of a photograph of Abdul’s father, a white Australian man who converted to Islam when he married Abdul’s Malaysian mother. The image is arresting, with the word “Assimilate” printed below it (see image above). Abdul’s work is predominantly about his cultural heritage, Muslim in Australia, remembering life as a child before 9/11 and his life as a teenager and adult post 9/11; how 9/11 changed the way non-Islamic people view him and his kin.

Looking back, I view this exhibition as a little prophetic. Conceptually, this is not a completely uncommon thing in Abdul’s work. He has been privy to and on the wrong end of the worst sides of Australian “nationalistic pride” since he was a child, and it’s only been recently that this side has become properly reported on in mass media. He’s got a longer depth-of-insight in to the workings of white Australia than many white Australians I have met. The grossness of extremist nationalistic pride present in some of Abdul’s work, his research, his thinking, his expression, was being exhibited in galleries in multiple Australian cities years before the Australian media duopoly started reporting on the kind of abuse Islamic people can experience at the hands of extremist nationalists.

~~~

Australia, as a nation, is a big colonial nation sitting on top of many, many pre-existing nations. The other day I listened to an interesting (well constructed, informative AND vaguely entertaining) podcast about nationhood, what it means to be a state. It was specifically about micro nations, the old metal platform sitting off the coast of England known as the Principality of Sealand and whatnot, but I was listening to it through the ear-goggles of Australia, through the ear-goggles of being familiar with recent attempts to flex First Nations sovereignty muscle under the veil of Colonial Law…

Listen to the podcast here.

And then listen to this song and think about salt lakes.

No Spoilers

Andrew Ryan

For all the idiotic things going on in Australian consciousness right now, one thing I’m sure many will acknowledge is that the latest season (5) of Game of Thrones just finished. It is done. Did winter come yet? I dunno, because I haven’t watched any of it. None. I decided that I would wait until it’s all released so that I can watch it all at once, or like, over days and a night probably. Greedy for that quick fix. Get it out of my system. Yeah.

Taking my daily peek at facebook over the season’s duration, I saw more than a few reactions to various episodes, but thanks to internet etiquette spoiler warnings I still have no idea what’s going on, other than the fact that an episode here or there was generally considered kind of boring, and that the ending was confusing, or a death was confusing, or something. I had my blinkers on. No spoilerz.

Game of Thrones is one of those shows that is expected to pack the biggest, bloodiest, sexiest punch one can imagine, every time, because that show does those things so well that people have begun to crave it, a huge punch, maybe for the same reason that all those older women were reading 50 Shades of Grey on the train for a little while, maybe. Masochism. Horny. Blood lust. Repressed animosity in the face of heavily policed civilized society. Those first few seasons, omg, I’d never encountered anything like it. And the television show episodes keep one’s interest, even through all the occasionally fatiguing complex family ties and political intrigue because omg filmic amping up of what was a little boring in the books and omg it’s soft porn and totally mindblowing violence omg. I was so excited every week to watch that fucking show on the great media set up Andy had in our old Footscray loungeroom and watch the ever-loving shit out of each episode. Hooked, mate. Sex-and-gore hooked.

The story had me hooked too, don’t get me wrong. I’ve had an avid interest in history since my high school history teacher opened my eyes to the fallacy of global politics after a particularly impassioned story about “communist oranges”. It was almost 15 years ago and I never wrote it down, so I can’t remember anything else about the story except the term “communist oranges”, but I know that was the turning point in my adolescence that lead to readingreadingreading about recent human history. Gotta learn from mistakes etc. I mention this not because I am the kinda human who thinks that Game of Thrones is actual real history, but like, those marriages and political wheelings and dealings echo quite loudly the footsteps of early European kingdoms and family lines. And I reckon a lot of people get a kick out of watching this fantasy elite wield their armies over the lives of that fantasy non-elite; a lust for a knowledge of that kind of power when most of us live like near slaves to whatever boss or land lord or debt you may have is hard to deny. Just wanna know what it’s like to be powerful man, just wanna know.

So past viewings of Game of Thrones seasons were The Most Satisfying Thing because it’s obvs written by a history nerd who loves mythology so much he had no choice but to write fantasy novels, and the visuals were all perfectly constructed smack bang sex gore like I said before brutal fun and dragons lol etc. And what the epic fuck does that say about us fans? How many turned away when that guy’s eyes got gouged out? Beheadings are banned on television but millions and millions of dollars are spent on a television show in which you watch people artfully edited to look like they’re really dying, and we’re artfully enticed when and when not to care about them and their deaths, it’s a dream, it’s a real fucking dream, gosh we could all learn a thing or too from the the financial lessons of Game of Thrones in terms of what is good for the ruling class to put their investments in so that a society functions properly and then maybe people won’t have their heads cut off or die of cold on the streets or children won’t be kept locked behind bars simply because their parents wanted to get them the fuck out of a war zone asap in the only way they could find out how to do asap, you know?

I’m not bagging out Game of Thrones, not really. I am very much looking forward to watching it, but I think in the midst of all this recent global and national political weirdness, I’ve had my fill of sex and gore escapism after watching two seasons of Vikings back to back the other week, and I think I prefer Vikings, because doing some learning about an old spirituality was fucking enjoyable and kind of nourishing and the babes are also way more babing and the costume design is more pleasing to my eyes as well so… I think my imminent Game of Thrones time may be a little tainted by this rekindled appreciation for a near rival television suitor. And it’s hard to ignore all those pressing concerns that I personally have no control over, and lying down to watch an expensive American TV show might feel like a fucking asshole move if I’m in the wrong mood and have read too much internet in the hours beforehand. But who knows what will happen when that theme music starts up all loud in my sound system, who knows how my body will respond, and maybe the familiarity of the characters will give me a hug and I’ll be straight back in to “yeah Cersei, drink that wine so you don’t get none on your lips you crazy bitch” and clapping with glee when Arya takes her revenge. Oh plz don’t break my heart, Arya’s gotta be the top dog in all this. Get that revenge, girl, get it.

An Ode to a Couple of Grimy Beer-Selling Music Venues I've Loved

Andrew Ryan

I’ve been working at a pub again the last few months. A few months of working a few nights a week after way more months of not doing anything for significant money except signing government forms and snapping some photos. Job is good. Job keeps you off the dole because no one can live on the dole, not really live anyway, because it is demoralizing. It’s demoralizing because all the dole offices are ugly and all the lighting is stressful and all the seats are uncomfortable and all the staff are overworked and the money you receive when you are incapable of earning your own is not enough to not feel shitty about whatever situation you may be in at that point; demoralizing.

Being on the dole long term is only an acceptable life you can smile often with if you don’t have to pay for food, or you don’t have to pay for rent, or you don’t have to pay for things that will lead to you getting off the dole and contributing to that economy proper. Flawed system. Give ‘em that extra 50 bucks a week you big class-warring meanies. Give ‘em more. Shitty confidence boost programs in shitty offices with shitty trainers does nothing towards people on the dole helping themselves get off it long term because its all just fucking demoralizing. Fuck.

Anyway, so this pub job: I’m working at a music venue in Collingwood. It is a place I used to frequent regularly when I lived close-by, I’ve taken a lot of photos in that place, I’ve had a lot of conversations in that place, I’ve had a lot of shots of whisky there too. I guess it’s pretty good to be behind the bar of that place, workin’ like a little trooper for around minimum wage because it’s the only place that would have me and I wanted OFF THE DOLE DAMMIT, a place of community and adopted family, a place I feel totally comfortable in when there are friendly faces from a few years ago around, smiles and stories about what they’ve been up to between drinks.

Those networks we art types create around our drinking holes, it’s a thing we have to do, and it ain’t too bad. We gather to drown our stresses and sorrows or to celebrate our successes and achievements with the drink and the chats and the silly jokes, and we chat and we share and sometimes we end up doing cool stuff with other art types or with music types or just get inspired to make things based on that environment and that crowd and that area. We have to do it, because we do it, so it happens.

When you work in that kind of place, you get to watch it all go down, get invited in to the discussion simply because you’re standing there with the Jameson bottle in your hand, smiling warmly in appreciation, or staring out the window lost in thought; whatever it is, if you’ve got that bottle of Jamo in your hand, I think everyone who likes Jamo likes you a little bit more because of it, and you don’t mind so much because you like them more for smiling at you with that bottle of Jamo in your hand, they appreciate your service and you appreciate their custom, it’s a nice exchange, far better than grievances or snobbery or disrespect or being on the dole.

/

All kinds of things are funny, but perception is pretty high on my list at the moment. Recently, I took a test set out by the university of Swinbourne and their automated response based on my answers recommended that I talk to my doctor about what they said are possible chinks in my perception amour or something. I don’t know if my perception is confused, as such, because I’ve watched enough documentaries about quantum physics to be totally aware that reality is pretty hazy, really, and how can we be sure of anything if subatomic particles aren’t even anything until they’re looked at, anyway? Pretty sure I’m not crazy, pretty sure it’s just new knowledge about the world around me that I have absorbed in to my perception of it. That pub I’m working in, it’s not real, but it is at the same time. My version of what that pub means is not real, but it is at the same time.

When I first started working there, some people gushed to me that it is an important place to be involved in. Others scoffed, being more inclined to trash the joint. A lot of friends originally from Perth flock there for the good gigs, and sometimes comment on similarities between this pub and the old Hydey in Perth. The other night Perthian Max Ducker’s band Mutton played a great show to a sizeable and appreciative audience. The last time he was in, I played his old band Mongrel Country.

over the speakers in the main bar- a band I must have seen play at least once in some drunken haze at the Hydey years ago. Every time I looked at him he was smiling and my heart said “Aw man, I’ve known that guy for ages now” and he is great to bump in to.

It is not hard to feel a sense of nostalgia in that pub I’m working at, its history is plastered in posters on walls and ceiling, distortions and reflections of all the posters plastered on the minds of its frequent patrons. It’s kind of filthy. It’s kind of dingy. It’s too loud when it’s full of people and sometimes the ceiling moves so much you think it’s going to collapse, and sometimes it’s a fucking awful time to get people to leave at the end of the night, when they’re all attached to place somehow and they’re keen for a lock in so there ends up being an 8 person dance party behind you when you’ve finally finished cleaning up after them and you just want the chance to offer the vibrations of Ufomammut through the big speakers to the ancestors in the land squashed under the building you’re sitting in for a little bit… just for a bit, before it gets too late for loud music… one of those places where, slightly more than occasionally, artistically minded people who don’t feel like going home end up when they’re a little bit cashed up.

Not all pubs and bars are like that, but this one is, and I guess they’re nice to find when you don’t feel like going home either.

On Photography and Giving Something Back

Andrew Ryan

I’ve been running around various Australian cities and towns with my camera for nearly ten years. Throughout my teens and early 20’s it was all fun and games, music and friends and love and lust, sun and beach and desert and forest, concrete jungles and punks responding to low incomes and conservative governments, booze and booze and drugs and ciggies.

As I headed towards my late 20’s, I got sick of photographing young people and parties, stopped seeing it all as fun and games and freedom. I was still photographing musicians near obsessively – for posterity – but outside of that, I almost lost my passion for photography completely, feeling a distinct lack of emotional or intellectual satisfaction in the situations and environments I was finding myself in. I was getting sick of drifting without intention, as I had done for years, because as I went I was learning more and more about the realities of this country I was exploring, this country I was born in, and it was all organic learning, intuitive learning; a curious and open minded pale skinned girl with a long lost indigenous ancestor and a voracious appetite for historical and political understanding, with not a single trusted intellectual mentor or guide in sight. I have felt lost in an overwhelming sea of colonial genocide, capitalist greed and exploitative globalized industry and trading.

I have been told many, many times throughout my life that I over-think these situations, these things, but I entirely disagree. There is a deep truth about this land that should be acknowledged, engaged with, discussed. Analysis is important to allow yourself to do if you have the capacity for it. It is very, very hard to think about Australia’s black history if you’ve never been encouraged to before, of course it’s going to hurt, it is a brutal history, and sad one, but the pain is necessary to feel in order to move on and wholeheartedly support the power of positive political, social and environmental movements that are sweeping through our collective consciousness.

I’ve written about these truths for Cool Perth Nights many times over the last few years, responding with a passionate frustration at the treatment of this land’s indigenous people. First Nations people are continuing to be treated as if the Australian government gives not a single shit that we signed the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in 2009. 2015 has seen a lot of people learning these same facts and responding with similar indignation, as is evidenced by the recent numbers of people marching through Australian streets on the 1st of May this year, over 25,000 protesting government funding cuts to communities on traditional homelands.

These protests have rekindled my passion for documentation photography, and after a little while of working on painting and poetry too, I have started to develop some exciting ideas about the direction I want to take my work in the coming months, years. Changes are happening. Information is spreading. I want to be involved, part of the conversation, part of a positive future.

So I’ve decided to do something small to start me off on this journey.

This week I have launched a little collection of photographs from 2011/12 available for printing, with 10% of profits to be donated to SOS Blak Australia.

This collection is a little uncharacteristically soft in nature; an experiment in offering colourful tidbits to an unknown audience, but even the “pretty” photos have something deeper behind the lovely colours or subject matter, an intention that relates to my understanding of this Australian truth, the darker side of everything we do cities, everything we do in towns. Always was, always will be Aboriginal land.

Over the coming months I will be piecing together further collections for sale online (including but not limited to live music, protests, Australian landscapes), with donations continuing to be made to SOS Blak Auastralia, as well as putting the cash back in to my own work to fund equipment acquisition, research trips and time spent with people who can teach the stories you can’t find in books.

You can find this first collection of prints for sale on my photography Facebook page

To order prints, or to have a chat, get in touch at: tahliaisabel@gmail.com

To learn more about SOS Blak Australia, have a read of this article

Click on this link this link if you’d like to donate directly to SOS Blak Australia.

Neo-Nazism in Black Metal and also Australia: An Abridged Version

Andrew Ryan

I like black metal. Sometimes it is the only thing that can lift me out of despair, you know, like even when the sky is blue and the sun is making nice shadows along the fence, and you have friends and family who love you and there are pretty birds singing, but you’re still cloudy in your head with this dumb fuzz of negativity, gloom and nihilism.

This kind of despair is fucking rotten. The worst. All you can do is put on your comfiest clothing and do only the most simple of tasks, the ones that require the most basic of mental process, like putting all the clothes you haven’t worn for a few months in to a pile to consider selling for a little extra cash, but only when you’re feeling well enough to venture on to the internet to do that, lest you over-work your imploding mind and decide that maybe today is the day, fuck it, this is all too much. That’s why black metal is good, for those times, those feels.

But there is another thing I dig about this style of musical expression, and that is its anthropological context, a context I find pretty inspiring: it was originally borne of a group that loathed the cultural and spiritual colonialism they experienced on their land- Scandinavians of pagan origin hating on Christianity for the destruction of their native culture. They were pissed off teenagers, super pissed off, young and pissed off and unsatisfied by metal music, they wanted to push it to the extreme to match their internal darkness etc, and ended up creating something fucking satisfying for anyone else who has a soft spot for metal music and a whole lot of frustration vibrating through their synapses.

But there is something of a tendency within the proponents of this musical expression towards an advocacy of National Socialist ideology (Nazism).

Like today, my bad-mood music pick was a band called Hate Forest. The album is called Battlefields. They are from Ukraine. Amongst the satisfying guitar riffs and growly vocals, there are a few tracks that have vocalists singing what I can only guess is traditional Ukrainian folk singing. It is sad, sometimes gut wrenching. And it is beautiful. I have listened to the album more than a few times since receiving it about 18 months ago. Just the name of the band is occasionally enough to cheer me up: Hate Forest, heh, a forest full of hate, that’s like my soul right now, I’m not alone! ping suddenly I’m smiling.

But I just found out that those guys are totally National Socialists, and I don’t think I can smile about them anymore.

Part of the reason I was depressed enough to put this music on in the first place was because I went to the Reclaim Australia rally. I walked around for three hours watching people argue with and fight each other, occasionally taking photos, but mostly not taking photos because I felt intensely threatened by “patriots” wearing Australian flags and they looked like they wanted to smash my camera. It made me horribly sad. I saw confused idiots and enraged intellectuals, and worst of all, I saw Neo-Nazis shouting over it all, with hate in their eyes and spit flying from their mouths as if they were rabid. It was awful.

Fear of Nazism lead me to the despair that, for me, can only be alleviated by listening to a style of music known for its inclination towards Nazi ideology. Amazing.

~

Nazism in any context is terrifying in its stupidity. If you look at it in this specific musical context as an evolution from the cultural preservationism displayed by those Norwegian boys who invented black metal, the Nazi feels displayed by bands of the same genre from around the world are a misguided idea about how to keep their culture pure… and one can easily see why this inclination is a thing throughout black metal. You zone out, it’s dark, you are legit full of hatred of the world, and you think it would be easier if everyone lived the way that you did, you’d definitely be more comfortable at least. And you’re so fucking sick of it that you would be fine with people dying, you see everything burning anyway, seeing the corpses pile up would bring a level of satisfaction to your otherwise empty and pitch-black well of a soul. For some metal-heads, this is actualized with a pride in their ignorance and loathing of everything outside the culture they are most familiar with, and then somehow the Jews get involved in their thoughts and BOOM, like big dumb idiots they are speaking with a Nazi vocabulary.

On this subject, my mate L.H. said to me: “But they just happen to make some of the best fucking music”, and I sighed in agreement. We agreed further in that you just can’t take those guys too seriously, because it’s all part of their “brutal” aesthetic; it’s theatrical, and it’s idiotic in its ignorance of the reality of multi-culturalism and the possibility of harmony within that, even with cultural preservationism.

And then look at it from the Australian socio-political context: a group lives in an uneducated clusterfuck out in furthest reaches of white-bred Australian regional suburbia for 3 – 5 generations, they have pretty much lost their religion, they’re not exactly following Christian teachings, haven’t been to church for years mate, and their rituals and ceremonies are now based around sinking piss and going shopping, they don’t understand or like science and they don’t understand or like the humanities, they have no guidance and no solid, sustainable culture of their own so they can only turn to each other and the government to tell them what to do, how to live, and they can only turn to the news to tell them what the government is doing, what the rest of the nation is doing, and they see things they don’t recognise, things they don’t understand. They see things changing. They turn to each other online, find each other across states and across vast areas of farm land and old mines, to talk about these things they don’t understand and decide that these unknown forces are the cause of all their ills. A bunch of dummies riling each other up, spiritually and intellectually lacking, and then they see all kinds of Others and blame them for their low incomes or whatever and then BOOM, like big dumb idiots they’re speaking with a Nazi vocabulary too.

But these ones should be taken seriously, you know, because these guys aren’t being theatrical. It could be partly aesthetic for some, but mostly it’s these humans that might actually go around trying to convince people to kill muslims. Shudder.

Any way you look at it, Neo-Nazism of any kind is proof of humanity’s amazing ability to ignore the lessons of history. Just gotta keep fighting the good fight and be loud about telling the world that Nazism just ain’t right, that violence against other humans ain’t right, that it’s possible to overcome those inclinations through education and reconnection with nature…

But for me, black metal is really good for abating the despair I find myself experiencing when I think about that thing. It’s an interesting situation. Something worth writing home about.

————————————————————————————-

In the unabridged version of this piece, I delve in to Germanic Neo-Paganism, Australian aboriginal culture, consumerism, greed, assimilation, anti-semetism vs anti-zionism, the evolution of black metal in to drone music, and drone music as a spiritual force. Brutal.

Reignition of Punk Appreciation: Professionally Worthless

Andrew Ryan

I went to see a gig at the Northcote Social Club, a regular night called Monday Night Mass; a few bands played and it was good. I assessed the music in my head but nothing was too lasting, but I clapped and I tapped my feet and moved my legs and everything. I highly recommend Terrible Truths to anyone who likes up-beat guitar and bass and drum tunes; although they are a little samey after a while, the vibe is pretty great and one of the band members is one of those people that you can’t take your eyes off when she’s roaming around the stage.

The stage is a funny thing; what you do, how you behave, when you’re on stage, it’s funny. I recently watched a film called Farewell My Concubine, which is a Chinese story of two actors who work in the opera. It is epic and beautiful, and over the twelve hours it took me to watch this three hour film, I thought about the actors I’ve known over the years, especially because one of those actors was recently able to show the world the trailer for the horror film she was involved in. It was a good trailer. She has a nice voice, and a good face, and it was interesting to see and hear her screaming on a screen before I’ve seen her do IRL.

Farewell My Concubine told me that during the Manchu dynasty in China, actors were given a lot of respect, mostly if they were masters. Stars. Their training was brutal, not just because of the fact that acrobatics were all tied up with learning the lines and the songs. Actors gotta be told what to do, but they also gotta have the freedom to express their vision of what a character should/could be. Training isn’t nearly as brutal now as it used to be, what with Human Rights and OH&S etc, but one could say that the process of auditioning and being turned down over and over is a brutal one. Fuck that shit. It sounds terrible, possibly worse than having your writing rejected over and over. But a lot of people do it because acting is what they love. Same with writing. Every human needs a skill, and you may as well love the one you choose.

/ / / /

One of the bands that played were exactly what I was in the mood for, what I was hoping for when I decided to go, something I’ve been missing in a live context for aaaaages. It was a mostly fast punk thing, I can’t remember their name – I will find out later and post it on my twitter account maybe – all the boys wearing a black t-shirt uniform, but put them in a shirt and suit pants and you wouldn’t be able to pick them from yr regular young bank teller in the city, at least from where I was standing right at the back of the crowd. I wonder if any bank tellers play in punk bands? Maybe these guys are that thing. Their visual steeze made them seem more professional. They were tight too, mostly very tight, so that helped. I like it when bands look professional, in a relaxed kind of way. Professional. What does that even mean?

It means: “engaged in a specified activity as one’s main paid occupation rather than as an amateur”.

Punk (in informal Northern American English) means worthless.

Professional looking punks. It sort of doesn’t make sense. I don’t think it’s possible, unless you look at it like… either the main income comes from their creative expression of these things, but that doesn’t work because as soon as they’re selling art of any kind they’re no longer technically worthless so making majority of your income from that art instantly makes that art no longer truthful, and then it looses its validity and then its meaning so maybe becomes worthless again ohhhh goddddd… or they are totally unemployable and are on the dole. I’d say that is a truer definition.

~

It’s strange to see a gig at which no one I know is playing. It hasn’t happened much in the last few years, but I like it. It’s inspiring, in a way I can’t quite put my finger on. Watching strangers play music I kinda mostly enjoy makes me want to make sounds on my own guitar that make walls crumble. If I could make the walls of my last bedroom crumble with my guitar reverb though multiple amps, I think I could legit die happy. I really want to do that one-day. Maybe that’s all I’ve been searching for, the answer to my last few weeks of hopelessness: a reigniting of punk appreciation. Makes sense; my sense of worthlessness has been very much reignited, especially thanks to my interactions with the mental healthcare system. Maybe I’ll write a damning article about that for something.

/ / /

I moved house the other day, to a place I’ll be in for no more than three months. The front and back doors are never locked. There are buckets in the shower. There is brown wallpaper in my bedroom, and it is peeling. I saw a little mouse running around in the kitchen, near the bin and in the cupboard, which has a faded hand-written sign on each of the doors asking in different ways for said doors to be kept closed. The kitchen is confusing. Turning on the oven was hard. The light hanging from the ceiling does not work and the coffee is kept pretty far from the coffee plunger.

Whenever I have opened my new bedroom window, at least three black flies buzz right on in. There is a vine growing outside my window, and when I walked past it this afternoon, a swarm of those black fuckers zipped from it to gather around my head. I shoo-ed them away, caught myself feeling disgusted. What is it that is disgusting about flies? Their attachment to rotting meat? Their sound? Their connotation with disease and pestilence?

Sometimes I feel like a fly when I am aimlessly wandering around the room, or the house, or the garden – just looking at things, just thinking about stuff, most of it not very happy. Maybe that is why I was disgusted by those flies: they can be viewed as worthless little things. They remind me of myself, the professional punk. I guess it’s time to pick up guitar again and try to rattle my own bones with it. Thanks Monday Night Mass *thumbs up

Tony Abbott's Ethnocentricity

Andrew Ryan

From Wikipedia:

“Ethnocentrism is judging another culture solely by the values and standards of one’s own culture. Ethnocentric individuals judge other groups relative to their own ethnic group or culture, especially with concern for language, behavior, customs, and religion. These ethnic distinctions and subdivisions serve to define each ethnicity’s unique cultural identity. Ethnocentrism may be overt or subtle, and while it is considered a natural proclivity of human psychology, it has developed a generally negative connotation.”

On an evolutionary level, ethnocentricity must have emerged from the breeding success of groups that worked together well whilst also shunning others, a combination of the altruistic mechanism that enables group cooperation, and the fear mechanism that occurs when encountering unknown things or situations. “Hey closefamilyunit, stay away from the unfamiliar area because there may dangerous things in there we haven’t figured out how to deal with yet”.

Later on in our history, after generation upon generation of that thing going on, for aaaaaaages, you begin to get different groups of humans – differentiated by cultural practices born of different environments – bumping in to each other due to territory expansion, and that thought pattern becomes something like “hey citizen, stay away from those people we don’t understand because we haven’t learnt to trust them yet and they know that environment better than us so they might kill us”.

Nowadays, we live in a time when all of Earth’s cultures must interact, and many, many people are extremely used to understanding, at least basically, a culture that is not their own out of circumstantial necessity, and a whole bunch of empathy. We need many people like this to keep the peace while we all get used to being in touch with so many different kinds of people. Unfortunately, Australia’s current prime minister does not appear to be one of those people, and has just outed himself to be completely ethnocentric.

It blows my mind to try to get on his wavelength, to put my feet in to the shoes of a cultural-homogenist born in the heart of the Empire, now leader of his adopted colony. Fuck that as a joke. That’s not who I want make decisions about the continent on which I am native-born. He does not understand, does not WANT to understand what it is to be born here, to have no choice but to confront the circumstances of your birth here, the births of others here, and come to recognize the shared responsibility we all have to right wrongs and grow together, peacefully and respectfully, with ancient understandings of the land guiding our lives, and the collected human experience of philosophical and scientific study guiding our use of technologies, resources and economic practices. If you want the luxury of colonial wealth, go the fuck back to England etc. We’ll get to communicate to extra-terristrial/dimensional beings first with our preferred mode of existence I reckon, so suck it, losers.

In the history of empirical expansion, most of our documented cultural interactions are heartbreakingly brutal, BUT, through learning from mistakes that make us feel fucking awful (mostly because powerful Anglo-Saxon descendants living on different parts of the planet got screwed over (after screwing over non-Anglo-Saxons for ages and not giving a shit) and were like OH FUCK LET’S MAKE SOME RULES NOW), Human Rights are a thing!

They have been a thing for like 2.6 generations now, and it is assumed that well-meaning people and governments must respect those rights when doing their policymaking and all that. Some people and governments do their utmost to uphold those rights, to respect them, while others flagrantly disregard them for the sake of whatever it is that is more important to them than the suffering of other human beings.

This disregard for the suffering of others is a sociopathic trait.

Sociopaths may have their uses in society, but they certainly should never be allowed to hold positions of authority over anything that involves the rights of – and care for – human beings that are not immediately related to them. Hell, probably not for their own families either. They’re a dangerous bunch, possessed by a thirst for power and a knack for imitation- they blend in with us folk who have the ability to empathise, they lay their traps and they take what they need in whatever way they can, and that usually leads to heartbreak, and sometimes early death. What happens on a micro level can also be seen on a macro level. Individual against individual / governments against citizens.

—- —- —-

Oxytocin is a hormone that promotes intimacy and bonding. It is what makes empathy happen. Oxytocin nasal sprays exist, marketed to promote well-being, stress reduction and sexual intensity. It would be good to give it to sociopaths so they stop causing emotional suffering in other people. I’d really like to shove in Tony Abbot’s nose while he’s standing in his bush-office in a remote community so he can emerge and be like “oh nowwwwww I am actually feeling what these fellow humans are saying about their ancient connection to country” instead of walking through them thinking “man, if I could just get some Chinese investors out here, I’ll go down in history for being a bloody good economic guy, I wish they’d just move to Perth” or something to that effect. I think that’s ethical way to use that spray.

But the paranoid side of me sees a big ol’ risk involved in the availability of something like this. Like, I kinda feel like there would be fairly unethical, definitely sociopathic people out there thinking of using this thing for less kind-hearted reasons than my ideal usage. Nope, there would be certain kinds of people who would probably make the spray available as a remedy for existential depression, with directions to administer it while reading a passage from an Ayn Rand novel as you keep financial stability in the front of your mind or something, you know? Which is almost what is happening anyway; it’s a natural anti-depressant type thing. “Can’t figure out your work-life balance? Here, take this, and thanks to the wonders of scientific mind control, you’ll settle back in to the psychologically, culturally and environmentally destructive society that is making you unhappy in no time!”

Sigh.

Living in Contemporary Western Society: An Experiment

Andrew Ryan

I have very, very little idea about what is going on in the “news” at the moment because I am conducting a personal experiment: I have deactivated my Facebook account, I ignore emails from pop culture websites, I don’t check news websites, I don’t follow news things on Twitter, and I only see the front cover of news papers when I am standing at a particular spot at the counter of a particular place at which I occasionally buy tobacco.

I didn’t actually look at it as an experiment until after it started, but now I have no choice but to see it as such. Once a thing is named a thing, after it was named nothing, it will remain as exactly that thing with that name in your eyes — until it is named something else, of course. Names evolve and change with the society they are tied up in, and then the meanings do too, but that first name? I reckon that’s the most important one. This particular thing of mine has got a name now, and it is Experiment.

SO. That’s what this is, even though it started as a snap-decision, based on gut instinct and a tiny bit of practical thinking, based on research I’ve done on the subject: “Mannnn, I feel a bit shit, I’d probably feel so much better|||and lead a far more fulfilling creative-and-book-reading life|||if I rid my experience of that ugly, manipulative, consumer-research-machine monster-of-a-website.

(Please make some time for this Radiolab podcast, about the “trust engineers” of Facebook.)

Result Number One:
I have missed every gig that has happened since I deactivated the account, except for Laneway Festival and my friend’s birthday party gig right after Laneway Festival. At Laneway, I had no idea if anyone I knew outside of my immediate circle would be there, and knew nothing of the social-media-driven-experience of any who may have been there. I spent a bit of time alone, I spent a bit of time hanging with my crew, I got a bit sunburnt, took a few photos and drank a lot of vodka from Pond’s rider because I was a little bummed out that I only got to hang out with my bestguy for a few hours before he jumped on a plane for the second time that day. Sigh. At Alan’s birthday party gig, I bumped in to a lot of people I knew, took a few photos, and was offered many glasses of whiskey, which I accepted because I was already too drunk to want to stop drinking. Sigh.

Result Number Two (A):
I feel like I used to talk about my frustrations arising from Australian political happenings with pretty much everyone I know, and pretty much all the time. Since quitting Facebook, it has barely come up in conversation, and I have no idea which articles my Hundreds of Acquaintances are reading. Only two friends I speak to regularly have asked me if I knew about that thing that happened with the Australian Liberal Party recently. I didn’t know anything except that there was some leadership weirdness. The less involved I get in the minuté of the special brand of show-pony, surface level political shit published in mainstream media — even the stuff published on a bunch of the independent media websites — the more farcical I am perceiving it all to be. Thus, I am less inclined to get angry and more inclined to laugh and scoff at the absurdity. It’s amazing. It feels so good!

~~~HOWEVER~~~

Soon after the deactivation, I began to experience increased anxiety, and big, dark throws of depression. I nearly decided to go on a walk to the desert; something I realized, even as I was working out the logistics of it, was a legitimate suicide mission if I did it at any point in the next 12 months; the idea was a dark, desperately misguided expression of my desire to extricate myself from this world of branding, marketing and advertising.

There were many contributing factors to my badfeels (…sometimes I drink too much when I’m anxious…) but one thing I knew for sure in those angst-ridden, mixed-up, scaredy-cat times was that one of the big contributors to those feels was the near cold-turkey break from my biggest supplier of instant social gratification, instant validation, and instant sense of belonging. For about a week, maybe longer, I felt what could easily be the most lonely I have ever felt, possibly on par with the week I spent most nights up on the roof of my house in Footscray, with Dr. Brown-Liquor pressuring me to dive head first on to the street. I’m very glad I didn’t. I reckon my family is too.

Instant validation gratification though: I am not completely free of the habit. I get a little bit of a fix from Instagram now and then, but it’s a different communication medium, it’s a different platform, it’s a different coding. It also has a far, far fewer amount of field experts working on how to make you feel more socially accepted on it. It’s just not the same, man.

How it IS the same though, is that every time the thought of deleting my Instagram account pops up in my psyche, I can feel a big fluorescent-light sign saying “FOR THE GREATER GOOD” flashing on and off in my brain. You know what, brain sign? I think you’re right!

But, like… what if my old mate Self Destruction is the guy playing with those light switches? Social media is a powerful force in the careers of creative individuals in this day-and-age after all…

Perhaps my experiment will prove something important, whatever the outcome may be; at least to myself, if not to others.

~~~

Result Number Three:
My national and international political reading has fucking DWINDLED, has become much more considered, and much more refined to things that truly and deeply relate to my interests. In the last week or so, the only two reports I have read concerning political things were about:
a group of anarchists in Spain who are currently being detained as “terrorists”

and

THIS::: a group of elders and leaders of this country’s First Nations have issued a manifesto of demands.

I believe (and also really, really feel and think) that things like this are incredibly important to be aware of. These are the things that can lead to uprisings, to wars; they are true and real and raw expressions of oppression. None of this: “Oooooooh This Just In: no one wanted to go up against Tony Abbot for leadership” bullshit. NO SHIT NO ONE DID. Those guys know that sooner or later shit is going to hit the fan in this country, they know that their government is in complete risk if leadership changes, that their pocket lining is in complete risk, that they will only remain in power until the majority realises they can have it better, safer, more sustainable. And: they know it is only a matter of time before everyone else figures it out.

Quick notes:

1. If terrorism is the act of terrifying victims, then a government being terrified of anarchists encrypting their emails is pretty indicative of the weakness and fear of that government. They don’t even know what was in those emails. What the fuck is wrong with not wanting complete strangers, especially those working for the government (USA intelligence agencies have completely unfettered access to all the online data from over-seas users of wesbites run by companies such as Google, Facebook and Amazon) to have access to your private communications? How perverse is the political authority of this era?

2. The people of the First Nations of this land have every reason to demand a change of governance; not only in terms of the implementation of a republic, but also in terms of a complete re-structuring of the way this country is run. Where are the conversations about this potential future in Australian media? If we were truly a humane nation, this conversation would be on the lips and fingertips of many.

3. Lawrence Ferlinghetti comments on “the enormous capacity of society to ingest its own most dissident elements”. How much of this new dissidence can be ingested, and how quickly?

~

There is a lot of work to be done. Pretty glad I’m doing more now since I deactivated my Facebook account.

Love,

Tahlia

P.S. Everyone reading should set aside some time to watch Adam Curtis’ latest documentary, called Bitter Lake.

It gave me the best insight I’ve ever had in to the Middle East’s current political situation. Highly, highly recommended for every human living in and amongst Western society.

Also, if you complain that it is too long I will bite your head off and spit it in to our oily, oily oceans.

xxx

A Search for Truth and Understanding: Australian Culture and Society in the Lead Up to Invasion Day

Andrew Ryan

This week I briefly attended a Make It Up Club gig at Bar Open, Fitzroy, a big gig as part of their 17th anniversary celebrations. I watched only one act, the opener, which was a group of men, including my good pal Alan, making improvised, dark droney tunes, while another man, Robbie Thorpe, an indigenous activist with decades of work and experience behind him, spoke and shouted his words of truth, history, oppression, theft, lies and indignation over the top.

Everyone in the room was riveted.

One friend told me it brought tears to his eyes.

I have cried many times about the injustice dealt to the descendants of this land’s first people. It is tied to my own sense of loss for a culture I have never known, and will never fully understand. I have had the black bred right out of me, and, much like many mixed heritage Australians, all I know is my European cultural ancestry, and not that of my blood-line tribe, disconnected by generations of assimilation in to colonial lifestyles. The traditional knowledge of land and food and climate is all but unknown to me.

I have spent a lot time teaching myself the history of this land and the people on it. I stuff my head in unstructured ways with information from books and websites and magzines that too many people I have known over the years have not felt comfortable even thinking about, let alone reading about, or talking about. My friend Finn recently gifted me a book called “Nyungah Land: Records of Invasion and Theft of Aboriginal Land on the Swan River, 1829-1850”. It was published by the Swan Valley Nyungah Community, and is made up of documents recorded by the Europeans during this period, documents which prove that what many of us have been taught in school and by the media is full of untruths, lies which perpetuate the misunderstanding of the lot of Aboriginal people today. I have so far only read the introduction, and I cried. My emotional connection to these histories is often difficult to deal with.

It is a big, ugly shame which must be acknowledged and dealt with; all of us should taking the time to learn about the truth of our national history. Ignorance should not be tolerated. With an open heart and an open mind, I believe that all humans who live on this island continent are more than capable of coming together to collaborate on a wonderfully culturally inclusive group of nations and peoples. All it takes is education, teaching the histories of all sides and promoting respect for the traditional ways, the traditional knowledge, and a synthesis of new and old ways of thinking to support technological innovations in to food production, soil regeneration, sustainable energy, water, housing, all the things humans need to allow them the opportunity to have a fulfilling existence.

All humans, working together, all of us taking care.

When I read about Australia’s history, I tend to fall back in to racially binary speech patterns, that is, black man vs white man. I have encountered the argument that dividing humans with words like this (see also: man vs woman in feminist arguments) serves little more than to keep them divided in conciousness too. I am inclined to agree, but only if these divisions are used when speaking of the future. The divides existed in the past, and in some circumstances still exist in the present. The truth is that arseholes and greedy bastards have existed in humanity since forever, and no race or group of people is without examples of shitty behaviour and attitudes on occasion, but it is important to take note of the societal and cultural context of these shitty decisions and behaviours. Divides existed in the past, but they don’t have to exist in the future.

It feels as if it would be possible to overcome these divides through proper education about the situations that first CREATED the divides— the context. This is what I’m setting myself the task to do, what many others around the country are doing in much bigger ways. That old adage: “those who do not learn from history are condemned to repeat it” hits quite hard in my gut every fucking day. I am not happy to be living in a society that is repeating ugly and heartbreaking mistakes.

Anger exists in both the invaded and the descendants of the invaders. But there are many who descend from both invaded and the original invader, as well as the hoards of migrants and asylum seekers granted access to this land, all with varying degrees of ancestral cultural knowledge of both sides of the invasion. We are a complex web of culture, with a dark history behind us, and remnants of that darkness still play out in present-day governmental policies. We are a confused nation. But there is hope for a brighter future that can only come from open communication, and respect for your fellow human.

This is all coming to a head, for me at least, because Invasion Day is coming up. This country cannot be celebrated if the native people are still having to deal with genocidal practices. I have read over the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People many times, and I see violations of all kinds in our media every day.

Others see this too, and some want a war. Others want to help. Others want to ignore completely.

With my limited skills it is hard to transfer the knowledge I have gained from the words I read on paper and screen in to direct, helpful, loving action towards a better way of taking care of each other, but I can only hope that the love and respect I have in my heart can inspire others to educate themselves too. With more and more people learning about the awful realities deep in the fabric of this nation, we can group together to give each other support, and provide a plentiful and stable backing for the self-determination of Aboriginal people in the face of those who want to continue destroying their land, and as a result, their culture.

Some good links for those interested in further reading:

http://www.vice.com/read/the-year-in-australian-aboriginal-rights-movements
https://www.facebook.com/AustralianAboriginalBushfoodandMedicines
https://newmatilda.com/2014/12/02/communique-alice-springs-freedom-summit
http://www.landcareonline.com.au/?page_id=6807
http://www.crc-rep.com.au/resource/LeeLS_UQStaff_PlantBiotechAndAboriginalKnowledgeConnection_21Sept13.pdf
http://www.kooriweb.org/foley/essays/tracker_index.html
http://treatyrepublic.net/

Tahlia sees Nick Cave live for the first time

Andrew Ryan

Dear Casey,

This is an account of my first real Nick Cave Experience.

The first technical one was watching from outside the fence of Sydney Myer Music Bowl, back when I was spending time with a boy who liked putting needles in his arm. I drank wine. He blissed out next to me. I was drunk. I wasn’t very happy, but I kind of was, but I didn’t really see the man play.

This time tonight was more. It was More.

Self individualist crowd,
stage gobblers
~~watching a gig through
some else’s iphone

his silhouette streaming across the back of the wall behind to the side, distorted, shadow like a lanky fluid skeleton, or a sped up sloth—- body cutting through light and smoke, sight hindered by a well hairsprayed hairdo. It was a big hairdo, but it wasn’t dyed black. Ginger is okay these days. Or at least it is in Nick Cave fans who are currently in their mid to late 20’s.

Slow, glow in the dark piano paper through black light, I cough and splutter and laugh, i’ve been sickly for a few days because the weather keeps changing, I accidentally elbow the man behind me from where I sit on the back of my chair, I smile and apologise and don’t look long in his eyes,
I think he smiled too, I can’t really be sure,
my nose is quite stuffed after all (sick, remember?),
I did it another time and I tried to make sure afterwards that I would angle my arm better as I put my phone back in my pocket after writing thoughts,
I wondered if he ever peeked over my shoulder
because I totally would in his situation
but I probably wouldn’t have been smiling
fuck off screen addict etc
and that’s the thing, there was one point early on in the set where almost every human in front of me had their smartphones held above their heads.
And then later when the couple that instigated a fight (fell in to me and a.moon which caused much annoyance) because they tried to push to the front and the guy they pushed said “YOU’RE RUINING IT FOR EVERYONE” and grabbed their throats, and their yelling could be heard clearly from higher up in the rows of building
—- apparently the sound was great up there, the building was designed for it, not like cubical galleries or bedrooms, but like, actually built on the inside for sound, textures, rising,

rousing piano soars with that same soar vocal, build, big,
but not big enough
distraction
the screams of a man wanting attention for his friends’ birthday—-
and i’m reminded of cosi’s story
about watching nick cave
an older woman screaming
“I WANNA SUCK YOUR COCK NICK CAVE”
over and over
I wish I could see his face
and not just the hands of the humans reaching for his crotch

and that fight, what a shit thing.
The crowd around ganged up, even after they’d chilled out when the security guards first left. The couple were fiending, the crowd around was not having a bar of it. Some one behind us to the right shouted “YOU’RE RUINING EVERYONE ELSE’S SHOW”
and that’s when I realised that every set of eyes owns what it sees::

What looks like red velvet curtains
purple light streaming
yellow tungsten lightbulbs

and then
in Mercy Seat the curtains were black/grey velvet and there still sat the yellow tungstenz, suspended like fairy lights on the bow of a hipster wedding tree.

The thing that always strikes me with Nick is how naff I find any religious references. I actually hate it. Sometimes i’m a bit embarrassed by it. An ex-lover (the one I played the black angels to for the first time) once said that same thing to me about Shellac’s “prayer to god” and I have never, ever felt that with that song, maybe the heaviness and the perfect timing distract me from the discomfort attached to the fact that he says “to the one true god above” but like, it’s not like he’s actually praying, he’s just referencing that it isn’t uncommon to “pray” in an emotionally intense situation, like the one described in the song, it’s badass,
but
that ain’t the same as half of nick cave’s lyrics from earlier days including religious imagery and symbolism or whatever, and it being legitimately the only way he could express the stuff, all those silly words

anita lane and blixa bargeld wrote the words to the Best Bad Seeds song.
In my opinion.

But— the devil is such an easy character. The story is such easy narrative. His new work mentions god, but I haven’t noticed the devil in it anymore. Thank fuck. “The devil” is now lazy story telling.
In my opinion.

Months and months ago, I wrote a thing about nick cave, something about the legacy he and his mates left on the alleyways of this city, its innercity suburbs, the bathrooms and bedrooms of the houses in it: I wondered if he was aware of it now. I wonder how his son, Jethro, is doing now. Where he is— last I heard he was somewhere I wasn’t— how he’s doin’? What he’s doin’? Is he OK?

There was a meat-head to the left of us for most of the show, muscle man short hair tight white t-shirt, arms stretched onto the seats in front of where he was standing, concerned head banging to In To My Arms like it was a stripped back November Rain.

Man.
That’s exactly what that song is.

November rain. It never ends in Melbourne. Never forget.

Until next time,

xxxT

Gender, Sex, Drag and Society

Andrew Ryan

The general perception of gender in western culture is a funny thing (mainly because it’s so binary). I think about it a little bit. The world at large seems to think about it a bit. But I’d never thought as much about it as the other day- and a bunch of the subsequent days- because I was in a situation where some of my closest buddies and I visually fooled around with the concept of gender for a music video shoot.

It brought up some interesting thoughts and questions around gender stereotypes, self-perception and sexuality, some of which fit quite nicely in to the national conversations currently being had around the promotion Greens Senator Larissa Waters gave to a grass-roots Christmas-based campaign called No Gender December.

This weekend was my first proper attempt at dressing in drag. The clothes weren’t much of a stretch- tight black jeans and button-up shirt- but it was a stretch to make my face more masculine in appearance. My less-than average costume make-up skills did not allow for any facial contouring, so I was left only with facial hair to mess with. Brown eyebrow pencil was brandished upon my painstakingly trimmed and shaped eyebrows and all across my feminine jaw line. I gelled my shoulder length hair back, away from my forehead, and I looked like a cross between all of the men on my paternal genetic side and Nick Cave. I pretty much created the boy version of myself. And it was fun.

But while it was fun, it was also a little unnerving. I am accustomed to my feminine face, feminine hairstyles, accustomed to being kinda pretty. We in the shoot were expected to put on a character, and I struggled with mine. I thought about stereotypes of masculine behaviour, but I couldn’t get in to it. I tried to be cock-sure, thrusting my crotch slightly forward as I walked; I tried to be sleazy towards the “women”, but that expressed itself as arse and fake-breast grabbing. I didn’t like that and I didn’t like thinking about men like that either. Soooo I channelled my own sexually chilled-out personality::: and became a dance happy, smooth mother-fucker with a drink in hand at all times, occasionally forgetting not to move my hips All Heavy Like a Woman.

The men involved (musical friends and adopted family) were in feminine dress and make-up, and they delved in to the same thing as myself, opposite sex funz, exploring stereotypes of women. And just as I was unable to properly suppress my femininity (which at the time felt overwhelming underneath the fake-facial hair), many were not entirely able to suppress their masculinity. Oh, all the evident bulges in the tight skirts and throats, with such deep voices and masculine gaits in abundance…

The thing that interested me most was just how rampantly we ran through the act of characterising the sexual, sensual, and internal responses to this so called “gender-bending”.

Take a moment to look at gender as a role which defines how you function within the community, as it is within Native American culture, for example. Think about it for a little bit; let your imagination wander.

In a society that puts emphasis on all the functions being fully allowed, encouraged and expected to be done equally among all humans involved, regardless of gender- like they most definitely are within the portions of the Melbourne music community I spend the most time in- then you cannot actually dress as a different gender, you can only dress as the opposite sex. This serves to highlight the different genitals on show/implied, and brings forth the responses to different faces in “feminine” make-up (uber visual psychologically sexualised difference). It feels like we exist in a pretty nice state of individually based acceptance.

The reason I bring this point up is because someone took public offence to something to do with our funz, which I have spent a lot of time since thinking about.

Pete posted a photo I took of him in drag from the day in question on his musicband’s Instagram account, and a user responded with a damnation of what she perceived to be dismissive of the struggles of transgendered people. It bummed me out to think that she must be so accustomed to a culture in which transgendered people are not accepted (she probably spends a bunch of time on social justice Tumblr pages) that when she looked at the photo of this person who makes music she likes, she saw only the possibility of his cross-dressing to be a piss-take.

And fucking good on her to say so, very seriously. I think it is really important for people to speak up about those issues, to stand up against social wrongs (which is why social justice Tumblr pages are around, and are so actively followed by young people who are so aware of social injustice).

There is certainly a darker side to the fun of drag, but honestly, I think exploring the sexuality and comedy of dressing in the opposite sex’s clothes is a way to work through the darker aspects of gender distinctions, which are often easily found in the New Restrictions VS New Freedoms of wearing a dress when you’re not used to it and/or don’t particularly crave it, or wearing clothes unflattering to your figure when you’re not used to it and/or don’t particularly crave it.

What I’m trying to get at is that in those who don’t feel any dislike or discomfort as a result of a particular difference between themselves and another individual, and have existed in a community in which any problems to do with those differences are not evident, or at least not immediately relevant to their experience, find it very easy to forget that suffering can occur from those differences. The male-humans I am close to do not consider women inferior at all, and they are around women most days if not every day, so are often surprised when us females describe situations in which we are treated by men- or encouraged by other women- to behave as if we are (inferior). No one I know well these days is homophobic, and as far as I am aware, most of us have been intimate with a member of the opposite sex. We all do all kinds of roles in the home and in the workplace, and we all have respect for the psychological- hell, the metaphysical- journey trasgendered people have taken to feel comfortable in honest self-expression.

But the problem of gender inequality exists outside of this little bubble of creative social security I exist in… which is why this problem has popped up in the media the last few days about encouraging parents to gift gender-neutral toys to their kids this Christmas.

Senator Larissa Waters linked gender specific toys to the perception of gender inequality, which appears to be confirmed in the fields of psychology and sociology. It’s confirmed in my own gut instinct, at least.

In my gut, this is how I see the resulting worst case scenario: boy receives “gun”, shoots “baddies”, becomes accustomed to physical assertion of authority and power; strength and dominance is rewarded by authority figures. Girl receives dolls, plays dress ups, becomes accustomed to physical beauty and maternal instinct as desirable; infantile validations of cuteness and prettiness are provided by authority figures. This is a very binary way of viewing a human’s role in society, and binaries are destructive to humanity. Why would anyone want to allow this kind of extreme to exist when we can see an option to leave it behind us/// when we know that it is not sustainable?

Not all children are naturally drawn to these childhood gender stereotypes. If not tempered by gender neutral playthings, these extremes could be played out in to adulthood, leading to repression of the natural personality, especially within gender-based consumer choices (BUY THIS THING THAT HAS THE WORD ‘MEN’S’ ON IT AND IS BLACK+BLUE if yr a “man” vs BUY THIS THING THAT HAS THE WORD ‘GODESS/BEAUTY’ ON IT AND IS PINK+PURPLE if yr a “woman”). This weird bullshit dichotomy is why those negative stereotypes exist, stereotypes which, when not dealt with healthily (who knows if our dealings were healthy, but we all came out happy and kind of spiritually cleansed at the end of it)-,can lead to bad things. Like domestic violence. Like rape.

Post Script:::: During the filming of this music video, Cosi accidentally left a rat’s corpse in the dress of a baby doll behind the piano—- and that has nothing to do with gender, and everything to do with Cosi. I love that human.

Post Post Pcript:::: Do I have any moral/ethical basis with which to judge the negative effect of gender stereotyped consumerism? Only time will tell.

The End.

The Darker Side of the Recognise Campaign

Andrew Ryan

You have probably heard of the Recognise campaign, in all it’s hopeful, well-designed shiny glory. When I first started to notice it around the place, I was so pleased- finally, it looks like Indigenous issues are becoming a mainstream concern in this country! Constitutional recognition! The videos are emotive and heart warming. The music winds pleasantly through any feelings of guilt, shame or sadness you may have about the history of the nation, lifting you up out of it, making you feel involved, helpful, a part of something. Aspirational music. Aspirational script writing.

I carried on with my life, occasionally coming across little bits and pieces about Recognise, and it got more common, and then heaps of people seemed to be involved and/or supportive and it was good to see. And then a few corporations started to sponsor the campaign, and I was like “…hrrrrrrmmmm…” because I have auto-distrust of corporate involvement.

It was around this time that I started to see anti-Recognise words and attitudes popping up in my news keywords email notifications and recommended Facebook pages. I did some research. Some of it came from the more right-wing political commentators, but more of it seems to comes from within the Aboriginal community itself.

I spoke to artist and political activist Richard Bell about the issue; I could see from facebook activity that he is a part of the conversation about the anti-Recognise sentiments.
He had this to say:

“Well, firstly, we were deliberately left out of the original constitution.
So, it is pointless tinkering with that racist document.
We need something completely new that not only recognises aboriginal prior ownership, but also acknowledges that legally.
That is impossible under the current circumstances.
Secondly, the political environment is so poisonous (or toxic as the lingua franca would describe it) that we prefer that no negotiations take place now. These should be be left for more accepting times.
We don’t NEED it now.
We are aboriginal. We know how to wait.”

Turns out that what I thought was a grass-roots campaign was actually started and funded by governmental figures. Which means it could be described as astroturfed, and astroturfing isn’t very cool. Astroturfing is deceptive. It certainly explains all the money and the clever marketing and clean and shiny vibe. And it’s drowning out other voices who have opinions on the topic, drowning out related concerns and issues.

The biggest grass-roots campaigns coming out of Indigenous Australia currently are for Aboriginal sovereignty (the legal recognition of it) which is a different (and bigger) beast entirely.

No treaty was ever made between the colonists and the colonised, no war was ever declared, so it is claimed by some that by their own laws, the colonists are here illegally, despite it being accepted internationally. First Nations need more than just constitutional recognition. I believe they should be given constitutional means to establish separate political communities. I would like to see the United Sovereign Nations/States of Australia. IMAGINE THAT.

An Italian news media website was one of the few places to pick up the story of the Murrawarri Republic, an aboriginal nation who have declared their independence from Australia. You can read the full article here. Where is this in Australian media, where is this level of analysis? One mention on SBS’s website I believe, and that’s it. This should be talked about, not fucking ignored. This is the kind of action required if Australia is going to be shaken out of its white- privilege complacency. We need to collectively look at the state of humanity on the landmass we live on and asses it honestly and truthfully, and make some sorely needed changes that go far, far beyond simply acknowledging that this land mass was not actually Terra-nullius before Europeans raped the ground with their flags and digging machines.

For example: 30% of Australia’s prison population is made up of Aboriginal people, though Aboriginal people make up only 3% of the nation’s general population. The juvenile incarceration rate: 48% Aboriginal. These numbers are fucking insane, are unmatched with any nation in the OECD, and are revolting, brutal and UNNECESSARY. It a complex issue, but one of the reasons First Nations incarceration rates are through the fucking roof is because traditional laws are not respected. Lemme explain with an anecdotal story.

A good friend of mine comes from Darwin, grew up with a lot of blackfellas, he has a better understanding of the culture than most white folks I know. He was telling me about a tribal feud going in central Australia at the moment. It goes something like this: someone in the area was killed by someone else. The traditional punishment for such a thing is that the killer has a spear thrown at his/her legs by a member of the slain’s tribe, justice is served, life continues. Instead of this happening, the perpetrator was sent to prison.

As a result, the issue was not resolved within the community- justice, in their eyes, according to traditional laws, had not been served. Tensions grew between family groups, more violence occurred, more arrests were made, anguish within the community perpetuates as colonial law rips in to their lives and puts their people behind bars, rendering them unable to contribute, to teach and be with their children, their community’s children. Prisons didn’t exist in Australia before it became a prison island for England. A spear in the fucking leg seems far more humane than tearing passionate young people away from their land and their communities and letting them become rotten in an economically and socially wasteful system.

How much longer are the cultural needs of First Nations going to be overlooked like this, when it obviously causes so many problems? Where is the cultural safety, and why is there so much opposition for more cultural inclusion and education in the rest of Australia about this traditional way of life, the world’s oldest living culture- a sophisticated, sustainable culture that cares for people, nature and balance over greed, profit and material possessions? We are all suffering because of mass ignorance, denial and inexplicable fear. I am fucking sick of it.

Anyway. So now you know the other side.

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