November 2014 archive

Show yourself

At the dogleg turn on Trenerry crescent near Dights Falls in
Abbotsford, a group of artists have created a makeshift gallery.  As you drive into the turn you face a stretch
of wall that extends the length of the road and the freeway, presumably to
block out sound. 
Months ago I noticed the first small offering, a portrait in
the centre of the first section of the wall, soon followed by another couple of
works, a treescape, a landscape, and a splodge of colour. 
More recently the number of pictures has trebled.  
There’s one that stands out: a take on an old
classic, with a view of the harbour where a dark skinned and naked aboriginal
man with spear in hand looks over the water to an approaching eighteenth
century vessel and curses, ‘Bloody boat people’. 
There’s also a large photograph on paper of a native
tribeswoman from somewhere like Africa. 
There are more scenes of trees and water and several
portraits, mostly in oils, though there’s also one that looks to be a lithograph, judging by its texture and colour and a tiny piece on tin.
Some pictures are small, most on plywood canvases and some
take up more space than others, but each nestles comfortably alongside its
companion, as if this gallery were planned and arranged by some thoughtful
curator.  Though that’s unlikely. 
I reckon this gallery has sprung up in the wonderful way
these things do when one person inspires another to add to their own
inspiration, and now we have this evocative, albeit temporary, gallery on
Trenerry Crescent.
 
Temporary only in so far as the natural elements, the rain
and sun and wind, will eventually destroy the images over time but they have
been standing up to the worst of the weather for several months now and maybe
as one dies – certainly the photograph of the tribeswoman on paper will
disappear soon – maybe others will take their place.
This type of installation gives me hope in human nature at a
time when the world seems grim. 
We have a state election to vote in today and without getting
too caught up in local politics, it’s suffice for me to say my world seems to
be leaning in a far right direction that’s terrifying. 
I heard on the radio today that our government had turned
back a boatload of some thirty seven-asylum seekers from Sri Lanka, including
six children.  Sri Lankan government
representatives then intercepted these asylum seekers and took them into custody while
they await trial for ‘falsely leaving the country’ or some other such crime. 
I don’t understand all the ins and outs of it but it makes me
wonder about this business of being forced to stay in an unbearable situation,
because no one else wants you, and the powers that be don’t want you to leave
from under their auspice. 
I have been finding it more difficult to write about my life
lately.  Some internal silencer whispers
in my ear, you can’t say that. You can’t talk about that.  In case someone reads and is offended, in
case someone reads and decides I have violated their privacy, in case someone
reads and disagrees with my version of events. 
If I listen to these voices for too long, I am paralysed into
silence. 
That’s another thing that seems to happen in the things I
read.  The extraordinary pressure on
people to say the outrageous, write something new, give us something to get
excited about, but don’t go too far.
If you do, the naysayers will be out in droves and crucify you.
Has it ever occurred to readers that the writers who dare to
put their writing out there have stuck their necks out, have exposed
themselves, so why not tread gently with their critiques? 
I was once friendly with a woman many years ago and I
realised too late that she enjoyed listening to me speak about all the things
she could not/would not say, but she did not reciprocate. 
She did not offer any self-revealing versions of her own
vulnerability.  It was up to me to
provide the grist, on which she could chew and then she could spit it out or do with it as
she pleased. 
I know that people are different, some are more out there and
others prefer to keep things close to their chests.  I don’t have a problem in either case but
when the quiet ones get their rocks off listening to the noisy ones and then
condemn the noisy ones for saying things they should not say then I reckon the
quiet ones need to take a turn on centre stage and declare their views, so that
they too can take a turn at exposure. 
The joy of the gallery lies here.  
I have never thought before to write under a
pseudonym.  It has always been important
to declare myself, but lately I have wondered what would it be like, to throw
your words out there into the ether under a pseudonym, so that no one will know
who you are, even if they believe they do.
To take up the name of a man, for instance, and see what type
of response I get.  To be able to write
all the things I fear I cannot say here and get away with it because the person of
the writer does not exist, except as a fantasy, like those anonymous artists
who put up their pictures in Trenerry Crescent.  
And
how’s this for a treatise on the notion of thought, another antidote to my grim
thoughts, from Brevity’s
blog?
Quinn
Norton writes:
There is more than one kind of thought. There are
thoughts you cannot complete within a month, or a fiscal quarter, just as there
are thoughts that can occupy less than a vacation period, a weekend, or a smoke
break. Like the spectrum of photonic behavior, thoughts come in a nearly
infinite range of lengths and frequencies, and always move at the exact pace of
human life, wherever they are in the universe. Some thoughts are long, they can
take years to think, or a lifetime. Some thoughts take many lifetimes, and we
hand them off to the next generation like the batons in a relay race. Some of
these are the best of thoughts, even if they can be the least productive.
Lifetimes along, they shift the whole world, like a secret lever built and
placed by the loving imaginations of thousands of unproductive stargazers.

Foreign germs

I enjoy a bit of mould in my food,
in cheese, and yoghurt and other foodstuffs where it’s intended, but this
morning’s yoghurt is on the turn and I debate whether to surge ahead and eat it
or whether to chuck it in and start on a fresh tub. 
I have a cavalier attitude to mould
and germs and the like.  If there’s not
too much of it, fine, you can eat it. 
Same with germs. 
When I was growing up my mother
told us that it was fine for brothers and sisters to share the same cups and
plates and knives and forks because we carry the same germs.  With a crowd like this, what could you expect?  
I took my mother at her word and passed
on the same knowledge to my children who these days refuse to go along with my
mother’s simple logic. 
Just because we share the same
genetic material as in shared parents does not mean we carry the same
germs. 
We can infect one another with all
manner of illness if we’re not careful. 
The mould in my yoghurt sits on the
lid and has not yet infected the entire tub. I should be safe. The yoghurt is
not past its use by date.  The words on
the outside of the tub tell me so. 
Therefore, if I stick to my
principles and continue to eat, I should not get sick, food poisoning, gut
ache, salmonella or any other such contamination.
How easy it is to feel contaminated. 
Especially with those childhood
ailments, the tapeworms, the lice and the school sores. 
I’ve all but finished the tub of
yoghurt I started earlier this morning and my stomach is roiling. 

Have I taken in too many foreign
germs to keep me settled?

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