22 December 2008

stuck in punxsutawney

As I grumblingly accept my lot in the big wheel of the wage economy and bemoan the loss of free time, I’ve noticed a dangerous little feeling brewing. The feeling that this existence – for all its family-sized upside-down fridges and missed lunch breaks – is somehow comforting. Like the progression of a clock: the tick-tock repetition, while illustrating your dwindling years/weeks/hours, is also oddly soothing. Call it a whacked biological need for regime, but this knowing-what-you’re-doing-tomorrow bizzo has definite - albeit mysterious - appeal. Maybe it’s because I’ve been seriously deprived of structure/trivia and the ego-entrapment of office life. Whatever. About the same time I began musing over this little irony, my ping-pong relationship with Bligh’s Army was formally and publicly acknowledged. Last week I took out the Groundhog Day title in our unit’s frivolous awards bestowal. I am so Bill Murray with a microphone in the snow waiting for a furry animal to forecast the weather. Luckily, I've moved through re-integration wobbles and a protracted bout of cultural alienation. Now I'm going to have some fun with the Punxsutawney locals.


Savouring domestic novelties:

DVD watching – the whole first season of Love My Way. That’s ten episodes in one week... a couch-sitting personal best. I blame it on the cult of Claudia, who I have loved since she celebrated all the good bits about
share-housing in St Kilda.

Small talk with the cat.

A proper bed. A big bed. Soft sheets. Totally underrated. I would give it all up for just this… if only the birds and sunshine didn't start at 5am.

15 December 2008

i love it when a plan comes together

Last week I moved house - again! - and moved in with Mr T, a cat pushing the ‘aloof’ edge of the feline sociability scale. He is also rather accident prone. The night before his mum departed the country, he had an investigative encounter with a long piece of wire and got horribly tangled, and then horribly anxious to get free, cutting his lip and back leg in the process. Thankfully mum (who is probably at this moment drinking gluwein for breakfast in Prague) whipped him off to the emergency vet before leaving.

Mr T's general post-traumatic narkiness has not helped us to bond as house-mates. He has generally avoided my company, and despite offers of fresh meat, has preferred instead to spent large amounts of time amidst the fabric mounds in the linen cupboard.

Yesterday afternoon was round two at the vets. Off we trundled for a check up, after several attempts at going in the box and a close encounter between claws and a long necklace. I should have made like Hannibal and drugged him in preparedness for travel. But I didn't. (Pity the fool.) He growled about going in the box. He growled about going in the car. He growled about the dogs in the waiting room. And then silently complied as the vet ripped off his scabs ("to check for abcesses"), doused the open wounds with Betadine and jerried a thermometer up him.

What the...?

From Wrestlemania-style defence to complete and total submission? And all I did was show him the door to a small box, purportedly one of his most favourite places! Oh to bottle the magical powers invested in the vet's table...

When we got home, things got even more bizarre. I opened the box. He sauntered out, rubbed at my heels and purred deeply. He even let me scratch his neck for FIVE seconds. I know better than to question feline behaviour. But I think I can venture that we have begun to bond...

05 December 2008

parable of two worlds

Oh dear. Paid work is so uncool for my blogging. Anyway, here's a small parable. As the rain falls in Brisbane and grows my Black Russians like beanstalks...


I know of two worlds. One I live in but don’t believe in. The other I believe in but can’t quite reach.

One has mobile phone towers and kept lawns, suburb to city commutes and satellites orbiting through space to get us there. It breathes air-conditioning upon us, which stealthily sucks our lifeforce. It has a strange obsession with plastic packaging, which it goes to greath lengths to manufacture, only to immediately throw away. It squeezes us through a series of institutions designed to crush our uniqueness, creativity and spirit, so that we may become full and conforming participants in the Economy. With its high demands on our time, the Economy keeps thought trimmed inside little boxes. This world relies on insulating constructs that remove us from our humanity, that deny our relationship with the earth, that impose falsity at every turn and propagate rampant unwellness. This world is a bubble of unreality. Inside the bubble there is only the bubble; it is difficult to imagine an outside to the bubble. Perhaps this is because, for the most part, we don’t see the bubble, let alone recognise its delicate nature.

The other world has none of these things. It has land and sea scapes and natural abundance and diversity and community and art and stories and ideas. It lacks disposable income but has bountiful simplicity and mass wellbeing. It has a different kind of knowledge. It knows about growing, building, sharing and looking after people. And it is not just one world, but many. They are the many small, purposed and felt traditional worlds of humankind.

These small, bountiful worlds once held us all, to varying degrees, in their embrace. But then agriculture was born in the Fertile Crescent. We domesticated plants and animals, stored food and became settled. Well-fed populations trebled. Land was put under lock and key, and with it, the freedom to feed your family by the sweat of your brow. Many peasants were ‘freed’ from food production to toil in trades. Labour was divided, giving us artisans, who were later replaced by experts. One of whom invented the modern steam engine, giving birth to Industralisation and exploding us into a new age of mechanised largesse. The bubble blew bigger and bigger. With our armies of well-fed experts, technology bounded ahead and distributed knowledge to the masses – which told us to buy, buy, buy. And so the bubble bulged until it was bulbously magnificent.

Now grows a small movement that can’t make sense of the bubble. Some intuit the bubble’s wrongness but are caught in its maw. They believe life is inherently combative and destructive. They believe in the inevitabilty of our culture: you can hear them teach it to others by saying things like ‘such is life’. Such believed impotency makes them sad. Through this immobilised sadness they press on with air-conditioning and kept lawns and the distraction of new dresses, growing ever more deeply indebted to the bubble they can neither make sense of, nor escape. They are the anxious and depressed.

Some others – artists, landholders, marginalised liberals – increasingly muse that the bubble is precariously inflated and not at all magnificent. Their worldview is unrelentingly at odds with the bubble. They sing of those other small worlds of bounty. Their voices grow in volume and number. Somehow, whilst living in the world that shoehorns thought, they are able to imagine real and beautiful alternatives. Some of them have gone beyond imagination, beyond the bubble. They are true visionaries, who have the sense of self to play what they hear in a world that is largely tonedeaf. They inhabit the world I believe in... those worlds beyond the bubble.