Robin Hood

Friday, December 18, 2009

There's so much to speak to today. Here's the local news: Firstly, my friend Josh, who I write about in the special bike issue of Greenwash, delivered my 'Junkie' (pictured below). He has put it together over the past several weeks using many reclaimed parts and a few new ones such as the spokes. As you can see it is absolutely beautiful with a Brookes seat that dates back to the 1940s and an Australian Rob Special frame that could be just as old. I've decided to call it Robin Hood after the red robins that appear on the original paint-work, and in honour of our 'hood, this beautiful neck of the world wide woods, and, of course, because of the carbon I wont be emitting for the profits of corporate pop-fascists – stealing from the grossly rich by generating my own renewable human generated electricity.

In other news, I've just been awarded a three-year scholarship to do a doctorate at the University of Western Sydney. I'm hanging up my tool-belt, at least for commercial building work. My research basically concerns permaculture as a modus for the arts, centring on relationships between poetics and ecology. I will be arguing that the twentieth century delivered the flawed threesome Communism, Capitalism and Fascism, none of which offered human settlements an embedded ecological framework, and as a result, humans and non-humans alike have suffered terribly. The arts have largely operated as the dutiful court jester to triumphant capitalism's anthropogenic riches. However, I will also argue that the arts have radical genes, fit and flexible enough to lead an ecological insurrection across fields. I'm going to be spending a lot of time on my bike.

And, then there's Copenhagen, the global news: What a mess. At least with Bush, Blair and Howard we knew they were evil. It helped that they were upfront about it. With Kev and Barack it's the same as before just a more ambiguous, fuzzy-feeling style of politicking, utilising 'clever' semiotics. With these latter two so-called leaders we were made to feel change is in the air, but really it's growth as usual. Where is the critique of growth-capitalism at Copenhagen? Growth, of course, is at the heart of ecological crises. When Obama was sworn in not all of us were wishful though. Regarding his 'change' and 'hope' wash, this is what I wrote almost a year ago:
Obama will either be shot or fully bought within 12-24 months. And most likely we'll be just as disappointed as we are with Kevin07.
But to keep an eye on global politics is a rather hopeful, wasteful occupation. It generates in people a deep sense of powerlessness and futility (with some moments of apparent redemption and hilarity, as above). In the twenty-first century, our three future scenarios (David Holmgren outlines four, and I'll speak to the fourth at a later stage), are Brown Tech, Green Tech and Earth Stewardship (permaculture, and the like). At a systems level, the former two are based on just growth and consumption, the latter based upon biomimicry where growth and consumption are dynamically relational with birth, decomposition, death and rebirth (regeneration) – alltogether making up what I call the six seasons of circularity.

Permaculture together with steady-state economics offers human settlements relocalised food, water and energy while repairing the ills of twentieth century capitalism and anthropocentric idealism. Permaculture bypasses two-party hopefulness and re-engages us with the local. Holmgren, in this book, is quite simply outstanding.

For more on this book go to


Towards a steady-state economics (by George)

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

George Monbiot in Copenhagen...

This is a meeting about chemicals: the greenhouse gases insulating the atmosphere. But it is also a battle between two world views. The angry men who seek to derail this agreement, and all such limits on their self-fulfilment, have understood this better than we have. A new movement, most visible in North America and Australia, but now apparent everywhere, demands to trample on the lives of others as if this were a human right. It will not be constrained by taxes, gun laws, regulations, health and safety, especially by environmental restraints. It knows that fossil fuels have granted the universal ape amplification beyond its Palaeolithic dreams. For a moment, a marvellous, frontier moment, they allowed us to live in blissful mindlessness.

Read on here.



Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The only member of the Artist as Family born at home.


Greenwash #7 in Trouble

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Special Bike Issue.
Environmental writer Derrick Jensen believes the only level of technology truly sustainable was developed in the Stone Age. Pretty harsh claim at first glance. Then there are the majority of folk who believe technology can redeem us, who believe that only an investment in newer and better technology can rescue us from the mess we’re in. For me this argument is perennially flawed. Technology nearly always creates more problems than it solves. Take dentistry for example. It appears that we have progressed immensely in this field, but this level of technology has only come about as our diet has become more and more disembodied from natural systems; as our diet has been fashioned by food technologists and their commercial patrons.
Read on here.

Steve Futo, Bike Ball, Daylesford NYE Parade, 2008. Photo: Lisa Gervasoni.


Poethics of food

Thursday, November 26, 2009

What are your ethics when it comes to food? Is there an honourable way to kill an animal, or does all meat eating rely on merciless acts of anthropocentric violence? Do you believe that both factory farms and traditional cultures' treatment of animals for meat production belong to the same dirty moral code? Where do you cross the line in terms of killing non-human nature? Is pulling a carrot out of the ground a better sort of violence, committed upon hundreds of microorganisms, than pulling a fish out of water? At what point does sentient non-human nature begin and end for you?

Earlier this week I left the following comment on a vegan blogsite whose authors moderate their comments. It thus far has not been published and therefore I wonder whether this discussion could take place elsewhere, such as here, now, with you?

i've been enjoying your blog and watching your transitions with great interest. i and my family are doing similar things here in central victoria. we do however have quite a different view when it comes to certain foods, which i wish to speak to here if i may.

i tend to take my lead from traditional communities when it comes to food, and i read every industrialised and transported carrot, synthetic consumable or rump steak as an abuse on the landbase and upon non-human nature.

growing our own food is probably the most beautifully loaded thing we can do. growing food while repairing the landbase is the most essential thing i've ever done. in our household we eat a little meat for protein and simple joy. it is always local. we occasionally catch redfin (english perch) out of the nearby lake. and whereas, i find fishing for recreation a pretty cruel endeavour, i don't when it comes to survival. i watch our chooks eat worms, fish remains or dead mice for protein and i tend to follow their lead as much as possible as they free-range over several neighbouring properties, living a life i cld only wish for in terms of carefreedom. we provide our chooks with shelter, warmth, love and protection from foxes. they in turn provide us with eggs, manure and joy. we are in a reciprocal relationship with them specific to a permaculture.

factory farms are a telling pathology of civilisation. living in some form of natural order alongside or directly with non-human nature is for me being led by nature, not human ideology or growth economics. this is why i supplement my diet with our eggs and a little local meat. ideally i wld like to get my protein just from roadkill, which attends to my relationship with anthropogenic waste. i do use roadkill in my compost as a starter, like a leaven.

i've never worked out why most vegans i meet see carnivores as having the same dirty moral code. it seems to speak out against one of the most sustainable human cultures ever to inhabit the earth – indigenous australians. their aquaculture, agricultures (yams in these parts) and hunting methods enabled an unprecedented permanent culture.

one of my great problems with western veganism is that it seems to come from an urban disembodiment. it seems to me like a mediation, rather than an ethic that is gleaned through active biomimicry.

these are a few of my thoughts thus far. your thoughts/ comments/ critique of them might prove to be a valuable discussion.

yours in congenial anarchism,



Seed Ball (after Masanobu Fukuoka)

Wednesday, November 18, 2009


WorkmanJones do nothing

A few weeks ago Jason Workman and I pulled the pin on a funded trip to the US scheduled for next year. Our practice has always included a critique of contemporary art and its development driven agenda. Several years ago we 'developed' the practice of free-dragging as a form of 'do-nothing' art. This morning I read this passage from Masanobu Fukuoka –

The more people do, the more society develops, the more problems arise. The increasing desolation of nature, the exhaustion of resources, the uneasiness and disintegration of the human spirit, all have been brought about by humanity's trying to accomplish something. Originally there was no reason to progress, and nothing that had to be done. We have come to the point at which there is no other way than to bring about a "movement" not to bring anything about. 1978 p159
I received an email from an artist last week advertising the 5 different shows that he was involved with this month. I have previously interviewed this artist for a column on ecological art practices and was made aware that his career development was superiorly more important than ecological crises.

Jason and I have spoken about our practice as 'no-practice', and that pulling the pin on flying to the US is contiguous with free-dragging; a practice of embracing hopelessness.


Anarchist Syndicate (with Broad Beans)

Saturday, November 14, 2009

For a full report on our garden under early-heat-wave duress as well as a new recipe, read my Garden Notes for Relocalisation.


After reading ecopoetics 6/7 and coming home

Saturday, October 31, 2009


Greenwash #6 in Trouble

Albatross chick photographed by Chris Jordan.

If you’ve read this column before you will know that I have more than a passing interest in anthropogenic waste – pollution caused by human activity. Is there any other? There are of course nasty toxins and poisons found readily in natural systems but none that systematically diminishes the health of ecosystems and impoverishes food and water supplies like our non-compostable waste.

Read on here.


Slow-text as food forest

Monday, October 26, 2009

detail: Jones, P. ‘A Free-dragging Manifesto’, pp. 41-43, ecopoetics, no. 6/7 2006-2009, Australian Ecopoetics Feature, eds. Michael Farrell and Jonathan Skinner, Periplum Editions, USA


Under the lens of the bottle green sea

Friday, October 16, 2009

This TED talk is brilliant! An exposé of the health of the world's oceans.


Michel Deguy Compost Tea

Monday, October 12, 2009

We're back from our waste gleaning residence in Newcastle, NSW. Our final post on the Artist as Family blog includes a short creative doco called 17 Days that I made using my track "Michel Duguy Compost Tea" where I sing Deguy's poem "O great apposition of the world" rockoperaesque with beats. You can see/hear here –


Greenwash #5 in Trouble

Friday, October 2, 2009

While it’s true that Western culture is the sum of its many, varied parts, the dominant paradigm can be packed into two obsessions – privatising resources (natural, human and creative) and killing off wild nature in case it takes us over. René Descartes (1596-1650) is responsible for articulating this paradigm; our refusal to live at peace with non-human nature continues the Judeo-Christian resolve of separateness and avoidance. ‘I think therefore I am’ is the Cartesian maxim (and early secular transition from God as centre to man as centre) that, for many, justifies our ecological abandonment and gives philosophical weight to the stupid idea of our superiority over all other things.
Read on here.

In the meantime our project centred on gleaning waste continues over here.


Global Ecological Crisis

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Reading The Australian newspaper is normally a very distressing thing for me – the underweight ballerinas/models, the overweight businessmen/politicians, a Cartesian smorgasbord for privatised relations of avoidance – so I generally leave it alone. However I've been privy to free copies over coffee these past few mornings and so was again inclined to dip in. The more fool I.

This is the letter to the editor I wrote out of G20-despair.

Michael Stutchbury's anthropogenic economics, as displayed in 'Earning seat at the table' (Opinion, 29 September), again ignores the relationship between global growth capitalism and the rapidly unfolding Global Ecological Crisis (GEC). Stutchbury champions an economics that is a short-term abstraction – our standard of living has peaked in correlation with global oil supplies – climate change and energy descent will shortly reveal why his favoured economics is a nonsense and how it is at the root of the GEC. An economics based upon a cyclical, reciprocal system is what we need to move quickly towards. To continue to herald a broken-cycle system which will make the Earth uninhabitable is sheer idiocy.
But I'm not waiting around for The Australian to publish such views, it feels like many years off, if ever. In the meantime here's where our gleaning waste as family holiday project has gotten us so far.


Anthropogenic fruits

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Otherwise known as pop-fascism.

From our project over here.


Rain on my brain

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

It has been really wet here. I like to think Josh, Ziggy and I had something to do with it. We went into the bush a few days ago and Rain Dance is what we came out with. I guess you'd call this a Peej video clip, but shaking off the stiffness of late winter without spending a dollar is a more accurate description. I'm off to Newcastle tomorrow as one-third of the Artist as Family trio. You can follow our movements by clicking on the AAF link. This music vid is a timely loosen up for a warmer climate – Newcastle NSW, and more generally the planet – a low-carbon, non-specialised, free idiocy. Enjoy!

Thanks to Josh and Ziggy for their added flavour – I set out to do this solo and bumped into Josh beforehand. You can't beat chance! And thanks to Meg for her editing suggestions and general critical eye for loose m'goose activity. You can't beat critique, love and support!


Cartesian Wells

Saturday, September 19, 2009

The first online site I created was justfreewater, a site dedicated to platforming the woes of bottled water. In the past three years since I began that site I have enjoyed watching greater public awareness and a broader debate around bottled water. During this time I have spent many hours putting together a comprehensive picture of our local situation while concurrently finding out more about the global pattern of privatising this fundamental public resource. My film Lalgambook (Mt Franklin) attempts to communicate, via poetical terrorism rather than journalistic rationalism, the link between the occupation of Aboriginal land and genocide of Aboriginal people in the nineteenth century and the occupation of public water and ecocidal practices of the bottled water industry today in the same region, which I call home. 

Over the years friends have sent me links, newspaper articles and their own ideas for ethical modes for drinking water that don't pollute the landbase or capitalise upon that which should be a free and public resource. 

As we have become increasingly a culture of destructive Cartesians it has become difficult to see, surrounded by our affluence, that anthropocentrism is central to our undoing as a species. While growth economics and corporate greed predominate in capitalised marriage, the vacuuming of our artesian wells (groundwater) will continue to play a significant part of the pathological dowry. 

For a concise snapshot of the bottled water crisis, which dovetails emblematically into the wider Global Ecological Crisis (GEC), watch this trailer.


Unexpected turn with microbials

Monday, September 14, 2009

WorkmanJones' latest offering.


A return to free-dragging

Thursday, September 10, 2009

I have just returned from a poetics symposium at UWS organised by Kate Fagan and chaired by Ivor Indyk. Some of the things discussed involved language, translation, identity, form and ecology by poets and academics – Ann Vickery, Philip Mead, Pam Brown, Stephen Muecke, Martin Harrison, Anna Gibbs, John Hawke and Peter Minter, to name a few. And at the end of the symposium a number of us read including Tom Lee, Fiona Wright, Jill Jones and Michael Farrell. I read A Free-dragging Manifesto for the first time this year and, for the first time, as a 'fast text'. The work is about to be published in US journal ecopoetics in its original 'slow text' form. In the meantime you can read a fast text version here.

My book, A Free-dragging Manifesto, can be purchased from this site. Just scroll down the right hand side column and find the details. In case you've missed the many plugs of this two-sided book on my various sites... Peter O'Mara's brilliant volume of spatial poetry, subtext, is published on the reverse side and we share the overall title How To Do Words With Things. Read Astrid Lorange's review in Jacket.


Regenerating Community

Friday, September 4, 2009

I gave my Processes of Circularity: Permapoesis and the Shed of Interrelation presentation today as part of the panel Understanding the Value of Arts in Communities at the ReGenerating Community conference, RMIT. My participation was joined by both Ian Cuming's and Victoria Stead's presentations, and there was much biodiversity in our thoughts and activities. My work begins using pragmatic language and ends up as a poem, a transgressional device I have been working on to shift language from the 'rational' to the poethical. It starts:

By the time crude oil was discovered early on in the twentieth century the major socio-political forces – capitalism, communism and the third option fascism – were busily competing for attention and power. Sadly, not one of these three systems offered human societies an ecological model and we have paid dearly for this grand omission ever since.
You can read the entire work here.


A language older than words


Greenwash #4 in Trouble

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Glen Dunn recently made a short film about a kiln firing in Southern Tasmania, posted it online and found an unexpected viral enthusiasm for it around the globe. The film’s fusing of the ancient and the modern, the physical and the digital, taps into some of our most basic inclinations to form meaning of the present with things and activities that are common to the past. Things such as clay and wood and fire.

Read on here.


Notes for a manifesto on free-dying

Sunday, August 30, 2009


Processes of circularity

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Below is the introductory quote, premise and first paragraph to an essay I have written for the forthcoming ReGenerating Community conference at RMIT (September 2-4) in Melbourne. The essay's title is Processes of Circularity: Permapoesis and the Shed of Interrelation.

In Western thinking, in contrast [to Aboriginal thinking], the human is set apart from nature as radically other. Religions like Christianity must then seek narrative continuity for the individual in the idea of an authentic self that belongs to an imperishable realm above the lower sphere of nature and animal life. The eternal soul is the real, enduring, and identifying part of the human self, while the body is animal and corrupting. But transcending death this way exacts a great price; it treats the earth as a lower, fallen realm, true human identity as outside nature, and it provides narrative continuity for the individual only in isolation from the cultural and ecological community and in opposition to a person's perishable body. 
Val Plumwood, Being Prey.

Premise: If regeneration is embedded in processes of ecological circularity – the sharing of resources at a local level – it is not possible for communities to regenerate when based upon an exclusively linear, competitive, broken-cycle, aggregated and centrist socio-economic system. When you have an economic system based on growth any positive initiative to repair local ecologies and communities is merely bandaid work. Growth economics, to expand Dennis Potter’s quip about religion, is the wound not the bandage. Regenerating communities requires remodelling with steady-state systems, where growth becomes an integral, but not dominant, part of an open-cycle.

The construction of ecologically disembodied culture, where desire and hope are among the abstractions that predominate, has been greatly assisted by the introduction of clock time or what Guy Debord called ‘psuedo-cyclical time’. In this work I will argue that industrial culture’s subversion of the cyclical limits the possibilities for social and ecological regeneration. In previous writing I have articulated industrial culture as a succession of ‘broken-cycle toxicologies’ where exploiting finite non-renewable resources for short-term economic gain, over-extending the capacity of the landbase to regenerate, compressing time and space to enable monological schooling, wage-slavery and other forms of social bondage, generating toxicological waste aggregately and applying and entrenching an anthropocentric worldview are all corollaries. Traditional communities live according to ecological principals – processes of circularity – where by observing cyclical time and space enables life to be more easily lived in what Gertrude Stein termed ‘the continuous present’. This work will first assess how industrial culture continues to negate the capacity for ecological and social communities to regenerate, and second offer context for counter-participation away from dominant industrial-centrist modalities, and towards distributed social-ecologies; towards a free-poor, time-expanded relocalisation.
Many thanks to Hepburn Shire Council who gave financial support to assist with the writing of this work, with special thanks to Sue Jones, the arts officer. Many thanks to Peter O'Mara, Jeff Stewart, Meg Ulman, Su Dennett, David Holmgren, Hamish Morgan and Prof Stuart Hill for their valuable thoughts to help enable this work, which currently remains a working document. Once completed it will be made freely available to read online.


Joys of the dark months

Sunday, August 9, 2009


Greenwash #3 in Trouble

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Waste. No other single word defines our civilisation better. Ninety years of crude oil extraction, refinement and burning has turned the planet and its atmosphere into a monumental toxicological dump. But the rapid exploitation of oil deposits is only one corollary of our anti-ecological state, our mindset for waste has been gradually developing over 6,000 years.

Read on here.


Greenwash #2 in Trouble

Friday, July 31, 2009

A few years ago I met and shared a meal with John Peterson, a US artist-farmer who worked out a unique way to put the mardi gras back into microbial life. Peterson has spent a lifetime building interrelationships between the earth, art and food. He transformed his family’s farm from using conventional ecocidal farming practices into a world of creativity and experimentation where wild nature was encouraged to coexist with cultivated nature.

Read on here.


Greenwash #1 in Trouble

Monday, July 27, 2009

As this is the first in a series of columns on art and the environment, I thought I’d begin with my own definition of the much bandied about word ‘sustainability’, and talk about how my thoughts and understanding of ecology have radically changed my own art practice over the years.

Read on here.


Towards a biophysical poetry

Monday, July 20, 2009

Below is the title, introductory quote and first two paragraphs of my first substantial work since A Free-dragging Manifesto. It is soon to be published in Angelaki, the journal of the theoretical humanities, by Routledge in the UK.
Free-dragging, Slow Text and Permapoesis:
Towards a biophysical poetry
If language is of the world, like galaxies and ecosystems, this means it participates in what it represents, though how privileged it may be either as a representative or as a participant remains to be seen. Ira Livingston
I suppose it could go without saying that with every culture the interrelationships between food (survival) and art (living) are wholly understandable. To mark this point a friend and I, at an airport shop recently, wheeled a large stand of brightly coloured packets of potato chips ten metres across the floor to sit beside a large stand of brightly covered paperback books. This small, unplanned action was filmed and later published online as a free-to-air video poem called Best Sellers.

How we obtain our food directly informs our imaginative psyches and links our art to our food. In this essay I aim to make conscious the link between principles of agro-ecology and permaculture and a decapitalised and carbon fixed poetry – poetry that consciously and explicitly participates within a dynamic biosphere, not just in content but also in form. Just to be clear and ’fess-up here, when I made Best Sellers I was at an airport flying home from a festival where I had presented a paper that centred on art’s relation to carbon. In this work, I will begin with a premise based on the relocalisation of resources; present four theses identifying the material and social woes of ‘impermanent culture’; reference a fifth thesis proposed by anthropologist and activist David Graeber on the material and social woes of liberalism’s aggregate-growth model; show the transitional practices of ‘free-dragging’ and ‘slow text’ as examples of biophysical art (post John Cage); and posit the portmanteau, ‘permapoesis’, as a post-capitalist ethic that articulates an ecological mode of production for the arts.

You can read the entire work (with its specific formatting) here.

I especially thank commissioning editor Kate Fagan for her generous assistance, critique and clear-eye over this piece, as well as Ian Robertson, Meg Ulman, Hamish Morgan, Jason Workman and Peter O'Mara for their valuable suggestions and supportive peerage. I am also indebted to David Holmgren's incredible life's work and writing, as well as Derrick Jensen and David Graeber for their inspired thinking and activism.


Newspaper by 2008

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