Trading civilisation for living

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Until fairly recently – until civilization – nature was a subject, not an object. In hunter-gatherer societies no strict division or hierarchy existed between the human and the non-human. The participatory nature of vanished connectedness has to be restored, that condition in which meaning was lived, not objectified into a grid of symbolic culture. The very positive picture we now have of pre-history establishes a perspective of anticipatory rememberance: there is the horizon of subject-object reconciliation.

This prior participation with nature is the reverse of the domination and distancing at the heart of reification. It reminds us that all desire is a desire for relationship, at its best reciprocal and animate. To enable this nearness or presence is a gigantic practical project, that will make an end to these dark days.
John Zerzan, That thing we do, 1998, from Running on Emptiness: The Pathology of Civilization, Feral House, 2002


Society for the retardation of time

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

I've been reading John Zerzan's Running on Emptiness, in which he describes a small group of Europeans who collectively call themselves The Society for the Retardation of Time. Zerzan argues that time and time compression are things of civilisation, things that require constant criticism and awareness if we are to reclaim our lives from alienation, reification and estrangement.

Joy and status anxiety rarely collaborate, and as Michael Pollan says "if it's advertised it's probably toxic".

Zerzan's essay Time and its Discontents is available here.


A Poem for the Wetlands

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

It's been five years since I made this public work in Werribee, Victoria, completed not long after having had the realisation that poetic thought and poetic production can survive without language.

Every now and then the wetlands flood and this little work just disappears.

A Poem for the Wetlands, Patrick Jones and Mel Ogden, Glen Orden Wetlands, 2005


Writing Reading Doing Thinking

Saturday, January 16, 2010

As many of you know we're currently attempting to establish a quarter acre garden as a dynamic food forest. However, it's not only plant biology books, seed grower's guides and the land itself that's informing us.

Here's a list of books that I've recently read or I'm currently reading which are assisting me in the garden:

John Zerzan's Running on Emptiness: The Pathology of Civilization (2002)
Masanobu Fukuoka's The One-Straw Revolution (1978), The Road Back to Nature (1987)
Val Plumwood's Environmental Culture: The Ecological Crisis of Reason (2002)
Judith Wright's Born of the Conquerors (1991)
David Holmgren's Future Scenarios (2009)
Alexis Wright's Carpentaria (2006)

And, here are some associated notes from my reading:

In Europe if you wish to imagine life before agricultural settlements, you'd have to conjure up an imagination that went back 10,000 years. A difficult task by any one's standards. However in Australia our imagination need not be so stretched or even fanciful.
On the scale of things, their history was just a half-flick of the switch of truth – simply a memory no greater than two life spans. (A Wright, p57)
If we lack the imagination to understand our domesticated bonds – time, symbol, language, capital, property, technology, and so forth – we forfeit the possibilities of a natural, non-hierarchical and unmediated self.
Culture has led us to betray our own aboriginal spirit and wholeness, into an ever worsening realm of synthetic, isolating, impoverished estrangement. (Zerzan, p16)
Permaculture, based upon relocalising resources, may well be an achievable bridge back for ecologically disembodied society to greater aboriginality and timelessness. Philosophically, permaculture can be seen as a loose modus that conscientiously steps away from progress and technology, rather than a rigid system that attempts to dominate and cage people. In my version of permaculture, agricultural toil and endless hard work are replaced by tending one's own or community's food garden for a few hours a day. And where ever-expanding wilderness is no longer available in which to forage and free-range, permaculture asks us to disregard set ideas of public and private land, and concentrate on that which is possible with all manners of so-called 'disused' land (Holmgren, 2009).

In our own community the Hepburn Relocalisation Network, established by David Holmgren, Su Dennett and Maureen Corbett, is working to encourage and assist community and local council to plant nut trees along roadways and in parklands. These trees will accompany already established feral and publicly planted fruit trees that supply free food to humans and non-humans alike.
When you get down to it, there are few agricultural processes that are necessary. (Fukuoka, 1978, p15)
Our reliance upon grains, domesticated meat and dairy renders us passive consumer-abusers and grave polluters. Wild and semi-cultivated foods are our future if we are to liberate ourselves from the pathologies of civilisation. Therefore, we feel we have to make a stance against factory supply (supermarkets), transition to free-ranging foods (organic farms and small gardens) before reacquainting ourselves with the possibilities of the wild. Almond meal is going to become a more significant supplement for us in years to come.

Above: A young almond tree grows shrouded by Indigenous poa tussock grasses in our garden. The poas protect the delicate leaves of the almond from late frosts until it is established enough to survive them.


The oblivious cruelty of humans (chapter 2034)

Friday, January 8, 2010

Today Zeph and I helped this local goose free from a fishing hook stuck in her neck. Read more here.


Waste Warriors

Friday, January 1, 2010

Meg and I displaying the commonsense adage of our grandparents' generation at this year's New Years Eve parade in Daylesford. Thanks to Glen, Ian, Jason and Larisa for their support and flavoured documentation, and thanks too to the thunderstorm that washed us all away pretty soon after Glen shot this peg. BTW, I think that's Paul Stewart, Painters and Dockers frontman, crossing the street behind us.

And here's a rear view at the arse end of 2009.


Newspaper by 2008

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