life is good

life is good

I’m about to head to Melbourne to visit friends and spend some time with Chris, should be awesome 🙂

My work life is chugging along really nicely, I’m really enjoying it all. I’m doing curriculum development at Macquarie University and that’s going to be a lot of work starting this week. I’m also doing online teaching and have taken up business consulting on Fridays which I’m enjoying. The work load is getting bigger.

Been to several events at the Sydney Festival: last night’s Stravinsky opera ‘Oedipus Rex’ was pretty good, though I really enjoyed Andrew Bird ealier this month as well as ‘Smoke and Mirrors’ with The Clique and iOTA at the Spiegeltent, which was just brilliant.

Spent the last weekend with friends chilling and looking forward to lots of catch-ups, new dates/meetups, more concerts and music, and Mardi Gras events when I’m back.

I’m also grateful to have two beautiful men in my life right now. Enjoying spending lots of time with Chris, such a delicious luxury.

I really feel like my life is truly coming together this year and everything’s on the up (perhaps minus my health which is pretty usual). I’m a very happy wolf-fox at the moment!

(artwork is ‘The sweet wolf couple’ by J_C on DevArt)

Australian of the year

Australian of the year

Wonderful to see that instead of a sportsperson we now have an eminent psychiatrist as the Australian of the year for 2010! Yay.

Professor Patrick McGorry works in the area of youth mental health, has championed early intervention and helped build up several institutions and initiatives. We so need to recognise outstanding Australian scientists more and definitely need more focus on mental health!

Awesome choice.

Prof McGorry, Australian of the year

Dorothy Porter – The Beehut

Dorothy Porter - The Beehut

Dorothy Porter is my favourite Australian poet and I was shocked to learn of her death back in Dec 2008 after a long fight with breast cancer.

The good news for fans is that there’s a new collection of her poetry coming out this year called The Bee Hut.

Her partner Andrew Goldsmith was in conversation with Ramona Koval for Radio National’s The Book Show the other day. You can listen to the podcast for a few more weeks here. (if it’s no longer there feel free to contact me for an electronic copy)

There were many small revelations in this interview about Porter’s Pagan inspired imagination, her choice of readings (Rilke, Sappho, Blake), her unfaltering and optimistic poetic vision even during her weeks of dying.

Also, Goldsmith is helping edit several more collections, including one of love poetry that I’ll be looking out for in the coming years.

As Lisa Gorton writes in The Monthly, “In an obituary, Kristin Henry listed “feral” and “lucid” as Porter’s favourite words. This is a feral and lucid last collection.”

I transcribed/copied a couple of poems here.. enjoy!

Head of Astarte

Goddess in a London antiquities shop window,
whose starry name once soared,
how can your null and void terracotta head
shore me against my ruin?

I want to steal you from the underworld,
graft you like a juicy cutting of Orpheus
graft you like a seeding amulet
to the strings of my right hand.

Guide me through this bloody desert
of parching modernity.
Let’s blow down the old straw god
draped in pious brutality.

Instead of adoring you like this
In furtive powerless bliss.

The Bee Hut

for Robert Colvin

There is a dark place
on my friend Robert’s farm
that thrums
with the nectar smell
of danger.

A swarm of bees
has taken over
a dozing old shed
and no one
has the means
or guts
to move them.

I think of slaughtered
Mycenean kings
entombed in their brick
hive
glittering as they lie
golder than honey
in the old blood
dark.

Entranced
my bare hand
wants to plunge
through a hole —
now a buzzing lethal
highway —
in the shed wall.

I love the bee hut
on my friend Robert’s farm.

I love the invisible mystery
of its delicious industry.

But do I love the lesson
of my thralldom
to the sweet dark things
that can do me harm?

Avatar… more

Avatar… more

OK, I have now seen Avatar a second time and have refined my view of it a bit.

What I find most fascinating is that here we have a huge 3D blockbuster that is happens to be a thoughtful film about deeper ideas that cannot just be dismissed out of hand, even though some people seem to be doing just this. If someone is against Hollywood blockbusters per se, there could be criticism on that shallow ground, but I think that kind of criticism ends up throwing out some very good stuff with the ideology critique.

So let’s look at the film’s strength and themes. Incidentally, it’s both intrigueing and perhaps annoying that writers and critics don’t seem to agree on what the film is really about. But some layers are difficult to miss: the film has very strong themes against imperialism, against American military power, against the use of sheer force, and for the environment, for the valuing of cultures and biosphere for their own inherent values. This is more than most of sociology and philosophy of technology manages to accomplish, so let’s not dismiss it!

The cinematographic qualities of the film do not need emphasising, but I feel like describing them as I was simply blown away. The sheer scale of the production is staggering, the embedded CGI is incredibly impressive and the production values are high by any standard in any modality you care to look at. I will not rehash the whole storyline, but the film takes place on another planet inhabitad by natives and a dizzying array of exotic flora and wildlife. The American military is there to protect the commercial interest of these human intruders who are after the material deposits that happen to lie under the most sacred sites of the indigenous. The natives have to go. An anthropological team is embedded in the operation who send avatars, native-human chimeras remotely controlled by human agents, to infiltrate the native population and try to get them to relocate, a ‘humane’ diplomatic solution instead of a pure military offensive. The embedded humans get involved and the main hero falls in love with the natives and ends up supporting the natives’ quest to throw off the violently imperialistic humans who then spare no military might in trying to eradicate the natives.

The 3D technology is used to amazing effect and the world of Pandora is depicted in the most lavish and beautiful way possible. We get immersed in the world of the natives, learning not only their culture and language, but also their spiritual world in which the whole biosphere is biologically and spiritually linked. Science doesn’t have the answers to everything, this unique world has its own rules and beauty and logic that humans have no legitimate right to want to control let alone destroy. Nature itself is depicted as an organic whole, Gaia comes to mind, in which every creature has its place and all their unique qualities have their own inherent purpose and meaning. Coming to destroy them with large machinery is the haughty, violent, selfish and imperialistic humans who have little regard for the natives and their planet.

The environmentalist, anti-imperialistic and multicultural overtones are difficult to miss. But the most subversive of all is that we do not have the answers to everything and we do not yet understand any of the biological and cultural systems that we want to dominate, exploit and extinguish. There is a strong inherent value in these systems, be it a unique flower on the verge of extinction or a native culture with its own system of understanding, and these values need to be recognised, especially when in conflict with our insatiable appetite for capitalistic expansion and world domination.

If these are not transgressive insights in a blockbuster film I don’t know what would qualify! To see that these insights are also delivered through an aesthetically unique, emotionally laden medium aided by cutting edge technology is to finally make peace with the idea that some of mainstream cinema can deliver not just commercially but also intellectually and artistically.

Poly in Seattle

Here’s an interview with the writer of ‘Family’ the poly web series, and with her poly family… who are a very cute bunch 🙂

Apparently it’s now ordinary to see 3 people hand-in-hand in downtown Seattle… yay! The world must be changing!