Creativity: The Party Props in Action

My recent Creativity posts have been all about making props for my 60th birthday party – Punk’s Not Dead. Today I’m making a gallery of some photos from the party, featuring those pieces. It’s not every day (or year) that I have a sufficient excuse to hire a band and the local Hall, so I thought I may as well make an event – an art project – of it.

Guests were invited to dress up in Punk Rock Style, and most of them did, with a broad range of interpretations. To me, Punk (Rock) represents freedom of expression, a DIY aesthetic and a can-do approach, so I was little bit surprised at how many of my guests associate “punk” with obnoxiousness – there was a lot of face-pulling going on! There was even concern expressed about the possibility of violent behaviour, despite the fact that my friends are very mild mannered, middle  class types who would never dream of such a thing. Thinking about this afterwards, I realised they were reflecting the biases of the Murdoch Press reporting on the Sex Pistols et al way back when…sad!

Friday Poem: Question Everything

The poem came first. Then somehow I had some Time Alone this week, with pen and paper, and thinking of the poem and all that has been going on in the world of late (what’s new?), I wrote a little rant…question everything

Nothing is certain,
Not even this:
I don’t want to be certain-
I want to wonder
And to exercise curiosity.

I don’t want to be
Like a man who is sure what is true;
Such men are dangerous
For sure.
There have been a few.

Let me instead
Always question everything,
And keep ‘if’ and ‘maybe’
Firmly in my vocabulary.question everything 2

I don’t like Dominator Culture, however it is expressed. But, because we are immersed in it, it can be difficult to see – but once one is aware, it’s everywhere. Misogyny, abuse of children, spousal violence, unequal pay scales for men and women, cheap, illegal Mexican labour used for dirty, dangerous and underpaid work, 1% of the world’s population “owning” as much as the other 99% put together, violent struggles for control, whether for families, neighbourhoods or whole countries or religions. Keeping up with the Joneses and other extringent goals, playground bullies trying to assuage their own miserable self-worth by destroying someone else’s….Dominator Culture surrounds us every day, in ways both large and small, with the seemingly insignificant feeding on and into the blindingly obvious.

No one can beat Dominator Culture, because beating is joining it…So how to counter it?

Mohondas Gandhi taught non-violent non-cooperation, and one form of non-violent non-cooperation that anybody can participate in is to ask questions, maintain curiosity and to live an actively creative life. To be widely read, and go into the wild without wanting to tame it, to regard all persons as the equal of oneself (am I sounding like Walt Whitman? Don’t mind if I do…). To draw in the margins, and colour outside the lines. To love one another, and cultivate compassion, even towards those who seem to be the very worst…All this is deeply radical behavior,
and utterly contrary to Dominator Culture.question everything 3

Weekly Photography Challenge: Achievement

Another tricky theme this week for the Weekly Photography Challenge – Achievement! I certainly haven’t run any marathons, but I do have five (grown) children, which is probably tougher. It certainly takes longer – I’m not sure where the finish line would be…I didn’t choose motherhood for my photos this week, though.

In February this year, our iconic local Hall celebrated it’s centenary, with a lot of help from us, the tiny, hardworking Moyston Hall Committee. The building was erected by the local community – much larger back then. One of the first functions was to farewell local lads who were off to join the ANZACs, not that any of them had any idea what they were in for…1914 committee (Medium)

This is the 1914 committee, and it wasn’t even Movember!

Our Hall has a proper raked stage and proscenium arch, even though it is quite tiny, and the acoustics and dance floor are excellent – some achievements of the original builders. The original bench seats are still there. Some of them are not the best, but it seems wrong to part with them after all this time. Thousands of cups of tea and coffee have been served from the kitchen (not the original, which was a dark affair with a copper in the corner – less than thirty years ago). The new kitchen is another achievement of our community! One wall is adorned with portraits of early settlers, some of them wrongly named over the years. They were researched as much as possible in the lead-up to the Centenary, and that information, along with a history of the Hall and some photos we managed to track down of events over the years, went into a book which was printed with the help of a grant and sold to everyone interested.

The weekend of the Centenary saw the Hall packed for the book launch (and afternoon tea – I think we made another hundred or so cuppas). All the memorabilia we had gathered was on display all weekend, and on the Saturday night, we had a Ball. A popular local duo – Parso and Dave – provided the music, everyone dressed up and had a really good time. I think the last few guests left around 2 am, with us old people waiting to lock up and go home to bed. The whole weekend was a major achievement for a small rural community!

1 Day 1 World: 10-11am

I’ve missed a few weeks, and now the 24 hours of Lisa’s 1 Day 1 World is almost up – but today I remembered to take a camera along to my volunteer job at Ararat Regional Art Gallery, and took a few pics between 10 and 11am today. My first task was to look through a local paper for references to our gallery (none), then I stuffed envelopes with invitations for the two upcoming exhibitions. Having finished the invites, I mended a broken drawer before making myself a cup of tea. In the main gallery, chairs and a basket of wool were ready for knitters to come in and participate in making squares for blankets – the Gallery’s contribution to Senior’s week celebrations. The finished blankets are distributed to those who need them by a charity called Wrap With Love. On Wendy’s desk is a heap of paper flowers, made in preparation for Children’s Week, which is only a week or two after Senior’s…

I went on to spend an hour or two in the afternoon knitting with a lovely lady called Lorna, and hearing about her life. A good day!

Dominator Culture

A social chat at the gallery soon came around to politics. The arts community tends to be left-leaning, from my experience, and no one was impressed by the current government’s policies or budget plans. The director commented that he doesn’t want to hate them, and that he thinks they believe they are doing what is right. Which set me thinking…KDC

Dominator Culture operates from a paradigm of fear, giving rise to wars and rumours of wars, spikes in doorways to deter rough sleepers, economic “rationalism”. Fear of change, fear of the ‘other’, fear that the poor will take advantage of the wealthy, fear of women in power. So we have isis wanting to bring back a caliphate in the Middle East, and the Australian Liberal Party wanting to deny economic support to unemployed youth, for example. No one can believe that reducing a jobless young person to utter poverty is a sensible way to get them into paid work, unless they are mired in Dominator Culture and really need to get out a lot more…

I could go on about the obvious, and vast, flaws in this policy. Bizarrely, the Government is aware of the flaws. Whilst “saving tax payer’s money” by not providing welfare to unemployed youth for six months at a time,(welfare that is barely enough to get by at  best ), a large sum of tax payers money has been put aside in the Budget to cover the inevitable problems. Community Welfare agencies are stretched to the limit already and consumer confidence has sunk. Is that policy rational? I don’t think so.

We have been told that there is a debt crisis, and that everyone has to share in “heavy lifting” – a story created by wealthy men who lift no more than the pen that signs the story. Our “enormous debt” is less than the personal fortunes of a few individuals who have control of our country’s mineral wealth – helped along with subsidies and tax breaks funded by struggling working and middle class tax payers…Is that rational? Is that the Fair Go we Australians are so fond of?the key

Our “Leaders” – under-parented, unempathic, strongly sociopathic, product of a bullying culture, dishonest, wealthy and triumphantly and smugly on top of the heap. What if the democratic process included extensive independent psychological testing of would-be candidates, allowing only the fittest to stand?

That’s psychologically fit,not “able to ride a bike and can swim” fit.

There are only two feelings.
Love and fear.
There are only two languages.
Love and fear.
There are only two activities.
Love and fear.
There are only two motives,
two procedures, two frameworks,
two results.
Love and fear.
Love and fear.

Michael Leunig

“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men (sic) to do nothing.”

Edmund Burke

Daily Prompt: Colours

spectrumI love colours – all of them, from red to violet, and all the shades and tones in between, with the possible exception of puce. I have crystals, prismatic pretties, hung in every sunny window, for the pleasure of having rainbow shards scattered around the house. Often when this happens, I pick up a camera, as in any “Oh! look at that!” moment.top spectrumI  may have posted this poem before, but it fits, so here it is –

SPECTRUM

The faceted plastic crystal heart
Hung in the window by a thread
Captures the brilliance of the sun
Within itself
And splitting the light into its parts
Casts them indiscriminately around the room.

So may we, though hanging tenuously,
Enclose and scatter around us
Peace and love and empathy,
The spectrum of the light of God.

Weekly Photography Challenge: Community

 

This weeks challenge topic is “community”. I decided to share some photos I took recently at our community Hall. There had been a show on the night before – the last of a run of five performances around the district of Ararat Theatre Company’s End of Year show. The next morning, ATC crew came back to dismantle their set, while the ever faithful Hall Committee members set to work putting away chairs and tables and cleaning up. Fortunately for the workers, there were leftovers from the Country Supper for our morning tea! The Hall, built by the community, for the community, has been a centre piece of the social life of our tiny “rural village” for almost one hundred years, and in February we will be celebrating our  Hall’s Centenary  ( more cream cakes!).

Friday Poem: Charter

This poem is a list of what I do (and don’t) want in interpersonal relationships, but on Election eve in Australia, it also stands as a list of what I would wish to see in society as a whole. You may say I’m a dreamer… I hope I’m not the only one…

I want an equal relationship;
I want respect
both as an individual person
and as an expression of the divine;
I want unconditional love
inner peace
and empathy that leads to compassion;
I want the right to love what I love
and give what I can;
I want the right to give and receive affection
freely and with no strings attached;
I want to be free to follow my conscience
without constraints of conventional behaviour;
I don’t want to play games of gender roles
or emotional hide and seek;
I want to offer and receive comfort
without fear of rejection or attack;
I want to take life as it comes
knowing that whatever happens
happens with good reason
even if I can’t see it now;
I want to learn my lessons
and fulfill my tasks
and not come back
unless I want to;
I want to break free.
plum blossom

Change is Good, and We Need Some…

Change is the only constant as our Zen brothers and sisters have observed, so we may as well learn to live with it. Why fight the inevitable?…red red rose

I don’t really understand the attraction of keeping things just the same , except that it presumably gives an illusion of control. Hah. I’ve recently read a book about the ‘spiritual ‘ aspect of menopause, by a shaman lady who was born in Seattle and lives (or lived) in Los Angeles (much less rain). She and her apprentices all complain of their bodies being “out of their control” as they enter menopause. Hey, girls, you never had any control before – just more predictability, assuming your cycles were regular.

She talks about hormones going “out of balance” quite a lot, when the balance is changing, is all. Japanese ladies don’t have all this hoo-ha about losing youth, mojo, fertility et al, and it can’t all be down to their tofu. Men don’t want to follow you around anymore?

Halle-bloody-lujah. Peace at last.red poppies

“Why Do You Think You Are Nothing Without Men Looking At  You Like A Sex Object?”

Hmmm. Not a snappy book title, but maybe it is, you know…Sharp shoes

How much difference is there really  between that 1950’s housewife imperative, that the little lady should tidy herself up and put on a nice frock and fresh lippy before hubby comes home, so he’s got something nice to look at and wait on his needs, and the 2000’s imperative that a girl should keep herself trim, pump up her breasts and dress like a hooker and put on makeup that makes her look plastic, so that men can have something nice to look at and service their “needs”. What exactly is the difference? Some marriage advisers back in the day, before “women’s liberation’ also advised the little lady to greet hubby at the door after work, while dressed up as a hooker, in order to “spice up” the marriage, and serve the poor fellows “needs” for erotic excitement.Literally set free

It appears to me that women have been ‘liberated” from one cage into another. Not that all women enter it, and some stick to the old one. But it is sold as “freedom”, “power” etc, and is no more free and powerful than the good little housewife in her cocktail frock, putting aside her own interests and power and personality in order to be a prop and a comfort to her husband.

Once it was believed that nature had especially designed women to be kind and nurturing and to soothe a man’s furrowed brow; now some folk are equally sure that evolution has designed women to flash their tits and like pink. Oh, purlease. Give us a break, will ya!yab-yum

Women are humans who have XX chromosomes, which cause them to have ovaries and uterus and mammary glands, all for the growing and feeding of babies. Men are humans who have XY chromosomes, causing their ovaries to drop down and become testes, and the clitoris becomes a penis, in order that they may provide the zygotes to fertilise the ova produced by women, in order to make babies and propagate the species. Both genders have the same hormones, in different combinations according to their needs – their needs being predicated around the baby-making imperative  The other differences between men and women are cultural. Culture and experience build the brain, influence the production of hormones etc etc. Women do not like pink because their hunter-gatherer forebears looked for red berries. Men do not like blue because their hunter-gatherer forebears hunted meat under blue skies.oppose authority

Women (westernised women) tend toward pink because pink-for-girls has been ground into them since birth. Men tend toward blue (and sharply away from pink- unless it’s genital) because they also have had blue-for-boys, pink-for-girls ground into them from birth, along with the deeply embedded cultural idea that boys are better and that girls are worse. Doing “girl” things is a sure way for a boy to lose status. It is far more tolerable for a girl to do “boy” things than the other way around. (So long as she doesn’t get her pink dress dirty…)drops

Time for a change!

Photographs are of flowers in my garden, mixed-media artworks, a Tibetan ‘yab-yum’ figure, symbolising the balance of male and female energies, and, if I remember rightly, condensation on cling-wrap.

One of the books that helped me form these ideas is –

Delusions of Gender – Cordelia Fine

and I referenced the classic “Why do I Think I Am Nothing without a Man”, (1983) by Penelope Russianoff
My husband looked over my shoulder and asked if I am “anti-male at the moment”.
No. Just anti sexist claptrap.

Empathy: what it’s good for

morning lightI’ve been having a bit of a clean out, moving things around and going through boxes of saved papers to see what I can do without. I found this piece of writing in one of those boxes. It was typed on an a word-processor that is long gone, so I wrote it well over ten  years ago. Evidently this has been on my mind for a long time!’ George Bushism’ would refer to the elder of the two – I decided to let that stand, however dated, as only the labels have changed.

Empathy, empathy, god grant us EMPATHY!

Empathy could save the world.

Empathy could destroy – militarism, terrorism, George Bushism.

Empathy is what Tibetan Buddhists cultivate in order to grow in compassion.

Empathy could destroy – xenophobia, war, greedy banks.

Empathy would make babies happy and grow them into happy adults.

Empathy prevents depression.

Empathy is more precious than any commodity you care to name.

Empathy can be taught.

And it’s high time it was.

Empathy, Empathy! Empathy is what makes us human – humans being – being in relation to others, and if we are not in relation to others, what are we?

Empathy allows others inside each others heads and hearts.

Babies die without empathy, and with not enough, they grow up to be psychopaths – incapable of feeling, of understanding – or caring – how anyone else is feeling.Seattle sheep graf

 

I also found this quote, scribbled on the back of a recipe…

“Living with hybrid identities and multiple cultural affiliations breeds a bottom-up cosmopolitanism and empathic extension. By incorporating diverse cultures, individuals become multicultural in their own identity; and therefore more tolerant and open to the diversity around them. A multicultural identity also gives an individual a richer reservoir of personal experiences and feelings to draw upon in expressing empathy to others.”

Jeremy Rifkin

‘The Empathic Civilization.’

What he is basically saying there is – everybody needs to get out more, literally and figuratively, and we’ll all be much better off personally and socially.

Empathy is one powerful way to Counter Dominator Culture!chair shadow