Thursday, January 22, 2009


I haven't paid much attention to the Obama-land-of-hope-fest that's been playing out in the abstract world of global media, until this morning. I sat in my local drinking coffee, reading the papers and after only a short while I was taken by an overwhelming compulsion to cry. For the first time in innumerable years I was actually moved by two-party politics.

All the cynicism in me remained. 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. So I think the emotional dunking was more for the outgoing rather than the incoming. Reading and seeing the great relief of everyday Americans while at the same time flashing through the past eight years of my own life (under Bush) was extraordinary. Fuck! he's gone. The fucker's gone.

Later in the morning a guy called Neil came to inspect our solar panels and connect us up. We watched with immense joy our electricity meter stop, then go in reverse. After he left, and in celebration of the moment, we also turned off our mains water and turned on our previously stored tank supply. Bliss.

Then an hour later we had a blackout and our solar system, which is connected to the main grid supply, went out. Because we have a small electric pump to push our water supply, we were also without water.

This naturally returned me to my hopeless-homeostasis that I've come to function so well under before two lovely peeps, Geraldine and Kyla from Monash University came to talk to me about a WorkmanJones component for a group exhibition based on detours and the absurd for later in 09.

Friday, January 16, 2009

That which is possible

Several years ago Jason Workman and Esther Buder carried out a small food project in the Castlemaine district that filled their larder with bottled preserves and generated relations of sharing that continue today. The project was called That which is possible, and one of the gifts to come from it (that wasn't food-based) was a hand-made postcard series which contained pictures of claimed roadside food, recipes for preserving and a map of where the various plums, pears, apples, blackberries, and quince are and when, approximately, they bare fruit. The postcards were sent to friends but also to random strangers, not necessarily in the area, to promote a poetic of resourcefulness.

Today I had to go to Castlemaine to choose some stone for a small wall I'm building. I asked PO if he wanted to test Jason and Esther's 2005 map. Bingo! Early season cherry plums. We picked together a bag full for Meg's pancake breakfast on Sunday.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Consumption (or, it's Permablitzing time!)

So far I've been impressed with David Graeber's book, Possibilities. His first essay, "Manners, Deference, and Private Property: or Elements for a General theory of Hierarchy", has been used in various posts here over the past several weeks. His second essay concerns the very idea of consumption, and he naturally begins with some etymology.
The English "to consume" derives from the Latin verb consumere, meaning "to seize or take over completely," and hence, by extension, to "eat up, devour, waste, destroy, or spend". p.59
Graeber argues that if we were still speaking a fourteenth century dialectic a consumer society would mean 'a society of wastrels and destroyers'. 
...wasting diseases "consumed" their victims: a usage that according to the Oxford English Dictionary is already documented by 1395. This is why tuberculosis came to be known as "consumption". At first, the now-familiar sense of consumption as eating or drinking was very much a secondary meaning. Rather, when applied to material goods, consumption was almost always synonymous with waste: it meant destroying something that did not have to be (at least quite so thoroughly) destroyed. p59.
I fail to see how anything has changed since the fourteenth century. Waste and destruction have only intensified with population expansion placing greater and greater pressures on the Earth's ecologies. Graeber almost never writes using ecologic language, and I would guess he is an urban dweller who buys his food in from across the country and from overseas wrapped in plastic. However, his writing is nearly always suggesting an ecological revolution because he understands the toxic corollaries of twenty-first century capitalism, and where it has come from. Once we have a fair grasp of the pathologies of late-capitalism, it's time to turn to the solutions, as David Holmgren might say; it's time to permablitz the world.