Music by Daylesford songster, Archer.
Friday, November 19, 2010
Progress isEveryone's businessRollover to learn more
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Thursday, November 11, 2010
I've been following Adam Roberts' engaging five part series on the state of contemporary poetry, published in The Atlantic. I'm honoured to be included in his fourth post in the series, which looks at ecological and slow poetries.
With Slow Poetry in mind, it might be necessary to say that it's not enough, anymore, for a poem to be "about nature" for it to be properly ecological... Jonathan Skinner's journal ecopoetics and Brenda Ijima's anthology eco language reader are two resources that do wonders towards helping move this discussion along. The basic argument goes something like this: the "nature poem" of old – insofar as it holds the "natural" and "human" apart as separate categories, repressing social and political context – risks reducing nature to a kind of territory for human epiphany, engaging in a kind ecological orientalism. Says Skinner: "Juliana Spahr, a poet in the Bay Area, put it brilliantly...the nature poet focuses on the bird and the bird's nest, but doesn't turn around to confront the bulldozer ... Ecopoetry expands the frame to include the bulldozer."In this article Roberts hints at something very important and rarely discussed in ecological poetries – the relocalisation of poetry itself; the poem has to be walking distance, to expand Cuban permaculturalist Roberto Perez's maxim – 'the food has to be walking distance'. How this changes the poem is the context for my doctorate.
We went foraging for yam daisies a few days ago. Yams were once an important staple of the Djadja Wurrung, our local Yes people. Including yam daisies and other bush foods (lomandras, bracken fern, pigface and warrigal greens) into our within-walking-distance-diet calibrates us to Djadja Wurrung thinking – ecologically embodied resource-gathering, hunting and nomadic farming. Through foraging we become aware of the ecological intelligence that has been lost since invasion, and we become deeply sensitive to nuance, complexity and intensity within reciprocal-competitive natural systems. After returning from our yam forage I wrote this poem, Moonar (yam daisy), as a slow text mesostic to celebrate our increasingly relocalised existence and our deep respect for the traditional peoples of our local landbase.
Click for bigger.
For me, the important thing with a slow-text is the physical impact the poem has on the body. A coke 'n chips attention span just isn't going to cut it (either in terms of reading poems or having a future). A slow text forces a slow reading, at least for the first read; the eye stumbles over rocky ground, no neat flat monological lawns for it to glide over like ad copy; or to use 60s language – no rows of words lining up like colonising soldiers across the page.
Sunday, November 7, 2010
Since agriculture and animal husbandry first appeared, perhaps 10,000 years ago, hemoglobinopathies and adult lactose tolerance are almost the only generally acknowledged genetic modifications. On the other hand, our lifestyle has changed radically: Nutrition, physical activity, reproductive experience, psychosocial relations, microbial interactions, and toxin/allergen exposure are all vastly different now from what they were for ancenstral humans and prehumans during the period when our primary genetic makeup, including those factors relevant to endothelial health and disease, was selected... The resulting discordance or mismatch between our genes and our modern lives is a likely contributor to many common chronic diseases and probably various forms of endothelial dysfunction... More here.
Endothelial dysfunction is a systemic pathological state of the endothelium (the inner lining of our blood vessels) and can be broadly defined as an imbalance between vasodilating and vasoconstricting substances produced by (or acting on) the endothelium. Normal functions of endothelial cells include mediation of coagulation, platelet adhesion, immune function, control of volume and electrolyte content of the intravascular and extravascular spaces. Endothelial dysfunction can result from and/or contribute to several disease processes, as occurs in septic shock, hypertension, hypercholesterolaemia, diabetes as well from environmental factors, such as from smoking tobacco products and exposure to air pollution. More here.
Thursday, November 4, 2010
Warrigal Greens. Image: John Tann via flickr CC
A Victorian Aboriginal community has returned to traditional hunter-gatherer methods to solve food shortages and improve healthy eating. Victoria University has been working with the Wathaurong Aboriginal Co-operative in Geelong to reignite passion for traditional cooking methods, improve access to healthy foods and help close the health gap between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people... The 5000-strong Wathaurong Aboriginal community, which spreads from near Anglesea to south of Ballarat, is also developing a food bank and holding regular social cooking events.Reposted from here.
Wednesday, November 3, 2010
Tuesday, November 2, 2010
I've been reading John Michael Greer's The Long Descent, and have found it an extremely useful text in understanding political and social intransigence to ecological crisis. Early on he critiques two of our most dominant delusions: the myth of progress – that human brilliance and technology will always find solutions, and the myth of apocalypse – that industrial culture will end in one catastrophic McCarthian doomsday scenario.
His theory on our civilisation's descent is fairly original and compliments David Holmgren's work Future Scenarios. Greer is in no doubt that society is incapable of solving the interrelated problems of peaking fossil fuels and climate chaos. Therefore, rather than a problem to find a solution to (which we could have perhaps done thirty years ago), Greer argues we now have only a predicament which requires, not a solution, but responses.
"The chance that today's political and business interests will do anything useful in our present situation is small enough that it's probably not worth considering." p30This sentence dovetails pretty nicely with my friend, Ian Robertson's, brilliant Victorian government adbusting (from last year).
The transportation of resources crisis; a revolving door.
Greer thinks there are parallels to make with the declines of previous civilisations. For example he reckons we can switch swidden agriculture for crude oil in the following paragraph.
"All the achievements of Mayan civilization rested on the shaky foundation of swidden agriculture – a system in which fields are allowed to return to jungle after a few years of cultivation, while new fields are cleared and enriched with ashes from burnt vegetation. It's a widely used system in tropical areas around the world, but, like dependence on fossil fuels, it has a hidden vulnerability. Swidden works extremely well at relatively modest population levels, but it breaks down disastrously when population growth takes over and farms can no longer return to jungle long enough to restore soil fertility."p25By 2040, he projects, oil supply will be what it was in 1980, but with nearly twice the amount of people on the planet.
Energy Bulletin has posted a podcast titled Peak Oil vs Pathological Optimism just yesterday, which feeds off from these thoughts.
Monday, November 1, 2010
Turning the compost is an obvious enough metaphor; artists do it all the time, cycling materials and concepts – peddling forward, foraging back. So I thought after a year and a half of generated content within this column it was time to do some chronological composting and see what sort of conceptual soil has been built as we move deeper into an era of ecological crises. Read on by clicking on image.