Hello Cruel World
Monday, April 28, 2003
Today is seven years since the Port Arthur Massacre.
There's a bunch of conspiracy theories about it. Am less likely to believe these than that people could have taken advantage of it.

It's Saddam Hussein al Tikriti's 66th birthday -- wherever he may be celebrating it.

April 29th (Tuesday) is the last day of my Annual Travelpass, but due to my own stuff-ups -- NTBCW Stuff-It, which is something else entirely -- the next one will start on May 2nd (Friday). I have to travel to work on Wednesday & Thursday, so will have to:
A) pay full price;
B) pay every time I travel
It also means that it will be starting in May, which is the month they usually announce how much the new financial year's travelpass prices will be & start charging for new ones at pro rata that price.
That date, is, however, an important one for me, being:
A) My mother's birthday (she'll be 90 years old);
B) My anniversary at Lawbook (20 years)
Unfortunately I've neglected organising a cake for her yet -- will try to get that done.

A saviour of many women, and an art lover's delight

Dr Mary J. Heseltine

Dr Mary Heseltine, who has died at 91, was an eminent pathologist and an early and forceful proponent of the adoption and use in Australia of the Pap smear for detecting cervical cancer.

An only child, Mary was educated at PLC Melbourne and gained her medical degree at Melbourne University in 1934.
She became a resident clinical pathologist at the Royal Melbourne Hospital in 1936, moving to Sydney in 1937 to the Royal Hospital for Women, and in 1943 was chosen by Sir Herbert Schlink to be a staff specialist pathologist at King George V Hospital, where she remained until 1975.

Among the earliest Australian doctors to do so, Mary travelled in 1955 to Cornell University Medical School in the United States to study cytology with Dr George N. Papanicolaou, the father of the Pap smear.

On her return, she established at King George V Hospital the first gynaecological cytology unit in Australia and there trained the first NSW cyto-technologists.

An articulate advocate for cervical screening, she generously provided slides and other materials for teaching purposes and gladly gave lectures without payment. Her clinical colleagues found her to be a good communicator and held her in great respect as part of the team.
She was also concerned to include people with disabilities among her staff: an excellent secretary of hers was almost blind; one of the young women she trained in cytotechnology was wheelchair bound with badly deformed hands; another was deaf.

The last, at Mary's request, taught her sign language, and sometimes when they were driving home together she would become so absorbed in their signing conversation at the traffic lights that it took a toot from behind to remind her about driving again.

In 1975, Mary retired from King George V and took the position of staff specialist pathologist at St Margaret's Hospital in Darlinghurst.
She also launched herself into a whole new career when she became a volunteer guide at the Art Gallery of NSW.
With her enthusiasm, crisp insights and humour she drew large numbers on her tours and set a cracking pace through the gallery that younger people often found hard to keep up with.

To the amusement of visitors and colleagues, she would offer diagnoses of the ailments and conditions suffered by various people in the paintings and regularly remarked as she passed Frederick McCubbin's "On the Wallaby Track" at how grossly overweight that child was.
She met her match, though, in a schoolboy one day when she described the stretcher case in Streeton's "Fire's On" as an injured worker. "No, Miss," he corrected her. "It's a stiff."

Tall, slim and elegant, Mary was a private person but confessed to enhoying two main extravagances: clothes, especially well-cut Italian ones, and camellias, of which she grew dozens of varieties in her garden at Pymble

She would bring basketfuls of these to scatter generously about the gallery, and for the gallery guides' 30th birthday party last year, 140 of her blooms decorated the tables, though she herself was too frail to attend.

Mary Heseltine was a bird of very bright passage who earned the high respect of visitors to the gallery for more than a decade. She has left the proceeds of her estate to the gallery.
Betty Heydon

Friday, April 25, 2003
Neuroscience & Zen Garden; AISK Scorpions message board
Neuroscience unlocks secrets of Zen garden


500-year-old rock pattern suggests a tree to our subconscious.
www.nature.com/ news/ 2002/ 020923/ full/ 020923-8.html
www.nature.com/ news/ bysubject/ brainandbehaviour/ 0209.htmlNature, 26 September 2002
The 500-year-old Ryoanji Temple garden in Kyoto contains five outcroppings of rocks and moss on a rectangle of raked gravel. Using symmetry calculations researchers have discovered that the objects imply an image of a tree in the empty space between them that we detect, without being aware of doing so.
The finding suggests that Japanese garden designers — originally priests — "balanced forces from visual science," says study leader Gert Van Tonder of Kyoto University.
The trunk of the hidden branched tree lines up with the preferred garden-viewing spot of ancient temple floorplans, Van Tonder found. Repeating the calculations with random rock groups failed to generate any similar patterns.
Earlier work by Ilona Kovács, a visual scientist at Rutgers University in Piscataway, New Jersey, showed that the human brain uses similar symmetry lines, like those of a child's stick figure, to make sense of shapes ...

Tour guides bringing visitors to the 'best' spot to view the garden stop exactly where the symmetry lines converge.
"It's always been thought that the priest-gardener's layout was something that didn't come from the conscious mind, but from a deeper level," says Philip Cave, a London-based Japanese garden designer ...

Van Tonder, G., Lyons, M.J. & Ejima, Y. Visual structure of a Japanese Zen garden. Nature, 419, 359, (2002).
Kovács, I. & Julesz, B. Perceptual sensitivity maps within globally defined visual shapes. Nature, 370, 644 - 646 (1994)

It was intriguing looking at this after all that's happened in the last 6 months.
American International School of Kabul
Home of the AISK Scorpions
Welcome to the home of the AISK Scorpions - former students, parents, teachers, and administrators of the American International School of Kabul, Afghanistan.
[UPDATE: 2006] This message board with all the discussions seems to have gone. There is another AISK Scorpions portal now — American International School of Kabul: www.aisk.org
I am happy to see that they've put an electronic version of Nancy Hatch Dupree's An Historical Guide to Kabul on the site.

Contemplating violence to & from other humans last year I posted an excerpt from Insensibility by Wilfred Owen, plus links to material of or about him. [See October 2002 Archives; links repeated on April 21, 2003]

For this sombre year's Anzac Day, this poem is shorter, more personal, but just as strong emotionally. The last stanza particularly echoes some of the feelings of most grieving survivors.

Move him into the sun --
Gently its touch awoke him once,
At home, whispering of fields unsown.
Always it woke him, even in France,
Until this morning and this snow.
If anything might rouse him now
The kind old sun will know.

Think how it wakes the seeds --
Woke, once, the clays of a cold star.
Are limbs so dear-achieved, are sides
Full-nerved, -- still warm, -- too hard to stir?
Was it for this the clay grew tall?
-- O what made fatuous sunbeams toil
To break earth's sleep at all?


Some while back, was going thru' har isc after rebuilding computer an foun this stored away [having spilt tea on keyboard, now have new one with its own quirks, including iffy 'd']. Am including whole text, if you like to go thru it, there are a number of pertinent shorter quotes.

This is rather long for a blog post, I may work on setting it off in a separate file on this site. For now, there is so much of goodness & sense in it, that it's here in full.

An essay you may know - its date is a poignant one


What I Believe

from Two Cheers for Democracy (E.M. Forster)

[originally printed in 1938 in the New York Nation]

I do not believe in Belief. But this is an Age of Faith, and there
are so many militant creeds that, in self-defence, one has to
formulate a creed of one's own. Tolerance, good temper and
sympathy are no longer enough in a world which is rent by
religious and racial persecution, in a world where ignorance rules,
and Science, who ought to have ruled, plays the subservient pimp.
Tolerance, good temper and sympathy - they are what matter
really, and if the human race is not to collapse they must come
to the front before long. But for the moment they are not
enough, their action is no stronger than a flower, battered be-
neath a military jackboot. They want stiffening, even if the
process coarsens them. Faith, to my mind, is a stiffening process,
a sort of mental starch, which ought to be applied as sparingly as
possible. I dislike the stuff. I do not believe in it, for its own sake,
at all. Herein I probably differ from most people, who believe in
Belief, and are only sorry they cannot swallow even more than
they do. My law-givers are Erasmus and Montaigne, not Moses
and St Paul. My temple stands not upon Mount Moriah but in
that Elysian Field where even the immoral are admitted. My
motto is : "Lord, I disbelieve - help thou my unbelief.

I have, however, to live in an Age of Faith - the sort of epoch
I used to hear praised when I was a boy. It is extremely un-
pleasant really. It is bloody in every sense of the word. And I
have to keep my end up in it. Where do I start ?

With personal relationships. Here is something comparatively
solid in a world full of violence and cruelty. Not absolutely solid,
for Psychology has split and shattered the idea of a " Person", and
has shown that there is something incalculable in each of us,
which may at any moment rise to the surface and destroy our
normal balance. We don't know what we are like. We can't
know what other people are like. How, then, can we put any
trust in personal relationships, or cling to them in the gathering
political storm ? In theory we cannot. But in practice we can and
do. Though A is not unchangeably A, or B unchangeably B, there
can still be love and loyalty between the two. For the purpose of
living one has to assume that the personality is solid, and the
"self" is an entity, and to ignore all contrary evidence. And since
to ignore evidence is one of the characteristics of faith, I certainly
can proclaim that I believe in personal relationships.

Starting from them, I get a little order into the contemporary
chaos. One must be fond of people and trust them if one is not
to make a mess of life, and it is therefore essential that they should
not let one down. They often do. The moral of which is that I
must, myself, be as reliable as possible, and this I try to be. But
reliability is not a matter of contract - that is the main difference
between the world of personal relationships and the world of
business relationships. It is a matter for the heart, which signs no
documents. In other words, reliability is impossible unless there
is a natural warmth. Most men possess this warmth, though
they often have bad luck and get chilled. Most of them, even
when they are politicians, want to keep faith. And one can, at all
events, show one's own little light here, one's own poor little trem-
bling flame, with the knowledge that it is not the only light that is
shining in the darkness, and not the only one which the darkness
does not comprehend. Personal relations are despised today. They
are regarded as bourgeois luxuries, as products of a time of fair
weather which is now past, and we are urged to get rid of them,
and to dedicate ourselves to some movement or cause instead. I
hate the idea of causes, and if I had to choose between betraying
my country and betraying my friend I hope I should have the
guts to betray my country. Such a choice may scandalize the
modern reader, and he may stretch out his patriotic hand to the
telephone at once and ring up the police. It would not have
shocked Dante, though. Dante places Brutus and Cassius in the
lowest circle of Hell because they had chosen to betray their
friend Julius Caesar rather than their country Rome. Probably
one will not be asked to make such an agonizing choice. Still,
there lies at the back of every creed something terrible and hard
for which the worshipper may one day be required to suffer, and
there is even a terror and a hardness in this creed of personal
relationships, urbane and mild though it sounds. Love and
loyalty to an individual can run counter to the claims of the State.
When they do - down with the State, say I, which means that the
State would down me.

This brings me along to Democracy, "Even love, the beloved
Republic, That feeds upon freedom and lives". Democracy is not
a beloved Republic really, and never will be. But it is less hateful
than other contemporary forms of government, and to that
extent it deserves our support. It does start from the assump-
tion that the individual is important, and that all types are needed
to make a civilization. It does not divide its citizens into the
bossers and the bossed - as an efficiency-regime tends to do. The
people I admire most are those who are sensitive and want to
create something or discover something, and do not see life in
terms of power, and such people get more of a chance under a
democracy than elsewhere. They found religions, great or small,
or they produce literature and art, or they do disinterested
scientific research, or they may be what is called "ordinary
people", who are creative in their pricate lives, bring up their
children decently, for instance, or help their neighbours. All
these people need to express themselves; they cannot do so unless
society allows them liberty to do so, and the society which allows
them most liberty is a democracy.

Democracy has another merit. It allows criticism, and if there
is not public criticism there are bound to be hushed-up scandals.
That is why I believe in the press, despite all its lies and vulgarity,
and why I believe in Parliament. Parliament is often sneered a
because it is a Talking Shop. I believe in it because it is a talking
shop. I believe in the Private Member who makes himself a
nuisance. He gets snubbed and is told that he is cranky or ill-
informed, but he does expose abuses which would otherwise
never have been mentioned, and very often an abuse gets put
right just by being mentioned. Occasionally, too, a well-meaning
public official starts losing his head in the cause of efficiency, and
thinks himself God Almighty. Such officials are particularly
frequent in the Home Office. Well, there will be questions about
them in Parliament sooner or later, and then they will have to
mind their steps. Whether Parliament is either a representative
body or an efficient one is questionable, but I value it because it
criticizes and talks, and because its chatter gets widely reported.
So two cheers for Democracy: one because it admits variety
and two because it permits criticism. Two cheers are quite
enough: there is no occasion to give three. Only Love the
Beloved Republic deserves that.

What about Force, though? While we are trying to be sensitive
and advanced and affectionate and tolerant, an unpleasant ques-
tion pops up: does not all society rest upon force ? If a govern-
ment cannot count upon the police and the army, how
can it hope to rule ? And if an individual gets knocked on
the head or sent to a labour camp, of what significance are
his opinions ?
This dilemma does not worry me as much as it does some. I
realize that all society rests upon force. But all the great creative
actions, all the decent human relations, occur during the inter-
vals when force has not managed to come to the front. These
intervals are what matter. I want them to be as frequent and as
lengthy as possible, and I call them " civilization ". Some people
idealize force and pull it into the foreground and worship it,
instead of keeping it in the background as long as possible. I
think they make a mistake, and I think that their opposites, the
mystics, err even more when they declare that force does not
exist. I believe that it exists, and that one of our jobs is to prevent
it from getting out of its box. It gets out sooner or later, and then
it destroys us and all the lovely things which we have made. But
it is not out all the time, for the fortunate reason that the strong
are so stupid. Consider their conduct for a moment in The
Nibelung's Ring. The giants there have the guns, or in other words
the gold; but they do nothing with it, they do not realize that
they are all-powerful, with the result that the catastrophe is de-
layed and the castle of Valhalla, insecure but glorious, fronts
the storms. Fafnir, coiled round his hoard, grumbles and grunts;
we can hear him under Europe today; the leaves of the wood
already tremble, and the Bird calls its warnings uselessly. Fafnir
will destroy us, but by a blessed dispensation he is stupid and slow,
and creation goes on just outside the poisonous blast of his breath.
The Nietzschean would hurry the monster up, the mystic would
say he did not exist, but Wotan, wiser than either, hastens to
create warriors before doom declares itself. The Valkyries are
symbols not only of courage but of intelligence; they represent the
human spirit snatching its opportunity while the going is good,
and one of them even finds time to love. Bruennhilde's last song
hymns the recurrence of love, and since it is the privilege of art to
exaggerate she goes even further, and proclaims the love which is
eternally triumphant, and feeds upon freedom and lives.

So that is what I feel about force and violence. It is, alas !
the ultimate reality on this earth, but it does not always get to
the front. Some people call its absences "decadence"; I call
them "civilization" and find in such interludes the chief justifica-
tion for the human experiment. I look the other way until fate
strikes me. Whether this is due to courage or to cowardice in my
own case I cannot be sure. But I know that, if men had not
looked the other way in the past, nothing of any value would sur-
vive. The people I respect most behave as if they were immortal
and as if society was eternal. Both assumptions are false: both of
them must be accepted as true if we are to go on eating and working
and loving, and are to keep open a few breathing-holes for the
human spirit. No millennium seems likely to descend upon
humanity; no better and stronger Ieague of Nations will be
instituted; no form of Christianity and no alternative to Christi-
anity will bring peace to the world or integrity to the individual;
no "change of heart" will occur. And yet we need not despair,
indeed, we cannot despair; the evidence of history shows us that
men have always insisted on behaving creatively under the
shadow of the sword; that they have done their artistic and scien-
tific and domestic stuff for the sake of doing it, and that we had
better follow their example under the shadow of the aeroplanes.
Others, with more vision or courage than myself, see the salva-
tion of humanity ahead, and will dismiss my conception of civil-
ization as paltry, a sort of tip-and-run game. Certainly it is pre-
sumptuous to say that we cannot improve, and that Man, who
has only been in power for a few thousand years, will never learn
to make use of his power. All I mean is that, if people continue to
kill one another as they do, the world cannot get better than it is,
and that, since there are more people than formerly, and their
means for destroying one another superior, the world may well
get worse. What is good in people - and consequently in the
world - is their insistence on creation, their belief in friendship
and loyalty for their own sakes; and, though Violence remains and
is, indeed, the major partner in this muddled establishment, I
believe that creativeness remains too, and will always assume di-
rection when violence sleeps. So, though I am not an optimist, I
cannot agree with Sophocles that it were better never to have
been born. And although, like Horace, I see no evidence that
each batch of births is superior to the last, I leave the field open
for the more complacent view. This is such a difficult moment to
live in, one cannot help getting gloomy and also a bit rattled, and
perhaps short-sighted.

In search of a refuge, we may perhaps turn to hero-worship.
But here we shall get no help, in my opinion. Hero-worship is a
dangerous vice, and one of the minor merits of a democracy is
that it does not encourage it, or produce that unmanageable type
of citizen known as the Great Man. It produces instead different
kinds of small men - a much finer achievement. But people who
cannot get interested in the variety of life, and cannot make up
their own minds, get discontented over this, and they long for a
hero to bow down before and to follow blindly. It is significant
that a hero is an integral part of the authoritarian stock-in-trade
today. An efficiency-regime cannot be run without a few heroes
stuck about it to carry off the dullness - much as plums have to
be put into a bad pudding to make it palatable. One hero at the
top and a smaller one each side of him is a favourite arrangement,
and the timid and the bored are comforted by the trinity, and,
bowing down, feel exalted and strengthened.

No, I distrust Great Men. They produce a desert of uniformity
around them and often a pool of blood too, and I always feel a
little man's pleasure when they come a cropper. Every now and
then one reads in the newspapers some such statement as: "The
coup d'etat appears to have failed, and Admiral Toma's where-
abouts is at present unknown." Admiral Toma had probably
every qualification for being a Great Man - an iron will, personal
magnetism, dash, flair, sexlessness - but fate was against him, so
he retires to unknown whereabouts instead of parading history
with his peers. He fails with a completeness which no artist and
no lover can experience, because with them the process of crea-
tion is itself an achievement, whereas with him the only possible
achievement is success.

I believe in aristocracy, though - if that is the right word, and
if a democrat may use it. Not an aristocracy of power, based upon
rank and influence, but an aristocracy of the sensitive, the con-
siderate and the plucky. Its members are to be found in all
nations and classes, and all through the ages, and there is a secret
understanding between them when they meet. They represent
the true human tradition, the one permanent victory of our queer
race over cruelty and chaos. Thousands of them perish in
obscurity, a few are great names. They are sensitive for others
as well as for themselves, they are considerate without being
fussy, their pluck is not swankiness but the power to endure, and
they can take a joke. I give no examples - it is risky to do that -
but the reader may as well consider whether this is the type of
person he would like to meet and to be, and whether (going
further with me) he would prefer that this type should not be an
ascetic one. I am against asceticism myself. I am with the old
Scotsman who wanted less chastity and more delicacy. I do not
feel that my aristocrats are a real aristocracy if they thwart their
bodies, since bodies are the instruments through which we
register and enjoy the world. Still, I do not insist. This is not a
major point. It is clearly possible to be sensitive, considerate and
plucky and yet be an ascetic too, and if anyone possesses the first
three qualities I will let him in! On they go - an invincible army,
yet not a victorious one. The aristocrats, the elect, the chosen,
the Best People - all the words that describe them are false, and
all attempts to organize them fail. Again and again Authority,
seeing their value, has tried to net them and to utilize them as the
Egyptian Priesthood or theChristian Church or the Chinese
Civil Service or the Group Movement, or some other worthy
stunt. But they slip through the net and are gone; when the door
is shut, they are no longer in the room; their temple, as one of
them remarked, is the holiness of the Heart's affections, and their
kingdom, though they never possess it, is the wide-open world.

With this type of person knocking about, and constantly cros-
sing one's path if one has eyes to see or hands to feel, the experi-
ment of earthly life cannot be dismissed as a failure. But it may
well be hailed as a tragedy, the tragedy being that no device has
been found by which these private decencies can be transrnitted
to public affairs. As soon as people have power they go crooked
and sometimes dotty as well, because the possession of power
lifts them into a region where normal honesty never pays. For
instance, the man who is selling newspapers ourtside the Houses
of Parliament can safely leave his papers to go for a drink, and
his cap beside them: anyone who takes a paper is sure to drop a
copper into the cap. But the men who are inside the Houses of
Parliament - they cannot trust one another like that, still less can
the Government they compose trust other governments. No
caps upon the pavement here, but suspicion, treachery and
armaments. The more highly public life is organized the lower
does its morality sink ; the nations of today behave to each other
worse than they ever did in the past, they cheat, rob, bully and
bluff, make war without notice, and kill as many women and
children as possible; whereas primitive tribes were at all events
restrained by taboos. It is a humiliating outlook - though the
greater the darkness, the brighter shine the little lights, reassuring
one another, signalling: "Well, at all events, I 'm still here. I
don' t like it very much, but how are you ?" Unquenchable lights
of my aristocracy! Signals of the invincible army ! "Come along
- anyway, let's have a good time while we can. "I think they
signal that too.

The Saviour of the future - if ever he comes - will not preach
a new Gospel. He will merely utilize my aristocracy, he will make
effective the goodwill and the good temper which are already
existing. In other words, he will introduce a new technique. In
economics, we are told that if there was a new technique of
distribution there need be no poverty, and people would not
starve in one place while crops were being ploughed under in
another. A similar change is needed in the sphere of morals and
politics. The desire for it is by no means new; it was expressed,
for example, in theological terms by Jacopone da Todi over six
hundred years ago. "Ordena questo amore, tu che m'ami, "
he said ; "O thou who lovest me set this love in order." His
prayer was not granted, and I do not myself believe that it ever
will be, but here, and not through a change of heart, is our
probable route. Not by becoming better, but by ordering and
distributing his native goodness, will Man shut up Force into its

box, and so gain time to explore the universe and to set his mark
upon it worthily. At present he only explores it at odd moments,
when Force is looking the other way, and his divine creativeness
appears as a trivial by-product, to be scrapped as soon as the
drums beat and the bombers hum.

Such a change, claim the orthodox, can only be made by
Christianity, and will be made by it in God's good time: man
always has failed and always will fail to organize his own good-
ness, and it is presumptuous of him to try. This claim - solemn
as it is - leaves me cold. I cannot believe that Christianity will
ever cope with the present world-wide mess, and I think that such
influence as it retains in modern society is due to the money
behind it, rather than to its spiritual appeal. It was a spiritual
force once, but the indwelling spirit will have to be restated if
it is to calm the waters again, and probably restated in a non-
Christian form. Naturally a lot of people, and people who are
not only good but able and intelligent, will disagree here; they
will vehemently deny that Christianity has failed, or they will
argue that its failure proceeds from the wickedness of men, and
really proves its ultimate success. They have Faith, with a large
F. My faith has a very small one, and I only intrude it because
these are strenuous and serious days, and one likes to say what
one thinks while speech is comparatively free; it may not be free
much longer.

The above are the reflections of an individualist and a liberal
who has found liberalism crumbling beneath him and at first felt
ashamed. Then, looking around, he decided there was no special
reason for shame, since other people, whatever they felt, were
equally insecure. And as for individualism - there seems no way
of getting off this, even if one wanted to. The dictator-hero can
grind down his citizens till they are all alike, but he cannot melt
them into a single man. That is beyond his power. He can order
them to merge, he can incite them to mass-antics, but they are
obliged to be born separately, and to die separately, and, owing
to these unavoidable termini, will always be running off the
totalitarian rails. The memory of birth and the expectation of
death always lurk within the human being, making him separate
from his fellows and consequently capable of intercourse with
them. Naked I came into the world, naked I shall go out of it!
And a very good thing too, for it reminds me that I am naked
under my shirt, whatever its colour
Monday, April 21, 2003
From Sparrows Fall, by Terry Lane
It’s amazing, when you think about it, how hundreds of people bounce off you during your lifetime, and many of them leave you with a way of looking at things, or an opinion, or a figure of speech, or a way of rubbing your nose when you are about to say something important, or one of the few jokes that sticks in your memory - and in spite of the fact that they have left this mark on you, you have no idea where they are today. You don’t even know if they are still alive. Friends, lovers, workmates, cousins - they all come and go and you are a little different after the contact than before, but after a brief encounter they go off in their own orbit and you never see them again. We’re pretty profligate with friends and lovers, when you come to think about it.
(Published: Pan Macmillan Australia 1995 - ASIN: 0330357131)

I wonder if the letter from the country Noxious Weeds Control Officer will be in the mail tomorrow, our first post since Thursday due to the Easter break?

Wilfred Owen

Poems: Futility; Insensibility & Links about Owen


Lieutenant Wilfred Owen, M.C., an officer of the Manchester Regiment, was killed in action on the Sambre Canal a week before the Armistice, aged 25. The twenty-three poems of this collection are the fruit of not quite two years' active service, less than half of it in the field. But they are enough to rank him among the very few war poets whose work has more than a passing value.
Others have shown the disenchantment of war, have unlegended the roselight and romance of it, but none with such compassion for the disenchanted or such sternly just and justly stern judgment on the idyllisers.

Today is the birthday (1926) of Princess Elizabeth Alexandra Mary of York (as she then was), now Queen Elizabeth II by the Grace of God, Queen of this Realm (the United Kingdoms of England, Scotland & Ireland) and of Her other Realms and Territories, Head of the Commonwealth, Defender of the Faith, who lived through World War II.

Tomorrow is the birthday (1889) of Adolf Hitler, who fought in World War I & died a few months before the end of World War II.

On Friday (April 25th) is the most important war memorial day in Australasia, ANZAC Day, commemorating the first landings at Anzac Cove, Gallipolli, near the Dardenelles in Turkey in the cool dawn of April 25th, 1915. The results of the effect of that World War I on the Middle East are still reverberating there today (as are many of its effects in other areas, including the Russian Revolution in 1917 & its 'second phase' in WW II).


Sunday, April 20, 2003
Matthew 25:34-45
34 Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye
blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you
from the foundation of the world:

35 For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and
ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in:

36 Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was
in prison, and ye came unto me.

37 Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we
thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee

38 When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and
clothed thee?

39 Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?

40 And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto
you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of
these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.

41 Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from
me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil
and his angels:

42 For I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty,
and ye gave me no drink:

43 I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed
me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not.

44 Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we
thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick,
or in prison, and did not minister unto thee?

45 Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you,
Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did
it not to me.

Invisible lives of the working underclass

April 20 2003


It is not only the highly successful who work 70-hour weeks, writes Liz Porter.

Bowling for Columbine, Mike Moore's Academy Award-winning agitprop documentary on America's love affair with the gun, reveals some shocking details of the working life of the mother of a six-year-old boy who accidentally shot and killed a classmate at his school. The woman, we hear, was away at work, 60-70 hours a week. But the madness of her work schedule wasn't the kind you might read about in a newspaper lifestyle-supplement "work diary" piece, full of days starting with 6am meetings with personal trainers and finishing with 9pm goodnight calls home to the children- and the nanny - from the sanctuary of the Qantas Club lounge.

Instead, this unfortunate woman's work arrangements, part of a "Welfare to Work" scheme run by the military hardware supplier Lockheed-Martin, meant that her day began in darkness, with a long early morning bus ride from a working-class area of Flint, Michigan, right across town to an exclusive shopping mall. There she would begin the first of two jobs she was doing in return for her welfare payments. She was, according to fellow employees interviewed by Mike Moore, a reliable worker, but, because she didn't get home until after dark, she had her young son minded at her brother's house - where he found the gun he took to school...

Anyone imagining that Americans in this situation simply aren't trying hard enough, should be compelled to read Nickel and Dimed, journalist Barbara Ehrenreich's account of her journey through the underpaid and overworked world of minimum-wage, working-class America...

Ehrenreich's book is even more horrifying than a book that conservatives should read as a companion piece to it. Hard Work - Life in Low-Pay Britain is journalist Polly Toynbee's account of moving into a ghastly council estate flat and working in telesales, a cake factory, as a hospital porter and as a child minder. Toynbee's co-workers are also doing it very tough. But their struggle is taking place against the background of the remnants of a welfare state...

In Britain, however, the state still has something to offer the lone middle-aged, impoverished and unemployed woman whom Toynbee is impersonating. In the US, Ehrenreich is alone and at the mercy of heartless and flinty-eyed "market forces". If I were broke and unemployed, I know where I'd rather be.

The Fallacy of Averages

Check this link out. Worth keeping in mind.

Have been testing the funny effects on the links in the last couple of postings. It looks like if you just click on the links in the most recent one, it doesn't work - tho' if you copy them & paste them into your browser address window, they should.
The links in the first post do seem to work. I'm not happy to keep fiddling with the source in case it gets really seriously bad (in earlier entries have had to delete large chunks & re-key from start).
Mez @ 4/20/2003 10:58:00 pm
[4/20/2003 3:35:30 PM | Mez Pyne]

Easter Sunday

In the usual somewhat belated way, a small memorial marking six months from the destruction of the Colombia space shuttle, in which some Australian spiders perished along with others.

The Spider
Walt Whitman 1819-1892

A noiseless patient spider,
I mark'd where on a little promontory it stood isolated,
Mark'd how to explore the vacant vast surrounding,
It launch'd forth filament, filament, filament, out of itself,
Ever unreeling them, ever tirelessly speeding them.

And you O my soul where you stand,
Surrounded, detached, in measureless oceans of space,
Ceaselessly musing, venturing, throwing, seeking the spheres to connect them,
Till the bridge you will need be form'd, till the ductile anchor hold,
Till the gossamer thread you fling catch somewhere, O my soul.

Terry Lane's Sunday Age column — 13 April 2003


Let's get a few things straight before truth becomes the road-kill of the blitzkrieg ...

Also on this site is his appreciation of Ingmar Bergman's Magic Flute - link from his home page at
Here's Criterion's Home page whence you can search for the DVD of the opera

I've tried putting up a direct link to the page, but I think something in the address mucks up the page code. If you notice strange things in this post, or ones near to it, that's probably the result of the marring & my mending attempts.

[4/18/2003 6:29:33 AM | Mez Pyne]

Chris' Memorial Site


Easter Sunday

In the usual somewhat belated way, a small memorial marking six months from the destruction of the Colombia space shuttle, in which some Australian spiders perished along with others.

The Spider
Walt Whitman 1819-1892

A noiseless patient spider,
I mark'd where on a little promontory it stood isolated,
Mark'd how to explore the vacant vast surrounding,
It launch'd forth filament, filament, filament, out of itself,
Ever unreeling them, ever tirelessly speeding them.

And you O my soul where you stand,
Surrounded, detached, in measureless oceans of space,
Ceaselessly musing, venturing, throwing, seeking the spheres to connect them,
Till the bridge you will need be form'd, till the ductile anchor hold,
Till the gossamer thread you fling catch somewhere, O my soul.

Terry Lane's Sunday Age column — 13 April 2003
Let's get a few things straight before truth becomes the road-kill of the blitzkrieg ...

Also on this site is his appreciation of Ingmar Bergman's Magic Flute - link from his home page at
Here's Criterion's page about the DVD www.criterionco.com/asp/release.asp?id=71
[permalink][comment] - posted by Mez @ 4/20/2003 02:35:00 pm
Friday, April 18, 2003
From: Mez Pye
> To: "'MC Pike'" ,
> "'mcpye2 (a) ozemail d comet d auger'"
> Subject: McVeigh (Sep 2001)
> Date: Tue, 10 Dec 2002 18:16:19 +1100
> Original sent to Margot just after Sep 11, 2001 - file is dated 14/9/2001

> The disaster or revenge 'movies' that everyone was saying it felt like (even
> the New Yorkers) usually set up simplistic black-hats and 'good guys',
> making the often-horrific fates of villains 'deserved'.
> Unlike Readers' Digest "Life's Like That" morsels, it isn't. It certainly
> makes light of 'collateral damage' and continuing, more-than-lifelong
> suffering.
> This year there was an extraordinary movie [this may be an unfinished
> thought]
> If you say someone like McVeigh or suicide bombers (like the assassin of
> Rajit Gandhi) is just mad and bad, and don't try to work out how and why
> s/he became that way, what possible hope do you have of preventing more?
> The same with "just go in and wipe them all out". Understandable, but won't
> it just set up a pattern that creates still more? Like an eye for an eye for
> an eye for an eye for an eye . . . - just look at Northern Ireland and the
> Balkans.
> No, I don't have a simple answer, tho' I can see others in here who have
> some ideas that are better than these. Down the bottom of Pandora's Box was
> hope. Just maybe some sort of common feeling might come out of this. New
> York and Washington DC now maybe can feel like Belgrade or Baghdad do. Those
> pretty pictures, like movies or computer games, missile-cam and night-vision, now
> connect with reality, with pain, grief, loss and destruction.
> Even opponents of Hussein & Milosevic suffer or die, as Americans [or other bystanders] of all, any or no
> political opinion did. One of the worst evils is to treat others as un-humans: faceless, worthless,
> expendable; whether it's as "slaves", "primitives", "untermensch", "work units" or "heretics & infidels".
> As the author of this, I grant you, the next recipient, permission to pass this on
> in accordance with fair dealing, with caution as to any identified copyright material
> that may be included.
> MC Pye
> DQA, Publishing Services - Cases
> The greatest victory your enemy can have is to make you a mirror of himself.
Thursday, April 17, 2003

Some links to poems by Rumi

(As mentioned below, post for Wednesday, April 09, 2003)
Collection of books and CDs all inspired by the poems of Rumi.

The Poems of Rumi
Mowlana Jalaluddin Rumi
(A collection of his poems from various sources, other Arabic poems & Islamic links.)

Rumi Love and Ecstasy Poems
A collection of Rumi's ecstatic love poems, by both translators, Coleman Barks and Shahram Shiva. Arty (tho' still functional) layout.

Reviews & links to published books of translations.

This calls itself "Words of Love and Life, Poetry, Quotes and other warm antidotes" (anecdotes? or antidotes to bad things?)


Collection of books and CDs all inspired by the poems of Rumi.

The Poems of Rumi
Mowlana Jalaluddin Rumi
(A collection of his poems from various sources, other Arabic poems & Islamic links.)

Rumi Love and Ecstasy Poems
a collection of Rumi's ecstatic love poems, by both translators, Coleman Barks and Shahram Shiva.


Wednesday, April 16, 2003
Just keeping these in a safe place for now


There are many web sources for LOTR (Lord of the Rings). Here are two of the best:


All Quiet on the Western Front - Film place on imdb

Jospeh Conrad, whose original name was Teodor Jozef [Józef] Konrad Korzeniowski, was born near Berdychev, Poland (now in Ukraine) on 3 December 1857. (Died 3 August 1924)
The local Noxious Weeds Control officer is doing an inspection of Chris' little property today. I rang some time back after the notice arrived & explained situation, he told me he'd write & explain what was there.

There is nothing. There is no God and no universe, there is only empty space, and in it a lost and homeless and wandering and companionless and indestructible Thought. And I am that thought. And God, and the Universe, and Time, and Life, and Death, and Joy and Sorrow and Pain only a grotesque and brutal dream, evolved from the frantic imagination of that same Thought.
Mark Twain (SL Clemens)
- letter to Joseph Twichell (after SLC's wife's death)


ssl-dickenstwain.stories-more.com About Twain & Dickens, stories by them.

www.flora-source.com/library - links to an Online Library includes several works by Mark Twain; many American writings; quite a few 'classics' of different cultures too, e.g. Moliere.
Monday, April 14, 2003
"It's untidy. And freedom's untidy. And free people are free to make mistakes and commit crimes and do bad things."
DONALD RUMSFELD, USA Defense [sic] Secretary, on lawlessness in Iraq,
from The New York Times

I wonder if he said the same about the situation in South Central Los
Angeles after the original acquittal in the "Rodney King bashing" case?

If US citizens know their government approves such 'freedoms', no wonder
they feel it necessary to arm themselves, barricade their houses or wall
off their communities.

News recently showed US defence medical officers practicing for battle
conditions in city hospital casualty -- and some people wonder why many
Australians criticise importing business & social practices associated
with such conditions.

Wednesday, April 09, 2003
Some poems, mostly selected ones about love, from an Arabic poet:
will have to put in links later

After Being In Love, The Next Responsibility

Turn me like a waterwheel turning a millstone.
Plenty of water, a Living River.
Keep me in one place and scatter the love.
Leaf-moves in wind, straw drawn toward amber,
all parts of the world are in love,
but they do not tell their secrets. Cows grazing
on a sacramental table, ants whispering in Solomon's ear.
Mountains mumbling an echo. Sky, calm.
If the sun were not in love, he would have no brightness,
the side of the hill no grass on it.
The ocean would come to rest somewhere.
Be a lover as they are, that you come to know
your Beloved. Be faithful that you may know
Faith. The other parts of the universe did not accept
the next responsibility of love as you can.
They were afraid they might make a mistake
with it, the inspired knowing
that springs from being in love

Mevlâna Jalâluddîn Rumi
FURUZANFAR #2674 (translated by Coleman Barks)
The Rumi Collection, edited by Kabir Helminski

A Moment of Happiness

A moment of happiness,
you and I sitting on the verandah,
apparently two, but one in soul, you and I.
We feel the flowing water of life here,
you and I, with the garden's beauty
and the birds singing.
The stars will be watching us,
and we will show them
what it is to be a thin crescent moon.
You and I unselfed, will be together,
indifferent to idle speculation, you and I.
The parrots of heaven will be cracking sugar
as we laugh together, you and I.
In one form upon this earth,
and in another form in a timeless sweet land.
Kulliyat-e Shams, 2114

All Through Eternity

All through eternity
Beauty unveils His exquisite form
in the solitude of nothingness;
He holds a mirror to His Face
and beholds His own beauty.
he is the knower and the known,
the seer and the seen;
No eye but His own
has ever looked upon this Universe.

His every quality finds an expression:
Eternity becomes the verdant field of Time and Space;
Love, the life-giving garden of this world.
Every branch and leaf and fruit
Reveals an aspect of His perfection-
They cypress give hint of His majesty,
The rose gives tidings of His beauty.

Whenever Beauty looks,
Love is also there;
Whenever beauty shows a rosy cheek
Love lights Her fire from that flame.
When beauty dwells in the dark folds of night
Love comes and finds a heart
entangled in tresses.
Beauty and Love are as body and soul.
Beauty is the mine, Love is the diamond.

They have together
since the beginning of time-
Side by side, step by step

Ode 314

Those who don't feel this Love
pulling them like a river,
those who don't drink dawn
like a cup of spring water
or take in sunset like supper,
those who don't want to change,

let them sleep.

This Love is beyond the study of theology,
that old trickery and hypocrisy.
I you want to improve your mind that way,

sleep on.

I've given up on my brain.
I've torn the cloth to shreds
and thrown it away.

If you're not completely naked,
wrap your beautiful robe of words
around you,

and sleep.
"Like This" Coleman Barks, Maypop, 1990


Sunday, April 06, 2003


Kirkpatrick, Christopher
Left us last Easter.
Too soon - far too soon - for his family & friends.
Left a hole in our hearts;
Left a gap in our lives,
Which memories alone cannot heal.
Much missed, mourned well still
by his partner in life, Merrill Pye

Chris' Memorial Site
Another autumnal poem (for Chris)

Lovely And Lifelike

A face at the end of the day
A cradle in day's dead leaves
A bouquet of naked rain
Every ray of sun hidden
Every fount of founts in the depths of the water
Every mirror of mirrors broken
A face in the scales of silence
A pebble among other pebbles
For the leaves last glimmers of day
A face like all the forgotten faces.

Paul Eluard (trans)

I hope that my other posting about Paul Eluard is accessible in the archives & not in "The Dark Zone" somewhere.

And taking a step back to the amateur hour (OK, my friend & critic, "a", does make a living from writing, but not usually writing poemtree - who does?, compared to number that make living writing other-than-poetry. Wonder if I can get away with calling it 'prosody' rather than just 'prose'.)

Here is "a's" possible revised version of

History of the World as a Day

1 Built from stardust in the deep deep dark
2 Then spinning ages under a furious sun
3 at long last life, then green, then breath
4 Then the spreading & growing
5 Life cradles the world,
6 From its heights to the depths to the uttermost reach.
7 Then the sparks in the night meet a mirror & blaze
8 A hand finds a stick, finds a stone finds seed
9 Killing & eating, a lemming-like spread
10 The bodies pile up and the crops grow well
11 Earth turns to dust, night to day, miles to minutes
12 Midnight again; we choose dawn or the dark.

I hope you have the original.
Print both (Ha ha) and compare.


Wednesday, April 02, 2003

History of the World as a Day

Time to recite: 30 seconds


Built from stardust in the deep cold dark
Then watered in ages under a furious sun
at long last life, then breath & green across the land

Spreading & growing, spreading & growing,
The tendrils of life cradle the world,

Its heights & its depths to the uttermost reach.
Then the sparks in the night meet a mirror & blaze
A hand finds a stick, sprinkles ochre, then seed.

Killing & eating, a lemming-like spread
Piling up bodies in the stinking land

Earth turns to dust, night to day, miles to minutes
Midnight again,
We choose dawn or the dark.

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 / . Lives in Australia/New South Wales/Sydney, speaks English. Eye color is hazel. I am what my mother calls unique. My interests are photography, reading, natural history/land use, town planning, sustainability.

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Australia, New South Wales, Sydney, English, photography, reading, natural history, land use, town planning, sustainability.