Hello Cruel World
Tuesday, April 22, 2008
For International Pixel-Stained Technopeasant Day 2008
A link to its netplace, and a posting on this journal of the text of a eulogy for my late better half.
Thank you all -- or ‘grazie’ as Chris would say -- for gathering here today to remember Christopher's life, appreciate his achievements & mourn his loss.April 12, 2002
We usually hear here that no man is an island, but for Chris I'd rather draw out a much older metaphor & its current reflections. There are old stories indeed of the spirits who governed human fates, spinning each life thread, interweaving it with others & finally cutting it off. “The rich tapestry of life”, “the web of life”, “it takes all kinds”, are all cliches now, but they expressed a deep & ancient truth sustaining all life & human society. In these unpoetic times perhaps the word would be “biodiversity”.
These all say that we shouldn't be seduced by the big bright eye-catching distractions -- the gorgeously coloured & figured cloth gets its strength from the hidden warp & is held together by finer inconspicuous weft threads. The grandest forest tree or flaunting flower meadow; carolling fine-plumed birds on sunlit branches; the furry cute or sleeker beasts, could not exist, would not continue, without the soil fungus & creepy-crawlies, the lowly groundcovers & understorey shrubs, the buzzing bothering insects & more modest animals.
It's obvious that glittering, fluttering, spotlit celebrities & rampant executive officers depend absolutely on their circling hierarchy of underlings. It takes longer to appreciate not just the necessary interdependence* of the underpinnings of civilization's edifice but how each is supported** by a net of barely-thought-of functions.
From his law & engineering training, from long practice with computer networks, and many, many bush & sailing experiences, Chris had a feel for the great dance of balances that creates an apparently-serene equilibrium. He contributed through his work in Canberra, at Prospect County Council/Integral Energy & the NSW Fire Brigades, outside work in GROW & through his letters, talkback & online forums, his quiet charities & personal generosities towards those grand human endeavours: to give merited respect to all the kinds & conditions of people so us humans can at least rub along together; likewise, to show respect for the non-human biosphere so we can have long-term mutual survival in Australia & beyond.
But now the shears have closed, his thread snapped; our tapestry from now weaker by the pinch of starstuff that's in a man; the sea which refuses no river has accepted it back.
So now a farewell from another second-millennium man, one who wrote plays that like life itself defy categorization, who knew man & nature, encompassing many:Thank you again.
Fear no more the heat o' th' sun
Nor the furious winter's rages
Thou thy worldly task hast done
Home art gone and ta'en thy wages
Golden lads and girls all must
As chimney-sweepers, come to dust
*Example: Fire Department depends on good roads, reliable water, other suppliers, etc.
**Example: Firefighters supported by maintenance, communications, pay-roll, etc.
Saturday, April 19, 2008
Fun & Fantasy in Bloomington, Minnesota
Just In Case someone is reading this, here's some information about something you might enjoy, if you're able to be there.
Fourth Street Fantasy Convention (see www.4thstreetfantasy.com)
I’ve heard tales, … I know people who traveled to [it] … It is a place where conversations have depth, and plant seeds of thought, sometimes even seeds of creativity. A place with music which opens up vistas that words cannot. A place of companionship, small and comfortable, but varied and lively.
One unique thing about programming at Fourth Street Fantasy Convention is that there’s just a single track of programming, that way we’re all part of the same ongoing conversation.
I’ve gotten together many of the people who made Fourth Street Fantasy Convention happen before, and asked them to help me make it happen again.From 1986 to 1995, Steven Brust and his friends put on a deep, intelligent, and intimate convention on the literature of the fantastic. In 2008, it will return.June 20 - 22, 2008 at the Holiday Inn Select Airport Hotel in Bloomington (Minneapolis), Minnesota.
One of the people whose Livejournal I look in on a fair bit is having a party there, with readings and a book launch. Perhaps that will tempt you along, if that's physically possible.
Wednesday, April 09, 2008
NY Times - Health
A Disease That Allowed Torrents of Creativity
By SANDRA BLAKESLEE
Published: April 8, 2008
New York Times - Art & Design - PHOTOGRAPHY REVIEW
In Atta Kim’s Long-Exposure Photographs, Real Time Is the Most Surreal of All
By HOLLAND COTTER
Published: July 12, 2006
“Atta Kim: On-Air” at the International Center of Photography
His view of Times Square leaves all the stationary elements — buildings and such — in crisp focus, but reduces traffic to a shimmering haze, a ghost of motion. Other famous New York intersections get the same treatment...
Every once in a while, I encounter an image that precisely expresses something of the way I feel about life. This morning was one of those "once in a whiles". This image, from "On-Air", an exhibition of Korean photographer Atta Kim's work currently at the International Center of Photography, is one of those images:
That's a photograph, an eight-hour exposure, of the intersection of Fifth Avenue and Fifty-seventh Street, looking south, here in New York City. I've walked through that intersection I don't know how many times on my way to my dentist's office. I've stood on that very corner at the right of the frame. I may even be in that picture. I could be — no way to know unless and until I find out the date and time on which the picture was taken.
But whether I'm technically in that particular photo, I'm certainly in it spiritually.
Granted, this is not the first time we've seen this type of photograph -- a long exposure wherein all that is alive is smeared into irrelevance, and all that is not alive remains clear and solid. Naturally, if we increased the exposure time -- to 800 years, say, instead of a mere eight hours — what seems clear and solid in this photo would smear into irrelevance just like the car and foot traffic above. Which is pretty much the essence of my response to this image.
As I said, I could be part of that smear in the lower right hand corner of the image. I certainly see myself there. My life, looked at one way, is an irrelevant smear — and yet it never feels that way to me. I look at that corner and I recall all the times I've stood there, lost in thought, ear buds in my ears, listening to one of my (liberal) talk shows, waiting for the light to change so I can cross.
The irony is that the irrelevant smear of life in that image is the very thing that reminds me I am here, and that I am as clear and as solid as all that is clear and solid in that image. But I know that I'm only clear and solid in my own time scale. My time scale is as justifiable as any other, but that does not make it the only time scale there is.
I'm haunted by time. I know that I was burped up by time and that I will — too soon for my tastes — be swallowed by it again. That fact is right there in that image above. But what's also there is this: Being reminded I am merely a part of the bloodstream reminds me of my own, um... corpuscularity.
July 12, 2006 at 07:19 AM
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Australia, New South Wales, Sydney, English, photography, reading, natural history, land use, town planning, sustainability.