Newnes is a marvellous concentration within its steep cliffs and passes of a quaint early Australia, of Welsh miners and a steam railway cut through the Blue mountains – quaint and quiet bustle based on shale oil in contrast to the open grazing farms, gold rush workings, big mining towns of the desert, open cut mines, and the oil rigs in the ocean. Its nature is beautiful, and the presence of its history is thought provoking and unique. Such remains are rare in Australia and reminds us of our short history compared to the dwellings of the peoples before. It’s funny you found an aboriginal artefact there where the by-gone remains of vibrant “post-aboriginal” Australian (white, Asian and other, industrial) activity abound. I can relate to your experience with the museum, of taking “ages” before you “finally took” the Aboriginal artefact to the Australian Museum, then it falling out of your hands and chipping on the floor.
I have a similar story, almost lost in the back of my mind I’d like to share with you. When I was a boy snorkelling at Black Rock in Port Philip Bay in Melbourne, I discovered a small cannon 3 feet long that I brought back to shore with some difficulty. Picking it up from some depths, the weight of it prevented me surfacing so had to drop, take a breath, dive and carry, repeatedly back towards the shallows.
I am embarrassed to say, and it reflects my alienation with bureaucracy, but after years – and I preserved, drafted an image on graph paper, and contemplated its origins as well as what to do with it – I decided the authorities would not process it in meaningful ways, and I got rid of it.
I am now sorry, and in telling you about it (and whoever may read this) helps me see the position I find myself with my work.
The bridge between history, nature, our journeys, the arts, philosophy and science, is us. Not our words and works. The actual self that may not be cognitively determined, but is there for the sensitive to notice as a hint beyond what appears of our works and words.
The glitter of what appears and our surface self that appears more certain for its contact with what appears, needs to be confronted and trained – like an unruly vine – to its actuality. Then, in the gestalt, the here and now or emptiness, that is our actuality, we may relate with nothingness, the absence of the solid whole body in reality, who is wilderness, nature, creation and reality, who encompasses our all as a projected part – wherever or whatever we as an identity may think and feel we get to, are, experience, have or do, it is the whole self who is the whole body in reality, who is, is there, and does. Our relation with our whole is the way, process of reality, communion with God, connection with Life, salvation, validation, redemption. Whatever our individual human context and reality may be, they are based on and formed by a whole being in reality. I insist on a distinction between the self and the whole self on these basis.
As for the institutions, their bureaucratic nature is our post-modern end. What they represent, be education, health, commerce, law etc. is stifled, bound in transparent accountability, too busy in doing their business or service in compartmentalised broken lines. They reflect the loss of humanity, our authenticity, as community, family and individuals are gathered and shuffled, reared and kept, in the ever increasing pervasion of institutions, but also urbanisation, commercialism and technology.
I haven’t given up on the institutions but recognise their place and limitations. Though the typed text and digital image and sound in monitors is sucking our lives into them, I hope through them to get the message out, of our part in a process of reality that is our relation with the whole body to whom we belong as parts. I express it in art and poetry, formalised it in the method or system “Orientation”, and exercise it in a physical and an inner or meditative practice.
The future is bleak, of course. Unknowingly, and some may forgive “for they/we know not” what, humanity has committed itself to what it knows creative or intuitive or not. They/we may be forgiven for not knowing anything but what we know, and then there’s the Old Testament and the Tree of Knowledge – dammed for knowing, away from innocence.
Knowing must be a part of relation with our whole.
“I think I am” and “I think the world is” and yes, we can think those things and have our personal contexts, narrow or not, but know that reality is the whole body who holds our knowing and their contexts as projected parts. We may think about and question what we think, our thinking, and our self that thinks.