Monday, May 31, 2010
Monday, May 17, 2010
Sunday, May 9, 2010
Wednesday, May 5, 2010
Selected pages from Tokyo zine #1: Two weeks with Birds.
I read your zine today. I enjoyed deciphering the red ‘sub-text’ beneath the black handwriting, where you wonder if anyone will understand how this work relates to watching the habits of other people communing with nature, rather than reflecting only your personal obsession. I’ve always loved watching the natural world. But until I met you many years ago, and then Richard, I didn’t really know where to direct my looking.
I have read two novels over the past two weeks where empathy with animals is a central theme: Philip Pullman’s Northern Lights and Philip K. Dick’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep. I feel like I should have read them both at least a decade ago! But no matter. In both cases, strong relationships are forged between humans and animals, but the animals in question are completely removed from their connection to a broader ecology. In Pullman’s first novel of the His Dark Materials trilogy, some animals are Daemons; they are attached psychologically and psychosomatically to human beings. They have a spiritual and emotional connection. If a human dies, their Daemon dies too, and vice-versa. The bond between a human and their Daemon is almost sacrosanct. In Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, humans bond with animals as part of a pseudo-religious and post-apocalyptic movement, where animal ownership is both a conspicuous way of achieving social kudos, and a way of lifting humankind away from despair and entropy (the Tomb World). Real animals are purchased from a catalogue. Humans aspire to try to love them.
Today I felt like Deckard. I had an existential concern for my fish, Rambo. I thought he looked lonely, hiding under his rocks. The Original Fin has been swimming solo in his pond for a while, so I decided to walk to Marrickville Aquarium Supplies and buy him some friends (or enemies, who knows?). As I was walking back I was thinking about you and how personally your work has affected me. Trying to be as careful as possible, I held the two Koi in front of me as they slopped around their plastic transport. Further down the street, I locked eyes with a middle-aged woman who was letting her neat little sheep trim the shrubs of her apartment block. Me with my fish-in-transit. Her with her sheep-on-a-rope. I thought about our two animal species in these unlikely suburban contexts, and the extent to which we try to create spaces for them to exist, and to imagine them being contented. I thought about the Japanese bird-watchers you had documented, their bird-feeding (such a no-no in Australia) and the desire for simple connection with other living things. A desire that comes from wonderment, curiosity and care.
My faith in interspecies relationships somewhat restored, I introduced The Original Fin to his new pondmates.
Now they hide from me in togetherness.
Tuesday, May 4, 2010
It’s been hard to think about writing this blog since Mambo died. Partly because it has been hard to think about putting some thing in front of him so that slowly, slowly he disappears from the top post, when I still feel his absence as a large hole. Sitting to work at my desk is not the same anymore.
But life goes on, and there are lots of cats in the world and one day another one will walk into my life as Mambo did. He was dumped by his previous owners, from a car, and found his way into our corner block-backyard to hide. My parents heard him meowing and my father dug into the germaniums and brought out a six month old non-desexed friendly, but nervous, ginger fella with very long sharp nails. I had been asking for a companion pet, as I needed lots of affection at that point in my life and it is much better from a soft animal who gives without demands- or at least the easily met demand of food- than confused art school boys and girls.
But the new posts are stacking up and the owed posts of my trip are still waiting to be written so best to get on with it.