Assumptions: Just stop it

I’m not that into slogans, especially the reductive three word variety:

  • Always remain neutral
  • Finger lickin’ good

And the three syllables slogans are even worse

  • Jobs and growth
  • Stop the boats

However there is one short adage that I find very helpful and humbling:

To assume is to make an ass of u and me.

Personally I loath to be labelled. To be perceived as this or that when you’d rather evade categorisation entirely.

Oh you’re a Melbourne woman? You’re all football mad down there! What AFL club do you follow?

I don’t follow any sports really so I could honestly say “none” but actually St Kilda. St Kilda Football Club. I can identify with The Saints and their endless suffering and torment.

But here’s the kicker – I catch myself making sweeping assumptions about what I predict to be other people’s interests, intellect and knowledge based on their location, job and other demographics and I’d like to stop doing it.

People can surprise you when it comes to your assumptions about their understanding of the visual arts. It was my brother, a geotechnical engineer in the bush, with what I thought had zero interest in art, who pointed out the similarities between the latest images of the giant planet Jupiter from the Hubble Space Telescope and the painting The Assumption of Mary by 17th century baroque giant Peter Paul Rubens.

Who would have thought Rubens’ plump little putti could have foreshadowed NASA’s latest snapshot of the gaseous monster planet?

Compare the pair – they have the same depiction of a rippling fluidity of form, similar colour palette and of course there’s the spectacular celestial subject matter. See more images from NASA here. And the glorious artwork here.

Eight hundred kilometres separate me and my only sibling and I think he might harbour the same sense of being a fish out of water as I did living and working in a regional town while having interests that extend beyond the scope of beer, BBQs and QAnon theories.

But really you can find your tribe anywhere if you look hard enough.

Speaking of scopes – and fish for that matter – he also made an uncanny comparison between this year’s comet Neowise and his trusty Clouser Minnow fly fishing lure.

Doesn’t it make you feel insignificant? I mean, the craftmanship in that lure is amazing.

The comet was discovered on my birthday in 2020 by NASA’s Near-Earth Object Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer, hence the anacronym NEOWISE.

During the pandemic (never imagined I’d ever begin a paragraph with that) we have been sharing the daily goings-on in our neck of the woods including a bit of political commentory here, a little philosophising there, podcast recommendations but mostly it’s about the real important things that make life worth living – birds.

Lately it’s the disappearance of magpies due to the gradual influx of crows into Balwyn and the apostle bird assembly on my brother’s porch. They are named such as they are always in a group of twelve. I wonder if there is a Judas among them or a doubting Thomas?

These questions need answers.

Anyway that’s all for now.

Go Saints!

Compassion man

Attachment

This fanning fellow is the patron deity of Tibet. So the story goes when Avalokiteshvara, let’s call him Kit, was confronted with the suffering of the world he was filled with such compassion that his head burst into eleven heads, and from his body sprang a thousand helping arms and hands, like some sort of badass empathetic superhero. Sense8 comes to mind. Yes, very cool. In the palm of each hand appeared an eye of infinite vision, seeking and assisting those in need. In Chinese, this deity is called Qianshou 千手 (thousand hands). I began counting but didn’t finish. I felt I should take their word for it, there was an awful lot you see.

The central pair of hands is in the ‘prayer’ gesture; the lowest pair is in the ‘charity of gift-bestowing’ gesture, with an eye in the right palm. Like the uppermost right hand holding a rosary, the other main hands once held various symbols of Buddhist virtues and ideals, which are no longer there.

Shitty, scary events across the globe and at home in Australia make me think we could use a Kit in the world today.

If you’re lucky enough to be in Melbourne you can experience this artwork first hand at the Ian Potter Centre, the best free gallery in the city hands down!

Kit’s deets are below:

TIBETO-CHINESE Avalokiteshvara 千手千眼觀音 17th – 18th century China. Gilt-bronze, semi-precious stone, pigments 115.0 x 72.5 x 45.4 cm. Felton Bequest, 1966 (1485-D5) Photo: Renée Garling