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!

Please don’t eat bats

“Your majesty, when I said you were like a stream of bat’s piss, I only mean that you shine out like a shaft of gold when all around is dark.”

Monty Python

Speaking of streaming in these dark times, I’m puzzled by my initial reluctance to lean in to the current rush to overshare and do absolutely everything live online. After all, I usually enjoy sharing what I’m up to creatively with some online friends (and somehow I’ve managed to accumulated a few outstanding pals – you know who you are).

Above all, be authentic is the mantra of people coaching those in a creative line of work. “And show us yourself sans makeup, lay out your deepest fears, the inside of your fridge and give us a flat lay version of your undies draw NOW.”

I have all the tools, imagery, apps and ideas to get on board the streamtrain but my intuition said leave it up to the experts.

It seems everyone’s got the Zoomies but me. At least for now, I’m sure I’ll join the throngs soon.

Am I a walking contraction or a conflicted contrarian?

Ughh God forbid – contrarians are insufferable. But yes definitely conflicted in my line of work, probably like a lot of other artists who have to rely on multiple side hustles to eke out anything remotely resembling a living. One avenue is online print-on-demand places like Red Bubble and Threadless. They’re touted as ethical, feel good companies supporting creatives but I feel conflicted using them as I’m just adding to the production of more STUFF.

There’s so much fast fashion and useless non-biodegradable shit out there already and I’m adding to it.

If you’re thrilled that someone threw out a functioning laptop case, set of throw cushions and a wall clock, in order to replace them with your new arty versions, then I guess this medium is perfect for you.

Maybe artists should concentrate more on making things with their own hands. Or create more work that exist only in the digital realm.

I don’t know.

Even the virtuous community minded Etsy folk are seeing the platform flooded with plastic tat from China. All that needs to be done to qualify as a bespoke product in 2020 is to get out your glue gun and stick plastic bit of shit (a) to plastic bit of shit (b) and voila! you now have a product line of original creations which can now be resold as “handmade” goods.

And people buy it.

Capitalism needs to calm down.

Fifty years ago a plucky architect, author and futurist hinted at a possible scenario when people finally spurn the current growth fetish:

“We should do away with the absolutely specious notion that everybody has to earn a living. It is a fact today that one in ten thousand of us can make a technological breakthrough capable of supporting all the rest. The youth of today are absolutely right in recognizing this nonsense of earning a living. We keep inventing jobs because of this false idea that everybody has to be employed at some kind of drudgery because, according to Malthusian Darwinian theory he must justify his right to exist. So we have inspectors of inspectors and people making instruments for inspectors to inspect inspectors. The true business of people should be to go back to school and think about whatever it was they were thinking about before somebody came along and told them they had to earn a living.”

Buckminster Fuller

Right on Bucky.

I love older people. That’s pretty much the only demographic I spoke to in the first few weeks of lockdown when some unrelated challenges were also at fever pitch. Another gut thing I guess.

Jumping to the big picture amid the current CV-19 crisis, the 1% will protect and retain their power no matter what happens to the rest of us. It behoves them to let the hardworking, hand-sanitising masses think they have a say in what happens in their daily lives.

Democracy is just a fig leaf for oligarchy.

Apart from a 60s-like push for change or a violent revolution, I don’t think things will be that much different when we return to whatever it is that awaits us.

Having said that, I’m seeing this lockdown, and world events in general, unfold through multiple prisms:

  • Through the eyes of the regular working class “oh shit, our jobs are being taken by perfect, compliant, sophisticated automatons – they won’t need us anymore. May as well add to the chaos and watch the world burn.”
  • Via the prism of the chattering classes, signalling our high moral standards to our equally woke peers while judging and public shaming anyone who isn’t presenting themselves as perfect, compliant, sophisticated automatons.
  • Through the lense of the prepping conspiratorial crowd. Some of them don’t look as silly now to be honest. Personally I wish I hoarded more sensitive toothpaste when it was on special back in February.
  • From the point of view of a New Age pundit where this may well be the start of a fundamental change in collective human consciousness leading to the birth of a higher evolved version of humanity.
  • From the narrow world view of fundamentalist Christianity (among other absolutest religions). Though this particular plague doesn’t line up with anything described in Revelations. It’s probably just your bog-standard beginning-of-sorrows type of smiting.

You can see why it’s all just a little exausting yeah?

But hey thanks for stopping by. Sorry about all this. You’re now free to go stream yourself silly. Whatever gets you through isolation – no judgement here.

In conclusion I haven’t a clue how things will pan out but it’s comforting when we remember it was plagues that swept away the dark ages and ushered in The Renaissance.


PS: Renaissance literally means rebirth and Renée literally means reborn.

Addendum: I did actually jump on-board a friend’s stream where, without utterance, he paddled his kayak out into the centre of a large lake to watch the sun go down. It was an incredible meditative online offering, very soothing and unhurried with the only sonance to disturb the sound of soft lapping water being some sporadic coughing after our kayaker lit a fat one.