Saturday, October 13, 2018

MYRNA BULL

Myrna Bull at home, 12 October. Photo: Julie Clarke (2018

It's strange the things we recall. I remember way back in 1991 when I was at RMIT a young man said he thought I would grow old gracefully. I never really understood what he meant or how he arrived at that conclusion. More recently I have considered the word grace, which by 16th century definitions meant having pleasant or attractive qualities or the divine grace of god. In commonplace parlance it might mean to be free flowing in ones movements, gentle, soft, a quality we might associate with a classical ballet dancer. In my mind placing the words old and graceful together appear antithetical since most of the old people I've seen are rather slow and not necessarily graceful or elegant. Perhaps grace is what the individual exudes, some inner quality radiated, a characteristic that extends beyond the space of the self into the surrounding world. The notion of grace re-surfaced last week when I met a woman of note who imparted to me the quality of grace, however I still cannot pin down the word even though I think in Myrna's case grace is the glow of everything she has achieved in her life and the inability of her to contain the energy of that life within the tiny space of her body.

Myrna Bull, a mother and grandmother has a wealth of experience in management and human rights. As the Northern Territory’s Regional Director of the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission she contributed to a range of policy initiatives that had a significant effect on the quality of life of the community. Myrna helped to establish the Northern Territory’s Anti-Discrimination Act 1991 while she was the Director of the Office of Equal Opportunity. Prior to that she worked with an Indigenous counterpart in the Aboriginal Women’s Resource Center which achieved a milestone in the history of the Uniting Church when her colleague was appointed the Center's Coordinator. She has been Assistant Commissioner, Conciliation in the Victorian Equal Opportunity Commission, a management consultant, independent conciliator and investigator, and a workplace training and recruitment consultant. She developed and managed the volunteer selection and community education program for Australian Volunteers International, Australia’s largest volunteer recruitment agency, and most recently worked for Job Futures as the manager of its Victorian ex-prisoner and offender’s employment program.

It was a pleasure photographing her and her dogs were so well behaved.


Monday, October 8, 2018

A walk through the forest

Last Saturday my son took me for a absolutely peaceful and wonderful walk through a forest in the Dandenong Ranges National Park. I loved the density of the trees, the sound of numerous birds singing, the natural environment and above all, his company. The gravel track we followed was also a riding path and at one stage we encountered a group of about eight women on horseback, which was rather daunting as the horses were quite tall. As majestic as they were they certainly kicked up a lot of dust on that gravelly path. One of the photos below shows just one rider by herself heading towards us. I took twenty two photographs in the hour that we were walking but have only placed six here for your enjoyment and contemplation. In the first photograph you can just see Melbourne in the skyline, which looked like a foggy apparition in the distant past. I just loved it.








Saturday, September 29, 2018

A little bit of academic news

This blog is in its ten year and although I've slowed down with my entries over the past year or so to concentrate more fully on drawing I will attempt to continue making blog posts. Selfie above was taken last week as visual record of myself at the beginning of the remainder of the decade in which I began (in August 2009) by considering what is human.

I'm happy to report that Google Scholar from time to time alerts me of any piece of writing - book or article that cites one of my published articles. In the following instance they advised that my 2008 article Doubly Monstrous? Female and Disabled, published by Humboldt University in their Essays in Philosophy, has had 3828 downloads and has been cited in Ashley Crawford's new book: Religious Imaging in Millenialist America, however it has also been cited in ten other books.

My own book: The Paradox of the Posthuman in Science Fiction/Techno-horror Films and Visual Media, VDM Verlag, Germany, 2009 has been cited by seven writers in their books.
I'm pleased that my scholarship continues to be an influence in Australia and Internationally even though I don't work in an academic environment.

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Thoughts on Germaine Greer's ON RAPE by Julie Clarke

Many cases of rape are planned, others are opportunistic in that men prey on women who are alone, intoxicated/drugged or vulnerable. Some theorize that rape is about power, but it is also about male pleasure achieved only by making someone, anyone, their 'bitch'. It involves subjugation, bringing someone under control.  In the prison system stronger men make weaker ones their 'bitch' by forcing them into unwilling homosexual activity. It involves raping that man until he finally, willingly, conforms to the desire of the other.  In the general community rape (generally perpetrated by men over women)  is about treating a person as an object, a hole, a cunt to be used and abused.  Rape is total disrespect for an other's body integrity. Germaine Greer says that 'Although some of us might like to think of the vagina as sacred, and casual use of it as a desecration, it has never been revered' (p.1) however it IS the most private part of the female body and women fear rape as an unwelcome violation that will cause pain, possible disease or an unwanted pregnancy, and they know that if they resist the demands of the perpetrator they may sustain greater injury and death, since many rapes are accompanied by threats of violence. In every attack of one person upon another there are microseconds in which the body of the victim acts or remains silent. On the occasion of rape the woman decides whether to scream and fight back or whether to conform to the request, knowing full well that to say no is to place herself in greater danger. In many cases it comes down to a matter of survival.
In Greer's extended essay/book called 'On Rape' she maintains 'You can rape a woman without even waking her up' (p.3) suggesting that penetration of the vagina without force or violence is still rape, in contrast to those who maintain 'Non-consensual sex without force is not rape' (p.4). However she fails to acknowledge that conjugal rights in marriage asserts an expectation (for both partners) of sexual activity/intimacy whether consensual or not. Interestingly enough the words conjugal and subjugate derive from the Latin word 'iungere' to join; both implicitly suggest that one person is placed under the yoke or power of another. On consideration, I think that men have extended the idea that sex is their right not only in marriage but with partners and casual relationships with women. In other words, men expect sex and sadly women trade sexual favors for financial security for themselves and their children. It seems to me that Greer's argument throughout the essay is an emphasis on non-consensual sex, which according to her is 'commoner than deep communion between male and female' and further that we 'must make an attempt to stem its deadening spread' (p.86, 87)
I am left thinking after reading this essay last night that Greer's anger is undoubtedly, finally expressed when she says that surgical or chemical castration 'will not eliminate men's hatred of women. Rape is not a sex crime, but a hate crime' (p.69).

Germaine Greer, On Rape, Melbourne University Press, 2018

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Self-portrait X 2

Self-portrait with orb. Pencil on A3 sized Moulin du Roy, w/c paper.
Julie Clarke (c) 2018

Whilst all the facial drawings I've done this year were more concerned  with disrupting the face or depicting micro facial expressions, the one above, which I completed last week is actually based on a photograph I took of myself and is more realistic. It is commentary of sorts on the way in which identity is fragmented in cybernetic culture. The orb, a metaphor of rationality was taken from a small oil painting on Masonite I completed in 1991. I was interested in 18C illustrations of mathematical objects, the Enlightenment, machines, prosthesis, etc. Not a lot has changed.
Self-portrait, 1991. Oil paint on Masonite. Julie Clarke(c)

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

TIGER MURAL

As much as I would like Hawthorn to win the AFL Grand Final because my son is one of their supporters and so was my grandmother, I just had to post this wonderful piece of art that graces the side of a building in Richmond that I photographed last weekend.

Monday, September 3, 2018

WE ARE TIME MACHINES


Regardless of speculation I don't believe that humans will ever be able to time travel, even though we can imagine such a concept and believe that advanced technologies will make this possible. I think part of the reason why we think that time travel is possible is that a strong idea has been implanted in our psyche by science fiction accounts, which fuels our desire about the possibilities of space and what lies beyond our sphere in the universe. We also have a three part division in the way we perceive time. It has been divided into the past - that which has been documented as what has gone before or preceded us, the present (immediate lived experience) and the future (a site of possibilities)  and we have made these states of being or time frame solid in the sense that we most likely perceive them as containers in an otherwise void, almost palpable to our inquiring minds. I would argue that the continuum that is life lived is always in a state of presence and it is only via reflection, memory, oral histories or documentation that we know of the past. We know also of a time in which we did not exist.  It is well known that even in that state of being present we can call to mind the past and a possible, if not imaginary future that we make real by calling it to mind. I say again, the present is all that is real in any moment of this continuum.

That future you imagine has already occurred whilst I am writing this. It is, by virtue of the fact that we divide the continuum of life by time pieces and calendars which measure out experience in minute lots that affects our idea of time as an evolution, as something running always forward and dropping behind it, like bits of straw falling off the back of a moving truck, some piece of information or experience that becomes a drop in the well of past time. Equally, when we think of the future it is a space of possibilities generally including desires or wishes of the person fantasizing about that future. Of course there are some things that we know will occur and it is based on patterns of existence and repetition that tells us at least some of what the future will look like and one of those things is that we know that life expires. Knowledge of our future existence then must include the concept of our demise.  So, thinking about our own individual selves (which can be extended to others) we can say that within this continuum and in this moment we are a historical being within a certain framework and we will continue to be historical beings until we are dead and are no longer experiencing anything or contributing to the experience of others who are also in a sense traveling on that continuum. Our desire to know what lies ahead is understandable, we enjoy the idea of having the upper hand on life, which is, after all out of our control.

We know flow continues because  we imagine and look forward to things however, I don't imagine the future as a repository already filled, although there are probably some who think of the future in this way. The immensity of the present continuously flowing into a future state tells me that that future just as quickly passes through present consciousness into that dark well of that which has already gone. We fragment experience(s) because we can bring something into being that had no prior existence. This entity will remain until it deteriorates or is destroyed. There is no doubting at all that there is duration. As such, we have a conversation with coming events by making things come into that sphere. But the future in my mind is not a place, rather the present moment continues to devour the future indeed the future and the past are integral to present experience. The present then a consciousness like a black hole in the universe, an attractor that draws all in, in its immense energy to absorb.

If there is flow, then there will be a future and we know this because this very moment is a continuum of the past. The issue is not whether the future is possible or whether it will occur, but whether we can pin it down as a substance that's already there as a thing contained. That future, already imagined and understood as a given, or fact, has passed into what was and will never be again. It cannot be exactly replicated. The possibilities for the future are endless, so how therefore can it be fixed?

Let me return just briefly to the concept of the future in science fiction accounts. It is a place densely populated with generally dystopian ideas about humanity and its controlling technologies. It is a repository of fears about what will happen to our fragile ontology amongst proliferating machines that we have created. It is rarely a happy place and this may be why ideas about the future continue to inspire. Those who pursue the idea of time travel admit that traveling back into the past would not enable anyone to change any aspect of that past since it is fixed and since each individual did not exist in that past how could they affect that past to benefit themselves in a future time. I would argue that (and I don't believe this) if the future is a place that is also fixed with  events and things then isn't it already given and therefore not a future at all but part of all that has passed? What would be the reason for desiring to see the future if not to influence the present moment in relation to ethics or, on a more sinister note, to having the edge on a competitor. What if we positively knew that the universe was to end in one year. Surely the concept of the future would be compromised in that it would suddenly become finite. Because we cannot perceive of a sudden collapse of the future into nothingness, we perceive it as endless and this enables us to continue to believe that it is out there like space occupying a temporal spatial location that we might somehow access. No matter how much we meter out time it slips by virtually unnoticed.

Our concept of the future is so dependent upon the past in that there is solid, material evidence of the existence of the past in artifacts and human and animal remains. The past then is something that can be touched or held in the hands. It is monuments to past heroes and stone graves of our ancestors. It is narratives that link culture to material thing that bear witness to lives lived. And although the future will no doubt contain those things, which will be discovered and documented at a forward time, it is in no way an absolute given. A future time populated by machines may mean that human past may mean absolutely nothing, resulting in no safe keeping of the evidence of human existence.  Of course all of this pure speculation, a thought bubble this morning after seeing an episode on Catalyst last night that was discussing those currently seeking to construct a technological time machine.

My conclusion is that since the human brain has the capacity to imagine possible futures it imagines those floating ideas to be solid. It is this that makes us imagine we might somehow, one day travel to the future, when I argue we are already time machines that move between past and future in our consciousness of present experience.

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

DT's IS LOOKING BEAUTIFUL

DT's Hotel at 164 Church Street Richmond, formerly Naughton's Hotel and then Citizen's Hotel was built in the Renaissance Revival style in the 1870s. It is architecturally significant and I'm happy to report that I have watched with interest over the past few months it's utter transformation from drab Emerald Green to its former glory. It's been a laborious slog for workers who draped the exterior with chemical strips and then painstakingly removed the remainder of the paint that resisted the peel. The result is stunning and DT's is now back to her former glory. She is covered in Thatch brown paint and wears her light brown, orange and green tiles with much splendour. More photographs of her transformation below. All photographs by Julie Clarke (c) 2018.