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Tag Archives: religion

Red-rumped parrot on a gate, and other Christmas visitors

Some mowing required,pastoral scenes are no excuse for not keeping up the yard work

Some mowing required,pastoral scenes are no excuse for not keeping up the yard work – Christmas 2010, rural NSW

I had to have my dog put down before Christmas.  There is no art in that, nothing but bathos.  Orwell may have made something out of shooting an imaginary elephant, but there is no poetry or great message in the death of my cute little dog.  I stayed with him as the vet went about her work, because loyalty, a dog of a virtue which excuses cover ups and mass murders, is amongst the virtues I admire most, and having made the decision that he was to die, it is not in me to simply walk away and leave the dog alone to the process.  (In the waiting room, while I held him up so he wouldn’t enage in battle with animals ten times his size, he pissed blood down my shirt, his incontinence and internal bleeding a reassurance that i was doing the right thing.)  He  wagged his tail, happy at the attention, trusting me, and blubbering though I was, I hope I did not betray that trust.  Afterwards, I reflected on my sentimentality regarding animals, and how useless I would be on a farm, unless I had some reconditioning, and my brain went into over analytical overdrive: did I do the right thing? how dare you feel like that about an animal? how dare you do what you did? do I feel enough?  do I feel too little?  And I was left with the knowledge, I don’t want to go through that again any time soon.

Then I awoke to the news of the murder of 20 little children and others.  I cannot even begin to try to get into the imaginative head space of being able to watch those children die, let alone carry out that deed.  Empathy completely fails me, though  I am a broken person, filled with my own darkness.  I can think about the pain a person may have, the anger, and draw a path that may lead to such a deed, but I cannot colour that picture in, cannot give it substance.  I do not dare to put myself in the position of any of the parents who lost a child.  For most adults who have had their fair battering from life, that is too easy an imaginative leap to make.

There is no causality between these events, they are just the order in which I experienced them.  There is no other real connection either, they are an infinite degree of both kind and magnitude apart.  We lurch from day to day, getting by as best we can, hoping for small joys, experiencing our small sorrows, and hear news from a distance of great horror.  We hope that if nothing else, some small meaning can be taken from disaster if it leads to us changing our ways.  This happened in Australia after the Port Arthur massacre, but gun ownership is less entrenched in our culture.  It seems that this most recent tragedy will lead to no great change.

I am reading and very much enjoying “Unapologetic” by Francis Spufford.  He is brutal on the failure of most of theodicy to reconcile a belief in/the existence of a good and powerful God with suffering.  It is not my purpose to go into that here, but it contains one of my favourite recent quotes.  He talks of the horrors of the world, referring to Darwin’s description of a caterpillar being devoured by larvae, and more about disease and death in general, before touching on pantheism:  “To anyone inclined to think  in a happy wafty muddly way, that nature is God, nature replies: have a cup of pus, Mystic Boy.”

Here are some pictures of some recent visitors, just the usual suspects, nobody special:

Pied Currawong

always on the make…

Pied currawongs have been hanging around. I tried to feed one by hand, but we were both a bit jumpy and I threw the bread and he took it and fled.

King Parrots

always wanting a feed

A juvenile King Parrot has been making a nuisance of itself, wearing its parents out as it constantly demands a feed.  They are a beautiful bird.

Crimson Rosella

Crimson Rosella

Crimson Rosellas are not uncommon but they are a bit flighty.  This one was comfortable in my backyard, as he was a bit hidden amongst the branches.

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Morning kookaburra

Morning kookaburra

Caught this kookaburra in the morning light…

one of nature's gentlemen, when it is not breeding season

one of nature’s gentlemen, when it is not breeding season

My old friend the butcher bird, still taking thrown food on the wing …

Achtung!

Achtung!

Nothing escapes me

Nothing escapes me

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And the sulphur crested, or white, cockatoo, noisy and destructive but a true favourite of mine…

look to the left

look to the left

look to the right

look to the right

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Joe Chip Empire is in decline, there are too many other calls on my time.  Over at the Joe Chip Laboratories, we have been spitting out Tall Poppy seeds as part of our investigation of the alleged Australian disease known as the Tall Poppy Syndrome.  It is an interesting condition, a disease diagnosed by those who have been subject to scrutiny, not by those doing the analysis … at the 6th Proletarian Anarcho Lottery Syndicate, the writer proves the revolution is nigh.  Finally advice for the lovelorn, and a bunch of other stupid stuff, over at What Would Joe Chip Do?

As the fireworks begin to see off 2012, I hope there is something on these pages to justify the moments you spent looking at them.  if not, I sincerely apologise.

Until next year, I remain your faithful servant, your mate, my mate Joe Chip

The Crimson Pimpernel

Crimson Rosella

There we go, as promised in various places, if you don’t like the words, at least there is a bird to look at.

Your mate really has no business blogging when there are so many other calls on his time, such as hiding from creditors and looking at birds, but he cannot let you down.

Looking around the Joe Chippish traps, a message has got through from Glossolalia, though it is hard to understand.  I suspect evil Trevor has been up to something.  In honour of Valentine’s Day, the Joe Chip laboratories have conducted an in depth analysis of love (scientific name: LERV), to see what its all about, Alfie.  You may be surprised at our results.  Or you may not.

Continuing with the romantic theme, you may be intrigued by the strange attraction your mate has to the Australian billionaire, Gina Rinehart, and the question he asks: does she have ninjas?

In the poetic realms, we consider the effect of the cryptid creature, the numb-bat, and those who seek its bite to remove all feeling, and why light is a bad thing.  (Who is this “we”, Joe?  I don’t know, you tell me, Joe.)

This week’s shout out goes to Osteoarch, who is a freelance osteoarchaeologist, and how cool is that?  Most interesting job description I’ve come across in a while, and she gets to wear a white coat in her pictures, which I don’t.  Check out her site.

Just finished “Embassytown” by China Mieville, the bestselling communist fantasist.  He continues with an obsession about religion.  In earlier books such as “Perdido Street Station” he wrote of demons, though they were throughgoing materialists, existing on the physical plane.  In “Kraken” he was a bit more direct, depicting a London populated by members of thousands of obscure and generally warring sects.  He has a respectful Marxist approach to religion – he does not believe a word of it, but acknowledges it as a real and continuing part of human existence.  While a complete sceptic, he does not take the dismissive approach of a Dawkins or Hitchens, no doubt in part stemming from his Marxism, in that religion cannot be reasoned away until the material conditions of humanity change and the contradictions inherent in the capitalist system are resolved and the state withers away and so on – he has his own apocalyptic agenda whether he realises it or not.  I don’t know that too many religious believers would see themselves reflected in “Kraken”, though perhaps their detractors would.  yes, they can be evil, intolerant, scheming, whatever, but they can also be loyal, devoted, selfless and self sacrificing – in other words, human.  However, religion is reduced to subscribing to an arbitrary series of postulates (unlike, say, Marxism).

Here, the theological concerns are definitely non-theistic.  In “Embassytown”, humanity is confronted with a pre-lapsarian world, with creatures who cannot lie.  This is no “Case of Conscience” James Blish world – they are not innocents – they scheme, they kill, they profit.  However, for purely Darwinian reasons, they cannot lie.  Humanity then introduces the serpent into their world.

It is all very interesting, however for all the discussion in reviews of the cleverness in its discussion of language and so on, it still felt arbitrary.  This thing happens because these creatures happen to do this when this other thing happens.  Hardly a criticism, I know, isn’t that a description of life, however I don’t know that it is justified to raise the discussion of the book as high as it has gone in some circles.  It is one of the slimmest of his books (his books are getting a lot shorter than when he started, whether that is a good thing depends upon how much you were enjoying them), but frankly I thought it could have been a lot thinner.

There are many excellent science fiction touches.  I enjoyed the Turing machine, however it left me feeling a bit stupid – its role just drops off, and I  was left thinking that I must have missed something obvious about it and its inability to adapt.  Perhaps there was a comment in there about Turing machines being a test of whether humans are conscious independent sentient beings that I missed in reading it on my daily commute.  The stuff about interstellar travel on the immer and floaking are fairly lovely for those who enjoy sf.  Philip K Dick when interviewed  said that the pleasures of reading AE van Vogt for him included that they hinted at things unseen.  There are plenty of hints in this book – interdimensional lighthouses built in the immer – leading to the irony of the narrator, existing in a world so exotic to us, being led by the human instinct to leave her humdrum existence behind and strike off into even further beyond.  Whatever we reach, there is always something further.  However, while I enjoyed these aspects, to me they were a little bit of a cheat.  When I was elbowing my way into the novel, trying to settle in and get comfortable, there was a scene of a ship returning from the immer that was insufficiently quarantined.  Suddenly, something breaks out, and reality begins to be converted into the stuff of the creature.  A monster from the true beyond, something strange, a great weird moment.  I thought this was a hint of the crisis to come, of the crux of the novel.  No, it was mostly a throw away scene.  *Sigh*

An intriguing premise, some lovely dollops of weird, but in terms of playing with words and their manifestation, I preferred the playfulness of Steven Hall’s “The Raw Shark Texts”.  Perhaps I am shallow.

Happy Valentine’s Day!  Your mate loves youse all!