8 April, VIRUS 2020

Australia recorded 6,000 confirmed cases of Covid-19 on Wednesday, and 50 deaths from the virus. Guardian

Eos is always welcoming and this is the time to make the most of her welcome. Enjoy her disdain for latecomers, disinterest in geometries, rejection of sacred texts, ignorance of nation states, taste for secrets, knowledge of eons

Fiery Eos

An absorption, cloud touching heaven with a fist
or feather, a distant shore soaking spilt light.

I search for colours

Osprey with fish

A few Silver Gulls are always the first to fly in
from the south, ten, twenty minutes before sunup.

An osprey passes by heading north in darkness,                         [7.01
returns, breakfast tucked to its undercarriage.                            [7.15

Rain coming

The tides is rolling in, a series of French curves,
could anything be more helpful for breathing,
concentrating on relaxed shoulders while
emptying out the lungs through the mouth.

Roo poo being collected by the tide

A handful of scats, smaller than usual, possibly
wallaby though I have never seen one on this shore
and their leavings are often straighter with fibre.

Four out of focus Sooty Oystercatchers. Lovely water though

Walking back up through light-lost scrub
I scatter a tawny storm of small butterflies,
a Brownian motion of life.

   ~

I use the mattock on Paspalum and Parramatta Grass, count the oranges. My intervention in the crisis today digs out Ashley Bloomfield. The Kiwi’s Director General of Health, has repeatedly encouraged Kiwis to get exercise through “gardening”, and the advice has been taken to heart. Coronavirus gardening boom overwhelms seed suppliers in New Zealand and Australia. [1]

Medicine has improved. Treatments for the Black Death (also originating in China, but caused by bacterium spread by infected fleas) has moved on from, rubbing onions or chopped up snake on the boils, or smearing dead pigeon over the body. Eating crushed minerals, arsenic or mercury is no longer recommended either. That particular plague killed as many as 200 million people in just a few years.[2]

Medicine has left behind the miasma hypothesis and science and technology together have advanced health for the few, becoming technologically sophisticated and expensive, yet 1.6 million people died from diarrheal diseases in 2017. Clean water, sewerage treatment, better hygiene and food has helped raise our life expectancy

We are learning that profound, positive change is possible . . .  At moments of immense change, we see with new clarity the systems – political, economic, social, ecological – in which we are immersed as they change around us. We see what’s strong, what’s weak, what’s corrupt, what matters and what doesn’t. Rebecca Solnit [3]

Ivan Illich was a pessimist. At university I studied his ‘Tools for Conviviality’, a call for re-imagining how technology is used for ordinary people, wanting to weaken the control by technocratic elites. He thought the health professions (dominating current news cycles) are health-denying, in that they, ‘destroy the potential of people to deal with their human weakness, vulnerability, and uniqueness in a personal and autonomous way.’ [4] And that is true of how old people now and kept from death.

Solnit seems optimistic, but I see no fundamental change in how humans want to live and what they think they need in order to live and survive Late Capitalism. Martha Nussbaum reminds us that, ‘For the Greeks of the fifth and fourth centuries BC, there were not two separate sets of questions in the area of human choice and action, aesthetic questions and moral-philosophical questions . . . dramatic poetry and what we now call philosophical inquiry in ethics were both typically seen as ways of pursuing a single and general question: namely, how human beings should live.’[5] Who asks that question?

Whether or not the cultural, political, socio-economic systems and processes suddenly reveal themselves, what matters is that the human population is almost 8 billion. Unsustainable for upwardly mobile populations around the globe to get enough of the staples – food, fresh water and healthy air.

What matters is the pathology of our excessive consumption. If living in a ‘developed’ nation, you will eat about 35 tons of food in a lifetime: 7,000 animals (11 cows, 27 pigs, and 2,400 chickens) and consume at least 50,000 plastic particles a year.[6] And at today’s level of consumption, you will use 360 kilos of lead, 340 kilos of zinc, 680 kilos of copper, 1,630 kilos of aluminium, 14,830 kilos of iron, 12,000 kilos of clays, 12,800 kilos of salt, and 561,593 kilos of stone, sand, gravel, and cement.[7] Then there are all the rare precious metals that modern technology needs. No wonder unsustainability is a key issue.

                                                                              ~

Sunset behind Old Man’s Hat

The four Sooty Oystercatchers are where I they were this morning, preening.

Termite nest

In a hurry to catch the huge orange moon she has spotted I push Wyn, upsetting her. I apologise (more than once). (The selfishness of art). I screw the birth, the camera rock balanced, but catch the hypnotic wash of red light.

Supermoon, Valla

I sent off my Australia Council application – seeking funds to get this journal designed for an online platform and out and about. I have little hope.

Notes:

[1] Guardian, 8 April.

[2] The survival rate was 50% for bubonic plague (infected lymph nodes) and 100% for respiratory or systemic infection plague. Outbreaks of plague still occur, mostly in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Madagascar and Peru.

[3] Rebecca Solnit, ‘The impossible has already happened what coronavirus can teach us about hope’, The Guardian, 7 Apr 2020.

[4] Ivan Illich, Limits to medicine: medical nemesis—the expropriation of health, London: Marion Boyars, 1976.

[5] Martha Nussbaum, Poetic Justice: The Literary Imagination and the Public Life, Beacon Press, 1995, pxii.

[6] https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/jun/05/people-eat-at-least-50000-plastic-particles-a-year-study-finds. In 1858, a Mr Soyer calculated a man with an average lifespan consumes: ‘30 oxen, 200 sheep, 100 calves, 200 lambs, 50 pigs; 1,200 fowls, 300 turkeys, 150 geese, 400 ducklings, 263 pigeons; 1,400 partridges, pheasants and grouse, 600 woodcock and snipe, 600 wild pigeons and teal; 450 plovers, ruffs, and reeves; 800 quails, ortolan and dotterills, and a few guillemots and other foreign birds . . . (plus fish, seafood etc.)  Scientific American, June 1858.

[7] https://www.usgs.gov/faqs/how-large-a-lifetime-supply-minerals-average-person?qt-news_science_products=0#qt-news_science_products