VIRUS 2020

1 August VIRUS 2020

1 August VIRUS 2020

‘Senseless’: Nets catch 480 animals including many protected species: The number of animals caught in NSW’s shark nets jumped more than a fifth in the latest season, trapping more than 180 threatened or protected species. Sydney Morning Herald

Dry conditions in the state’s north-east have prompted the NSW Rural Fire Service to start the official bushfire danger period from August 1 for six local government areas. Sydney Morning Herald

Fires in Brazil’s Amazon Rainforest Surge in July, Worst in Recent Days. Reuters

New Studies Show How to Save Parasites and Why It’s Important. An international group of scientists have laid out an ambitious global conservation plan for parasites.

Stingray sculptures, Valla

The text arrived at first light – COVID-19 test, Negative. We are free to leave the house and I am free of creating a daily journal, then a new thought kicked down the door – now is no time to stop being witness. This time, now is an important time. The Anthropocene is in full swing, and this present blip in the usual 24/7 capitalist machine of production and service industries may allow for respite, a rethinking, a realisation of how hard we have been pushing. It’s high time we re-assess how we are breathing, eating and working with this planet.

The river is close to empty, exposed sand/mud/clay,
the weight of the earth is dimpled where stingrays’
pectoral fins have dispersed some of that bulk
to lie hidden, barbed, a trigger-happy ambush.

They leave these casts the camera captures among
the tide’s scuff and tyre tracks. Maintaining physical
distancing a heron, egret and Curlew are managing
their mysteries away from my solid-state sensor.

River bed ribs are etched, someone could read
the mud whelk tracks like tea leaves, revealing
an estranged  future, or what is touching but not
felt, like muons trailing down a cloud chamber.

The markets are subdued, we greet friends, buy
recyclable face masks from lovely local women
who have been recycling materials to make
‘Boomerang Bags’, they gift us one.


Afternoon siesta – from the bed we view life revolving,
the pair of Galahs standing beside their horizontal nest hole.
Last year, a Currawong had easy pickings, one baby at a time,
the Rainbow Lorikeets parents watched, doing nothing.


No one will protect what they don’t care about; and no one will care about what they have never experienced. David Attenborough[1]

Our estrangement from nature (sometimes termed ‘Nature Deficit Disorder’) is composed of various strands. Our knowledge and expertise is now separated into disciplines segregated from each other, and from practical knowledge and experience. Work is separated from place and community, and art is separated from craft, embodied skill, everyday life. In addition, scientism and experts separate us from a political voice and any critique of how capitalism has developed and is changing.

Technologies, like the telescope and microscope, are tools which have greatly increased our understanding, yet technologies now separate us from embodied skill, place and the consequences of our attitudes, beliefs and lifestyles. And the integration of technology into every moment of our lives is speeding up.[2] Martin Heidegger prophesied this: ‘Technological advance will move faster and faster and can never be stopped. In all areas of his existence, man will be encircled ever more tightly by the forces of technology. These forces, which everywhere and every minute claim, enchain, drag along, press and impose upon man under the form of some technical contrivance or other—these forces . . . have moved long since beyond his will and have outgrown his capacity for decision.’[3]

Nearly twenty years ago Neil Postman warned of ‘Technopoly’: ‘It is what happens when a culture, overcome by information generated by technology, tries to employ technology itself as a means of providing clear direction and humane purpose. The effort is mostly doomed to failure.’[4] Don Ihde argues that modern experience has been fundamentally altered by new technologies of representation. Just as the microscope and the telescope reshaped the scientific view of the world, so do everyday image technologies such as cinema and television reshape the social world.[5]

How we eat, drink, have sex, work, socialise, relax and die would be unrecognisable even a couple of generations back. The maintenance of complex life on this planet and human happiness requires sustainable practices and changes in our activities to ensure healthy air, soil and water.

[1] Quoted by Matt Adam Williams, ‘Securing Nature’s Future’, The Ecologist, 4 April, 2013.

[2] ‘Technology expands its reach in an autocatalytic fashion. Autocatalysis is a term that originated in chemistry; it means any process that increases in speed according to the amount of the products it has created. The longer the process runs, the greater its speed.’ See Edward O. Wilson, On Human Nature, Harvard University Press, 1978, p84.

[3] Heidegger, Discourse on Thinking (1959), cited in Langdon Winner, Autonomous Technology: Technics-out-of-Control as a Theme in Political Thought, The MIT Press. p14.

[4] Neil Postman, Technopoly: The Surrender of Culture to Technology, New York, Vintage Books, 1993, p71-72.

[5] Don Ihde, “Image Technologies and Traditional Culture,” in Postphenomenology: Essays in the Postmodern Context (Evanston: Northwestern University Press, 1993, p43-55.

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