VIRUS 2020

24 August VIRUS 2020

24 August VIRUS 2020

Reduced resilience of plant biomes in North America could be setting the stage for the kind of mass extinctions not seen since the retreat of glaciers and arrival of humans about 13,000 years ago.

Big mammals at higher risk of extinction in world’s poorest countries.

Santos’ claim Narrabri CSG development will lower prices misrepresents government evidence, thinktank says. The Guardian

There is a harbour where an old sea-god sometimes surfaces . . .  Alice Oswald, LitHub[1]

Council presented evidence at the Inquiry detailing our Koala Management Strategy, which highlights the critical importance of our Shire’s koala population and the need for landscape wide approaches to koala habitat protection that cover multiple land tenures including private land, National Parks and Forestry Corporation estate. BelloShire Community Newsletter – Issue One. There are so much better than our council, adjoining.

Adani’s Carmichael coalmine in Queensland blocked by traditional owners. Miner holds title but minority group of Wangan and Jagalingou owners say they have ‘re-established control’ of land. The Guardian

What might happen if you could summon back into the mouth what also should be summoned back into the landscape? Emergence Magazine, interview with Robert Macfarlane

Shearwater burrows, and Coffs Marina

A series of dreams charge through the night:

I had been to see where rugby players trained using individual separate gyms areas with wire walls minimal equipment, mostly empty stalls, but saw two people with smooth baby faces getting changed, on their way to becoming women. It dawned on me that I was going to see a transgender rugby match, I had no idea why. I was back in Bristol on a bus down Park St on my way to the game. At the venue I had a bird’s eye view. it was indoors which surprised me. The seats were filling up. I couldn’t see the pitch, it looked more like a concert venue.

Gallows Beach, Coffs

I was in Wantage with a couple of friends (I think it was Wantage but have never been there and didn’t know who they were), meeting someone at the beach I explained. Which one? A companion asked. I had no idea. We were walking along a narrow pavement that ringed a harbour oppressed by ten story buildings, flats and offices right up to the drop to the water. This was such a lovely bit of coastline, a companion said, till the early 60s when it was ruined with all this development.

Looking South, from Muttonbird Island
The Solitary Islands

We drove to another part of the coast, parked in a field with eccentric cars, most looking hand built. A group crossed ahead, they walked slowly, mostly young men, one old man was carrying a large black dog, all were wearing black COVID face masks, it was like a procession, a ritual. We walked straight ahead, but people were walking back to their cars from the side. Are we going the right way? I asked. I never used to mind getting lost, hitchhiking round Europe and the Middle East, but now I regret time wasted. We came to a small coastal road, an English Bobby was stood on the other side in his uniform and traditional helmet. Behind him the sparkling sea stretched an immensity. A couple beside him were waiting to cross, I didn’t know why, there was no traffic. Excited, I ignored them and crossed to a beautiful image, a large puddle mirrored the blue-grey sea, heath falling away in steep cliffs. I took some photograph then a vertical one nearly losing mycap, careful with the slow speed aperture trying to get everything in focus.

I was walking into a railway station, possibly Flinders in Melbourne, beside two women who were very excited, we won they said. Not the AFL you didn’t, replied an older woman wrapped in a black and white and red scarf and there beside us were a whirling crowd of St Kilda supporters in circles within circles moving, men and women, hundreds of them, all individual faces, red haired, bald, sliver haired, all ages, but no children that I recall. I studied this whirling mass of joyous excited people and I thought, how can I invent so many faces, where do I get them from?

I presume I got St Kilda from yesterday’s headlines on the ABC about the horrific racial abuse former St Kilda player Robert Muir received, systemic bullying in the 70s and 80s. And I presume I am recalling so many dreams because of my sleep apnea.


Brush Turkey, male

Before the funeral we shop for a new timer for our watering,
climb Giidany Miirlarl (Muttonbird Island), a nature reserve
for the wedge-tailed shearwater, over five thousand burrows
hollow the ground. Fairy Wrens skip across the flowering
meadow of Farmer’s Friend. The ocean is giving away its secrets,
distant fins slaps and breaches breaking the unbroken blue.

I take in the beauty anxious for as much as I could,
the birds, seascape, everything, even the men
fixing the promenade, and washing in the marina.

washing hanging in the marina


We sign the COVID register, then the memorial book.
Listen to the story of her life, watch the cast of characters
slide through her life from toddler to crook. The second last
in the long sequence, the Beatles, Van Morrison and Cream
along for the ride, was of her cracking up with Leigh
clutching a Pluto Pup and me behind, silly grin.

RIP Julie, a force of nature. Bellingen Ag Show 2010 with Leigh and myself

We file up to the celebrant holding a wicker basket, the same
one Red Riding Hood had, walking up behind us on our first trip
to Nimbin asking, Would you like some cookies?
Julie had been ‘a Nimbin chick’. I push my hand into the nest
of petals, unbelievably soft, unbelievably red, almost alive.
I suddenly worry, how many should one take?
My fingers snag a few then I wait in line holding modified leaves,
scent and colour designed to attract pollinators, manipulated
to attract us. I am the most colourfully dressed, and in shorts.

Phylogenetic reconstructions based on morphological data suggest that petals have evolved multiple times during the radiation of the angiosperms.

Julie could not be fixed.

We are ingenious but chemo and radiation had no chance.
I wait. She waited. The cancer ate her greedily but slowly,
pain dug in its claws. She said she would pay for a hit man,
money no object. My mother, a young nurse who started
the week before the D-Day landings said they would use
morphine to end someone’s irreparable pain permanently.

She is smiling beside the wicker coffin festooned with bouquets.
I want a photograph of the display, flowers had been her life.
I can’t see past the twisted willow, my imagination fails
her emaciation, fails evolution’s clever happenstances,
wriggles of sex, death, extinctions, prodigal primates
bearing religious beliefs, music, games and language.

Wyn and Julie used to go fishing, she was always stoned
made Wyn remove the hooks for the undersized fish
they caught, never once brought dinner home. |
Wyn starts crying to ‘Are you going to San Francisco’ played.
We file out to the sounds of Joe Cocker’s ‘Let’s go get stoned’,
my head feels muffled, the outside light, much too bright.

Split Solitary Rock with Cormorant


Last time we saw her we had fish and chips at Urunga
on the convergence of two rivers, one being the Kalang
that runs through their property, where we kayaked .

We have fish and chips in her honour, rather than a smoke.
From the lookout the ocean is alive, waves charging,
light pirouetting off the calcified crumbling cliffs.

Gannets pickpocket with pinpricks, sky briefly splintered.
The whole world connects to this intoxicating power.
Pigeons fly overhead purposively nesting material in bills.


Ai Weiwei’s Surprise-Released Wuhan Film Is a Gripping Document of the Coronavirus Pandemic’s Beginnings. ARTnews

‘Existentialist ideas have seen a remarkable comeback during the COVID-19 pandemic, from Albert Camus’s frequently invoked novel The Plague, Friedrich Nietzsche’s turn to tragedy, and Simone de Beauvoir’s and Jean-Paul Sartre’s critique of bad faith. Existentialism offers, it has little to say about the real contours of terra incognita, how our fragility can be manifested in time and shape concrete institutions, laws, and rituals. Which political conditions and cultural practices allow for the expression of fallibility?’ Carmen Lea Dege, ‘2020’s Existentialist Turn’, Boston Review, 24 Aug 2020

I think of that joke, Don’t ever give an oncologist a screwdriver? Why? Because they’ll open the coffin and carry on treating the patient.

Death was once seen as a moral equalizer, then as the medical profession developed, death became an individual story, mapped by a particular disease, accident or body failure. Or as Michel Foucault put it: ‘Disease breaks away from the metaphysic of evil, to which it had been related for centuries; and it finds in the visibility of death the full form in which its content appears in positive terms.’ [2]

Is death ever your fault, are you smoking, overweight, addicted to sugar or drugs? Are you unlucky? Do you care?


‘Coronation” (2020) is a documentary film about the lockdown in Wuhan, China, during the Covid-19 outbreak in the spring of 2020.

On December 1, 2019, the first patient with Covid-19 symptoms was identified in Wuhan. Chinese officials repeatedly denied that human-to-human transmission was possible, concealed the number of diagnosed patients, and punished medical staff for disclosing information about the epidemic. On January 23, 2020, Wuhan was placed under a city-wide lockdown. Covid-19 has become a global pandemic, with over 22 million people infected and over 780,000 deaths. . . .

Through the lens of the pandemic, ‘Coronation’ clearly depicts the Chinese crisis management and social control machine — through surveillance, ideological brainwashing, and brute determination to control every aspect of society.’ Ai Weiwei [3]


[1] Opening line to ‘Nobody’, a Poem.

[2] Michel Foucault, The Birth of the Clinic: An Archaeology of Medical Perception. New York: Random House, 1994, p198.


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