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Am I Dying Yet? is severely pared. Take Day 14, 30 Oct – Part 1

Day 14, 30 Oct –  Not in the book
Part 1

‘Just as environmental aesthetics is not limited to the large, it is not limited to the spectacular. Ordinary scenery, commonplace sights, and our day-to-day experiences are proper objects of aesthetic appreciation. Environmental aesthetics is the aesthetics of everyday life.’ Allen Carlson [i]

Chunks of coral, white loss, a reminder
of life dealing with pressure on all sides.
Pebbles lying unnoticed on a beach on
a world nearly all unnoticed.

‘How would I define pebble? It’s a bit tricky, but if I were to start by the way of description, I should say that pebble is something somewhere between rock and stone. The obvious defect of my definition is that I can’t stop there: I have to continue defining stones and rocks all the way back to the flood and perhaps even further than that, for all these rocks and stones come from one enormous ancestor; and of that fabulous body and its limbs only one judgement can be made that apparently, they did not hold up.’ Francis Ponge, ‘The Pebble’[ii], 1928.

I follow the tracks

Multitasking in the intimate Pandanus grove,
taking a photograph while taking a piss,
a dripping surfer surprises me, using it
as a short cut. Any good?. ‘Lots of fun’,
he grins. I wish I had the beard and long hair,
the look I wanted 50 years ago.


I stop for Nunguu Mirral looming just behind us, a sacred Gumbaynggirr mountain visible from each compass bearing on the lowlands running into the sea. I notice the formation without looking, it is a presence, a small mountain (not deserving the moniker by the rest of the world) with thick wooden shoulders and two large rabbit tooths of rock. The sacred cannot be seen or touched, so how do you photograph it?[iii]


‘The X-ray enabled a quite radical shift in the way the human body was understood and defined, undermining the established notion of the subject by collapsing the inside and the surface of the body into an image. Medical technology plays a formative part in our understanding of what the body actually is.’ ‘The patient can become marginalised from the process of diagnosis. The image can stand in for the body, enable its absence from decision-making. Radiologists, who are the key interpreters, very rarely meet patients, and patients rarely see their own images. Images produce gaps and disconnections.’ Liz Orton[iv]


Lunch on the balcony, lovely temp, lovely lunch, Wyn has to
cut mine up for me, as my mother did when I was very young
(trigger finger). Mango for dessert, just coming into season.
The pair of Wongas that have made our garden a second home
are sunbathing, a simply lovely sight, lovely and simple.

The Brown Goshawk is repeating territorial claims, a squeaky
insignificant announcement for such a powerful bird.
Somewhere in the closest Banksia, a young Rainbow
is repeating its rasping call, like and old filing cabinet,
and below, the first frog spawn for ages sparkles.


My inbox offers: ‘As we speak, the Albanese Government has just started consulting environment, industry and First Nations stakeholders on key details of a new generation of laws to protect the wildlife and nature we love . . .  If we don’t get these laws right, we’re failing to protect nature now and into the future. Will you email your MP to let them know these laws need to work?’ Brendan Sydes, ACF

I email my Federal MP (a member of the useless National Party) and the Prime Minister, Tanya Plibersek, Minister for the Environment and Water, and Penny Sharpe Minister for Climate Change, Energy Environment & Heritage. Letters are better. I had such high hopes when Labor got in, and things improved, but not as quickly or as far as we had hoped.

We are losing grip on our territory. Facts are not enough; we need art to face climate change and ecological destruction.

‘Latour realised that the presentation of the scientific facts was not enough, as some scientists initially seemed to think. He often turned to the arts because he thought such a crisis need to be expanded or dramatised, not just described with the usual vocabulary.’  Stephen Muecke[v]

Latour wondered how, ‘to be capable of articulating the relations we entertain with the beings of the world at a time of the new climatic regime, as I call it, where we are stripped of the capacity to describe, because we are not where we thought we were, not in the epoch we thought we were in; we are not the beings we thought we were. It is a disorientation that is colossal!’[vi]

[i] Allen Carlson, ‘Environmental aesthetics’, chap 36, The Routledge Companion to Aesthetics, Ed., Berys Gaut, Dominic M. Lopes, Routledge 2001, p433.

[ii] From 1928, in Le Parti pris des choses (Taking the Side of Things, or The Nature of Things), a collection of 32 prose poems, first published 1942.

[iii] Nunguu Mirral is a male initiation and increase site for the Eastern Greys,  The last ritual there was long ago, now private land surrounds the peak which is designated Nunguu Mirral Aboriginal Area (created July 1999). Permission is need to climb up through the trees to the peak without a view. History has changed everything. Locals call it Picket Hill. It is formed from coastal granites thought to have formed during the Triassic period. On the lower slopes west was a small Molybdenite mine, and there was a gold mine to the north east.

[iv] Liz Orton interviewed by Polyphony editor Fiona Johnstone, ‘Becoming an Image’,            15 September 2020 Liz Orton, Every Body is an Archive,

[v] Stephen Muecke, ‘Who killed Bruno Latour? A Detective Story’, Plenary Keynote: Western Sydney University, ‘After Latour, Legacies and Trajectories, 26th October, 2023, Powerhouse Museum, Ultimo.

[vi] Stephen Muecke, trans. and ed., “An interview with Bruno Latour,” Asymptote, 2022:

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