On Tony Abbot

What makes me sad is how terribly earnest Tony Abbot is. I get the impression that he is doing what he genuinely believes to be right and all the while reality keeps exploding in his face.

In truth he is the only Lib foolhardy enough to take on the leadership role at the moment. Just watch the narcissist Malcolm bathing in the misguided adulation that allows him to believe he may one day be another Fraser.

Tony Abbot embodies the last impotent ideology to attempt to impose itself on Australian democracy. He is a “Good Man” in terms of his ideology — but when was “Goodness” anything other than an ideological value? Really.

What we need is genuine democracy. One that recognises both the supremacy of individual freedom and the reality of our interdependence as human beings.

It’s not that hard, but there is no room for ideology, just a naked commitment to the truth of who we are as humans.



The writerly reader.


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You must have heard about the Japanese poem, haiku. It is the smallest poetry form in the world – seventeen syllables only – but one of the most penetrating. The word ‘haiku’ means ‘the beginning’. This is a tremendous significance – the word haiku means the beginning.

The haiku poets say: We only begin, we never end.

The poet begins, the listener has to complete it. If a poem is complete with the poet then nothing is left for the listener. Then the listener will be just a spectator. Then the act is not creative – in fact, it is dangerous.

The poet, the real poet, never completes. He leaves something incomplete. He gives hints and leaves gaps: those gaps have to be fulfilled by you. Then the transfer is creative. The poet sings a song, ripples are created in your consciousness, and you complete the song in your innermost core of being.

The poet begins it, you complete it.

Then you are joined in one creative process: the painter begins it, then the person who looks at the painting completes it.

Osho, The Divine Melody, Ch 4, Q 2

Alan Watts on Writing




Advice? I don’t have advice. Stop aspiring and start writing. If you’re writing, you’re a writer. Write like you’re a goddamn death row inmate and the governor is out of the country and there’s no chance for a pardon. Write like you’re clinging to the edge of a cliff, white knuckles, on your last breath, and you’ve got just one last thing to say, like you’re a bird flying over us and you can see everything, and please, for God’s sake, tell us something that will save us from ourselves. Take a deep breath and tell us your deepest, darkest secret, so we can wipe our brow and know that we’re not alone. Write like you have a message from the king. Or don’t. Who knows, maybe you’re one of the lucky ones who doesn’t have to.

Marchfly, Geikie Gorge




Red rocks. Dark water. Big sky.
Rough sand, damp… cradling me…

…and oh! the Sun.

Flesh evaporate, this me is vast.
Senses: mine and not mine,
a trickle of sweat.

Hnnnn, Hnnnn. Bzzzt!
Dancing feet bring hints of definition…
…fastidious fly indeed to choose that silken patch of skin.

I watch in close up…the  piercing,
feel the drawing forth…

Drink, marchfly, drink…

…sate you…

… I overflow.

And afterwards, the flesh unblemished, still.

On Woo Woos


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I wrote this piece as a facebook response to a posting by my friend Sam, who sometimes gets carried away in his determination to stamp out Woo Woo.

On Woo Woos

In many sceptic’s attacks on “alternative” medicine I think there is an area that’s often overlooked and that is the area of preventative and nutritional medicine or holistic medicine, an area that is moving ahead at a tremendous pace at the moment, and is both well researched and peer reviewed.

This area is largely overlooked by the mainstream medical profession unless it is promoted by such organisations as The Heart Foundation who, in my opinion,  often promote simplistic and out of date ideas, viz. the margarine versus butter campaign.

Many GPs are not only overwhelmed with work, but are hemmed in by government regulation and an inflated fear of litigation. This, combined with the fact that lots of people just want to get a magic pill from the doctor, rather than to take responsibility for their own health through diet and other lifestyle changes, means we have a health system in crisis.

Dismissing alternatives such as holistic medicine does not improve things, simply makes it less likely that people are going to investigate alternatives. Alternatives that might empower them to wean themselves off the nipple of the health care system.

The problem with a lot of so-called sceptics is that they are not equally sceptical about everything, sometimes aligning themselves unthinkingly with the status quo and calling everything else ‘Woo Woo’. Probably a result of uncritically taking up what is put forward in the media as ‘the truth’, which is a difficult thing to avoid in this thoroughly mediated world.

When I challenged my sceptical friend about practices that moved from Woo Woo to authodox. He replied, as I knew he would: “Then it’s no longer alternative medicine it is now medicine. Which smelt to me very like appropriation.

We need to consider the fact that such things as folk remedies have existed for centuries and that many are, and have been, investigated and found to be effective in clinical trials. To say that these remedies were Woo Woo and suddenly became scientifically valid because someone did tests on them is patently ridiculous. There is another form of knowledge that has been passed on through means other than medical journals and peer reviewed papers for centuries. This form of knowledge is often dismissed as ‘mere anecdotal evidence’ and its positive results dismissed as the ‘placebo effect’.

Interestingly, much of the research into ‘alternative’ medicine has come about because orthodox medicine is having to face up to the limitations of its non-holistic approach to health. An example of this is the creation of antibiotic resistant superbugs triggering research into the use of colloidal silver.

I am not dismissing the scientific method, I am well grounded in it. I studied science at University level. And I am not dismissing scepticism either. Both need to be used intelligently, not simply as weapons against ideas one is uncomfortable with or which do not fit with the current orthodoxy.
Even worse is the use of selective skepticism as a way of self-definition over and against some enormous class of Eejit Woo Woos, existing largely in ones own imagination.

In his occasional speech on receiving his honorary Doctor of Letters from the University of WA Tim Minchin, the pin-up boy of the sceptics movement, said:

Most of society’s arguments are kept alive by a failure to acknowledge nuance. We tend to generate false dichotomies, then try to argue one point using two entirely different sets of assumptions, like two tennis players trying to win a match by hitting beautifully executed shots from either end of separate tennis courts.

I have never heard this better put. I wish I had said it myself.

Who Am I? A Journey Round Myself

ElizabethOne day you find yourself asking:

“Who am I? How did I get here from there?”

You want to see the shape of your life from the outside. Like a snail crawling out of its shell to see what it has made of its life and how that life has moulded its flesh.

You want to take this life off and stand naked wearing only the face you had before you were born.

“Who is this creature I call myself?” you say.

“What makes this patch of humanity tick?”

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