Images from a trip to Paris in 2008
"He felt closer to dust, he said, than to light, air or water. There was nothing he found so unbearable as a well-dusted house, and he never felt more at home than in places where things remained undisturbed, muted under the grey, velvety sinter let when matter dissolved, little by little, into nothingness."
W G Sebald, The Emigrants
Here are some of W G Sebald's writing tips from a student at the University of East Anglia where he taught up until the time of his death in 2001. These provide a wonderful insight into his work.
Also here is the Michael Silverblatt KRCW Bookworm W G Sebald interview dated 6 Dec 2001. He died just over a week later on 14 December 2001of a heart aneurysm near Norwich.
Russell Brand nails it on Australia's shameful, racist treatment of asylum seekers.
First Dog On The Moon also highlights how Australia turns it's back on asylum seekers, sends them back from where they fled & many of whom are found to be refugees by UNHCR.
The boats haven't stopped, Australia just turns them back without caring where they end up in breach of its international obligations & human decency.
Australia should end offshore detention & commit to honouring it's commitments under international law.
Australia ratified the 1967 UN Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees 41 years ago today. Though you wouldn’t know it, given Australia’s continuing harsh and cruel treatment of asylum seekers and refugees.
“The dehumanisation of refugees, who become faceless, nameless and rightless, is our greatest moral stain since the campaigns to hunt down and kill Aborigines.”
Barry Jones, July 2013
This week there are reports:
- Asylum seeker are stuck in Jakarta with nowhere to turn
- the February 2014 riots on Manus Island were foreseeable & due to delays in processing claims,
- 3 Asylum seekers a week are locked in solitary confinement on Manus Island,
- Evacuation of ill asylum seeker Hamid Kehazaei was delayed 19 hours & cheap & available drugs could have saved his life,
- Refugee girls are attacked on Nauru.
Unfortunately given the politics, despite decent Australians standing up and speaking out - unless sporting sanctions are imposed - the harsh and cruel treatment of asylum seekers will continue:
“Mr Morrison argues that the policy “saves lives”: almost 1,200 have died trying to reach Australia. Yet the boats have not stopped setting out from Indonesia and Sri Lanka. And according to the Refugee Council of Australia the numbers heading for Australia are often overblown: Yemen received more than roughly 25 times more boat people than did Australia over the past six years. But as Mr Abbott’s government has languished in opinion polls for much of 2014, failing to steer some key provisions from its first budget through the Senate, it is hoping this get-tough policy on asylum-seekers will score it political points.”
The Economist, December 2014
It is a fact that the boats haven’t stopped, people are just dying away from Australia’s gaze & Australia's policies are harming UNHCR efforts to address humanitarian challenges:
“According to the UNHCR report on Irregular Maritime Movements in South-East Asia, over 50,000 people set sail just from the Bay of Bengal area in January-November 2014. The smugglers operating in the region move people who are trafficked as well as those paying for passage outside of legal migration channels. The latter includes people such as ethnic Rohingya who do not have any nationality (and therefore no official travel documentation) and have a long history of persecution and discrimination by the Burmese government.
The UNHCR estimates that around 21,000 people have departed from the Bangladesh-Burmese maritime border in the two months of October and November 2014. About 10% were women, and around one-third of arrivals interviewed by UNHCR in Thailand and Malaysia were minors. The numbers for October 2014 are a marked increase (37%) from the year before.”
“It’s ultimately pretty simple and obvious: the key to reducing irregular movement of people by dangerous ways is to increase pathways for properly managed, safe and regulated movement. It involves as Guterres said, “looking at why people are fleeing, what prevents them from seeking asylum by safer means”.
In practice, nobody is going to be able to neatly pack their passport and customs declarations cards in order to flee discrimination or state persecution in a “regular” way. Which is why, in the case of those people, the Refugees Convention set up a system for countries around the world to join forces to help them, and why the UNHCR’s resettlement process allows for countries to accept refugees who cannot return to where they fled. Both of which the Australian government is slowly but surely repudiating.”
Sunili Govinnage, The Guardian, Dec 2014
What can you do?
The first record I ever bought was Song For Guy (I was very young). I was taken by the ethereal, distance and sadness of the music, the twinkle of stardust, the wind chimes emergent amongst swirling synthesizers, the few words spoken and barely heard in the background.
That was 1978.
Here is a poem to be read while listening to Song for Guy.
The fire is ash: the early morning sun
Outlines the patterns on the curtains, drawn
The night before. The milk's been on the step,
The 'Guardian' in the letter-box, since dawn.
Upstairs, the beds have not been touched, and thence
Builders' estates, and the main road, are seen,
With labourers, petrol-pumps, a Green Line 'bus,
And plots of cabbages set in between.
But the living-room is ruby: there upon
Cushions from Harrod's, strewn in tumbled heaps
Around the floor, smelling of smoke and wine,
Rosemary sits. Her hands are clasped. She weeps.
She stares about her: round the decent walls
(The ribbon lost,her pale gold hair falls down)
Sees books and photos: 'Dance'; 'The Rhythmic Life';
Miss Rachel Wilson in a cap and gown.
Stretched out before her, Rachel curls and curves,
Eyelids and lips apart, her glances filled
With satisfied ferocity: she smiles,
As beasts smile on the prey they have just killed.
The marble clock has stopped. The curtained sun
Burns on: the room grows hot. There, it appears,
A vase of flowers has spilt, and soaked away.
The only sound heard is the sound of tears.
“Everyone underestimates their own life. Funny thing is, in the end, all our stories...they're the same. In fact, no matter where you go in the world, there is only one important story: of youth, loss and yearning for redemption. So we tell the same story, over and over. Only the details are different.”
"The First Parsi to arrive in Singapore – a Crown Colony founded by Sir Stamford Raffles in 1819 – was Mr. Muncherjee. When he fell seriously ill in 1929, an Armenian named Aristarcus Sarkies persuaded the Parsis in China to buy a burial place for Zoroastrians in Singapore. Funds were raised by the Parsi Traders to buy a plot of land in the most prestigious banking area of Shenton Way. In 1948, more land was bought adjacent to it to build a bungalow as a Parsi Lodge for Parsi Traders from China to rest and to hold Zoroastrian Religious Ceremonies."
The Zoroastrian religion is over 3,500 years old. Originating in Persia, the Zoroastrians were refugees who fled to India in the 10th century to escape oppression.
The Prophet Zarathustra predated Christ.
Nietzsche had a lot to say about Zarathustra … While Nietzsche's concerns were less about Zoroastrians and more about religion and the nature of man, there was clear intent and meaning in the choice of Zarathustra as his mouthpiece.
"My brother had the figure of Zarathustra in his mind from his very earliest youth: he once told me that even as a child he had dreamt of him. At different periods in his life, he would call this haunter of his dreams by different names; "but in the end," he declares in a note on the subject, "I had to do a PERSIAN the honour of identifying him with this creature of my fancy. Persians were the first to take a broad and comprehensive view of history. Every series of evolutions, according to them, was presided over by a prophet; and every prophet had his 'Hazar,'—his dynasty of a thousand years.""
The Zoroastrian version of the Golden Rule: "What you don't want done to you, don't do to others." Who can disagree with that?
- Freddie Mercury was a Zoroastrian. Analyse the influence of Zoroastrian belief and theology on Bohemian Rhapsody.
- WB Yeats is said to have contacted Zarathustra through automatic writing. Spend a few hours automatic writing. Speak to Zarathustra and ask him for his views on Nietzsche and Easter 1916.
- Zarathustra was said by some to be the son of an alien god. Watch Ridley Scott's Alien and list all arguments in favour of such celestial speculation.
Happy Birthday Rima & what a day we have planned:
- Food: Papaya, cantelope & banana, Juice, coffee & toast
- Music: Amy Winehouse wailing in the background
- Physical exercise: Walking up and down the length of the house while clutching heavy, emerald jade lion book ends
- Shopping: Looking for a crock pot (present from parents) & suitcase (present from self)
- More food: Organic chocolate cake from Chef Icon on Kampung Bahru Rd
- Sporting interlude: Man Utd v Burnley. Let's hope we can actually win
- Further food: Dinner at Tamarind Hill restaurant above Labrador Park