I still intend to bring up my main budget post. Just letting the dust settle a little first.
This Saturday Morning Musings rambles around aspects of Australian life.
To begin with, this slightly unusual Australian story made me smile. It came via skepticlawyer.
The Australian term wowser means one whose sense of morality drives them to deprive others of their sinful pleasures, especially liquor.
One of the tensions in Australian social history can be described as the larrikin vs wowser. If the wowser wants to impose social order, the larrikin displays disdain for authority, propriety and the often conservative norms of bourgeois Australia.
The tension goes back to the early days of convict settlement in New South Wales. The moral codes and manners of that new society in that strange land could best be described as somewhat relaxed. This led to a desire to impose social order by the emerging middle class. This was opposed in turn by the bohemians who attacked the moral rigidity of the middle class moralists.
Australian painter and writer Norman Lindsay (1879-1969) railed against the wowser. I really liked, do like, Lindsay's work.
This photo from Mark's Clarence Valley Today photo blog is of an exhibition of Lindsay's work at the New England Regional Art Museum in Armidale. I grew up with these paintings, for they formed part of the Hinton Collection at the Armidale Teacher's College. I remember taking a New Zealand cousin around the collection. In one class room there were twenty Lindsay paintings, in another over ten Tom Roberts.
There is something mildly erotic and perverse in making love to one of those stick-thin women so beloved by modern fashion. It's a bit like sex with a skeleton, interesting because its odd. I much prefer Lindsay's voluptuous women, his frank and sumptuous nudes. For the life of me, I cannot understand the modern obsession with thin. I like plump sexy women. I suppose that you could say that there is more to play with!
Lindsay's paintings were highly controversial. In 1940, sixteen crates of paintings, drawings and etchings were taken to the U.S. to protect them from the war. They were discovered when the train they were on caught fire and were impounded and then burned as pornography.
In what may seem an unconnected segue with little relevance to Australia, this one came from fellow trainer and Facebook friend Tony Karrer.
Again I had to laugh. Be afraid. Be very afraid!
Two hundred years ago this year, the US invaded what would become Canada and got beaten. Tsk!
The general social tolerance that you see in Australia, the tension between wowser and larrikin, is replicated in Canada. We share a common history, while the US sometimes seems frozen in the time warp created when it rebelled.
Turning to less contentious topics, from time to time on this blog I talk about land management techniques. I love this stuff, even though I am a townie.
At several stages in my life I have wanted my own place. Yet the reality is that I would have been hopeless at it.
Canadian economist John Kenneth Galbraith grew up on a farm. He once described his life as an escape from manual labour! That's what farming is, and that's why I would have been hopeless at it. I can't even use an Ikea key properly!
Yet the desire to see better land management, the fascination with new approaches, remains. The scared boy looking down from that horse in A New England childhood - a country slice still remembers the discussions on land management he heard, the books he read, on ways to improve country. Unlike the urban Greens whose obsession with stasis, freezing things as they were or are, dominates, improved land management centres on change, not return to a non-existent past.
Here I have continued to read Philip Diprose's Ochre Archives with interest. He described his approach to land management in Deserts and Desertification and then in Management Techniques on Ochre Arch. It is a holistic approach.
I have been trying to work out how to bring all this alive to a predominantly urban readership no longer in close contact with the country: it's an eroded gully that runs again as a creek; it's green grass in a drought; it's the smell of the soil when you take a handful; it's the quiet sound of running water. You don't get this through legislation. You get it because people care.
From time to time I have written about gardens and gardening. It's partly a nostalgia thing, partly a genuine love.
I mourn the decline of the Australian garden, as do many others. Yes, life is busy, but food is more than a lunch or evening meal out an often nondescript restaurant. There is so much bad food in Australia now. We have gained quantity at the expense of quality.
This photo comes from Sophie Masson's A la mode frangourou. French-Australian like her blog, Sophie is a well known Australian writer. Her blog is luscious if you are a foody.
This morning I signed a lease on a new house. The first thing that I will do tomorrow is plant some herbs. Who can cook without fresh herbs?
A slow revolution has been sweeping Australia. The words stop, I want to get off, have been sweeping the country.
In a way, it's a very middle class thing. Many Australians, those whose income levels do not allow them to participate and who have to eat what they can or do what they can regardless of quality, are locked out. Accepting that, so many of us now are saying that the texture of life is the important thing, not the power or status, that it is forcing change across multiple dimensions of Australian life. Perhaps that's the point to finish this morning's muse.
In the end, its the quality of what we do that counts, not the quantity.