On the Rain Coming, Gardens of Mother-of-Millions and week-end’s readings

The rain is here -according to age old peasant knowledge from the other side of the world- should stay for a few more days, at least untill saturday the 14th, when the moon cicle will start again.
This is if the imported knowledge is any use, or rightly interpreted.

In the mean-time a visit to friends by lake Macquarrie gave reason for photographs.
Pics of views and of a beautiful and etremely healthy garden blooming with Mother-of-millions (Bryophyllum delagoense).
This plant, native to Madagascar, has been included in the ‘Jumping the Garden Fence‘ report (WWF-Australia PDF – 1.19mb) which examines the impact of invasive garden plants on Australian agricultural land and natural ecosystems.

While resting by the lake there was time to read.
The Sydney Morning Herald’s Spectrum section sported a self-promoting article by John Hirst, whose book – The Australians: Insiders and Outsiders on the National Character since 1770– is just being published.
The book investigates the state of Australian national identity in the new millennia, using last century’s wars and disasters and the new terrorist emergency to asses it.
The readings was a painful exercise in holding your temper at such garbage. Key phrases attributed to various writers and accademics were abundant, like an Australian doctor in Bali, during the aftermath of the terrorist attack:

I think it is what Aussies do. There were over a hundred there, all Aussies, fanning patients because there was no air-conditioning, standing all day holding up drips because there were no drip stands”

or Neil Williams of the Forbes Rugby Club reporting:

“It was fantastic. Good old Aussie spirit. We had fellas minding the fire engines. We had fellas running in pulling people out dead or alive. Everyone stepped right up. It was tremendous”

Hirst summarizing his pseudo-research with:

“At their baptism into the new era of terrorism, the qualities that Australians valued were stoicism, making no fuss, pitching in, making do, helping each other. These characteristics were identified and valued as Australian a long time ago, when we were British and our national symbol was a bushman. There has been a long campaign claiming that in a changed world and in a changed Australia the values and symbols of old Australia are exclusive and irrelevant.
The campaign does not appear to have succeeded.”

Defining national identity is dangerous, intrinsic racism and exclusion is embedded in the argument: if by being an Australian (as in a person living in Australia) one should acknowledge to have become an “inveterate gambler who drinks as much beer as the wage will permit and use the foulest language” ( Hirst again) it seems like a great number of resident fall outside the highly restrictive assumption.

The writer acknowledge himself that defining an Australian national character is an “artificial construct, an oppression (since you have to conform to it) or an absurd generalisation“, yet he argue “Would anyone lay down their life for diversity?“.
It’s sad to read such statements: “lay down your life for the country” seems something coming out of ancient tribal dark ages.
It’s sad to accept that this is, unfortunately, the reality of many nationalistic freaks.

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