Green armies, world heritage forests, knighthoods – and TS Eliot’s Little Gidding

I have lifted my head briefly from my immersion in numbers to find the most extraordinary things happening in Australia, courtesy of the Abbott government.

Tony Abbott has reintroduced knights and dames into the Australian honours system. A ‘green army’ of 15,000 young people (aged between 17 and 24) will work for very little money – about half the minimum wage – to do manual labour planting trees, fencing, clearing waterways and local creeks. And last month Abbott declared that too many of Australia’s forests are ‘locked up’ and need to be released – and he also plans to repeal part of Tasmania’s Wilderness World Heritage Area.

A new dark age? A Rational Fear puts it best (and funniest, that being the laugh at that which is true – and terrible): Tony Abbott’s forestry liberation

In other news, on Friday I was given seven lines from one of my favourite poems. Every time I think I’ve done with it, a fragment from TS Eliot’s Four Quartets captures me in ways that so far no other poem has ever quite done, so completely, except for perhaps John Donne and maybe some others. Here are Friday’s lines:

Who then devised the torment? Love.
Love is the unfamiliar Name
Behind the hands that wove
The intolerable shirt of flame
Which human power cannot remove.
We only live, only suspire
Consumed by either fire or fire.

And finally, I went to Cockatoo Island last weekend to see the 19th Biennale of Sydney. I especially loved Mikhail Karikis’ video Children of Unquiet, taken in an abandoned workers’ village in southern Tuscany with children and geothermal activity. Extraordinary.

And Mikala Dwyer’s beautiful installation ‘The Hollows‘.

photo

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