Tuesday, September 25, 2012


(photo by James Sher)

Oswald Spengler, in The Decline of the West, coined the term “historical psuedomorphosis” to designate, as he explained, “those cases in which an older alien culture lies so massively over a land that a young culture, born in this land, cannot get its breath and fails not only to achieve pure and specific expression forms, but even to develop fully its own self-consciousness.” The figure was adopted from the terminology of the science of mineralogy, where the word psuedomorphosis, “false formation,” refers to the deceptive outer shape of a crystal that has solidified within a rock crevice or other mold incongruous to its inner structure. (Joseph Campbell, The Masks of God: Creative Mythology, 1976)

All across the world, seemingly more than ever, there is an ongoing process of psuedomorphosis taking place and working itself out in rippling and congealing spasms of activity and contemplation. Information has exploded like a neutron star; the Internet is not a Web but a lightspeed evolving Octopian hydra with wires instead of veins and a billion computers for a billion neurons, synapses firing through new software rivers, with data from the real world feeding into the virtual and back out again in an endless copulating interchange; sensory information inhaled, digested, recombined and repurposed for higher & higher understanding – and it all came from the womb of that “older alien culture,” yet quickly turned loose. It’s becoming a sensory repository for the human imagination and is as much a culture in itself as it is a catalyst for cultural change, yea the boundary lines are impossible to discern. Stuff happens in, out, through, via, because of...

Occupy was merely the eyelids opening. What a world to gaze out on! It gazed and hammered back. Our instincts kicked in. These things always start politically but they must, if they are to survive their own internal transformations, step forwards lightly and mindfully. Mindfulness is the shield which both carves the path and brushes aside the thorns. If we lose ourselves to hate, then all our power is lost instantaneously, but not “to the other side” (there is no other side, no 1%, which is not an intimate part of who we are) – when we hate, when we can no longer forgive, then our power evaporates and even turns against us, deteriorating everything we’ve worked so hard for...

Yardstock (and any positive-creative gathering anywhere) is just one way in which Perth/Earth is oscillating wildly out of its own frightful psuedomorphosis and into a more fertile process of ongoing symbiosis. If psuedomorphosis is the secession of expression and independent thought to an older and more powerful cultural formation, then symbiosis is that newness of expression and thought which integrates the old, recombining and repurposing it for mutual self-transformation.

To put it more simply: there is no destruction taking place, only acceptance and mindful reformulation. Instead of complaint, we have action. Instead of critique, we have praise. Instead of taking, we have offering. Symbiosis.

The entire organic world is composed of smaller, inter-collaborating organic worlds, and has evolved through collaboration. This idea is called 'symbiogenesis' and is unravelled in great detail by Lynn Margulis and Dorian Sagan over an extensive series of books ranging from 1970 to 2007. In Microcosmos (1987) they wrote:

From the first primordial bacteria to the present, myriads of symbiotically formed organisms have lived and died. But the microbial common denominator remains essentially unchanged. Our DNA is derived in an unbroken sequence from the same molecules in the earliest cells that formed at the edges of the first warm, shallow oceans. Our bodies, like those of all life, preserve the environment of an earlier earth. We coexist with present-day microbes and harbor remnants of others, symbiotically subsumed within our cells. In this way, the microcosm lives on in us and we in it.

Symbiosis is a kind of interwovenness, and at the human level it implies for me the idea of love. What I felt when I was at Yardstock was, at first, an ambience of sheer goodwill which, as time progressed, became something akin to a grinning and Platonic love for every human, dog, cat and creature in sight.

Love is a concept human beings have named, but what is the actual force behind the name? Is it some self-existent principle, some law of Nature, an actual energy or permeating field, like gravity or electricity? Is there simply an action performed with love, or can there be a thought fuelled by love? Or is love an invisible force which we must open ourselves up to, in order that it may flow through us? If love is an idea, then surely it must be all these things at once.

I believe love is an idea. It may be said that love is a fundamental, inborn idea, inherent to all of life. I say this because many would define primordial love as essentially a coming together, a unification, and we can see this process of unification in all aspects of the phenomenal world, from the microscopic to the telescopic. It is in the delicate balance and coming together of galactic forces which allowed for life on this planet to arise in the first place. It is the previously quoted biological symbiosis of our cells and bodies. It is there everytime a human being forgives another, accepts another despite ideological differences, everytime we dance, or jam, or collaborate in any way...

... it was there, at the end of the tangled wilderness in Yard Five, when the skateboard ramp was lined with onlookers and that one solitary board, piloted by an array of enthusiastic dudes of varying competence, drifted and crashed over the plywood turnpike, and no one jeered but instead clapped and cheered regardless of fall or flourish...

It’s there too in the way the organic world nourishes us when we eat it, and how we return that nourishment to it when we die; a coming together, a unity. It’s happening all around us, and indeed if we delve (both intellectually and physically) into the fractal fabric of time and space, we will see that the universe is inextricably, and infinitely, interwoven – and no organism, no mineral, no star or seed is exempt. I do not think this interwovenness is the same as love, but I think it gives rise to love’s sheer necessity. If everything we do has an impact, and we ourselves occupy the space of that impact (no matter how distant things may seem), then mindfulness is really key...

If love is simply an idea rather than some fundamental force bringing cohesion to the living universe, it loses none of its power. The 'fundamental force' thing is, at heart, just an idea. Ideas are powerful in this way because they are all-pervasive. I do not think there is anything in this world which exists without them. A termite is an idea; a plan of action to be enacted in the world in collision with an almost infinite array of other ideas, predator and prey alike. We ourselves are ideas, blueprint seeds bursting through the soil. Yet we extend beyond the double-helix and make conscious alterations to our own development when we draw from the realm of human ideas, i.e. collective imagination.

The collective imagination is like the internet; it is not a place of total cohesion. Our collective imagination holds within it many, many different truths. At one point in Yardstock there was a conflict: one world of ideas and another. Fitness and Fighting entangled with Music and Mingling. Surely there are no greater opposites? Yet if you refined each into a separate solution you’d end up with essentially the same thing: something distinctly human and desiring, somehow, to be happy in this world. When the two make contact, each infects the other, and we have to be mindful of what takes place. To understand what seems impossible to understand we have to travel back in time; everyone was a kid once. How does aggression fire aggression? Let it be, let it pass. Keep connection in mind.

He who knows others is clever, but he who knows himself is enlightened. He who overcomes others is strong, but he who overcomes himself is mightier still. (Tao Te Ching)

Thankfully the tension did not snap but passed like a cloud. I found my way into Yard Four and into the dense mass of smiling human beings all crammed into a tiny backyard reeling with the gnashing guitar, bass and primal drums of Fucking Teeth, beautifully cohesive, red-faced, ecstatic and snarling all at once, summoning up crowdsurfers and swaying bodies to n fro. Meanwhile, Miles the Party Dog is chasing sticks and tennis balls, loving life - and like pretty much every dog ever – serving as the greatest model for friendliness and acceptance you can hope for, setting the tone and platform for the rest of the party to launch from. Then came the galactic drift of These Shipwrecks, guitars traded out for synths and providing for a more ethereal vibe than ever but which, thanks to some casual & untempered vocals, was all strangely human and earthy Kraut-infected minimalism dividing the weed haze and baking in the fading remnants of the sun.

Yard Five next; arriving a touch late to the sound of Mental Powers. Sounds insane from outside, bouncing off streetlights and garden fences. I move to the backyard and spy bronze bells and steel lids mic’d up and clattering like centipede legs, rippling alongside repeatedly oscillating ribbon synths and Limbo’s usual kit replaced with an ancient-looking drum machine puttering away under firing lightning fingertips, all of it brewing up a kind of lunar junkyard atmosphere. Either this is the last song or the last movement of one huge song, either way it rules but ends about ten minutes after I get in. After that the partygoers drift into the yard which is actually a deep, deep jungle overgrown with enormous tangles of nasturtium, ferns and who-knows-what-else, so dark I can’t tell where the whole thing ends or begins. Social tribes intermingle and, as mentioned earlier, a neighbour’s skateboard ramp is occupied. The owner of the ramp comes out but she greets us with a smile and an amazing Irish Wolf Hound, telling us that the ramp belongs to her son who, when asked to build a storage shed, built this instead…

The police cut off the rest of the bands in Yard Five. It’s a damn shame. I didn’t talk with anyone about it properly, don’t know what the reasons were (noise complaints?) but they proceeded to follow us to the next Yard anyway… we can’t hate on them too much, the riots of the younger dudes the previous weekend got them standing on edge… though I'm a little worried about the new laws brewing against this stuff. Party Safe Posters might not cut it.   

At Yard Six the bristling energy of Hamjam kicked things off, real beautiful stuff. I was pretty out of it by then but every sound felt mixed to perfection; crowd got well into it, lights were pulsing, energy gathering, so nice.

It had to end there, though. The police had enough; maybe next time we can find some better understanding with them or, as plans seem to be brewing, Yardstock can hit Freo or, even better, go bush and become ForestStock. Truly that would take the whole thing to the next level.

Anyway, I’m deeply thankful to the organizers for putting it together, for cultivating some symbiosis and positivity all around. Again I’m thankful to all those who help to knit together the social and creative fabric of Perth (and, therefore, the world) Keeping everything inclusive, full of positivity and mutual encouragement is what’ll keep it strong and healthy for a long time running.

Beauty does not reside in the exclusion of certain realities, but in the absolute inclusion of all realities. (Friedrich Schiller)


- Sneeks

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