Back home a week now, and the new neighbours have done their worst with the old garden. It used to be a place where, when i got up on the ladder to pick some of the large yellow peaches that hung over our mutual fence on their tree from next door, i would look over that fence in envy, almost guiltily, admiring the layout, the trees, small lawn, well-placed bushes and the lovely old delapidated shed up the back – next to the chook yard where contented chooks clucked, made eggs and ate the weeds and snails i threw over for their delectation.
Sure, it wasnt a native garden with the stone fruit trees, the lemon, the ornamental grapevine whose leaves covered their back pergola in a ruby red in autumn, and the small rose bush plot, but it was an eden-ish place, green, with dappled light filtering down. and there were one or two native plants, including a rather tall callistemon against the far fence – a red bottlebrush much favoured by the local lorikeets when it was in flower.
A new temporary owner (we knew this as s/he had “tidied” the place up – by cutting down the stone fruit trees, severing the thick-as-your-arm bole of the grapevine, and removing the cascading tree that grew over the front brick fence into our yard providing excellent screening of our front door from the street) had begun the process the year before last. And now, new owners had moved in. E had told us while we were in Finland that they had come and asked whether they could cut down the jasmine that grew in a small packet of ground between our houses – indeed it had climbed up onto their roof, and needed to be cut from their side. we arrived home to find that it had been cut off their house and the rest pushed onto our side – a new job for me to deal with. As well, the bottlebrush tree in the back garden had gone, as well as the remaining rose bushes nearby.
But last week, the sound of chainsaw bade me look outside – to witness a team of men cutting down every remaining tree and bush in their front garden. A long tall narrow palm tree next to their front fence i’d often admired, wishing i could have one in my garden – it would have needed at least 50 years to grow that tall – i’m hoping they uprooted it and sold it to someone – a madagascan grass tree, also tall and a favourite lurking place for birds in the evening, it often dropped its old leaves into our front yard, and three other small trees whose identity i can no longer remember. what is left is bare brick wall, which we can easily see now from our front yard, and over that into the street and the other houses beyond.
P has an idea of leaving a note in their mailbox. it would read something like, “we notice that vandals have come and cut down all the trees and plants in your yard and we are sorry that you have had such a welcome to our street where we pride ourselves on our gardens and street trees. we have decided to conduct a lamington drive in order to raise money to purchase some replacement plants for you.”.
as for me, i wanted to light a candle in their front yard, to help with my mourning for the loss of my neighbourhood friends, the graceful trees next door.
It was too much when they also cut down the lemon tree – still hanging over our fence behind the house – who, after having survived those ten days of over 45 degree heat last summer, and so little water for the past three years, was just then putting out new purple sprouts…when they fed its body into the mulcher in the front street, i could smell the citrus in the air as i stood at the back door… i couldnt help it – i burst into tears.
It may be a factor that people do not value the space for plants that they have in a country with so much open space, and traditionally having houses with a backyard. It may be a fear that they cannot control nature in a country so alien from that of Europe. When they look over our fence into our backyard, they probably think we are mad…. but of course, from my point of view….
although i have lots of observations about japan from this trip, they’re all mostly scribbled in a notebook this time, because internet connectivity was very random, and because i was doing so much moving around – not much time to computer-ise my life at all while here.
my _intention_ is to write them up at some point, better sooner than later i guess, because the feeling, the texture, of the event fades if you let it lie too long in memory…
and indeed, i still have some episodes from our italy trip to post – even though i wrote them long ago and in the heat of the moment.
but one thing that always strikes me about japan is its mad architecture.
planning laws? what planning laws?
oh, yeah the individual buildings are sturdy, japanese builders have learnt much from the effects of earthquakes, and so you wont find a better contructed building. but then of course, they are only designed to last 20 to 30 years… which is why we go to temples and shrines which have ostenisbly been standing there for hundreds of years, but are actually re-constructed every 30 – 50 years or so… when they get word i am coming to visit that is.
but where they put the buildings, and in what relationship to other buildings and environmental features is not at legislated for.. or, if it is, this is nowhere obvious at all. town planning is an add-on affair, ad-hockery of the highest order, the glory of the higgeldy-piggeldy. domestic architecture can be quite ugly and based on the extremes of practicality and price. or, it can be rather satisfyingly complex and be based on an aesthetic which has been developing for hundreds of years. and, each of these approaches to the concerns of domestic housing can be located exactly next door to each other.
and then there are public or commercial buildings, ones where price is no barrier to appearance and design, and indeed a statement is what is required. buildings that might not be acceptable in the west, especially right -there-, do not get interfered with here in japan. build it and they will come!
anyway, i was treated to one utterly fantastic example yesterday. as i rounded the corner and this building came into view, i actually let out a yelp of surprise followed by rather immoderate laughter.
only in japan! you gotta love this place….
apparently it is meant to represent froth on beer…?
My last week in Helsinki, and I’m not ready to go. Spring is in full swing, and everything looks different. The temperatures are up in the mid-teens and there’s a warm earthy scent in the air. People are out on the streets in droves, the sidewalk cafes are like vases full of multi-coloured flowers, the heads and arms of many persons chatting away and gesticulating in the sun. The day is long and the afternoons seem to go on forever. When we go indoors to have an evening meal, it is still sunny when we emerge, the crisp creamy afternoon light on the façade of the building still picking out every bump and colour when we come out again an hour or so later. The horizon is still light even at 11.30pm—daylight saving has no real meaning here, except maybe to keep pace with the rest of Europe. The horizon with the night sky behind it reminds me of a Magritte painting.
Some photos in and around E’s flat where we’ve stayed for the past 4 months…
I’m a member of two other mailing lists which both address the same academic topics: SysFunc and SysFling. One is based in Sydney and was conceived of as being a more local venue for announcing Sydney and even Australia-based meetings, conferences, articles and so on, as well as for fielding the usual questions regarding the analysis of curly clauses. The other is based in Europe and is said to be more formal in its approach to similar concerns for systemicists. However, it is probably fair to say that most subscribers belong to both lists, and that most threads if they get going, get CCed to both lists, thus providing for a lot of overlapping.
Occasionally the beginnings of discussions are limited to one list, and then someone posts a CC to the other list as well. Those who are not members of both lists begin to wonder what is going on, but, as I say, these people are in the minority anyway.
After a recent spate of twin list activity, one of the moderators and keepers of one of these two lists, commented that amalgamation might not be a bad idea – especially in view of the fact that he was hoping to retire from list maintenance activities at the end of the year. Thereafter a slew of posts were made approving of the amalgamation – to the extent that a cry went up to the effect that perhaps any further messages on the topic be limited to those who were nay, rather than yea-sayers on the matter. A short period of silence thereafter seemed to suggest that the vote might be carried unanimously until one lone voice spoke up in favour of keeping both lists – aka nay-saying – providing affiliatory and affinity-related reasons for doing so. In other words, he cited boundary issues of the sub-grouping kind, arguing that each list has evolved their own separate identities. Thereafter, another one or two more timid types also ventured to add their nay against the groundswell of yea-sayers – but no doubt to little avail.
In reflecting on the Web 3.0 presentation by Kevin Kelly mentioned by Frank and the posting of the Hans Rosling presentation (courtesy of eldon) on data as visualized by his (then) new software, I came across this presentation by Tim Berners-Lee at this years TED discussing “The Next Web”:
Together, the three presentations focus our attention on where the web has been, where it is today, and where current development efforts around the world look to take it.
But it is the very pace of change that seems to overwhelm any individual effort to come to terms with it, resulting in what Michael Wesch has called Context Collapse. The emergence of participatory culture as documented in his “An anthropological introduction to YouTube” is an organic response, a humanizing response, to the crisis of individual significance.
This signaling of the changing nature of the web and the tools it puts at each of our fingertips coalesces into a larger picture – the ecosocial environment in which we find ourselves, in which we carry on our discourse, and ultimately, in which to acknowledge the group impetus to carpe diem.
This is why I consider Hoon’s posting of the excerpt from Paul Thibault’s book Brain, Mind, and the Signifying Body particularly significant in understanding what links the various individual efforts comprising this eclectic NetDynam group.