Sculptures by the Sea Pt.2

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Another sweeping view of Bondi Beach. On the left of the picture, one can see people walking, ant-like, by the rocky shore.

There was more to see than the results of the various artists: plants that are clinging to the meagre rocks, the changes that Bondi went through since the European people arrived, and the present day activities.

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Bondi Beach has changed over the years since the new settlers arrived.

In the beginning, Bondi Beach was just that, a sandy, long beach with sand dunes in the background. Then people discovered the beach and the surf and used it first without any amenities. During the twenties and thirties, it slowly  changed into what it is today.

While walking along the crowded path we saw a sign that amused us.

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What are they up to. we were wondering. Working below the waves. Later we found more signs that gave us an answer.

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There was even an artist in residence. She was busy creating a mosaic on the rocks that lay there for aeons.

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There weren’t only bare rocks but there were also  signs that life was hanging on on those bare rocks.

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A flowering plant found a home at the base of an old, rusty pipe.

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A little corner full of flowers

 

 

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A plant with giant leaves had found a new home

 

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A single flower starting out a new existence

 

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This bush was once alive and looked more like some of  the sculptures nearby: a symbol of the passing of time 

We had seen enough that day.  We were tired  and were heading home on a nearly empty train.

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Sculptures by the Sea Pt. 1

Last Tuesday we went to Sydney to see the free open air Exhibition “Sculptures by the Sea”

We had planned this visit, for that day, because the weather forecasts promised us sunshine and summer-like temperatures.

A few das earlier a mighty surf had damaged some of the exhibits.

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The famous, iconic Bondi Beach, Sydney

We started off at the Bondi Beach. And soon enough we saw the first of many sculptures.

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Ha someone left his bag on the rocks? In the background, you can spot the Bondi Beach pavilion.

It is an arduous walk along the rocks from Bondi Beach to Tamarama Beach. Young people use it for their fitness workout. Old people like us,  hope to survive.

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Almost like the “Great Wall of China”. My wife could not help photographing me.

This exhibition is a yearly event and this year it was held for the 20th time. The artist come from all over the world.

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The faces of people who wonder in awe.

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Whatever it is, I liked it! Perhaps aliens left it there to spy on us Earthlings.

While this exhibition was going on for the last twenty years mother nature was busy for aeons and formed its own spectacular creations.

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The elements have shaped massive rock face.

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How many millions of years did nature work on this piece of rock?

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Cloud formations on Jupiter? No, rocks near Bondi Beach.

Back to the human artists. There was so much to see. Every few minutes we had to pause as our legs are more than four times the age this exhibition is going.

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This is very spectacular too.  Another of those communication devices with another galaxy?

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What is the meaning of this one? I have no idea, but it is made of wood.

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This ball is made from bamboo sticks.

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This must be the most beautiful exhibit of them all. There is, without doubt, a spiritual dimension to it. 

Many people walked in either direction. They spoke in many languages. It was Babel all over again. But people were not confused in dealing with each other.

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This cone must have a meaning, but it escapes me.

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This picture gives you an idea of its dimension.

 

 

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This one was called “Chaos Theory”. Why?  It is not more chaotic than the rest of the man-made world.

 

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“In Awe”, indeed, it survived the onslaught of the wild surf a few days earlier. 

We had arrived dead tired at Tamarama Beach and felt like the rhinoceros in the last picture, flat on our backs.

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A deceptive Encounter

 

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The entrance to a hospital ward at the former Prince Henry Hospital. Little Bay, NSW

 

 

We were on the way to the funeral of a friend of ours. Someone had asked us to stop by the hospital  were the friend spent the last  weeks of his, in the end painful, life  and pick up some of his possessions that were left behind. We had enough time on our hand and agreed to do it.

After parking the car we went up to the ward to see the matron. While my wife went with  a nurse to a store room I was waiting near the sister’s desk. Nosy as I am, I  looked around the ward.

To my surprise,  I saw in a corner a “wooden tank”, which I knew had the function of an iron lung, such as our daughter used to spend her nights in while she was still alive. As I stepped closer to investigate I became aware of an open door to a room in which two nurses prepared a female patient for the day and were in the process of transferring her into her  wheelchair.

There was something familiar in the way the body of the female patient looked against the bright background of the window at the end of the room. Normally I would not enter a hospital room with an unknown patient in it. But, I was intrigued, to say the least.

The young female patient looked up to me as I stepped closer. She was not surprised and gave me a cheery, “Hi”. I have no idea what she thought as she saw me. But I was surprised and shocked to my bones. She looked like a younger version of our late daughter who had passed away  suddenly more than four years ago. That could not be, that she was alive. We had seen her body and had been to her funeral. We had grieved for a long time and carried her memory in our hearts.

As she did not seem to recognise me I did not call her by her name. I was fascinated by the situation and looked around for any clue that could help me to clarify the terrible dilemma I found myself in. People don’t come back from the death.

Close to the wall was a chair on which was a handbag that had spilt some of its content. I could see an open envelope, as our daughter often carried with her,  with some printed photos. Some of those photos were from a funeral and to my shock, I could see myself, on one of the pictures, at my daughter’s  graveside.

The girl, who was by now sitting in the wheelchair did not seem to make a connection with what she should have known from the picture and with the man who was standing in front of her. She just started to chat with me in the same easy-going manner as my daughter would have done.

I don’t remember much what we talked about, but I remember that I asked her her age. She seemed to be young, more a teenager than a young woman,  and she was able to use her arms and hand in contrast to our late daughter who could not. The nurses were fussing about her hair by now.

“That depends on when I start counting,” she said and continued, “my whole life or when I started to be like this.” She was nodding her head down to her body to indicate her predicament.

“I am like this for thirty-three years. What happened before, I have no memory of and I regard my life started again when I became a paraplegic. That is why I’m saying, I’m thirty-three.” She smiled at me, not the least embarrassed to talk about herself. There was no self-pity in her voice. I felt she was used to talking about herself in a not self-conscious way, the same as our daughter was. The similarities were uncanny. Still, they could not be the same person.

In the mean time my wife, who was looking for me, entered the room.  I took her to the side and told her what I had seen. She wasn’t surprised at all.

“I knew about the girl,” she said, “but did not dare to tell  you about her.”

I knew something was not right. My daughter seemed to be alive after dying four years earlier. But she did not recognise us.

My wife stepped out of the room and was calling me out too…

 

She called me by my name , “Peter, it is seven. It is time to get up!”  

I woke up and  saw her drawing back the curtains to let the spring sun in.

 

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Are we a humane Society?

There is so much strife in the world today. Sixty-five million people are refugees and looking for a better place where they could bring up their children in safety. The refugees often assume the nations of the European Union are shining examples of a “humane” society.

I wonder where they got that idea from? We, in the West, believe that the Western nations have indeed achieved a high level of human existence. We convinced ourselves, that since the end of the 18th Century, and the birth of the Enlightenment, we had turned the corner to a better world populated by enlightened people. We thought we had become more humane.

The educational reforms following the Enlightenment produced a better-educated populace. Research and inventions pushed us progressively towards a capitalist society in which the majority of people were indeed better off in the material sense. But the seeming progress also brought extreme poverty in its wake. Henry George wrote about the reasons behind this development in his Progress and Poverty.

The rise of capitalism brought us two terrible world wars and we still live in the aftermath of those wars. That there is something wrong with Capitalism was recognised by a group of people who were members of the so-called “Frankfurt School“. Capitalism is not interested in a humane society. Its interests lay in making a profit in the shortest of time possible. Never mind the victims of this system. Exploitation does not lend itself to “humane” behaviour. The two world wars and the ideologies espoused by some societies surely put an end to the notion of a humane society.

Seventy-one years after the end of World War II we can see the inhumane behaviour of our fellow men in action all over the world. In the Middle East, every group attacks any other group with a ferocity that reminds us of the Middle Ages.

Nevertheless, people all over the world are still dreaming of a better, peaceful  world in which they  can expect humane behaviour. But we are still waiting for such a humane society.

Can we ever hope to achieve a humane society, where love and kindness rules?

The reality of the present is always against such a hope. The reality of the present demands struggle. And as we struggle we alienate others and therefore create the conditions for future struggles.

We struggle because of our pessimistic view of our future. This view is the result of our fears. Our imagination regarding the future has two sides: a positive one, hope and a negative one, fear. Fear is a more instinctive emotion. Hope is an act of faith and not so easily achieved.

The people with a negative view of the future will build barriers, physical or psychological. For some people, it pays to nourish and spread fear and keep the masses bound to the grindstone of debt and consumption.

A humane society would be a simpler one than the one we have now, that is for sure. Perhaps we would have to throw out the smartphones first. We are addicted to the modern world of gadgets and apps. We are hooked on technology and are not a humane society. While we look at the flickering screen of our smartphone we don’t even notice the person next to us.  A recent power blackout in South Australia, due to a massive storm, started a political discussion along party lines because someone has to be blamed.

We lock up people in detention centres when they flee to our shores because life in their own societies became intolerable,  partly  because of our actions and interferences.

All this shows that our “humane” behaviour is just a thin veneer covering our inhumane capacity for greed and domination of others.

No, we are not a humane society. Not yet by any means.