Thursday, January 31, 2013

Dad: Thoughts to an Obituary

James Arthur Barrett 1 May 1940-22 January 2013

To have known James Arthur Barrett was to have been admitted into a world of history, magic, great events and into the lives of people who attained greatness or infamy by their deeds. The spirit of adventure, even if it was pressed upon the page, was always present in his conversation and in the space around him.

As a child it was fascinating to listen to my father’s stories about the two years he spent travelling the world with my mother. The thought of traveling overland from London to Singapore seems impossible today. But Jim and Roslyn did that and spent years talking about it afterwards. As soon as he could, their oldest son attempted to emulate the feelings he experienced as a result of such stories by setting out himself for world travel.

Jim manifested his curiosity and knowledge in a myriad of ways. Jim’s creativity and inquisitiveness extended from writing poetry (he once had a poem published in ‘The Bulletin’ according to reliable sources), to his many pursuits. Pottery, jewelry making and lapidary, photography, studying languages (particularly Latin, Chinese and Japanese), book binding and the quest for the perfect curry were some of his more long lasting passions.

Of course there was also the family. Up to the very end of his life, Jim was concerned and shared all he had with his family. His partnership with Roslyn lasted 48 years, and his concern for his children and grandchildren was always paramount in his mind.  He inspired all of us towards a love of knowledge, a curiosity about the world and a strong sense of compassion for all.


Monday, January 21, 2013

My Father, James Arthur Barrett 1940-2013

My father passed away about an hour ago aged 72 after many years of struggling with emphysema. The above photo was taken in 1989, when he was working on a local newspaper as a journalist. He and I were on our way to visit a Buddhist monastery on the Sunshine Coast in Queensland, Australia. I notice now that he is not wearing any socks. Very typical.

My father was a great influence on me; his love of books, culture and above all poetry had a great effect on my formative years and set me on a course that in many ways I continue today. He was a nonconformist, he chose his life and what he filled it with. His father was a welder in a metal foundry, who barely completed basic education. My father was a scholar in the old sense of the word; studying history and languages as well as creative arts (photography and jewellery making) in his own time and in formal institutions. However he maintained much of the egalitarianism and directness he grew up with. He was kind man, and although he had a temper I never saw him raise a hand in anger at man or beast.

I last saw him only five days ago. May he rest in peace.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

In Support of Freedom of Speech and Expression in Indian Constitution

Srujanacha Algaar: In support of freedom of speech and expression in Indian Constitution. 

This is to invite you to a cultural protest programme being organised on the 26th of January at Ambedkar Bhavan Mumbai against State and non-State actors' atrocities on the people's Freedom of Expression. This programme is being organised by progressive minded cultural personalities as well as independent activists in the city.
"If the shudra intentionally listens for committing to memory the veda, then his
ears should be filled with (molten) lead and lac; if he utters the veda, then his
tongue should be cut off; if he has mastered the veda his body should be cut to
pieces." - XII. 4. Manusmruti

The institution and practice of slavery is one of the ugliest chapters of human history.
No human group on earth has suffered the unspeakable horrors so much as the Shudras
and Ati-shudras in India, who have trudged through this dark tunnel for eons. For many
eras the then prevalent Brahmanical social system had subjected this creative and
productive human group to torture and abuse through slavery, thereby denigrating their
life to a deaf and mute existence. One might question the propriety of digging up the
ancient past in today’s times – the reason is simple: These inhuman practices continue
to exist even today, slavery keeps resurfacing in one form or the other.

The 20th century in Indian history is marked by a significant occurrence - the struggle
for freedom by the slaving Shudras. The foundation of this great struggle was led by
Charvak, Gautam Buddha, Kabir Ravidas, Tukaram Shivaji Maharaj and like-minded
abrahmains, who had a rational, materialistic and scientific approach. The struggle
reached its zenith of human liberation due to the stellar efforts of Phule–Shahu–

Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar brought forth a new era of equality in the Indian history by
providing all individuals an equal level of citizenship. If you look at the Indian history
carefully, it is apparent that there has always been a bigger counter-revolution by
the descendants of Manu as a reaction to a small revolution by the egalitarians. The
Mooknayaka started to speak up, to read and write, the old shackles of religion started
to loosen. As a result, the ardent followers of Manu started feeling uncertain about their
impenetrable fort of faith that seemed to stand on slippery ground. But what could they
do? Neither could they air their fear openly, nor could they bear it quietly. Then they
maintained a strategic silence and tried to come to terms with it cleverly, following their
usual strategy. Conspiratorially and step-by-step, they started dismantling the armour
from Mooknayaka that he acquired after India had won freedom. First they eulogised the
legislative principle of equal treatment and opportunity and then discreetly eliminated
it. Subsequently they played the religion card and spread religious and racial hatred.
It resulted into bitter battles and a brutal massacre of the labour and working class
belonging to certain castes and sub-castes, this was a relapse of the dark era.

As a consequence, the concept of secularism was set ablaze before it could take root.
The natural resources of Mother India were made available for foreign investment - the
sovereignty of Indian Constitution was put on auction.

No Indian can keep quiet, when the freedom of his country is for sale.

While the most lethal epidemic is spreading in the world, only a few humans stand
resolute against the enemy of humanity and are determined to remain altruistic. At any
given point of time, such people are only a small handful. Dictators consider them as a
major threat, hence they first try to woo them to join the thieves’ guild and be one of
them. If all fails, they are offered a high post in the governmental machinery, a position
of power or even monetary funds, in order to silence their noble quest for ever. If these
measures fail, they construct new prisons for these humane persons and try to crucify

What is going on today? There is a constitution in this country, albeit without a soul.
All pillars of democracy are dilapidated. Only those who have financial capital, rule
the media and can brag and pontificate on anything. The supporters of Brahmanism
and under-belly of capitalism keep blabbering nonsense incessantly. Those who are
misleading the society by screaming utter lies have been given freedom of expression;
and those, who write and speak the truth are forcefully silenced either by means of the
police power or by the side-kick fascist organisations. But these moves are no more a

We are the true descandents of Shivraay and Bhimraay. We must strive to propagate,
protect and spread their thoughts.

The celebration on 26 January 2013 is a small step in that direction.

In support of freedom of speech and expression in Indian Constitution

A crusade for creativity – speak, your lips are free.

Opening : Pushpa Bhave
J V Pawar, Khalil Deshmukh, Anand Shinde will be present

Saturday, 26th January 2013, 4.30 pm
At Dr Ambedkar Bhavan, Gokulpasta lane, behind Chitra Cinema, Dadar (W), Mumbai

Cultural programme to be presented by a new vibrant team of performers.

An invitation by supporters of freedom of speech and expression

Saturday, January 19, 2013


In ancient Rome, the genius (plural in Latin genii) was the guiding spirit or tutelary deity of a person, family (gens), or place (genius loci). The noun is related to the Latin verb gigno, genui, genitus, "to bring into being, create, produce." Because the achievements of exceptional individuals seemed to indicate the presence of a particularly powerful genius, by the time of Augustus the word began to acquire its secondary meaning of "inspiration, talent."

I seriously doubt the existence of the self, in the sense of an entity that occupies some point in a person. I think we are each a part of the fabric of existence. We are trapped by language in believing that we are independent and free, but we are actually part of what we observe, what we react to, what we understand. A genius is someone who can observe, recognize, react and understand in an effective way by overcoming self and conforming with the contexts that surround and define them. This conformity is not about submission, or even acceptance, its about understanding and acting.

Aaron Swartz (1986-2013); once u use property to circumvent consumption, the law will step in.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Jobs for Two Early Career Research Associates in Digital Humanities

We are recruiting two early career research associates - one in multi-media programming; the other in digital anthropology or sociology - to work part-time on "Digital Bridges: 'Have you lost your password?'", based at the University of Cambridge.

Directed by Professor Simon Goldhill (CRASSH) with Dr Jenna Ng (CRASSH) as the project leader, this project is co-funded and co-sponsored by the AHRC and the Palace Theatre at Watford, a leading regional theatre. The Palace Theatre, under the directorship of Brigid Larmour, has noticed that there is very little theatrical exploration of the new digital world and has consequently commissioned three writers to produce pieces, going into rehearsals in the summer of 2013, on the role of the digital in society. The three playwrights are Stacey Gregg, E.V. Crow and Gary Owen (three young but successful writers whose work has been performed at the Royal Court, The Bush and the National Theatre of Wales).

The goal is to establish a network of creative exchange between new digital research and its potential for drama through a discussion between theatre practitioners and active researchers in the digital world, leading to performances in the theatre and pre- and after-show discussions with theatre makes, academics and audiences. This exchange will also involve training for our early career academics first in the interface between research and the creative arts, specifically with regard to theatre, and,
second, in the issue of science and society - how the public can be intelligently and creatively informed about the consequences and implication of scientific development.

Applicants should be high-calibre early career researchers (within 8 years of the award of their PhD, or have submitted their thesis and be awaiting examination).

Please see for more information, including application procedure. 

Application deadline is 12 noon, 25 January 2013.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Grave of a female in Bad Dürrenberg, district of Merseburg-Querfurt (Sachsen-Anhalt)

With the gradual climate melioration after the end of the last ice age, living conditions for humans changed fundamentally. Due to the expanding forests in Central Europe, animals that once dominated the tundra, for example, mammoths and reindeer, lost their natural habitats. 

The time of large herds of horses and reindeer were bygone. Hence, hunters and gatherers were compelled to change their subsistence strategies. Other animals, like the red deer and wild pig, appeared in the landscape, and fishing began to play an ever greater role.

It is this phase of the Mesolithic period (Middle Stone Age), presumably the first half of the 7th millennium BC, during which an extraordinary burial, interpreted as that of a female shaman, was placed in the earth. The deceased young woman was interred in a 30-cm thick layer of red hematite, a mineral colourant, together with an at most twelve month-old child. Gifts for the deceased had been placed in the grave, among which were several flint blades, two bone needles, an antler hoe, a polished stone celt and several decorative plaques from boar tusk. In addition, there were two bones of a crane, one bone of a beaver and of red deer, 16 red deer incisors, two matching skull fragments with antlers of a roe deer, shell fragments of at least three swamp turtles and 120 fragments of freshwater mussels. A container made from a crane’s bone held 31 tiny flint blades. The reconstruction of the shaman’s dress as shown here is based upon the position of the finds in the grave.

The abundant as well as extraordinary grave goods led to their association with a shaman’s burial soon after the grave’s discovery. Renewed examination of the skeleton a few years ago revealed a deformity in the first neck vertebra of the female, which could have caused lameness and difficulties in movement. Therefore, it can be presumed that it was an alleviation for the woman to be in trance.

Techniques in ecstasis are the prerequisite for a shaman’s journey into the supernatural, through which they can enter the world of spirits. 

From "Archaeological Finds from Germany" Selected and annotated by Svend Hansen (Booklet to the Photographic Exhibition) pp20-21

Images Australia 2012-3 Summer Visit

Saturday, January 05, 2013

John Henry Calvinist RIP

Multi-Instrumentalist, with the emphasis on mentalist, John Henry Calvinist, aka David MacKinnon died in September 2012. I only learned of this tragic news a few days ago upon visiting an old friend. David MacKinnon (b 1962) was a founding member of The Lost Domain, which probably had one of the most developed and far reaching influences on the early freak folk scene around the turn of the last century.

I first learned of the existence of the art of David Mackinnon with the 1993 compilation of Brisbane bands from Malignant with his band Invisible Empire. Monty Bloomfield (bands Queer and Noose d. 1994) put out a compilation on his label Malignant, F*ck the White Race. I had a lot of friends who were on that album.

Fast forward 10 years and I am living in Sweden, I am playing music and arranging gigs for the free freak folk scene, and I meet Mats Gustafsson of the great zine Broken Face. Mats and I talk a lot and one thing he presses on me is a CD by a Brisbane band called The Lost Domain. Its is Sailor, Home from the Sea and I am blown away.

As following the link to the release notes of Sailor will show, this was a connection in many ways. I was in 2004 already part of a group of people working under the direction of mueslical eye frog Michael Donnelly, who wrote as a comment on the 2004 release page;

Hey,wow....i live in northern NSWs,about two hours from Brisbane and am part of the musicyourmindwillloveyou sightsoundcollective,we have just started our own homebaked cdr label,with our initial set of releases due out at as soon as i finish doing the artwork...which should be soon.
Strangely enough , the way you describe the Lost Domain is very similar to the kinds of sounds we have been making for the past ten years.....based upon free improv,bringing together acoustic and electronic elements,forging new dimensions in sound ...ect
and to think,we are so close...i thought there was nothing like us in this big dry i am thrilled to discover some likeminded spirits.i await the release of their cd with anticipation and would love to get in touch....cheers

These were indeed likeminded spirits. And by Mats in Sweden bringing Micheal in Australia into context with John Henry and Co. a bridge of shimmering amber light was cast out over the rainforest retreats of every long haired mystic north of the southern ranges.

Since then more music has been made and minds altered. John Henry has moved on, but the sounds remain behind every rock, road sign and broken barroom window. I hope that the body of work left behind continues to inspire for a long time to come.

On the Waterfront, parts 1 & 2 - The Lost Domain

From Sailor, Home from the Sea (Digitalis, 2004), film by John Henry Calvinist

Tuesday, January 01, 2013

Make a Sign / Make a Difference

Make a difference. Make a sign. Those that cannot make a sign cannot make a difference. Learning to make a sign is learning to make a difference. The more complex the sign the more far reaching can be the difference. The sign must be original to make a difference. The sign can be clothes, language, architecture, image or space. Language means change. Make a sign. Make a difference.