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Monday, April 17, 2006

"Who were the first people ?"

Origins - Who?

This is an image of a work by Len Lye, a great New Zealand artist, sculptor experimental filmaker, and philosopher. I took a day off work once in about 1986 and went to the Auckland Art gallery - and came across his strange work -one sculptural work is a "model" or a symbol of the universe in the form of a huge band of steel attached to an electromagnet which oscillates at mains frequency I assumed and through hysteresis etc causes the steel bands to pulsate; and as they do there is an awesome booming sound. Lye was fascinated by cosmology and the macro and the microcosmic. Science and metaphsyics come together in his workI think. At that time I hadn't written (or read significantly) much for many years and had never heard of Lye or Stan Brakhage - but later I was to learn that my lecturer in English - Roger Horrocks was doing a book on Len Lye, which as since been published. Lye's work ws shown at the Pompidou Centre in Paris. His work is on view in New Plymouth.

ABOVE: An image of the 'new- born' egg -shaped expanding Universe opening out from the initial beginning from the cover of a book called "The First Three Minutes" by Stephen Weinberg - a physicist and cosmologist. Whether this image of the Universe - the mind cannot conceive theUniverse per se - is "better" than that of any religions or that of the Maori or any other creation myths is debtable. The images or abstract concepts or conjectures of art or religion or mathematics help to perhaps give us some insight into the workings of our various universes -but in the attainment of knowledge- if such it can be called -after such attainment of such "advances" in our conceptions and questionable knowing; then further questions lurch The Question itself away from us - to paraphrase Bronowski in his book: "The Ascent of Man". Apart from anything we have the Heisenberg Unceratinty Principle and theories of knowledge and time involving entropy and information theory and thousands of years of philosophy and speculation and human history - and the mystery of existence and conscousnes and itself to contend with.

The First People - Origins.

A Maori Chief or Warrior by a 19th Century European artist. The tattooing is a kind of language - the link below decribes who the Moriori were and that they were basically another tribe of theMaori people - who were never actually "Maori" but a number of tribes. This -whether the Maori or who were the first into New Zealand or Aotearoa (The Land of the Long White Cloud) reflects other questions of ultimate origins and knowledge and my daughter's questioning as to "Who were the first people?".

Who Were The First People?

This is room 3 of maybe room 6 of this part of the house of EYELIGHT.

Anteroom: WHO?

I will precede what I originally included as such, with a short discussion on who were the first people in New Zealand; whereas the question asked by my daughter may have meant that issue, it probably was a question by a child about ultimate origins.

Many believe – wrongly – that the Moriori - are or were separate “race” who arrived prior to the Maori It is in fact a favourite one for the Right Wing racists of New Zealand. The Maori were a group of many tribes from Polynesia and the Moriori were basically another tribe not separate race as such –see the link above. Racists claim that the Maori have no claims to NZ or any rights to ownership etc as they themselves colonized and killed off the Moriori –this is completely false – in certain attack on the Moriori at the Chatham islands only one tribe was involved –and as I said they were not the first people in NZ. Racists want this theory as it gives them some ammunition to go against such things as the Maori land claims and the recent Sea Bed and Foreshore Act (this malevolent and racist Act provoked huge nation wide protests by Maori and much discussion and dissention until the Maori people formed new Political Party) that the Labour Government pushed through. NZ has had some bad Governments and perhaps Labour –the present Labour Government - is one of the better ones – but that said it is more by omission than anything particularly enlightened they have done and they are not progressive –of course –waiting in the wings there are more right wing groups – racism is alive and well in NZ. So we have, marginally, the best of a bad lot.

So the Maori were the first people to inhabit Aotearoa – New Zealand. New Zealanders would do well to recall this and show an interest in the great culture and society that the Maori achieved see Sir Peter Buck and Sir Apirana Ngata and others on this aspect of our history. Maori includes a language that was spoken but also the carving and tattooing was a method of recording and symbolising Maori culture. We neglect and show disrespect to Maori and Maoritanga at our social and psychological peril – historically, politically, humanly; and in all other ways. The Maori were the first people to arrive in these Islands and are first in importance or at least in significance. Maori and English are New Zealnd's two official languages

Room 3

“Who were the first people?!”

When I lived in Wiri, or South Otara, in about 1982, Tamasin and Dionne, my daughters of 3 or 4 or 5 or so would ask endless questions - undoubtedly to delay the final bed time – which I – the patient dad – would answer as best I could. So much I had to say finally was made in factories – rubber comes from trees, but it starts as a liquid, a gum. What is gum? Books –paper and books are made from wood. How? It is crushed and the cellulose is pressed and heated etc and things (chemicals) are added to it and it is made into paper.

Tamasin would get quite frantic about the question she struggled to express – that of the first people.

But where did the first people come from? Where? Where?! I tried to explain.

It terrified me the intensity and the import of this question – as it does now.

At that time I was quite young and very fit and very happy –of course there were problems –but I was and felt that in those days that I was fortunate to have good job as Lineman and a Cable Jointer for the NZPO – now Telecom – it was an active job and I also jogged every night before dinner -I was very fit – I had a good wife and three beautiful children, Many are less fortunate. I had a keen interest in Chess and in fact had some minor successes in that area – beating some quite strong players or at least drawing with –including some International Masters. I did have some thoughts that literature or something in that direction was what I wanted but I was doing and later completed a NZ Certificate in Engineering (in Electronics and Telecommunications) and I had/have the equivalent of an Electrical Registration. I had ambitions to become a professional Engineer. But in about 1990 I started a B.A. in English literature and completed that in 1994. My wife did a degree in History and finished it in the 80s.

But at that time – the time of the questions – I was very happy with my life.

I enjoyed chopping wood for our fire – and my morning coffee. Simple joys. I had everything I needed – I wasn’t rich but I was reasonably well off. From my sudden decline at age 19, I had come a long way. I now have three children and my youngest child, Tamasin, has produced beautiful grandson – his name is Sebastian Richard Taylor.

At that time – the time of the questions – I was very happy with my life. But death is inherent in such questions – and the ultimate mystery of the origins of all things. I knew the Darwinian theory, and tried to explain it –I had also read some anthropological and archeological books (and a favourite documentary had been Jacob Bronowski’s “The Ascent of Man” and I had that book also –still have it – it is a beautiful but terrifying book) – but my explanations fell short – was this frantic questioning and her tears - a child’s preternatural awareness of the Nothingness? The mystery: of which I could say nothing? The Dog? The endless eternal beginning end?



Monday, April 03, 2006

The Policeman Still Has Two

In the place of Justice, at the Court.
I sit among dark, strange, beings.
Policemen, unmenacing, brush past.
Lean lawyers, men in suits, chat
With savages. Street girls smoke
And laugh. A fat, sad man is fined.
A transvestite titters. Black jackets suits ties.
Broken and unbroken people.

The Judge hardly glances
At a boy, nervily shifting in the dock;
He has only one eye. What does it see?

A dark woman, as elegant
As a queen, sobs from an interview room:
I hear: “Both of you have, the...guilt/
The grief...” Or was it "burden"? A lady in
uniform walks past. I wait.

My son has one eye.

Lawyers from behind their ties, explain.

My son has one eye. .

The dark night has gone.

The men who
have been destroyed by those they destroy
Are kept for wicked Ogres
In their sneering woo wah wooh wah
Waspy cars. They club the broken hits
Of our land to bloody lumps,
In their daily night bashings. Like
weeders in a jungle, they are ten feet tall
And they are green
And they spit death blue
And their great, bulging, blindingly
Yellow eyes burn merciless and blind.

My boy has one eye. One!
The other one was burst…

He had run outside and cried
That a big in him had died.

The eye, infinitely aware, was all life long
In it's marvellous/ Billion step creation/ Billion step making.


After vast tine unfolding
It shone in a baby’s face: it grew to manhood.
A policeman, a dutiful policemen, burst it with a baton.
The eye was as beautiful as every eye. My boy, my green
And gentle boy — has only one eye.

Two two two — one two one two one two — blue green blue green
Blue blue blue... Cops, courts, people, batons, judges.

Batons - love, hate - eyes eyes eyes. Victor cried for help -
They smashed away his eye. Why?

All I know is, a ten foot two-eyed Ogre burst his eye.