January
18th
  4:15:28 PM

Melancholy rock carvings in Sydney

Hi there,

I have just returned from holidays and I am happy to report that I am feeling refreshed, energetic, and ready for lots of improvements in MercatorNet this year.

My idea of a good holiday activity is a hot and sweaty bushwalk culminating in the discovery of an Aboriginal rock carving. The hot and sweaty part is too easy lately. Right now it is 44.8º Celsius outside the office – that’s 113º Fahrenheit for US readers. A few days ago, the average temperature for the whole country (ie, the whole continent) was 40ºC (104ºF).

Bushfires happen when it gets this hot. The word “apocalyptic” is getting a stiff workout in the evening news lately. But when you see TV footage of incandescent skies, treetops exploding into balls of flame, towering walls of fire racing through the bush, and houses collapsing into ashes in minutes, the anchors can be forgiven for the poverty of their vocabulary. It really does look like the world is about to end.

It was on one of those days that I foolishly chose to visit Cattai National Park. The rangers had blocked the road and expelled the campers to prevent fires. So we walked in. A hundred metres from the entrance was a sign pointing to an “Aboriginal site”. Sure enough, half-hidden off the main track a life-size rock carving of a kangaroo had been etched onto a bare patch of sandstone.

I always find sites like this eerie. Between 200 and 5,000 years ago, a group of Dharug people gathered near the Hawkesbury River and celebrated a complex and time-consuming ritual. But after 1788 the tribe was all but obliterated by smallpox epidemics, violence and alcohol and with it died the secret of their kangaroo carving.

Who were they? Who sent this mysterious message from a lost culture? We’ll never know. Only that men and women lived here for thousands of generations, turning land into landscape, animals into art, dreaming the same dreams as we do about love and family and the hereafter. And vanished. Utterly. Except for these enduring works of art. A pity that most Sydneysiders are ignorant of the treasures of their sunburnt country.

Since there was no newsletter earlier in the week, we have accumulated ten articles. Lorna Tilly, an Australian archaeologist working in Vietnam, describes how much care hunter-gatherers put into caring for disabled comrades. Disability is also the theme of James M. Thunder, who comments on the euthanasia of deaf and blind twins ain Belgium. 

Raffaele Chiarulli reviews an Oscar nominee, The Master, a thinly veiled portrait of the founder of Scientology. Francis Phillips reviews a touching book drawn from a cache of love letters written from Stalin’s gulag.

Margaret Somerville and William West both take up the cause of prison reform. George Friedman and Denis MacShane ponder the dangers of radical Islam. From London, Peter Smith writes that religious freedom has taken a hit in British courts.

Finally, a world exclusive: an interview with Timothy Reckart, the 26-year-old director of an Oscar-nominated animated film. It has a strong pro-marriage message! I hope that he wins when the awards are announced at the end of February. 

Cheers,


Michael Cook,
Editor,
MercatorNet


comments powered by Disqus
 
about this blog | Bookmark and Share

Search this blog

 From MercatorNet's home page

Canada’s medical totalitarians
21 Jan 2015
Doctors are at risk of killing against their consciences or of losing their jobs.

Is European unity built on sand?
21 Jan 2015
The EU promised perpetual peace and perpetual prosperity but failed to deliver. What comes next?

The mission creep of dignity
20 Jan 2015
Dignity has less to do with autonomy or independence than with intrinsic worth and the ability to flourish.

US Supreme Court to tackle same-sex marriage
19 Jan 2015
We need to know more about the effects of legalisation.

The passing of Google Glass
19 Jan 2015
Drums and cymbals at its birth; a press release at its death.

Follow MercatorNet
Facebook
Twitter
subscribe to newsletter
Sections and Blogs
Harambee
PopCorn
Conjugality
Careful!
Family Edge
Sheila Reports
Reading Matters
Demography Is Destiny
Conniptions (the editorial)
Information
our ideals
our People
Mercator who?
partner sites
audited accounts
donate
advice for writers
New Media Foundation
Suite 12A, Level 2
5 George Street
North Strathfield NSW 2137
Australia

editor@mercatornet.com
+61 2 8005 8605
skype: mercatornet
© New Media Foundation 2015 | powered by Encyclomedia | designed by Elleston