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


 
about this blog | Bookmark and Share

Search this blog

 Recent Posts
My Good Friday
22 Apr 2014
Farewell to Brian Harradine
15 Apr 2014
A royal family, and a real one
11 Apr 2014
1954: an annus mirabilis in the cinema
8 Apr 2014
A plain man with an eye for beauty
4 Apr 2014

 MercatorNet blogs
Style and culture: Tiger Print
Family social policy: Family Edge
US political scene: Sheila Liaugminas
News about bioethics: BioEdge

 Archive
Apr 2014 | Mar 2014 | Feb 2014 | Jan 2014 | more >>

 From MercatorNet's home page

Could we choose to dialogue?
17 Apr 2014
"Anti-choice", "pro-abortion" -- let's stop the name calling and talk about principles.

Disparate bedfellows: same-sex marriage and human rights
17 Apr 2014
The claim that same-sex marriage is a basic human right finds no support in international human rights declarations.

Philippines population control law gets judicial green light
16 Apr 2014
A so-called reproductive health law is “not unconstitutional” says the Supreme Court. But the new contraceptive era could easily become…

Do you want CNN or ESPN with that burger?
15 Apr 2014
Why can't I talk with you in a restaurant? Why do I have to talk to the TV?

3 reasons not to trust the new climate report
15 Apr 2014
The latest report on climate change needs to be taken with a pinch of salt.

Follow MercatorNet
Facebook
Twitter
Newsletters
Sections and Blogs
Harambee
PopCorn
Conjugality
Careful!
Family Edge
Sheila Reports
Reading Matters
Demography Is Destiny
Bioedge
Conniptions (the editorial)
Connecting
Information
our ideals
our People
Mercator who?
partner sites
audited accounts
donate
New Media Foundation
Suite 212
75 Archer Street
Chatswood NSW 2067
Australia

editor@mercatornet.com
+61 2 9007 1187

© New Media Foundation 2014 | powered by Encyclomedia | designed by Elleston