Politics of Natural Perfume

T1 aged 40

TR 2004 – photo by Athene Currie

After a long and sweaty game of social persuasion, I reluctantly climbed into the highly polished, four wheel drive that was packed with class two mothers, bound for a Christmas get together at the local Leagues Club. I was horribly under-dressed, under-coiffed and totally unprepared. I was the new girl. Not from around here.

“Did you see those terrible riots in Seattle? Those hippies should be locked up, it was disgraceful.” a nodding bob recruited.

I cleared my throat nervously from the back seat of the Nissan Patrol. These women were exactly strange to me. Their clothes and hair reeked of positively-ionised white-goods culture, and my blood began thinning and rolling in a slow, bubbling simmer.

“I know”, said another one, “they all need a bloody good hiding” she smugged.
“Those people ahhh, well, they actually represent you.” I said.

Dead silence. Seven blonde bobs turned to me. It wasn’t really a “blonde” thing, it was just their freshly applied holiday highlights glinting.

“Some of those marchers are farmers that are only being paid a few cents for a truck load of the crops that we pay twenty dollars a kilo to eat, and some of those people marching are their wives whose farms have been foreclosed by the banks, …people who now have nowhere to go, and some of those marching hippies are just ordinary people who want to have a say about how much we can really afford to spend on food, and some of those people marching are small businesses and family companies that have gone broke from multi-national takeovers and enterprise bargaining decisions that are made in WTO board rooms without consultation or any care about us, you know, the consumers. Oh yeah, and some of those people marching really want to talk about the diminishing GMO regulations that might jeopardise world food crops everywhere….. Monsanto, y’know..?.”
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Pause….pause, silence, silence, silence…
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“Hey Shanna, have you seen Simon’s new tennis coach?, he’s so hot”
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“Oh, well actually yes I have, and guess who’s playing comps again?”
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I spent the rest of the evening staring into the laminated tabletop of the Arana Leagues Club dining room and continued to breathe in, and breathe out.
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I’m just an ordinary, middle-aged, white, middle-class wife and mother, and those women looked at me as if I was on drugs, recently released from a psychiatric facility and recovering from a long stint within the criminal justice system, and all I did was speak up that I think differently from the line they were taking.
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Why is it weird to care about horses and forests and oceans and not give a shit about ironing or Tupperware? I don’t know how to launder towels with that fabric stuff that other women just seem to know about. Where did they learn it? Where the hell was I that day? Thank you, my life, for letting me be somewhere else (something else, anything else…).
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I know everyone’s talking. The sales-pitch idioms rise in a radioactive steeple of unabated sound, fathomless with need. How can one more human voice ever be heard, chortling and mashing in the pantheon of all these roaring souls? In how many more complex ways can we say “Give me your money”?
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My strength is tarnished by time. My abilities, wrought with leaks and losses, plot my direction so much more certainly behind, than in front. There is an old girl-child, here, inside me, grown swollen with impulsive repression, the self-inflicted silences of absorbed hurts. My hurts, the hurts of others and any ol’ hurts. My anger is vast, a tidal expanse, infinitely intimate with the swirling mass of my raging pain and grief. I am, at long, long, last lucidly emerging from a depressed/anti-depressed submission, to clear a mist from my mind, a potently hypnotic blue-blanket that has obscured my view of reality. The comfort zone.
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As I stretch, I am reacquainted with socially parasitic complacency and it’s host, the ever-consuming white culture, a subterranean world where the slumbering spirit of pioneering human determination did drown. I am fiercely awake and haunted now, by all the eyes that ever trusted and were deceived. I have, it seems, willingly and for centuries, slavishly subscribed into a sanitised, raped, broken, battered, burned, veiled, tormented, tortured, stifled and slain game of power-over.
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Are we not culturally empowered to assist those that are hungry, helpless and hurt? Have we become spiritual husks, drugged by our own rarefied economic comfort zones, and stupefied by our privileged social self-obsession? Surely the hoarding of so much wealth, the stockpiling of our multitudinous gifts and resources is literally choking us to death. Physically and figuratively. Certainly our fears have reached a critical mass. How did our precious planetary resources become such tokens of greed and mass destruction? How has the glossy, fat, white westerner that I’ve become, been so willing to comply with the simplistic media politics that muster us endlessly into even more shallow superficiality?
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“STOP THE BOATS” …“AXE THE TAX” …“DITCH THE WITCH”.
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Why have we allowed ourselves to be motivated by self-servitude and such low-range thinking? When did we agree to become the cattle of consumer-producing strategies that cost so many their lives, their freedom, their children and their basic human rights?
“Larry, I’m in desperate need of some chocolate”, (and I’m in desperate need to find my three children who were kidnapped two years ago to pick cocoa beans as slave labourers until they died of starvation, torture and disease).
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Where are the compassionate, intelligent leaders of our next revolution for social change?
 
8 corrugations
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Where does an unmarried, deaf woman in East Timor learn to give birth safely, or just live simply with dignity and self-sufficiency? How does an orphaned African AIDS baby overcome his terror of the dark?
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Sir, where do we stack all the unclaimed, unidentifiable bodies sir?
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How can we continue to support our so-called democracies when our elected leaders continue to condone and perpetuate such untold suffering? Surely we are gifted and blessed with the power to reach out and evolve, to unify in kindness now. Are we just-not-quite-yet-privileged and powerful enough in our white, male-dominated cultural wasteland to end starvation, to stop pedophilia and child pornography, to eradicate nuclear arms trade, defy global thuggery or even begin to recognise the futile stupidity and horror of war?
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Can we even see our own sightlessness? Our self-serving gluttony? Our emptiness, no matter how much money and luxury we accumulate? Who will acknowledge the toxic implications and look beyond the media distortion and it’s profit-driven party line?
This is the time for humanity to rise and claim it’s right to express human goodness, to know our freedoms and exercise dignified choice. Now is the time to awaken from our silence, our ignorance, our backs turned on each other, our unending greed. We must stand up and own the mess we have made now.
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Contemporary women’s culture? I look around for signs and see deeply rooted hatred for feminists, horrific violence against women and children, and in my own hands I find borrowed icons from our destroyed indigenous cultures; drum, clap stick, feather & smudge.
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I read the propaganda of the new age “abundance” consciousness & I feel severed from my truest visceral female instincts, the deep instincts of flowing with our natural life-cycles, the planting times, the nurturing way, the gathering and celebrating of harvest and the deep wintering to be still to let go, to rest and dream. We have become unreasonably demanding of our planet’s bounty. We have stolen our religious rituals from ancestors who stepped lightly upon the earth, respectfully honouring our great and ecstatic mother earth’s love and bounty and we have devoured her gifts until she has all but perished.
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2 Talk to the hand
I smell the stench of artifice from pharmaceutically-controlled advertising monopolies that profit in dictating the one acceptable human shape, age, colour, size and social choices, and I feel trapped and outnumbered by a hostile misogynistica. Nature is an explosion of diversity, and we have shrunk backwards into a fearful duality life. Pepsi or Coke? Chicken or Beef? Burger King or McDonalds? It’s all the same crap.
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I choose to spend some time with my exquisite ugliness and it’s child, the angry pain, to draw and paint it, to write it, sing it, drum it, dance it, wail it, wear it, share it, speak it and spear it into the hearts of all those still standing silently closed, quivering and gutless in infinite greed. My perfume contains love and grief, written in fluid haiku; it speaks of the soil and the flowers and fruits and trees and seeds and of precious nature as it leaves this world. I will never make more than is ethical. I will not sell for the sake of selling. I yearn to drape the leis of my fragrant poems upon those who understand the messages and proudly carry the gift of life that dwells within; the precious gifts of nature.
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Gaia Grafik b_w copyI am afraid of the struggle, unnerved by the path I have set for myself and yet I know it to be a freedom path, a path of material challenge and contrary motion. I know now, that I have always walked this path of difference. I was born to it. I yearn to build a circle-fire that beckons us to the living wheel of true culture, our humanity. I ask forgiveness and I claim responsibility for all that my forebears and I have gained from the pain and suffering, not only of my sisters and brothers of living force, but for all that I have taken from my Mother Earth without asking or giving thanks. I’m learning a better way. Thank you to the teachers in my life.
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As I learn to find and create another way I give thanks for the morning light, for wind and rain and especially for catastrophe, for it is in our crises that we discover our miraculous courage of human kindness.
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Writing and artworks TR ©2017
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