“Take me for a walk in your country, so I can understand why you call me that name, Peasant.”
Community is a complex concept—which concept isn’t?—but if it exists as a thing, and not just as a term used for political or economic advantage, it must have boundaries: it is both inclusive and exclusive. That the world is complete is a common way of looking at things.
Out here, and in here, I use the term ‘country’, borrowed, without permission but with profound respect, from its usage by the warriors and wanderers (as I perceive them) of Australian Indigenous culture, to signify a reality without boundaries, impervious to political and economic definition.
Peasants are they who belong to a community by virtue of their acquiescence in a political and economic system, but who, by the nature of their work, their intimate knowledge of the seasons of hot and cold, the transient and anonymous life-cycles of their animals, and the motions of the sky, stand at the boundary of community, where ‘who are all in this together?’ is as idle and meaningless a question as ‘who owns this country?’ So a peasant does not ask questions.
Country is no more nor less than territory’s transcendence of its map. Who among us lives harmoniously without maps? We are all peasants, and particularly when we celebrate the dead at Halloween, when Spring is bursting into Summer, and we should be celebrating Beltane, garlanded with flowers. Does the Queensland election portend Summer or Winter? Trick or treat, indeed!
“So I am possibly at a time of enlightenment?”
Maybe. Unless our heads are in the sand, or we are called, or it rains. Or a stranger comes.
I would like to say I remember every face which has ever presented itself to me, but I can’t. I very much fear that there is no longer a man in the Moon, and sometimes I wonder if there ever was. I know that I am, and where I am—I know your retina like the back of my hand—but I no longer seem to remember when I was here last or what I was feeling. I am in less of a rush to watch Lethe’s ablutions, and less susceptible to Aldebaran’s eye, as though I have forever already passed through the Gate of Man, or the waters of Lethe permanently cling to me now, in a Labyrinth of Forgetting haunted by the Minotaur of who I once was.
I know I once flaunted myself over the trenches of Flanders, and confusing what is deep in the heart with what is in the sky is as old as time, but whereas I have hosted human technology and confidence you could achieve anything, more than half the world has lost faith in everything, including that, and the rest are sampling a delectation of priceless baubles, even while they decry the manufacture of their satisfaction beyond the event horizon of the seventies, when developed countries allayed their panic about pollution by creating mountains of waste someone else could get filthy and sick transforming. ‘Progress’ had a different meaning in those days. Now it means a race by the poor for world domination, or giving up the technology of climate creation and planetary mining to lie down in a submissive but guilt-relieved ditch of abnegation.
How long ago was it that your ancestors could hold you accountable by disappearing over the horizon and leaving you to your ’emotional intelligence’, your faithless disobedience? In the oldest continuous culture on Earth, among Australia’s first immigrants, it looked like this.
But in the politics of resistance to patriarchal aggression the ancestors always reappeared in the East to applaud the resilience of women, and dare I say, non-binary men? Women who rise from their beds early in the Spring and retire late in Summer are confirmed in worshipping nothing but their own sensibility: it is all going to be just fine.
In the Northern Hemisphere it has always been a different story, and what other explanation do you need for the despoliation of the planet and the exploitation by miners and slavers of Southern Hemisphere equanimity? When they align themselves across the eastern sky, arcing like ancient wisdom between the cardinal directions of South and North, it is as gods within that the ancestors first return in Northern skies. It is at the Gate of God, when the nebulosity at the centre of the galaxy in the southwest leaves its spoor directly overhead, that boys cross into manhood in the hungry dawns of Spring and the proud evenings of Summer’s disappearance. The matriarchy of Southern latitudes is a mythical lost paradise. Seventeen hours or eight months later, the ancestors retire under the blankets above post-industrial Western welfare-states, where the masculinity-challenged may dream of healing, presence, collective rights and a day of reckoning.
Yes, the burqa and niqab are written in the stars, but now that nobody who looks can see, I am lost. I cannot read your heart any more. Your thought seems more like borderline personality disorder than soul, and that begins to seem as though we are no longer looking at each other with the same capacity to share that a bird on a wire has regarding the cars on the freeway, if only the drivers would stop, and let the children get out, to walk under the wire.
Is it time to be a Peasant or a Vagabond? Aggressive or insecure? Independent or withdrawn? I don’t know, and it is rather urgent we put our heads together, because next May, the Northern Ascending Node (Southern Descending Node) precesses to the Lethe. If I don’t find myself, neither will you, but unlike yours, my forgetting might be eternal. “What am I here[-]after?” we may well ask. The answer is just around the corner I turned yesterday, as you would realize, not having turned it.