PO Box 2 Blackball

Paul Maunder's blog


economic development

Despair (2)

A preview performance of our stories at Red Books went well. Performing is always healing, as is the coherence of a story formed and perfected. For a moment the dross falls away and clarity is achieved. The contradictions and ironies become the sinews of reality. For a moment.

Only one mask wearer, who in a situation of presence was absent. And that is one function of the mask, to protect oneself against the presence of the other and to protect the other against one’s own presence, to become effectively, as absent as possible. That is the rationality for the burqa, to protect the woman against serial male desire and to protect the woman from reciprocating. Presence and desire are then privatised to the patriarch’s bedroom.

A contrary function of the mask is to allow freedom of the libido, as in the carnival. For the Zapatista the mask protects the ‘we’ from the state gaze. And one of the ironies of any mandatory mask wearing will be to sabotage CCTV and facial recognition systems.

Meanwhile, the Greenland ice cap has melted. The canary is dead with barely a mention in the media.

Back to the despair of trying to forge different relationships in the real world. There’s a bulk food store for sale in Greymouth, the perfect venture for Te Puawai Co-op to facilitate an Invercargill style venture ( where such a facility is run by a collective which involves people with a disability. Despite Provincial Growth Funds, mayoral job funds, Development West Coast, employment schemes, wage subsidies, various NGOs advocating for the disabled, there is no effective interest. If we did get something off the ground a saboteur would appear, a system centred buyer. For the sake of some minimal capital nothing transformative will happen outside the sphere of art.

The Greenland ice cap has melted. The canary is dead.

A sign outside a café: Now that you have learned to wash your hands children, we will learn to put our chairs under our desks neatly.  Jacinda has become over exposed. There’s a visceral rebellion welling up which could seriously fragment the political landscape.

A commentator has described the current world as no longer capitalist, but neo feudal, with kings and queens, an aristocracy, a gentry, guilds of skilled workers, and at the bottom serfs no longer tied to land but tied to pracarity: a cheap rental if you’re lucky, or a cheap car, a shopping trolley, a sleeping bag, a cell phone if you’re unlucky… Within this the search for transformative relationship is hugely difficult: how to create the autonomous zone, the commune, how to link up effectively while respecting diversity? There are promising signs that the new age impulse is becoming politicised, past the privilege of food choice, life style block and mouse-click environmentalism, leading to the seeking of relations of solidarity not within or against but outside the feudal system.

Signs and signals.

I suddenly remember our production of Oedipus in the late seventies, couched as an environmental statement, something which I didn’t quite understand at the time; but now it’s obvious: the cursed baby (Western civilisation) saved by a shepherd’s sympathy (think Christ), grows up amongst strangers, loses his temper and kills a man at the crossroads (colonisation), solves the riddle (science), marries his mother in order to become king (the industrial revolution), the plague descends and in trying to find a solution he discovers his own culpability; the solution is to blind himself and go into the wilderness.

The Greenland ice cap has melted. The canary is dead.


On the one hand I want to write about spring, the transformation as the willow trees clothe their branches, as daffodils push into the light, as new growth appears on seemingly dead sticks of blackberry, as myriad blossoms decorate the apple tree, as ducklings play in the pond, bopping one another like unruly kids, as lambs appear and grow ridiculously fast, as people load their cars with plants at the garden shop, as each day brings confusion as to what to wear.

But on the other side of the planet, a hurricane drops three feet of rain on Haiti overnight, before swatting the coast of Cuba before heading for the southern US state. As I ponder the Ministry of Business and Innovation report on economic development for the Coast, I find it alarming that climate change is not mentioned. How can educated experts write about future development without considering the greatest threat facing us, or mention precarious work, or inequality, or the region-city divide that is growing in alarming proportions… Midweek, Grant Robertson gave his talk on the future of work and its relevance to the Coast. A good talk, a nice man, but the local leaders were absent, apart from a token presence by Development West Coast – too busy beavering away at the MBI recommendations, which have immediately become Holy Grail.

In Albert Mall, I watched a group of Chinese tourists take excited photos of a Camelia bush and the Chinese restaurant. Is the tourist experience largely nonsensical? If it becomes the main driver of an economy does the sense of nonsense pervade?

Marama Davidson and some other prominent women headed across the sea to Gaza. The Israeli Defence Force seized the boat, detained the occupants temporarily before deporting them – a ritual of recent times. At least they’ve learned that it is better not to beat them or kill them. A stunt, sneered Judith Collins. Potentially embarrassing, said the PM. Climate change shouldn’t be mentioned, nor should Gaza – both unpleasant topics, like child poverty. Aaron Smith is much better news: a bit of scandal, a penitent All Black.

But it is spring. Down on the field there are now three hares cheekily tormenting the dogs. Can’t catch me.

After a passing rain storm, the drops of water falling from the willow tree create a mosaic of small eruptions in the puddle below. Mesmerising – as the starling chicks in the roof tap and scratch a new life for themselves.

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