Filming Fever Set To Flare Again in the Geelong Region

Filming Fever Set To Flare Again in the Geelong Region

What does Geelong have to do with the suffragette movement in New York City? Well, a hidden gem written by playwright Floyd Dell in 1915 about a love affair struck a chord with Geelong based actress Cassidy Krygger.

Enigma, a one-act play, has been reinvigorated and is set to be filmed in Geelong. With Aussie producer Jessica Orscik on board and her US-based production company, Diversity Pictures, Orscik is dedicated to edifying projects with diversity. 

This is the crowning stroke in what is set to be a shining light for Geelong in the face of an industry crippled by COVID. 

More than a little inspiring, Krygger sought inspiration as she battled Multiple Sclerosis, and plunged herself into the world of script, story and art. Diagnosed in 2018, the humble and dedicated actress has forged forward to bring diversity and inspiration to audiences. 

“The moment I read Enigma, I fell in love with it. A one-act play, Enigma tells the story of a love affair, the story could be told today, and I contemplated a narrative with a twist, what if the affair happened between two women? Thus began the journey, a period piece with strong female characters to reinvigorate a masterpiece.” 

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“When I was diagnosed in 2018, I desperately needed stories to escape into. I also realised I wanted people with Multiple Sclerosis to look up to the industry that I love. I feel there are limited opportunities for people with disabilities; even though this is slowly changing, I would love to be a part of that change,” says Cassidy. 

Filming took place at the Wormbete Estate in Winchelsea, the period piece will be an excellent addition to what the Geelong region has to offer artistically, with film crews historically bringing great fortune to regional areas. The SeaChange effect, coined after the series name filmed in Barwon Heads from 1998 to 2000 by the ABC, with a stellar cast including star Sigrid Thorton- showed how prosperous filming can be for regional areas. Films such as The Dressmaker, Mad Max, and Tomorrow When the War Began showcases the elements our area offers. 

Playright Floyd Dell

It is so exciting to inject some more excitement into the town I love so much. However with COVID impacting the industry so severely we are personally looking for collaboration by those wanting to invest in the project to help get it going. It is a very expensive process, even with our personal free contributions” says Cassidy. 

If you would like to be a part of the Enigma launch, and you would like to show your support for this exciting project; join us by clicking here- Daisy Productions

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Lights, Camera Action in Geelong

Lights, Camera Action in Geelong

Montanna Macdonald

Montanna Macdonald

Journalist Ponderings

As safe COVID-19 practices draw more Hollywood actors to Australian shores, the Geelong region is just one of many booming cities with film industry potential. 

With an abundance of opportunity for major film productions, the Geelong region’s future is looking promising. Some previous Geelong film sets include Mad Max, the Dressmaker, Paper Champions, not to mention multiple streaming service shows like Netflix’s show Rostered On and teen series currently filming on the Surfcoast, Surviving Summer.

The arts and entertainment industry is struggling with restrictions on gathering, events, and tourism globally. Still, funding resources and COVID-SAFE film production in Australia is an exciting avenue for future filmmakers, jobs, and encouraging investment back into the arts and hearts of Aussie towns. 

A new foundation in Geelong called the Geelong Waterfront Film Foundation is paving the way for encouraging filmmakers to produce in town, with tax deductible funding and grants available for film production in Geelong. A game changer in an entertainment industry that is battling through a pandemic. 

Ponderings met with Executive Director of the Geelong Waterfront Film Foundation, Belinda Lyle, for an interview to discuss the exciting opportunities, resources and support for local emerging artists the Foundation can provide.

What does the Geelong Waterfront Film Foundation want to achieve in Geelong? 

“A group of local stakeholders are now working to create an environment in which a sustainable local film and TV industry are possible. With diverse and impressive natural landscape Geelong is destined for the screen. Urban areas, semi-rural landscapes and beautiful coastline see Geelong and surrounding as an ideal area for filmmaking. Let’s establish a filmmaking hub with a framework in place to make it easy to film in the area!” 

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What is Geelong Waterfront Film? 

 

“Geelong Waterfront Film (GWF) is set up as a Foundation, in which once adequately funded via local investors, backers and the community at large will assist filmmakers financially should they choose to film in the region.”

“The brainchild of the Foundation, Geelong Accountant Mr Patrick Rowan, found when producers currently come to the region, they are usually looking for ways to raise completion of finance for final production. As an Accountant, he was often approached to recommend investors. Establishment of the Waterfront Film Foundation allows investors to make a tax-deductible contribution to the Foundation which in turn can be a grant or investment to those filming in the region.”

How does Geelong Waterfront Film support local emerging talent in the region?

“GWF is committed to supporting local and emerging filmmakers, creating another funding stream for them. Through its financial support, the Foundation allows for more diverse voices to be heard as this could mean the difference between a film being made or not. This extensive project now also has a newly established board consisting of various artists and Geelong professionals. 

What achievements has the board managed so far?

We have a small grant from the City of Greater Geelong to establish a database of people in the industry. There’s so much talent in Geelong – experienced and emerging filmmakers, directors, lighting & sound engineers, actors, – post-production experts, we are continually surprised with who’s coming out of the woodwork.”

“We want people to be able to come to Geelong to film and know there’s expert talent here to help with the production. The evolving database will help point people in the right direction.”

“In the BIG picture, GWF wants to host the Waterfront Film Festival, think Cannes and Sundance – red carpet and limos – all on Geelong’s stunning Waterfront. This would certainly attract international attention. Wheels are in motion for local film awards and the criteria that must be filmed in the Geelong region. This is a chance to showcase existing and up and coming talent.”

Belinda Lyle, Executive Director GWF.

Belinda Lyle, Executive Director GWF.

 If you are an actor or an aspiring filmmaker, how can you get involved?

 

  • Sign up for the Industry database. It costs $20 per annum to set up to be listed on the website database. Your talents are also promoted through WFF’s social media. It’s not only actors and filmmakers – anyone involved with the industry can sign up to the database!

 

  • Member-only events are planned for down the track offering networking opportunities. 

 

  • There are also opportunities for businesses to get involved with sponsorship. 

 

  • We also run several working committees if anyone wants to be involved with the project. 

 

  • Film-buffs and people interested in the arts can also sign up as a “Friend of Geelong Waterfront Film” for $20. Tax-deductible donations can also be made to the Foundation. 

 

The future of film in Geelong is an exciting avenue for jobs, emerging local talent and tourism, and we look forward to watching this space! To find out how you can support- jump over to: https://www.geelongwaterfrontfilm.com.au 

 

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The Number 36

The Number 36

Here’s a morsel of numerical quirk to chew on and bust apart the mundane. We like the unusual at Ponderings, so we drew a number out of a hat and we got 36. So how is this number special?

In 1936 Jesse Owens smashed Hitler’s Aryan race in the Olympics. Jesse was an American track and field athlete. At the Berlin Games, he won 4 gold medals. Hosted in Berlin, Germany chancellor Hitler opened the games, and much of the world would be fooled with propaganda. Many international guests were unaware that the regime had temporarily hidden anti-Jewish signs and the roundup of Roma in Berlin. 800 Roma residing in Berlin were arrested and placed under guard in a special camp in the suburb of Marzahn. Jewish sportspeople were unable to compete. Boycotts rumbled but never took off. Interesting fact; Adi Dassler, the founder of Adidas convinced Owens to wear a pair of his sneakers and Jesse became the first sports-sponsored African American. 

Zoologist, activist and superstar academic David Suzuki was born in 1936. The advocate for swift climate change response is a leader around the world and an expert on nature. His foundation states: The right to a healthy environment is the simple yet powerful idea that everyone should be able to breathe fresh air, drink clean water and eat safe food and to accelerate the transition to a low-carbon future.

 

“When we forget that we are embedded in the natural world, we also forget that what we do to our surroundings we are doing to ourselves.”

According to Jewish legend in every generation, there are 36 saintly people Lamed Vav Tzadikim who will save the world. Unrecognized by their fellow humans and unknown even to each other, they are said to pursue humble occupations such as artisans or water-carriers.

36 is the perfect number. Perfect number: a positive integer that is equal to the sum of its proper divisors. The smallest perfect number is 6, which is the sum of 1, 2, and 3. 

+36 is the country code for Belgium 

Ethel Scull 36 Times was Andy Warhol’s very first commissioned portrait and the genesis of his business- making portraits at the request of wealthy celebs. 

36 Gods assembled the various parts of the first human before Tāne, the god of forests and birds breathed life into its nostrils, according to Maori legend. 

In Numerology the number 36 represents energies that accomplish creative goals for helping humankind.

A checkers board has 36 tiles.

1836 (MDCCCXXXVI) was a leap year and is the year Spain recognizes the independence of Mexico. 

Pontius Pilate, the guy who gave the order to kill Jesus, died in 36CE. He was also a Roman knight. 

Harvard University was established in 1636. 

Barbara Streisand has 36 Studio Albums.

Marilyn Munroe, Bob Marley and Princess Diana all passed away tragically at age 36.

Last but not least in gematria (a form of Jewish numerology), the number 18 stands for “life”, because the Hebrew letters that spell chai, meaning “living”, add up to 18. Because 36 = 2×18, it represents “two lives”. (Zwerin, Rabbi Raymond A. (September 15, 2002). “The 36 – Who Are They?”)

Now I wonder if you start noticing the number 36? If you do, drop us a line! media@ponderings.com.au 

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FOUR PAWS Save Bear Cubs Nikko and Nara

FOUR PAWS Save Bear Cubs Nikko and Nara

Written by Montanna Macdonald

These Asiatic black bear cubs’ names are Nikko and Nara, the cutest two bear cubs you have ever seen saved by organisation FOUR PAWS; a bear rescue mission in Vietnam. 

FOUR PAWS is a global animal welfare organisation supporting animals, creatures who are victims of human battery in varied and horrific ways. The organisation is a noble one, and their work includes projects in emergency rescue and ongoing care for a great range of different animals. 

This year, FOUR PAWS Vietnam rapid response team saved two bear cubs from smugglers from the illegal wildlife trade. The legal and illegal wildlife trade in Vietnam is a billion dollar industry. Bile farming is the process of breeding bears in captivity. The terrible conditions are made even more atrocious by the shocking bile extraction process from the bear’s gallbladder while alive; only to be sold in markets, restaurants, online and used in pseudo-traditional medicines. 

There are two types of rescue missions FOUR PAWS do to save these bears. One where bears are voluntarily handed in by owners willing to give up bile bear farming. Two: bears are confiscated from illegal traders. FOUR PAWS act quickly in a short time frame to rescue bears just like Nikko and Nara.

On the 21st of July, FOUR PAWS were notified of two Asiatic black bear cubs that had been confiscated by the environmental police from wildlife smugglers who were trying to sell the cubs online via social media.

On the 22nd of July, the small FOUR PAWS team made an 11-hour journey to Lai Chau Province at the Vietnam border where they rescued the cubs and brought them to their new home, Bear Sanctuary Ninh Binh. 

“Both cubs were very stressed and huffed at anyone trying to approach them. The male is quite protective of the very timid female, hiding in a corner and nestling under him. They will now receive all the care they need to calm down and recover from a turbulent start of their lives. Both cubs are in stable condition, but slightly underweight. Our vets are examining them thoroughly, and once we are sure they are disease-free we will socialise them with another bear cub we rescued earlier this year from similar circumstances,” says Emily Lloyd, Animal Manager at Bear Sanctuary Ninh Binh.

JAX Tyres for Ponderings

The Vietnamese Government announced on the 24th of July the banning of imports and trade of wild animals.

While this is promising after years of effort from FOUR PAWS and fellow animal welfare NGOs, the organisation hopes the Government’s efforts to enforce the ban will be effective. Still today, there are over 400 farmed bile bears in Vietnam. 

“Although the sale and possession of bear bile are illegal in Vietnam, it still exists as due to weak enforcement of the laws. We hope that this new directive and subsequent revised enforcement efforts will also affect bear farming and eradicate the illegal sale and possession of bile products,” says Kieran Harkin, responsible for Wild Animals in Trade at FOUR PAWS.

The Bear Sanctuary Ninh Binh where Nikko and Nara now live is a wildlife conservation education centre and a beautiful, safe home for these furry friends while they heal and grow. Nikko and Nara have made a fellow friend, bear cub Mochi. 

The sanctuary, which began construction in 2016, now has six outdoor enclosures, three bear houses, a quarantine station and veterinary unit, a feeding kitchen and an admin building.

It can house up to 50 bears now, but once fully finished with construction will be able to provide a species-appropriate home for up to 100 rescued bears. Currently, all 33 Asiatic bears in Bear Sanctuary Ninh Binh were victims of bile farming and illegal trade. 

“Our bears often arrive with a multitude of health issues; some are obese, some emaciated, some are even missing paws or limbs from being trapped in the wild. Dental disease is common along with mobility issues and gallbladder and liver infections from the unsanitary bile extraction process.”

It is admirable the work FOUR PAWS do to give these bears hope for a better life and future. We asked FOUR PAWS spokesperson Elise Burgess, what does a day in the life of the Bear Sanctuary Ninh Binh look like?

For FOUR PAWS, they do a variety of tasks, from essential rehabilitation and quarantine processes for bears newly rescued, to feeding, medication, general enclosure maintenance but also what they call “environmental enrichment”. 

“An essential part of animal care is ‘environmental enrichment’, which is necessary for the optimal physical and psychological well-being of our rescued bears. The five main categories of enrichment are sensory, cognitive, social, physical habitat and food.” 

“Our outdoor enclosures provide a complex environment where the bears can forage for food, dig, climb, swim, play, hide and rest, all things they would naturally do. In the wild bears spend the majority of the time they are awake looking for food. By presenting our bears’ food in different ways such as scattering and hiding it throughout their enclosures or using puzzle feeder toys, for example, we are allowing our bears to express this natural behaviour. Bears are thought to have the best sense of smell of all animals on earth, 2100 times better than humans! Therefore olfactory (scent) enrichment is particularly stimulating for bears, so on certain days our bear caretakers put out different scents such as cinnamon, or peppermint, for the bears to investigate.” 

Now, Ponderers, we hope envisioning bear cubs safe in a beautiful haven sniffing for cinnamon and peppermint brings you all the heart smiles for your day. 

You can donate to FOUR PAWS at their website, and follow them on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter for updates on the incredible work they do with not only bears but other projects around the world. 

If you would like to know more information about the Bear Sanctuary  Ninh Binh, follow them on Facebook, and when international travel is allowed again, go visit Ninh Binh! You can see the bears in their tranquil haven, purchase locally made souvenirs and enjoy some traditional vegetarian and vegan Vietnamese dishes at the onsite restaurant. 

 

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I Was Four When I First Saw Him

I Was Four When I First Saw Him

Written by Kirsten Macdonald

I was 4 years old when I remember my first interaction with God.  I was very scared at the time and feeling very powerless.

Remembering what my Nan had told me I gripped my hands together, and I prayed. I asked Jesus to help, to help me be brave and to help it stop. In my mind,  I could see beautiful fields of green, flowers and animals with a man sitting there. He did not look like the anglo version I had been shown in pictures. But that didn’t matter, I knew who it was. He asked me to come and sit. So under the covers of my blanket, hugging my rabbit tightly and squeezing my eyes shut just as tightly,  I walked to him and sat. I knew somehow that God was here. He told me all about the animals and how loved they were. He told me it was okay I could sleep now, to lay down my head. So I did. I fell into the deepest slumber of calm and wonder.

There began the discovery that would last a lifetime; a cryptic riddle. Did “He” stop what was frightening me outside my room at the time? I don’t think so. But, there’s a big but here; when I asked for help, it always came. Every time. Without fail. Did it stop perceived terrible things from happening every time? No. Would answers, guidance and calm come every time? Yes. Were the actions of others stopped? Not always. This started a lifelong search on the discourse of free will, divine design and science. I never told Nan that his son didn’t have blue eyes and blonde hair. But maybe we all have our own version. The other day my mother found poems I wrote as a child about my relationship with God. This friendship has been a constant in my life.

(Sidenote: I am using the word He because whilst I fight the suffocating patriarchal rule of hundreds of years, my experience of God is He. My understanding of mother is Her. I also have moments when I speak with God and right out of the pages of the book ‘The Shack’ Papa G is a woman cooking pancakes. We are so porous.) 

As I grew up, I sometimes forgot to ask for help, until I was well and truly tangled and in the darkest of messes.

My Nan once told me; if you feel distant from God, you’re the one who moved. When I did call out, I was sometimes so tired from the fight, a pile of torn pieces, it was then I  handed it over to God. In the surrender, the calm and answers would come. Forehead slap. Wouldn’t you think when you have a calming trick up your sleeve known since toddlerdom, you would whip it out every time? Faith is no party trick or soothing blanket.  It occurred to me in the last few years that intervention is a bit like a teacher telling a child the answers to a test. How do they learn if you do everything for them?

 

I have discovered through this journey with faith that life is indeed a quest. 

 

It occurs to me we indeed may be the sum of our collective choices as a species. Choices of our ancestors may have impacted our genetics, our sociological makeup and our DNA progression or regression. We may have very well created manipulated bacteria, atoms and technology for one purpose and ended with another unintended outcome. Our species most certainly has interrupted the lifespan of endangered humans and animals, along with botanical wonders of this planet. 

The myriad of choices we fashioned under this umbrella of free will is all-encompassing and has self-imposed consequences.

 

JAX Tyres for Ponderings

Choices are very, very important. As a child, we don’t get many.

Grown-ups need to teach their children well, and as a parent, I know this isn’t an easy role. We bring these fresh little souls into the world. The gravity of the responsibility can be overwhelming, we are raising future adults, and our job is to teach them how to survive and how to be fair and how to be happy, how to forge ahead in times of difficulty and we need to give them the resources for life. I am so grateful my grandmother taught me the resource of faith. 

I was going to need it. 

When you sit in an office, and a surgeon tells you are more than likely not going to live long, life is never the same again. You question the very essence of your being, what does life really mean? You want to teach your children, hold them close and never break their hearts. But the fear is as giant as a building about to fall down and crush you. You see buildings are not frightening until you think one might fall. 

An aneurysm is a sneaky taker of lives, and I know from experience that bleeding in one’s brain isn’t a pleasant experience. There are moments during this time that are etched into my soul like deep cracks in concrete. One was the surgeon conversation, the other was the realisation that I would be blind. No one told me I would be blind. No one insinuated I would be. But a solid inkling arose that I would be blind for a time. I threw a huge tantrum that day, my one and only. My Mum was there. She asked me not to think negatively, be positive. I told her to fuck off. My poor Mama. That had never happened before, and she held that space like a champion. 

She stood there with me, I threw porcelain at the back wall. It wasn’t my finest hour. I knew I would be blind. Think what you will, but I knew it to be true. As we sat down on the grass and picked up all the shards of cups and saucers ( we usually throw eggs when we are upset -family tradition), I prayed. Again, a calm came. 

I remember the night vividly before my first operation.

With a house full of beautiful family and friends. Watching them interact made my heart ache so much because the stark reality was that this might be the last time I see them, a bit like a soldier about to go to war. It is a very unnatural psychological event. When everyone went to bed, I paced the grass, talking to God. I cried and told him how scared I was and how I wanted to be his miracle. I knew it was a big ask, but I would dedicate my life to writing about hope, I was doing deals. (It is a survival thing and very human thing to do- seems we cannot help ourselves.) In the nakedness of that moment, I felt the calm rise and warm me. It feels cliche to use these words, but for me, warmth, love and calm are the only words to describe grace and they are nowhere near adequate. I was guided to go to bed, sleep and all would be well in the end.  

I kissed my children’s heads and hugged them without frightening them, I had to get in a car and drive away with the thought of goodbye and see you soon rolled into one. I wrote letters to them. My fears went from where am I going if I do die? What if I actually do just become worm snacks and memories at special occasions- to -what is death? Will Travis give the kids the right guidance when their hearts are first broken? Would I be scarred for life? Would I wake up with my personality intact? No small fears. I kissed my husband goodbye and waved to him as I was rolled into a room and a needle put in my arm. How did I stay on the bed? Prayer. When fear knocked at the door, and faith answered; no one was there. 

When I woke up from brain surgery, I knew they saved my life, but everything that could have gone wrong did; and I had no sight- completely blind, could not walk, was hooked up to everything possible in the ICU, and I was calm. The operation went south, and the surgeon had to cut into a deep part of the brain, in the process the nerve operating eyeballs was injured. 

When I woke up and couldn’t see, I did not panic. I was prepared. It was all going to be okay. I would walk again, and my sense of humour was better than ever. Can I explain to you how I knew? Not in a million years. But thanks to this calm, I could focus on recovery and not get stuck in the trauma. My thoughts were; I’ve never been blind before, so what can this teach me? I also knew my sight would be restored regardless of what the doctors said, there’s that. I had a psychologist demand in rehab that I share my secret, where was all this positivity coming from? He was intrigued. 

JAX Tyres for Ponderings

 

The second surgery 3 years later for an aneurysm much nastier and much more dangerous bought a different experience.

This time there was a lack of reassurance coming about my ongoing existence here with my peeps. I did not know if I was going to be okay. In fact, every time I prayed, I got very clear its all in the air. Try that one on. Ouch. I had not dedicated my life to writing about hope. I had focussed on recovery and getting well, on life and living it to the max. I felt cheated. I did not want to go through all this again. Some people very close to me thought this was negative thinking, but seriously, regardless of my faith I knew in my heart my life was up in the air and then came the process of being okay with this process. 

Deeper contemplation and conversations with God went on for hours in those weeks leading up to surgery. The question arose- what is death? A word we give to the animation of our cells here and now. But what of consciousness? Was heaven, not some Zeus like an imaginary place in the clouds we humans conjure up to save ourselves the terrible notion of no longer existing? What if we romantically returned to the Cosmos as magnificent dust, part of the circle of life? Grown-up thoughts. 

JAX Tyres for Ponderings

 

Volunteering for total surrender in true faith is not easy, even for someone who has spent a life knowing faith consistently. There was no guidance saying you are going to be blind, you are going to live, you are going… it was just peace.

A deeper, more profound understanding began to unfold. It was a mighty and vast and calm joy without needing to scratch the human itch of satisfying conclusions. We, humans, get irritated when we don’t understand when the door and its mechanisms evade us. Closure and acknowledgement oscillate around us always. 

 

I did not wake up blind, but I woke up knowing. You cannot touch the ether without bringing the sand back on your feet, and the leaf you see on the surface is only the tip of a deeply rooted tree. There is much more but now is not the time. It will come. We are so visual, and limited. 

 

I can’t rely anymore on the wisdom of the world, because I have felt beyond it, behind it. An egg cannot go back into the embryo once cracked. Untangled from the clatter. An existential crisis creates a whole lot of magnificent possibility. This is not a test. This is not a punishment. This is a university with icebergs, trees and bad breath. We are magnificent, and we are loved. But we make choices, and they are a gift. So we have to spend them wisely. Death is not final. 

 

When you hold a personal truth so large in a world of cynicism and pain, hurt and disdain, you do not want to share it. Because when everyone touches it, holds it, questions it, it loses its lustre. The shine wears off, and it feels like a beautiful creature you let everyone pet until it tires out and dies in the corner. My choice has now been superseded by something much greater, the whisper in my ear to speak boldly about my faith. As Rudyard Kipling said, Gardens are not made by singing ‘Oh, how beautiful,’ and sitting in the shade.

 

As a kid, I was bought up in a house that firmly stuck to the idea that you if you told other people about your beliefs you were shoving it down their throat or assuming your faith or beliefs were better than someone else. You had no right. Whilst this is based on mutual respect, I have discovered that for me, it leaves no room for the joy of communication or seeing each other without the small talk. 

 

The most incredible conversations I have had have been with Anglican ministers who have spent a lifetime studying God, Atheists who have spent a lifetime denying God, Buddhists, Hindus, Christians, Muslims, Shaman and Wise women. When we speak our truth with respect, we are not condemning anyone else. I spent years studying religions of the world and different scriptures as part of an Anthropology degree (unfinished – turns out epilepsy, narcolepsy and short term memory loss are not conducive to the PHD dream)

 

One thing became evident through all that study; many of these religions- so completely unrelated and often at odds with each other shared a common truth; God is the name we give a creator, an architect so complex; defying human understanding and with a simple covenant; love and faith conquer.  It seems from texts cross-sectioned across faiths that many messengers have been sent to tell us how to survive. Many interactions have even happened with divine beings sharing the same names but in different times and different languages. Interesting right? According to many scriptures, codexes and scripts; we are pretty unique critters designed for continuing creation along with boo-boos. 

 

The words of these records have been translated, repaired,  interpreted, rewritten, repurposed and used in ways inspiring but also in some cases in ways most foul and corruptible; because the lure of power amongst the patriarchy is very strong. But when you start believing the power of people and not the message that sits in all of our hearts, we get in trouble. People start wars. Religion is the structure through which we experience and explore belief. It is a man-made construct, and in many cases, it serves as an excellent scaffolding for this purpose. Power, on the other hand, is anything but.  

 

“He wrapped himself in quotations- as a beggar would enfold himself in the purple of Emperors.” R. Kipling

 

We wear the social narratives we are given like coats; the stories we are told form our own threads and layers. But sometimes we have worn them so long the fibres have etched into our skin, and we forget the simple truth; so long as you seek the light and open your heart to hope you will find it. 

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How Books Save Us- A Pondering by Karen Brooks

How Books Save Us- A Pondering by Karen Brooks

Written by Karen Brooks

Here we are at the tail end of a year that, in its numerical configuration alone (2020) promised so much.

Instead of clarity, pragmatism and all the other positive meanings that arise when we used to think of 2020, many of us have encountered sickness, death, loss of income, stability, isolation, family crises, never mind sadness, fear, and familial, social and state divisions. 

Throughout these long months, the arts – music, dance, poetry, prose, films, TV, clips and events on social media etc – have played an enormous role in helping us cope with the harsh reality of Covid-19 and its fallout – including the endless dismal and doom-laden news-cycle. This has enabled us to appreciate, perhaps in ways we haven’t before, the integral role the arts play in helping us understand and define what it is to be human.  

Books and fiction especially provide a measure of unquantifiable comfort in harrowing times.

 

They allow readers to escape, even briefly, the cruel or mundane veracity of the everyday and walk vicariously in someone else’s shoes, to safely experience their emotions and undergo a journey that, more often than not, resolves in a satisfying way.

More than just bibliotherapy (which is how the psychological and emotional consolation books offer is sometimes described), books can be personally transformative and, most certainly, transportative as well.

After all, when the going seems tough, there’s always a story to fall into, a lexical journey to embark upon, and sometimes quite literally lose yourself in.

According to recent studies, reading has increased anywhere from 37% – 41% during  the pandemic.

While some folk sought eschatological narratives (end of the world scenarios) in order to perhaps channel their own fears, others turned to the classics, re-read old favourites, reached for their enormous TBR piles – some of which contained books they’d been promising themselves for decades (War and Peace anyone?), found the time to increase their knowledge around certain topics (racism, politics, history etc), or took the opportunity to read genres they’ve never tried before.  

One British study simplified people’s choices as those who “read for exploration and those who re-read for safety”.  

At home, curled up in a chair or in bed, reading of other people, periods and places, is a panacea that both soothes the soul and fires the imagination. It reminds us that while we might be doing it hard (whether that’s because of the pandemic, loss, grief, sad memories, poor health, relationship issues, anger, parenthood etc), struggling or triumphing, these are what humans have done since time immemorial. We’re remarkably resilient. Sometimes, the only way to recognise and appreciate that characteristic, to understand we too will get through this, is within fiction.  

What’s evident is that books offer something few other options can: they’re the word equivalent of comfort food and we’re hungry for it.

Gratitude for what creative artists have given us during lockdown – through their books, art, music, film, dance, TV, social media, cyber-performance etc – has been loud and clear right around the world. What a pity our government cannot acknowledge the importance of the arts and artistes; their intrinsic social, cultural and personal value, choosing instead to cut funding to important bodies and prizes, or offer meagre and competitive grants and loans – and at a time when both the creators and the grateful public need the arts most.

Creative artists are both inventors and curators of culture, of our collective imaginations and hearts. Their work worms its way into our souls and minds, becoming part of individual histories, our memories; they’re a short-cut to a moment in time, even to a version of ourselves we no longer recognise – for better and worse.

Books allow us to escape the nightmare of the present (or past) and dream of other spaces, possibilities; of different ways of being. They enable us to move beyond the present and imagine a different future and even, in our darkest moments, a better one.

About Karen: 

 Dr. Karen Brooks: is an Author,  columnist, social commentator and academic. Karen is also a part of a gorgeous brewery in Tasmania with her partner. The brewery and the authory keep her busy!

www.karenrbrooks.com

Twitter: KarenBrooksAU

Associate Professor and Honorary Senior Research Fellow IASH, Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities, University of Queensland.

Join Karen for great conversations and sharing on FaceBook: Karen Brooks Author – love to have you!

 

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