Monday, June 21, 2010

Flooding and Foxing

I dont know why, but I really like this about where I live: 

Everything rots. But fast.

The decay process can be really, really fast especially at certain times of the year. You can watch it in action.

One minute you have a book in your hand and the next its desiccated termite shit.

I tried once to make an art piece out of this process - left a large painted paper heart out overnight a couple of times to be abused and savaged by termites. Waited waited, camera at the ready each new morning.


C'mon decay already.

That piece stayed resolutely untouched, but how come all those other papers carelessly left out were eaten in 2 days flat?

I was into hearts at that time and getting a bit carried away with that particular area of the torso

with domestic wooden spoon broken in a moment of pique and resurrected as a flaming heart

and with x-rays and light box

 for various reasons. Oh well didnt work out anyway.

Today, having to rummage through some old raptor research, I am amused as papers and photographs crumble in the hand, morphing into confetti, forcing a quick change of mindset about loss, albeit minor …. all the field work once so lovingly detailed; transects walked, fires made, stars tracked, grounds slept on, diagrams drawn.

Despite the storage tin trunks and ammo cases, it gets stuck together and ... foxed (the term, no?) 

Does a substance like paper get much of a chance here in this 'ere camp? 

Not really. It mutates into something resembling fine sepia table salt. 

Foxed big time. I dont think you would find that kind of foxing in the second hand collectors bookshops, no. 

Instead of the book there's suddenly a pile of ashy powder in your hands. 

You are sort of breathing it in. 


There is something cool about that.

A kind of circularity. The breath of dead dust. The oxymoron of breathing death.

You have to live damn quickly. Life being fast and fragile and all that.

Its a good reminder.

Like the Victorians obsession with morte moeri, the death and decay reminder in the form of embroidered samplers for maidens.

Young women especially were targeted by the mind-police and offered judgment, scorn and homilies.  

They said, “..ha, ya think ya pretty? Young? – well you better be MORALLY GOOD because there is no compensation - only disintegration and decay ahead. Your flesh is going to go green and you will rot to death. Bitch.” was the  Victorian subtext.

Anyway – decay. No wonder people in most rural villages here have no storable wealth. It gets noshed. Why bother?

Of course it's an issue in art debates - collecting original artifacts and art, exquisite or sacred wooden things and removing them from their ancient heritage into a museum. 

Or just letting them get eaten by termites. 

Exploit or preserve? 

Collecting things is an extraordinary European habit exemplified by the Victorians with their glass-fronted “Curiosity Cabinets” of exotic things from the exotic colonies. Curios.

Dont get possessed by your possessions is what my dad always said and did. 

Its tricky. Or liberating. Or a cop out. 

Not sure.

But this in-your-face process of constant spoiling…it sure keeps reminding us about the physical, the corporeal - about death and decay speeded up. Fast.

Better also deal with it in fast motion. I quite like that.


  1. Pam, funny, I also just wrote about death and parting, but yours is a new angle to look at it. Ha! If all gets eaten by termites, why bother? It`s not a choice where you live, I guess, but it would be hard for me. Me being used to stabile surroundings. Or THINKING they are stabile. Good thoughts in here.
    I could see NONE of your pictures, though! Can you post them differently again? Or were they all eaten by termites?

  2. Ha Geli thanks for your comment. Interesting what you said - I love thinking our surroundings are stable and then they are not. Yes, the pictures (well the raptor ones anyway) are about to be published - just working on it - the ones that weren't eaten of course!! ha ha

  3. Great post mom! So true, and never thought of it like that! But yes, think you need to upload the pics again, can't see them. Thought it was me and our shitty connection but if Geli can't see them in the most efficient nation in the world then there MUST be something wrong!!

  4. brilliant and so true - these reminders are everywhere but we dont always take note - or is it just me? pics also didnt upload :-( please try again - i know they are great ones xx

  5. Also want to see pics! Unless Singapore thought police have other ideas....
    But a timely reminder that what is really important (or should be) are our relationships and experiences. Not the decay-able posessions it is easy to be so proud of.
    Lovely writing too!

  6. aah the pics emerged! now these are immortalised in cyberspace :-)

  7. Thanks Miranda and Val - yep there are the pics now.

    And Mud - thanks too - no, not the Singapore thought police - just me

  8. Dear Pam, Ah but the art, the art! it almost breaks my heart to see those books and drawings disinigrate. I don't know if i am materialistic or just a great appreciator of everything.

    It's true that our we take our experiances with us and nothing more (and my wedding rings please!)


  9. Oh Lori you are funny - take the wedding rings yes! I know, it is a bit disconcerting about the drawings but I aim to resuscitate what I need.