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Byron Shire
October 27, 2021

S Sorrensen’s Here & Now: When politics fails, art inspires

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Image S Sorrensen

Nimbin. Saturday, 10.15pm

While the boys were playing Touch My Penis in parliament house, adults had gathered in the Nimbin School of Arts for the second Blue Moon Cabaret of the year. And I really wanted to mix with adults tonight.

With hot winds fanning fires around the tribal land in an ever-earlier fire season, and with the juvenile but catastrophic shenanigans in the government playground, my week had climaxed into a Saturday of tension. I could feel it knotting in my shoulders; I could hear it ringing in my ears as my tinnitus yanked on the bells of anxiety.

After the MC leaves the stage, two local women enter from opposite directions, large green feather fans hiding their faces. They prance to centre stage where a trapeze hangs above them.

I have given up on politics; you will not get a mature response to the pressing problems facing our society from a politician. You will get, at best, obfuscating gobbledygook; at worst, lies layered on lies creating a giant pancake of falsehood, liberally doused in short-term sweetener, cooked up to placate the ravenous appetite of the obesely rich. And the climate clock ticks…

Australia has no energy policy. Still. There are some – and they’re in government – who deny climate science. Still. How is that possible? Is the bubble of the elite so thickly insulating that they honestly think they know better than the overwhelming majority of climate scientists? Or is it short-term self-advantage (does the bubble have air conditioning?) that drives the incompetence? In short, are politicians stupid or selfish?

I have given up on politics, so it’s with some trepidation that I see good people (adults), who have fought bravely and effectively in our communities for positive change, move into that dirty game. Will it be our gain, or our loss? Politics at that level has the power to neuter the potency of the most positive activist, to shackle the most energetic, to tire the most relentless.

If politicians cannot help us, where do we look for guidance?

Laying down her feather fan, one of the women swings onto the trapeze in a graceful, seemingly effortless movement. Elegance is the act of achieving much with little obvious effort: the wedge-tail eagle riding the winds above my shack under the cliffs; a rose in a pot on my verandah slowly blooming from bud to glorious flower. And it is with elegance that the second woman, with a hand from the first, ascends to the trapeze.

On the other hand, with a maximum of expensive fuss, the government achieves nothing. This bland wardrobe of suits failed to create an energy policy that incorporates the reality of a changing climate. It has failed to even mount the trapeze, let alone do something beautiful with it. It’s been an inelegant spectacle of leadership failure by all of government. Of course, the failure is a win to the selfish and stupid.

The two women, bodies like panthers, are twisting and turning like DNA on the single trapeze. There is a gasp from the audience as one of the women slides head-first down the other to snap to halt, just above the floor, hanging by a foot clasped by the other woman. Applause.

I needed to be with adults tonight. Adults who can talk properly, who dress with individual creativity, who understand the enormity of the challenge that faces us, who appreciate human elegance. We have listened to music, watched dance, seen acrobats. We come to strengthen the bonds of community as we hurtle into the new era, abandoned by politicians, inspired by artists, knowing that somewhere in the creative elegance of humanity lies our future.

Here be adults.


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  1. Yes, SS. The one deadly worry is that so many of the non-polly almost elegant
    of us just get more and more tired every day.


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