I place this piece to you and your readers as a separate post as I am sure my too regular presence on your newer posts must by now be somewhat tiring to see … I apologise for my intrusion on your blog … It’s just that I am a chatty person … perhaps some would call me “mouthy” … I have to wear it, and will try to reduce my verbosity in future … But I did want to say this and see if you … or any others who may read it … have any thoughts on the subject, seeing as how you too have written so many words on such a familiar subject as the human condition.
Out here in the Murray Mallee where I live, between the eastern face of the Adelaide Hills and the Murray River, on what is called “The Murray Flats” … or “Break-heart country” … at the end of the second world war, there was a distinctive “cut” in a cultural tie with the methodology of farming … particularly in regards to the older families of the pioneer Germanic farmers in the area.
Before the 2nd World War, and indeed right to the end of the war, horse-drawn implements were the most common form of ploughing, seeding and harvesting … perhaps in some locations tractors had been introduced, but they were such cumbersome technology, that it was a risky and expensive proposition to do a major “tooling-up” in cost and farm layout to change over. But it did happen, and with that event, there was not only a “cut” in ties from old technology, there was also a severing with the connection between the farmer and his soil … between “Man and his touch to Earth” …
Where once, with the horse era, the connection between philosophy of mind, religion of heart, to callous of hand was a real and tactile thing. The farmer rose in the early morning, praised his God, saw to and fed the animals, groomed and attended to the health of both himself and his beasts of burden … the harness of leather and steel, the equipment of cast metal and timber … the feel of earth under foot and hoof … was it soft, hard, moist or too parched … the entire process was “of the senses, of the touch”.
Then, in almost the blink of an eye … it was gone … all that old expertise … redundant, along with an entire generation of horsemen farmers … the sound and scent of preparation and harnessing … of horse-feed, stabling and manure was gone … no longer were these hardy pioneers “dirt farmers”, they had now needed to graduate to become “chemical farmers”.
And so that was the end of something.
Another thing I believe has ended – right now – with an older generation is the understanding and/or sympathy in the writings of a younger generation for the reality of the human condition … not to be confused with the living standard … or material comforts … or the trysts of social relationship … but rather; that uncertain something that gets us out of bed in the morning to give touch to the start of the day … the hunger of physical contact however slight or intense with our fellows … our (female in my case) opposites … the moment of embrace to start the day … a gentle; “Good morning, did you sleep well?”
The haste of the post-modern lifestyle, that celebrates the “individual” rather than the couple to fulfil those material needs, driving many to fore-go that moment of space necessary for human contact and relationships to co-exist. After all, we can only fill one pair of shoes at a particular time, or stand on one patch of soil underfoot … it is our mood that makes us, and I feel there is a mistaken association with the sweeping mood of “instant” communication technology via the internet or mobile phone hook-up that is making, shaping and dominating and in the end; replacing the mood of so many people so that the above understanding of the making of the Human condition from another age … another generation of post war people, is being lost or thrown aside for a new-fashioned personality that has little time to look into either the eyes or the soul of humanity … and like those post war farmers who adopted the new technology to up-the-ante in both speed of the deeds of farming and the output for profit that resulted in the further decimation of an already fragile environment, so too will a past generation’s experience of the pain and what is gained from that pain, will be shunted aside for a more “profitably expedient” if tactile poorer outcome in human relations.
And that too, I fear, will be the end of something.
I make this claim because after years of writing story and tale, essays and poems on example after example of situation, devastation and humiliation of so many good folk and their moments of life, I have to conclude that it has to the greater extent been to no avail and the grinding of those most vulnerable underfoot has continued almost unabated … and this saddens me … not to the point of actual depression, but rather in that way where one has to sit by and watch a drama unfold and yet not be able to do a thing to stop it … like the proverbial train wreck in slow motion.
And there were our grandparents and parents who saw it, lived it and told oral story after story about those times which we, of a better educated generation … perhaps the best educated generation of an eon of years, has put down in word on page those lives … and yet the carnage goes on. Perhaps, like that generational change from horse-power to tractor, it cannot be stopped and the maxim of “Live for the moment” … better suits the times than the old “Work like you are going to live forever and pray like you are going to die tomorrow” … which is … like this author … just too wordy to be called out of a swiftly passing window.
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