Tag Archives: jung

The Long Weekend turns 5 today

11 May

Five years today since the Alice Springs launch of the most emotionally difficult art project that I suspect I’ll ever do, and also the first huge art project I ever did. Grateful that I stumbled into it, completely unaware that it would change me.

Graphic-novel-web copy

Recently I finished a minicomic called ‘The Tension’ which is about making ‘The Long Weekend in Alice Springs’ and what happened to me afterwards, which isn’t something that I’ve talked about much; it will be riso-printed in time for the Other Worlds Zine Fair in Sydney. I’ll have some mini launches later on once I’ve pulled my brain together.

WEB-front-cover-image-riso-colours-from-Marc

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ARAS website

18 Dec

The ARAS website is now featuring The Long Weekend in Alice Springs!

The Archive for Research in Archetypal Symbolism (ARAS) is a pictorial and written archive of mythological, ritualistic, and symbolic images from all over the world and from all epochs of human history. The collection probes the universality of archetypal themes and provides a testament to the deep and abiding connections that unite the disparate factions of the human family.

The ARAS archive contains about 17,000 photographic images, each cross-indexed, individually mounted, and accompanied by scholarly commentary. The commentary includes a description of the image with a cultural history that serves to place it in its unique historical and geographical setting. Often it also includes an archetypal commentary that brings the image into focus for its modern psychological and symbolic meaning, as well as a bibliography for related reading and a glossary of technical terms.

You can buy The Long Weekend in Alice Springs at the SanKessto Publications website

The Long Weekend in Alice Springs

This is Craig San Roque’s intro to the graphic novel on the website“From my perspective as a depth psychologist, I see that those who have a connection with story are in better shape and have a better prognosis than those to whom story must be introduced – to have ‘story awareness’ is per se psychologically therapeutic. It is good for soul. Coming early with life it is already a perspective to life. One integrates life as story because one has stories in the back of the mind”
-James Hillman, A Note on Story in Loose Ends.

And what if one lives in a place that has stories already there in the backyards of the town. What if one lives in a town that sits in the midst of stories and at a location that is a site of ancient and sacred stories humming away in the back of the mind. What if the minds, hearts and bodies of the people who dwell there are overshadowed by the mountain, the rocks, the rivers, the trees that are embodiments of the stories, images, myths of the peoples who have lived there for millennia and live there still – under the influence of mythic actions, symbolic trees, rocks, mountains, even if those mythic actions, those scenes, have been shoved to the back of the mind.

Alice Springs, the town where I live, is one such place. It is a border town in arid desert regions in the center of Australia. It is 1,7000 km (1,000 miles) from the nearest cities. It was established maybe 130 years ago as an outpost of the British colonization of the Australian continent. It is built right smack on top of indigenous tribal lands of the Arrerente peoples. Alice Springs, as it is known in English, is also known as Mparntwe or Mbantua in the Arrernte Aboriginal tongue.

Like many other border towns in the Americas, Africa, and Asia where indigenous people meet the incoming rampage of another and different civilization, the original landforms of Mbantua (Alice Springs, Australia) embody the traditional mythological stories of the people. The mountain range surrounding the town embodies a mythic creation story. The rocks and trees and river in Arrernte myth are living presences exerting mental influence. Mythic creatures and stories animate the landscape. You walk out your front door and you can see the story of the Dog embedded in the mountain range; walk out your back door and you can see the trees that represent mythic women dancing in ceremony. The townsfolk live in ancient time and in real time in a most interesting, continuous and yet ordinary way. It is this notion of depicting intersecting realities that The Long Weekend in Alice Spring attempts.

-Craig San Roque

Kieran Finnane – 2013 Lofty Award Winner

9 Dec

I’m super pleased that Kieran has been awarded the 2013 Lofty Award in Alice Springs at Watch This Space artist run initiative. She has been an important arts writer in Central Australia, giving the whole scene such a considered and careful focus. Below is the article she wrote about The Long Weekend in Alice Springs in May of 2013 – the original can be read here. You can see here an example of her poetic criticism which is constructive and positive in a manner which is rare in arts writing.

Haunting excursion into Alice’s psyche

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Review by KIERAN FINNANE

The cover of The Long Weekend in Alice Springs suggests that the story between its covers will be road trip. And it is one, of sorts. You won’t find these roads on any map but they will lead you into the byways of this desert place, reaching back through history into stories of origin, reaching out through darkness, real and metaphoric, into stories of now.

The starting points are several, all at once. There’s the meeting of Joshua Santospirito and Craig San Roque, a young man and an older man, one a psychiatric nurse with a drawing gift, the other a psychologist with a lyric gift. There’s a campfire and in its flickering light, a woman in mourning. Her husband has died but her grief goes deeper than this. There’s a book of quite a different order, Jungian explorations of the contemporary world, and a request for San Roque to make a contribution.

So, setting out from the meeting of the two men, for the sake of simplicity in this text, with its limited means of typed words on a screen, destined for a journalism site. These are limits that The Long Weekend is marvellously liberated from, due to its form as a ‘graphic novel’ or ‘comic’ (words that don’t quite rightly describe it); due to Santospirito’s artistry; due to the soaring and delving of San Roque’s mind and pen. 

Santospirito, frustrated and raw from his experience of working in remote mental health, met San Roque, seasoned by long years of the same, but also resilient from a deep nourishment – as we learn from his essay at the end of the book – by Jungian psychoanalysis, thought and practice. San Roque gave Santospirito some of his writings, including an essay, ‘A Long Weekend in Alice Springs’, his contribution to The Cultural Complex: Contemporary Jungian Perspectives on Psyche and Society, edited by Thomas Singer and Samuel L. Kimbles (Brunner-Routledge, 2004).

There was no sudden illumination that explained everything or showed a way forward but Santospirito found the writings “somehow useful” and began to draw his way into San Roque’s ‘Long Weekend’.

He takes us to the campfire in San Roque’s backyard and in just a few deft black and white images envelopes us in the thickness of this night, the deep well of loss that has brought Manka Maru to this point, by this fire.

He draws ‘Craig’ at his desk, wrestling with the task of writing an Australian perspective for The Cultural Complex, wrestling with the very concept of how a cultural complex operates – easier to detect looking at another culture, harder to detect in your own culture.

Craig’s door opens into the backyard. It’s Friday and Warlpiri family from the bush join Manka Maru. They’ve come in for the footy match; among them, a young man damaged by petrol sniffing, one of many in Craig’s professional care. The visitors interrupt Craig’s concentration but it’s a fruitful interruption: he will find his way into thinking about cultural complexes by describing what happens on this long weekend.

Some of what happens is eventful in a road trip kind of way – like going hunting with the Warlpiri visitors who arrive in increasing number. Some of it is eventful but bleak as Craig, the ‘shrink’, goes about his work, in the court, at the hospital, by the roadside where a man, who believes he is the King of Iraq, is sitting in his car with his three-day dead dog on the back seat. This episode kick starts the deeper journey, a haunting, at times thrilling excursion into our psychological inheritances.

Is the ‘King of Iraq’ a refugee from another time, Craig asks himself. And his mind wanders to the mythical Middle East and the story of Inanna’s grasping, ruthless attempt to bargain with death. (Santospirito’s drawing and mise en scene make the story wonderfully vivid.) The cure for some our ills would be an “assurance of immortality”. It’s part of what Craig knows the King needs. But short of that, what?

Craig remembers his meeting with an old Warlpiri man who told him to mind his own stories. That counsel fell on fertile ground, for Craig / San Roque is deeply in love with story, alive to the unfolding stories around him, to the ancient stories, the ones carried forward in our classical Western culture, the ones from the Aboriginal “dreaming system” (in so far as they have been shared with him). “The human psyche loves processing its own thoughts,” Craig thinks. If we lose the ability to do this, we “fall helplessly out of being.”

This has happened to Teresa to an extreme degree. Craig visits her in the psych ward. She’s trapped in a “cannabis-induced psychosis” but it’s more than the cannabis, more than the petrol that preceded it, and her scarifying life experiences. “Something in the cultural lobe of her brain allows her psychic demise.”

Cultural memory offers resilience in face of the tides of history. Craig picks up a male friend, Amos, to join him on the hunting trip with the Warlpiri women and children. Amos is of middle European and Jewish lineage – a strong bloodline in dispossession. Around the campfire, cooking lizards, Napaltjarri tells the children, black and white, about the travels of Malu (kangaroo) from up North.  Amos and Craig sit to the side – Craig’s still wrestling with his writing task and enlists Amos’ help. They try tracing some travels of their own, the big shifts of people from their lands in Europe. Amos suggests that the Gypsies and the Jews were less vulnerable to the cultural breakdown this caused because they’d “learned to use cultural memory in a special nomadic manner”.

We are introduced to the ancient Arrernte stories of Alice Springs, particularly the wild dog story, inscribed in the local landscape. The dog came through Ntaripe (Heavitree Gap), attacked the incumbent male, ravaged the mother and puppies. The Mount Gillen ridge and much of the land on the western side of the river were formed by the activities of the dog. Alice Springs is built on this mythic event, a dogfight and a rape. “Serious dark men might whisper the details.” This is part of the psychological inheritance of those to whom this cultural memory belongs – as well as those in the “overlap”, as Craig describes it, between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal cultures: “Sites do things to people.”

When memory is encoded in sites and song-cycles, as it is in classical Aboriginal culture, and the links to these are broken, depression and malaise follows. This is affecting (to greater or lesser degrees) all who live in contemporary Alice Springs – not just in the shadow of broken Aboriginal songs, but in the shadow of non-Aboriginal people’s own cultural disconnections as well as the contradictions between the Christian and colonising projects that are the foundation of our nation. If I’ve understood it rightly, cultural complexes get people stuck in this brokenness and this contradictory space.

“We can save ourselves with imagination.” It’s the closest thing to a ‘solution’ that can be put between inverted commas. And the book enlists us at every page into acts of imagination through the alchemy of Santospirito’s and San Roque’s gifts. Some of Santospirito’s drawings are exceptional in their emotional power, and the multi-layering through space and time that the comic book form allows makes for rich story-telling. Combine this with San Roque’s poetics, the depth of his thought, and the heart of both men, and you have a book, a travel guide for our place and time. Read it and you’ll never think about the town’s ‘social problems’ in the same away again. Read it and you’ll never look at Alhekulyele (Mount Gillen, the nose of the ancestral dog) in the same way again.

At present, The Long Weekend in Alice Springs is also an exhibition at Watch This Space in George Crescent. It shows the comic book in the making, the drawings that appear in its pages and more, as Santospirito worked on his adaptation. Until June 7.

The post of gratitude

17 Nov
“Last Drinks!!”
Sorry to harass you on this fine weeknight … but I’ve made this comic … it took a while … and I’m trying to flog it to unsuspecting citizens of the web such as your good self. It’s called THE LONG WEEKEND IN ALICE SPRINGS.
Preorders through the POZIBLE campaign will wind up on December 12th!
If you don’t preorder then I can’t guarantee that you’ll get a copy later on in the piece SO ACT TODAY!!
It’s only $30 for those lucky-ducks who live in Australia (postage included), there’s also some other options up for grabs if you’d like a little more stuff!!
 
Books will go out in the post March 2013!! Included in the book is a beautiful new piece of writing by Craig San Roque which is … quite frankly – poetry! 
 
If you’d like further updates into the future (photos of the book being made, book launches, related exhibitions etc) 
– then feel free to join this facebook page.
Thanks
jxo

Below is a page I did as an early trial when I was still working out what kind of structure I wanted the pages to have (i.e. panel structure), I was also trying out a few fonts at the time, I reckon I must’ve worked on the script after I did this because I have scrapped all of the words that were here … I just unearthed it in my computer today … I think this must have been from late 2009 or early 2010.

acoustic Album – A shitload less understanding than what is required

15 May

“A SHITLOAD LESS UNDERSTANDING THAN IS REQUIRED”
By Drive West Today

a bold improvised instrumental interpretation of the lessons that were pounded into me about humankind, misery, happiness, life and death whilst wandering the Central deserts of Australia and things that have been ticking in my head since I walked back South-East with my tail ‘tween my legs.

You can download the album from bandcamp if you’d like,

  • Track 1 – title taken from Craig San Roque’s article “Coming to terms with country” also previously released in US
  • Track 8 – Anthropology also released on New Weird Australia’s compilation volume #3

Here are a series of notes that I wrote a couple of years back … some of it is nonsense, some of it is kind of poetic, most of it centred around the ideas that I was thinking about whilst making this music.

Part I – Life

[ These are thoughts that I am thinking out loud to the ether … if you care to read them, be my guest, you might even have something poetic to add to the comments section down the bottom … again, be my guest. They are thoughts that I am contemplating in relation to my album-in-waiting, I like to have some theoretical substance behind my albums, so they sit within a design rather than randomly recorded music that has nothing interesting to bring up. They are not amazingly complex concepts but they are, nevertheless, concepts that have developed in a context that may be wholly alien to you, so take your time in reading them, or skip through merrily and blissfully.

The concepts that I have in my head are ones that come from conversations with people that I have bumped into in my work in Central Australia and the experiences that I had there. I think Central Oz is unique in Australia and, consequently, misunderstood by many people. I worked as a Mental Health nurse in remote Aboriginal communities. Mental Health, by itself, is a very misunderstood area at the best of times. Remote Aboriginal communities are also majorly misunderstood which has led to many poor decisions by successive governments which have complicated the demolition of their cultural integrity. I won’t go into that much. ]

In 2004 I made another hand-made album that was titled “the balloon”. The background concepts of the balloon had been largely influenced by Dante’s La Commedia Divina. Certain phrases and images that Dante used stuck in my mind and I thought about how they might apply to some sort of high-urban fantasy sequence of someone running out of their apartment window and stepping into the space of air between buildings and soaring upwards. It reminded me somehow of a particular scene in Gabriel Garcia Marquez “One hundred years of solitude” where the village’s most beautiful girl was once lying in her bed and she simply flew up and out the window and into the sky. Nothing more is mentioned about her for pretty much the rest of the book, transforming that moment into a simply exquisite mythical scene.

boy Brightlulb was a character that was developing in my head at the time, and what I named myself when wielding an acoustic guitar (he has since left the building). The balloon itself was something that the boy saw floating gently over the cityscape, past the Russell Hotel and out of sight. It caused wondered in him about what lay beyond the visible landscape of buildings, cars and smog. This was really me wondering how to get the hell out of the urbanised hell that I felt I was surrounded by. Whilst I love cities, another part of me hates them, a small but not insignificant part of me. So I imagined myself willing the balloon to float towards me … or perhaps I just imagined the balloon floating toward me as I sat on the tin roof-dunes of warehouses and apartments. As it came close I stood up and reached for the string dangling downward and I grasped for it.

As I floated over the mountainous buildings, between windows of offices, toward the blue sky, I saw people at desks, board-meets, couriers, I saw hustling and I saw bustling. And I ascended upward.

There was a line from Dante’s Purgatorio which was translated to say “a cloud enclosed us”; myself and the balloon, Dante and Beatrice; the protagonist and the guide. Retrospectively I have the idea that my thoughts were searching for something divine. I was dreaming about what was beyond the reaches of the city. Perhaps I was yearning to explore the world, who the fuck knows?

My life growing up in Melbourne entailed living in suburban and then urban areas, very urban. In lived in three-storey terrace houses with twenty bodies, cheap wine carpets and dimsim dipped in curry dinners. I moved to Sydney warehouses on busy streets with apartments flats towering around, no privacy, only fumes. The one patch of paradise was hanging off the fire escape mid air either accepting how beautiful urban profanities were or wishing my way out. There was a piece in “the balloon” called “Flying out the 3rd storey window”. Suicide is not something that is particularly interesting to everyone … though I’ve met people who think of it all the time. I seem to be a very good coper. The song-title didn’t actually mean that I was flying downwards, more up really. I don’t know how I coped with Sydney. Perhaps I didn’t cope, I just moved to Central Australia, I got the hell out of Sydney.

Part II – Death

A very charismatic man, came for a very philosophical planning day for the Remote Mental Health Team and put the first line of a poem by Gabriel Garcia Lorca (another Gabriel) to us –

“ (Perhaps it occurred because he hadn’t learnt his geometry) ”

Perhaps he hadn’t … I hadn’t thought about this in terms of geometry.

Suicide in Aboriginal societies is something that plagues all of us in Central Australia who are not racist bastards. Suicide didn’t really exist in Aboriginal cultures around twenty years ago. It’s rampant now. Where suicide in Western societies is generally thought about in terms of depression, suicide in Aboriginal societies almost exclusively comes under the banner of powerlessness. Most suicides have a few common elements – domestic violence; an argument between families; and an individual tries to take their life in a public place where they are easily seen by everyone, sometimes succeeding, but never with a truthful purpose; Alcohol is often involved but not necessarily.

They are seen to be extremely impulsive and the perpetrators do not usually have thoughts of suicide and do not have depression per se. Suicide prevention is a tough concept for NGOs. The problem they face is how one combats an enemy with this elusive nature. The locus of the perpetrator’s control is so far from their centre of gravity it’s hard to imagine that they can stand on solid ground without falling to their dooms. The perpetrators are many and give no warning signs until the screaming comes, the heat of the moment seems to burn all ties with reason as they teeter on the edge of oblivion.

It is important to note that this type of suicide, used as a threat under pressure, is not at all singularly related to Australian Aboriginal people but is also found in all societies where there is some breakdown of structure. The Western suburbs of Sydney would sport its own fair share of this behaviour, but perhaps not on the widespread level that this behaviour has been taken on in the last twenty or so years.

Geometry is the study of bodies in space, the distance between this object and that one, their angles, their connections, my relationship to you, your relationship to the government, this could extend from country to country, the planet to the sun, the solar system to the galaxy so on, so forth, etc, Amen.

Lorca’s poem begins with a parenthetic afterthought. Perhaps he had never stopped to think about his relation to the world, his connection to his family and friends. Perhaps Lorca judges him here: he had never stopped to think and learn. Literally speaking of course, he had perhaps not stopped to think even about gravity, the gravity of the situation or the gravity that makes him plummet to the humid concrete below. If you follow our gentle Spaniard out of the window in slow-motion you wonder what is going through his head right now. Is he perhaps thinking “oh shit! I think I’ve overdone it!” Or is he so caught up in the intense emotions that we assume are required to follow through on this act. Like the suicide that associates itself with Indigenous peoples, you could imagine that, in the moment, all thought of consequence are disconnected, all ties to the things that anchor you are untied, you become weightless, your feet leave ground.

Part III – In between

Central Australian languages have a word for those who have passed on. You do not say their name after they have died, you call them “Kumunjay”. In fact anyone who has the same name as the deceased must also be called Kumunjay. Some respected person named Alice died once in the town of Katherine in the top end of the Territory, from a time they referred to Alice Springs as “Kumunjay Springs”. Kumunjay is not a name really, just indicates that you have an unspeakable name. Everyone understands and doesn’t bother questioning, they just call you Kumunjay until such time as people forget who died and go back to the original name. Some people change their name completely to avoid the Kumunjay phenomena – I met a Cigarette Morton once, and a Jungle Bob … Tarzan.

I was discussing the flying boy of the poem when someone said the word “anomé”. I said what? They said the boy had become disconnected from the world and from himself. In that moment, whether he has died or not, he has become not-himself, unreal.

If you look at the scene even more closely as the young man screams at his wife you might notice that something changes. Look at his belly. Something about it shifts; something more subtle than his centre of gravity. Perhaps his locus of control passes out through his navel. Perhaps it slips in through hers. Perhaps that’s why the look of terror on the face of his wife equals the anger in his. Perhaps he has given her all power over him but stolen her power over herself.

“Shit!”

If I were her I’d rip that little silver ball of light out of her belly and piff it as far from her as possible. As far out of reach of him lest he forces it back on her again. Throw it out the window!

“Shit!”

It’s this point that our young Spaniard becomes disconnected from everything. The silver ball is now falling to the concrete ground three storeys down and the fear has taken grip of his senses. As he runs for the window and his feet lose their connection with the floorboards, the world loses its connection to him, and he will go tumbling after. The situation has run out of control.

The man said that the word for this is anomé, the name for those with no name. An Aboriginal Mental Health Worker said yeah, that’s what we call Kumunjay, same thing see. The other bloke paused and said, isn’t that interesting, you could say that in that moment, in that moment before he becomes Kumunjay to the living, he has become Kumunjay unto himself.

It wasn’t as out of control as we thought. Perhaps he flew out onto the fire-escape and lay feeling sore. Sore but connected, connected to his world. Nothing but a bloody lip to show for it.

Lady luck does CPR. Nice lady sometimes … but these things brew over time. Again, the ‘next time’ is already thinking about next time.

Remember son, all our problems come out of a clear blue sky.

Friday

27 Dec

This is the entire first chapter of the Long Weekend from woe to go in a single post … Still undecided about putting up the second and third chapters on the web, perhaps I shall update with the occasional image rather than a whole read. Summer in Australia currently – very nice.

Pages 43-47

14 Dec

Previous pages
1-4, 5-7, 8-9, 10-13, 14-17, 18-22, 23-27, 28-32, 33-37, 38-42


Next pages

Well, well, well! I made it to the next chapter … and so did you!
I shall put all of Friday into the one post next so that anyone who wants a recap can just read it right through if they want … and then carry on with the Long Weekend PART 2 – SATURDAY. Saturday is a lot more conceptual, and it presented some interesting challenges … but I’m a bit of a believer in the ability of comics to be able to convey some pretty complex concepts in really interesting ways … let’s see how it goes.

Incidentally, feel free to comment on this blog at the bottom, I think some of the topics contained in this comic covers some hot areas … (literally, figuratively etc) … It’d be nice to get some discussion going, I’ve received some nice feedback on facebook, I have no objection to nasty feedback or constructive criticism … or anything really. But if there are no comments at the end of it … ah well.