1. Tears in the rain
I don’t often note the passing of famous people, because there are so many. Recently I was touched by news of the passing of Rutger Hauer, who played the replicant Roy Batty who was meant to be hunted down and killed Harrison Ford’s character Rick Deckard in Bladerunner. See the final part of the scene in “I Saw the Future”: Rutger Hauer (RIP) Remembers His Most Memorable Role in Blade Runner.
The monologue as delivered was:
- I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I watched C-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhäuser Gate. All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain. Time to die.
The script given to Hauer was:
- I’ve known adventures, seen places you people will never see, I’ve been Offworld and back… frontiers! I’ve stood on the back deck of a blinker bound for the Plutition Camps with sweat in my eyes watching stars fight on the shoulder of Orion… I’ve felt wind in my hair, riding test boats off the black galaxies and seen an attack fleet burn like a match and disappear. I’ve seen it, felt it…!
Apparently Hauer thought the script was not in character, so he improved it. Certainly it was a brilliant piece of acting, and is said to have set up Hauer’s career.
Some have noted that Bladerunner which appeared in 1989 was set in 2019. So Hauer and his filmic character died in the same year.
2. Remembering Woodstock
What did they say? If you were alive in the 1960s and can remember them, you weren’t there. Something like that, I can’t remember.
Woodstock was held on August 15–18, 1969, attracting an audience of more than 400,000.
- Billed as “An Aquarian Exposition: 3 Days of Peace & Music”, it was held at Max Yasgur’s 600-acre dairy farm near White Lake in Bethel, New York, 43 miles (70 km) southwest of Woodstock. It was also referred to alternatively, on occasion, as the “Bethel Rock Festival” given its location in the Town of Bethel, New York, or the “Aquarian Music Festival”.
Post Woodstock music festivals sprang up everywhere, as did alternative life-style communities. The festivals live on, but most of the alternative life-style communities have gone, although I understand there is a definite residue in Nimbin and surrounds.
In some ways they were quite heady times from the late 1950s on for about 20 years. I can recall knowing of people on the edge of my acquaintance circle who subscribed to the notion of open marriages and ‘free love’. People who wore nothing at home and had sex in front of the kids. After my first marriage ended I went on a date to the movies. Her choice, we ended up seeing a movie that started with a French teenager having it off with a cat. Later he progressed to having sex with his mum. The second movie (yes, you got two for the price) was about a ménage à trois where a man’s mistress was having it off with his wife, in a French film that scarcely needed a wardrobe department.
Any way, lest the Baby Boomers lay claim to all this cultural advancement, be assured, my son Mark and I did a bit of informal research earlier this year. Here’s a sample of birth dates of some of the players.
- Maharishi Mahesh Yogi – cultist, guru or con-artist? – 1918
William S Burroughs – 1914
Che Guvera – 1928
Andy Warhol – 1928
Jack Kerouac – 1922
Allen Ginsberg – 1926
R D Laing, who saw the family as a source of oppression – 1927
Ivan Illich – 1926
E F Schumacher 1911
Danny Cohen-Bendit (Danny the Red) 1945
Beatles – John Lennon (1942) Paul McCartney (1942) George Harrison (1943)
Woodstock artists – Janis Joplin (1943) Joan Baez (1941) Joe Cocker (1942) Jimi Hendrix (1942)
The wave of postwar feminists were all ahead of the Baby Boomers. Germaine Greer was 1939.
In philosophy the existentialists were big and in literature; the Theatre of the Absurd (Samuel Beckett, Arthur Adamov, Eugène Ionesco, Jean Genet etc) was the go, following, of course, Franz Kafka, and even Søren Kierkegaard (1813-1855).
Apart from the death of God in the 19th century, the first half of the 20th was a time for chaos and catastrophe, including the temporary death of capitalism with the Great Depression. Out of the pain and suffering there was a search for lost ultimate meaning, which was elusive.
So what did the Baby Boomers do?
Plenty, but that is another story. They grew up under the cloud of Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD), the fearful fifties, and the weird experimentation and rebellion of the sixties and early seventies. But they made the modern world.
3. Has China arrived culturally?
Some are telling us we must choose between the US and China. However, China is our biggest trading partner, and from time immemorial when states and peoples trade there is cultural influence.
China is about to displace the US as the country we most collaborate with in scientific research (pay-walled), as this graph shows:
However, we won’t be affected much because we don’t do much research:
- Author of the report, James Laurenceson, said Australia spends a tiny fraction of what the US and China spend on research and if it wanted to maintain its high-income status it had to be open to cross-border flows of knowledge and technology.
- In 2010 in the Shanghai Rankings for research there were just two Chinese universities in the top 200. By 2018 there were 12. In the same period the number of US universities in the top 200 fell from 89 to 69.
In another article, the AFR’s Robert Bolton writes that Funding for basic research disappears in a wave of populism. Here’s how we have been going in recent years:
You can see where Tony Abbott came in.
In recent times applied research has done better:
Former chief scientist Ian Chubb says:
“We don’t have a national strategy for science and research. The outcome for Australia is not going to be good. We are right to be concerned.”
What we have a surfeit of is third-rate politicians.
4. The power of protest
Recently there was an intriguing article by an anonymous scientist in The Guardian I’m An Ordinary Person Who Joined An Extinction Rebellion Blockade. Here’s Why You Should Too. The argument is based on research showing that if you get a mere 3.5% of people involved, real political change can be effected.
It’s a very worthy cause, but I suspect they don’t have 3.5% of people, the news media are not picking up on them to any great degree, and the incidental reports I hear suggest that, mainly, they are annoying people who want to get on with their busy lives. Protest can have unexpected and less than benign outcomes.
It has been going on in Brisbane for around two months. Do they really think that will change the minds of ScoMo, Angus Taylor and the Coalsheviks who run the national government?
What of the School strike for climate action?
James Hansen once said we would see the importance of climate change when we could see it from our window. This article The Climate Crisis Movie Isn’t Out Yet, But We Just Saw The Trailer originally published in Forbes, suggests we have reached that point. However, seeing half the Great Barrier Reef die before our eyes, and the constant pleas from our Pacific neighbours, have not done the trick for our pollies in power.