Some social considerations

The opposite of a ‘heliocentric’ cosmology is said to be a ‘geocentric’ cosmology, as though it was centred on the earth.

This misleads the mind to thinking that those cosmologies which are not heliocentric may be, in some way, ‘centred’ on the earth (as we know it in modern ways).

The evidence from Australia’s First Peoples leads to other conclusions.

The factors which can be seen to be at work (so we imagine, anyway) in shaping First Peoples cosmologies are not those of geography.

Social considerations play a large role in shaping cosmologies,  and ‘social’ involves human and non-human dimensions. The role of these social considerations produce an entirely difference cosmos to the kind modern, secular science is fashioning for us.

Western minds – convinced they and they alone have privileged access to reality – are conditioned to dismiss the existence of these other cosmologies. Western minds are, however, prepared to share – with anyone who accepts the same preconditioned view of the privileged place life has reserved for European cultural masters. Can we afford that price?

The  history of European expansion out of Europe over the last 500 years clearly demonstrates the inability of Europeans – in their imperial haste – to engage in balanced exchange relations with indigenous peoples – and, for that matter, with indigenous life in all its forms.

We have to ask, taking a cue from the social considerations which are at work in shaping the cosmologies of First Peoples, how different Western cosmology would now be if it had been the product of decent human behaviour?

While modern cosmology may take the view that it is not subject to the operation of social considerations, or that these have no relevance to the task, this does not mean that social considerations have no relevance, nor that the cease to operate and shape and influence what modern cosmologists create.

We have to ask –  to what extent is modern cosmology and  the ‘expanding universe’ tainted by the underlying genocidal and ethnocidal acts of the  practices which support it?

Is it indeed a simple account of what is – or itself an ideology which declares in advance the whole of space a playground for those same forces which declared Australia to be terra nullius and an extension of the estate of King George III of Great Britain?

Is modern cosmology merely an extension of the mindless geography of the imperial and colonial age – mapping the ‘physical’ features but systematically excluding those features which fail to comply with presumptions of privilege?

And, in so doing, laying down a blueprint for a ‘colonisation’ of space as disastrous for life as that the expansion of European life out of Europe over the last five hundred years?

Many, of course, see this next phase of colonisation as the high point of human destiny. The same was probably thought by those who participated in European colonisation – wrecking indigenous life to create "new Europes".

Until modern science learns – and incorporates into the core of its practices – the lessons of the last five hundred years we can have little reason to accept that it is well-formed from the viewpoint of its ability to treat the fabric of life with the respect necessary.


An eye opener



We must begin with eyes. Your eyes are reading this – but what kind of eyes are they? Mine are blue.

Would you kill me for the colour of my eyes, Brother? As the wise men of Central Australia would tell you – you only be killing yourself.

Far better we learn to see through each other’s eyes, and put a stop to this madness about the colour of our eyes.

Far more lethal powers linger in the depths of the velvet which lie behind. We must learn to control our eyes.

Where I live in Coledale, on the coast of what we have come to know as “New South Wales” – what was old South Wales like? – human eyes have developed the amazing power to kill trees from a distance.

Trees, located between ever-growing houses and the sea, mysteriously give up the ghost, surrendering their reality to the dream view of sea-changers. Trees are excluded from this million dollar view.

There is also not a Blackfellow to be seen. Until recently, that is, when the Sandon Point Aboriginal Tent Embassy was established, a little to the south between Thirroul and Bulli, in what we call the northern suburbs of Wollongong. Whose country, exactly?

On the coast at Coledale, there is a plan being drawn up for rehabilitation of the coast vegetation – no high trees insist the house-dwellers! No Koories either. Spoils the view.

Amazing things, eyes.

Eyes are one of the high points of existence in terms of the organisation of matter.

Vision has been said to be the most magical – and least tactile – of our senses. We see! And we see not.

Our senses are not merely then means by which we receive input to our rational minds.

Let’s not beat around the 20th century bush in which eyes are passive receptors of external stimuli – eyes are a form of intelligence.

Let’s not beat around the 20th century bush (cleared of First Peoples and their forms of signification) – our forms of intelligence are neither rational nor reasonable.

The Age of Reason – a privileged form of reason which was wilfully blind to its own foundations – is well and truly over.

The eyes which interest me are those of Walter Benjamin’s Angel of History. Check out this Angel on google. S/He does not offer the usual services.

An angel of history – the one blown out of paradise by an immense storm – looks across the immense distance to Moses on the top of Mount Sinai.

From an apparent moment of divine revelation to a realisation that the chaos is mounting skyward, polluting the very heavens themselves.

This Angel sees it all, we are lead to believe. But wait a moment, and with the greatest of respect, Walter.

All seeing eyes? No. The Angel of History does not see through the eyes which life on this continent has fashioned. The Angel of History does not see through indigenous eyes.

This angel’s eyes are see things in the Westernising light only.

In those eyes history is possible – a history which talks of discovery of a New World, blind to the destructive chaos which resulted when Europeans Ways were forcefully imposed onto the well-tempered cosmos of other peoples.

History? Give us a break. Let’s not beat around that 20th century bush either – history is not possible. There is no stand-alone linear. We are located in eternity.

Blown out of Paradise? Paradise as a system of order which provides a means by which the ensuing chaos can be seen? Paradise as what exactly?

Where is that paradise located in the eyes of the Angel of History?

Somewhere back there behind Moses, across the space which separates him from its two naked figures in what – is that a garden?

Doesn’t look like a garden in the Neolithic sense. Looks more like well-managed living country before the arrival of Europeans.

And what is taking place in the space between Moses and the two naked figures?

That is the space in which work, sex and mortality are invented. (Ah, he’s lost the plot now!)

No, the story of life is a good one. “It’s not your story” as the narrator says in the film “Ten Canoes” – but it is a good one all-a-same.

If a little difficult to tell in a simple linear fashion.

Splitting the social atom versus fusion alternative

The late David Maybury -Lewis was a founder of "Cultural Survival". He also tried to share his understanding of what is taking place in a book and television series called "Millennium – Tribal Wisdom and the Modern World".  (Viking 1992)

Contrasting of the changes necessary to produce modern life with the Ways of former times in the West and with other peoples, and mindful of the existence of contradictions in all our lives, he says:

"Yet the dynamism that we sometimes disparage has transformed the world, and it is intimately related to the triumph of individualism. The glorification of the individual, this focus on the dignity and rights of the individual, this severing of the obligations to  kin and community that support and constrain the individual in traditional societies, all this was the sociological equivalent of splitting the atom. It unleashed the  human energy and creativity that enabled people to make extraordinary technical advances and to accumulate undreamed-of wealth."

He continues:

"The very impersonality that traditional societies find weird or downright immoral in our arrangements was a condition of our material success. It is difficult, in fact, to see how else we could have gone beyond the limited range encompassed  by the networks of traditional societies, transcended the parochialism of the  Middle Ages, and expanded our horizons to encompass the huge political and economic systems of the twentieth system."

Difficult, perhaps, but not impossible – Question – what was happening in China and elsewhere during this same  time? And in pre-invasion America? There were experiments in life underway which may have produced quite different answers. And in Australia and the Pacific…

What would have happened if British authorities – seeking a place for their surplus populate – had engaged with First Peoples with  genuine acts of exchange of things of real value?

It is not by accident that some thinkers, possibly in seeking to  avoid modern Western life being condemned completely after the horrors of mass destruction the 20th century (and its treatment of other people from the Crusades through the "New World" and to the present day) promote the view that modernity is incomplete.

It has  to  be incomplete because – like a vast South Sea Bubble – it refused to enter into real dialogue with the peoples of the countries it took for its own.

And the European notion of exclusive   sovereignty (on that level of magnifications) and exclusive ownership "private property" (at a lower level) – both of which provide the means of ‘disowning’ the rights of  others – may be one of the most immoral of Western arrangements.

Fashioning forms of representation which are ‘one sided’ – not negotiated between peoples – results in the promotion of world views which (unconsciously) reproduce the cultural projects at work in other parts of these ‘dynamic’ societies.

Charles Darwin, the master conceptual craftsperson and myth-maker, ‘naturalises’ competition between individuals within a species; ‘naturalises’ the neolithic practices of ‘artificial selection’; and sits comfortably with the new generation of gentlemen of science on the rise, vis-a-vis the former elite, fashioning life’s image to suit themselves – with metaphors which have us "looking up" to men who obtain their livelihood from the exploitation of other peoples living countries.

Edward Said has explained the relationship between cultural and imperialism. To live off shares in railways, for example, with a ‘clear conscious’, requires a less than adequate representation of the lives of other peoples – as First Peoples with connections to country – through whose country the railway is to run.

Adequate representations of other peoples lives – which are considered adequate by those people themselves as the only true judges of such matters –  would stand in the way of  ‘progress’. The same tired scripts are still being used today in the 21st century in the mad scramble to benefit from ‘undreamed-of wealth’.

Enough splitting of the social atom – time for some real life fusion.

Join cultural survival at:

CERN – carbon footprint “low”

—–Original Message—–
From: James Gillies []
Sent: Monday, 2 June 2008 7:12 PM
Subject: Fwd: What is LHC experiment carbon footprint?

Dear Mr Reyburn,

Information about CERN and the environment is available through:, where you will  find information in English about all aspects of CERN’s influence on the environment. The most recent independent report, published by the Swiss Federal Office for Public Health is only available in French, Italian and German. You can find it here:

Our energy suppliers are two Swiss largely hydro-electric based firms, and EDF, which is largely nuclear. CERN’s carbon footprint is correspondingly low.

Regards, James Gillies

—–Original Message—–
From: Bruce Reyburn []
Sent: Saturday, 10 May 2008 4:17 PM
Subject: What is LHC experiment carbon footprint?

Hi CERN people

Is there an English version of the social and environmental impact assessment for the present LHC experiment?

I have been trying to find out what is the carbon footprint for the LHC experiment but i can’t  find this info on the CERN website under Environment (.

Also, what measures are being made by way of a complementary offset for any negative environmental damages?

Could you provide the answers to these basic questions?


Bruce Reyburn