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It's Pawn-Ography!

This piece speaks about psychological entrapment and manipulation of reality by social politics much more than it arbitrates upon Hensen's photos per se.

This makes it a relevant, if not fundamentally crucial, theme for how "we can do better." It is useful as a catalyst to further discussion, even if it is not a technical and/or particularised accounts of the mess as it is physically unravelling structurally or locationally with regard to resources, energy, materials and overpopulation. It is true that the mere mention of those photos may trigger the monochrome Pavlovian payload that has been loaded into the issue. This might obscure the actual point of the script to many, unfortunately.- Editor

It's Pawn-Ography!

'There seems to be no agent more effective than another person in bringing a world for oneself alive, or, by a glance, a gesture, or remark, shrivelling up the reality in which one is lodged.' (1)

'The physical environment unremittingly offers us possibilities of experience, or curtails them. The fundamental human significance of architecture stems from this. The glory of Athens, as Pericles so lucidly stated, and the horror of so many features of the modern megalopolis is that the former enhanced and the latter constricts humankind's consciousness.' (2)

Within these two quotations, there are some incredibly insightful points that enable us, if we open our minds to the richness of their meaning, to understand the Bill Henson Art issue beyond the bounds of a highly charged, simplistic, moral stance. It is hard to believe, when one looks at the level of technical sophistication in our society, just how it is that this very society continues to relish the exact same scapegoat routine that it has for centuries. Hetty Johnson's self-proclaimed Judge and Jury role, in combination with the 'Jack Boot' tactics of the NSW's Police Force, created a farcical public response in some quarters, that was reminiscent of the 'Killing of the Witch' scene from Monty Python's satire, the Holy Grail, set in Medieval England. The populist Politicians headed by Kevin Rudd, aided by some in the profit hungry media, knew exactly how to exploit this highly charged issue, pulling the strings in their own sordid game of 'Pawn-ography'.

Unfortunately, this simplistic moralist approach is what our politicians want, it is what some in the media want, and it's what business wants, for one very simple reason; it sells. For politicians it sells popularity, for the media more advertising and for business the consumption goods that 'make us happy', providing us with a convenient diversion when we reach the point of having to seriously confront the 'disturbing realities' of our world.

And for those occasions when our conscience really does catch up with us, why confront the 'disturbing realities', like those of pedophilia and child abuse in their own right, why spend time and committed effort in reaching an understanding of the deep complexity of these issues, when it's much easier to link them to a suitable scapegoat, someone like Henson whom we can project our own lack of insight onto ? After all, lynch mobs aren't concerned with complexity, apart from the expert needed for the knot, and afterwards we can all get back to consuming.

Of course our politicians have become highly skilled in understanding exactly how this psychology works, they're as happy as can be that Bill Henson, Dr Haneef and The Tampa were all ripe for the picking.

When our so called 'leaders', the politicians charged with addressing the true causes of the 'disturbing realities' of our world, are doing nothing more than perpetually exploiting those issues for their own benefit, we the public have an obligation to ask, 'where does the true sickness lie in our Society?' Spending our time pursuing those questions instead of chasing witches, would rapidly help us to begin seeing that our Society and its Politicians are stuck in a web of deceit of their own making. This deceit has one primary purpose and that is to keep the focus off the true insanity and the disturbing realities that this insanity causes.

'In order to rationalize our industrial-military complex, we have to destroy our capacity to see clearly any more what is in front of, and to imagine what is beyond our noses. Long before a nuclear war can come about, we have had to lay waste our own sanity. We begin with the children. It is imperative to catch them in time. Without the most thorough and rapid brain-washing their dirty minds would see through our dirty tricks. Children are not yet fools, but we shall turn them into imbeciles like ourselves, with high IQ's if possible.'(3)

In uncovering the true insanity, we are able to see perhaps for the first time, the extraordinary lengths we are prepared to go to in order to keep it hidden.

'From the moment of birth, when the stone-age baby confronts the twentieth-century mother, the baby is subjected to these forces of violence, called love, as it's mother and father have been, and their parents and their parents before them. These forces are mainly concerned with destroying most of its (the babies) potentialities. This enterprise is on the whole successful. By the time the new human being is fifteen or so, we are left with a being like ourselves. A half-crazed creature, more or less adjusted to a mad world. This is normality in our present age.'(4)

Only when we understand what we are hiding from and why, can we reach an understanding of what Bill Henson is perhaps trying to capture, the Teenager's inner conflict between their own purity and the torment we put them through in our efforts to adapt them to the insanity of our world.

Why is it that we are not questioning the cause of that torment and insanity and our role in it? Why is it that we persist instead with simplistic moralism and witches? What are we ultimately afraid of facing? If we honestly confronted ourselves with those questions and found the answers, we may find that what we are really afraid of is love in its purest form, in particular, the risks and insecurities that go with it.

'Love and violence, properly speaking, are polar opposites. Love lets the other be, but without affection and concern. Violence attempts to constrain the other's freedom, to force him / her to act in the way we desire, but with ultimate lack of concern, with indifference to the other's own existence of destiny.'(5)

We are each personally responsible for gaining a deeper understanding of the world we inhabit, but in a world that is highly manipulated in order to keep us from that understanding at all costs, the biggest question left unanswered is just what it is going to take to finally shrivel up the insane reality in which we are lodged?


(1) Erving Goffman; Encounters: Two Studies in the Sociology of Interaction (Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill, 1961) Page 41.)

(2,3,4,5) R.D. Laing; 'The Politics of Experience' (London: Penguin, 1967) Pages 28, 29, 49 & 50.)