Monday, 9 January 2017

The Red Pill - An uncomfortable but important conversation

I recently had the opportunity to view a private screening of Cassie Jaye’s controversial new feature documentary “The Red Pill”.

As it opens Cassie asks her audience if they have ever been through something after which they felt they weren’t quite sure what had just happened, but just knew it had been an important experience to go through.

This was an apt precursor for me as I watched “The Red Pill”. It is an uncomfortable experience. I found myself squirming in my seat, at times wanting to stand up defiantly and plead my case, at times smouldering in shame for the statistics and stories I had so sure-footedly dismissed.

Screenings of “The Red Pill” have been met with hostile resistance in the digital hemisphere here in Australia. I first came to know of Cassie’s film and the Men’s Rights Movement on Triple J’s Hack program (as you do). It raised an interesting debate and I was immediately intrigued. A Melbourne screening at Palace Cinemas was shut down after a petition garnered more than 2000 signatures in opposition to the documentary and the culture of “rape apology” and “hatred toward women” it allegedly espoused.

Coming from South Africa where rape culture is a very real thing and has been fuelled by cultural spiritual leaders in various degrees, I was more than eager to watch this documentary.

Upon watching the film, I was quite baffled as to how its critics had drawn from its contents charges of such against the Men’s Rights Movement and the film. This is a lingering question for me. Let me be quite clear, I have not delved into the websites that spurred Cassie Jaye into her journey “down the rabbit hole.” It’s likely that I will find some grounds for these accusations therein, but in the film itself I can assign no such ill.

What “The Red Pill” did for me was shine a light on the Men’s Rights Movement (MRM) and the issues Men’s Rights Activists (MRA) are raising.  It is a debate I believe is critical for us to engage in. Make no mistake, it’s an uncomfortable one.

Are men and boys in crisis? Do they need our help? And does The Red Pill help?

I went into the screening armed with pen and paper, determined to call out and highlight the woman-hating, counter-equity ideology these MRA’s were apparently propagating, instead I found myself deeply challenged, humbled and inspired.

One response to the MRM is that it is a backlash against feminism by white men who are starting to feel displaced because women are now sharing space with them. I have no comment on that but thought I’d leave that there with you to chew on.

The film succeeds in bringing to your attention a number of issues you may not have spent much time pondering before. That boys and men are most prone to video game addiction, pornography addiction, are less likely to go see a doctor or get health insurance, make up the vast majority of inmates in prison, high-school drop-outs, have the highest rates of suicide, mental health and homelessness.

As a journalist in Australia I was confronted by the staggering statistic, released in the Australian Bureau of Statistics’ Causes of Death report in September last year, that suicide was the leading cause of death among people 15-44 years of age and the second leading cause of death among those aged between 45 and 54. 

Over a five year period from 2011 to 2015, the average number of suicide deaths per year was 2,687.
In 2015, preliminary data showed a total of 3,027 deaths by suicide of which 2,292 were males and 735 were women. Consistently over the past 10 years, the number of suicide deaths in Australia was approximately three times higher in males than females.

In 2015 75.6% of people who died by suicide were male

Why aren’t we talking about this? Why aren’t we enraged? Why aren’t we driven to action to protect our boys and men from falling into the pit?

Let me regale you with a personal story. In 2016, as the editor for The Logan Reporter I interviewed a gentleman during suicide prevention month. He had tried to kill himself after being made redundant. 

He told me how, in the face of not being able to provide for his family he had measured his worth against that of the financial security his insurance would pay out to his family and chose to take his life.

Let that sink in.

Fortunately for Justin his attempt was thwarted. He told me how transformational the words of his wife had been upon regaining consciousness in the hospital bed; “I would rather be broke and struggling and have you with us than not.” 

These words changed the course of Justin’s life and he now dedicates his time and life to getting other men to see the same. But how on earth did Justin believe the wealth he could provide his family in death could ever replace him?

That was the uneasy question that trailed me as walked away from the interview. And I’m not proud to admit that my automatic mental response was that he had looked for an easy way out of the problems he was facing. The possibility that he saw himself as disposable, replaceable by a cheque, due to a patriarchal society that treats men as expendable did not even cross my mind.

Men’s Rights Activists in "The Red Pill" are asking us to consider the possibility that throughout history boys have been taught to be disposable – as soldiers, warriors, fire-fighters and ultimately as dads. That their worth is tied to their work and traditional gendered role of providers.

Do we value female life more than we do male life?

I for one have never questioned the culture of “Women and Children first”. This position is accepted and validated in popular culture without question.

Titanic remains one of the biggest box office successes of the 21st century. A hefty portion of the film is spent on getting women and children off the sinking ship. As viewers we don’t question this bias, in fact when the character who plays Kate Winslet’s fiancé pushes his way onto a life raft, we recoil in horror and despise him for his weakness, lack of chivalry, lack of compassion and selfishness at choosing a seat for himself instead of giving it to, a woman or a child.

What message are we drumming into our boys’ minds here? That it is selfish for them to value their own life ahead of the lives of women and children? Has this notion of disposability created an oppressive environment for boys and men? Is it time for us to sit down and open our ears and our hearts to what our boys have to say. I believe it is.

"The Red Pill" and MRAs are asking us to look at these uncomfortable truths. Did our mothers and grandmothers not ask for the same when they marched through the streets demanding equality and the right to be heard?

Feminism vs Men's Rights?

Why are so-called feminists and women’s rights supporters trying to silence this film and ultimately our men’s voices? I have my own theories, but until I give adequate airtime to the women and men who oppose the movement and the film I will not jump to uneducated conclusions.

It is a pity that feminism and men’s rights have pitched themselves in opposing camps. Aren’t both groups trying to achieve the same thing? The right to have their gender-specific issues and inequalities heard and amended by society.

Is the issue today truly about advantage or is it actually about fostering dialogue about the issues men experience in a patriarchal world and just as importantly, the issues women continue to face in a patriarchal world? The feminist debate is sadly, a long way from being reconciled. Issues of pay-gaps and workplace inequality are still rife in Australia. In fact, I believe a pitiful effort is actually being made to address the enormous disparity that exists for career men and women when they become parents.

Just before Christmas I had a conversation with a man I have a lot of respect for. He said that if he were an employer he would rather hire a man over a woman, because of the “risk of becoming pregnant and having children” that women carried. I was appalled, because as a professional and a mother, I have had to watch my male colleagues overtake me on the ladder of success, while I took on the responsibility of raising my babies until they were ready to be placed in day-care so that I could return to my career.

So make no mistake, the scales are not tipped in our favour and having worked in a newsroom that resembled a boys’ club, where hard and investigative news was seen as the domain of men, while the female journalists were assigned the fluff pieces, we still have a very long way to go before we’re truly on an even playing field in the workplace.

The work by feminists in continuing to advocate for these rights is still critical to achieving gender equity

That doesn’t mean the issues MRA’s are raising aren’t valid and should be dismissed.

The film says the MRM and feminist movement disagree on men in power and invented rules at the expense of women in a patriarchal society.

It asks us to consider if patriarchy is the result of traditional gender roles and if what we call patriarchy is a system created through men giving in to the gender role expected of them - men as providers and protectors, women as homemakers and mothers. 

I think the film makes a solid point here. It certainly appears that the honouring of traditional gender roles gives rise to a variety of inequalities between men and women.

The complex territory of reproductive rights

MRA’s argue that women are granted ultimate control of their pregnancies. It’s her body and it’s her right to determine the fate of her pregnancy right? I know that is how I’ve always seen it.

But the film, in giving airtime to the MRM’s assertion that this is actually an example of the inequalities that exist between men and women when it comes to reproductive rights, asks us to really explore our culturally accepted positions on the rights and place of mothers and of fathers in present-day society.

This was probably the most uncomfortable part of the film for me and my immediate response was that Cassie Jaye was giving a very unbalanced report into reproductive rights. But then I asked myself why I needed to be presented with issues of false paternity, inequalities in the family court system and pregnancy entrapment (if I can call it that) within a broader, balanced scope, weighed up against the evils committed by men against women through forced pregnancies/abortions, pregnancy rejection and abandonment.

Would it have made the stories of women tricking their partners into pregnancy, lying to their partners about their children’s true paternity, and refusal to let their ex-partners visit their own children easier to confront? 

But Cassie Jaye isn’t tackling the complex world of reproductive rights with The Red Pill, she is shedding light on the specific issues being voiced by MRAs.

My overwhelming instinct was to stand up and point out to my fellow audience members that not all women are like that, and it is an inaccurate representation of women.

And my mind raced to formulate an argument with which I could challenge the assertions that somehow men are on the losing end when it comes to reproductive rights. But an interesting thing happened. As I whipped through the filing cabinets of my own life experience I made a startling discovery that once again challenged me to re-examine my beliefs.

I saw my friend, whose husband had dropped out of university to accept his paternal responsibilities after an ex-girlfriend rang him up to tell him she was pregnant with his baby. This turned out to be a lie. The child was not his and the woman knew it. But his life was altered irrevocably by leaving university and raising a child, only to learn many years later that the child was not his.

I saw another friend, whose wife had an affair and birthed a child conceived by the other man. The upheaval, when years later my friend would discover the truth.

Another friend who has been robbed of the opportunity to be a father and raise his only child after the child’s mother disappeared with their 8-month-old baby, whereabouts unknown.

A very dear friend who did the unthinkable of kidnapping his own daughter after the family courts granted custody to the mother and she refused him visitation rights. I will never forget the sheer desperation to see his daughter, who is the apple of his eye. He returned her to her mother and has never seen her again. It has been years.

I have two other friends who are haunted by the abortions their ex-girlfriends had, without discussing the pregnancy and the options with them first. Her body, her right.

Where are the support networks for these men? What are their rights in these circumstances? Why is this happening? Why aren’t we having these conversations?

Violence against men

My tenure at The Logan Reporter was dominated by stories of domestic violence. It is an issue that is a near-permanent news item in publications throughout the country.

Marches against domestic violence are commonplace and in October 2015 I covered a campaign wherein community members were asked to pledge "never to commit, excuse, or remain silent about violence against women or families" - #theloganpledge.

As I write this, one of the finest journalists I have ever had the privilege of working with has, on her Facebook profile picture, the words “I say no to violence against women and girls”.

In "The Red Pill" a MRA asks why the media paints only women as the victims of domestic violence.
"Because they are dumbass," my inner voice piped up.

But Cassie Jaye then goes on to make a staggering revelation that not only shuts up my inner voice  but sends me back to the filing cabinets where I encounter a deeply challenging picture.

Citing statistics from the 2010 National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey (USA), Cassie Jaye says one in three women and one in four men in the United States will be victims of domestic violence.

This is not the case in Australia. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics' Personal Safety Survey, which was last conducted in 2012, one in six women and one in 20 men have been victims of domestic violence since the age of 15.

The film asks us to question if there is gender symmetry when it comes to domestic violence, and if domestic violence is actually a violence issue instead of a gender issue.

Sifting through my personal collection of life experience it suddenly dawned on me that among the close friendships I have had, I have only known one woman who has been a victim of domestic violence but when it comes to the men in my life I have three close friends who have been victims of violence within their intimate relationships.

My own shame

I am deeply ashamed to admit that I have been guilty myself. One night, many years ago, overcome by the acid burn of betrayal and a violent feeling of being violated I shoved my boyfriend away from me. When he approached me with apology and regret I started hitting his chest with the palms of my hands over and over again.

Of even deeper shame is that it was actually only after watching Cassie Jaye’s film that the grievous crime I had committed dawned fully on me. We grow up seeing ladies deliver a smart slap to the cheeks of men who have done them wrong on our TV screens. It’s acceptable right? But it is absolutely unacceptable for a man to ever raise his hand to a woman.

This accepted norm saw one of the men in my life endure five years of relentless physical assaults from his then-partner without ever defending himself. Not once. And when he left the relationship there was no shelter for him to go to, there was no state-subsidised counselling service he could access, no support group he could join. As he explained to me, he just had to man up and get on with it. He did so without ever fully acknowledging the trauma he had endured, he never untangled the emotional scars and tended to them with self-love, compassion and self-worth.

How often is this happening? How many men’s lives have been affected like this? How many men out there are in need of healing? Has the silence on these issues and severe lack of support structures for men created a world wherein boys and men are most prone to video game addiction, pornography addiction, are less likely to go see a doctor or get health insurance, make up the vast majority of inmates in prison, high-school drop-outs, have the highest rates of suicide, mental health and homelessness?

What is the solution?

In my own investigations into domestic violence as a reporter I met a man, entirely by chance, who works with men in the combating of domestic violence. I remember rushing home to tell my partner with feverish excitement everything Adrian Hanks had told me about his work. For the first time someone had made some sense, someone had a real solid strategy to take into the fight against domestic violence. 

Not the tokenistic pledges, marches, shock campaigns and speeches that had permeated the so-called fight against domestic violence, but a real, meat-and-bones strategy, and it was all about encouraging boys and men, in a supportive and nurturing environment, to explore their attitudes, feelings, beliefs and emotions. Adrian Hanks said self-realisation was where it all had to begin.

I do not know why a group of feminists are trying to silence the film here in Australia. I do not understand the reasons for charges of “misogynist, racist, gay and woman-hating” by those who oppose the MRM in the US.

But one thing I do know is that there is definitely, undoubtedly a need for boys and men to talk to us about the male experience. They have a right to be heard and we all have the responsibility to listen. 

These things are uncomfortable but without a willingness to look at these issues we stay in the dark and accept a status quo that serves neither men nor women.

Ok guys, we’re listening.

Wednesday, 20 April 2016

The National - Bluesfest 2016

FOR what they’re about to unleash on us, they offer no warning.

Not a word, not even a note, no fingers tripping over the strings of a guitar to smooth our transition from this feverish anticipation for the band from Brooklyn to take the stage into the full 90 minute emotional assault they are about to rain down.

They’ve barely walked on stage before they tear straight into “Sea of Love”, from their sixth studio album “Trouble Will Find Me” which was nominated for a Grammy in 2014.

From the explosive launch into their set, The National offers no respite, sweeping the audience away in wave after soaring wave of the exhilarating, majestic sound they have perfected in their 15 years as recording artists.

Frontman Matt Berninger paces the stage like a man trying to remember, trying to find the words with which to explain himself, before clutching the microphone like it’s his last lifeline and pouring his tender, sombre vocals out against clenched fists.

There are a couple of songs I don’t recognise and I realise that these are among the new music they’re debuting live this year.  Word is the band took the decision to play their new material in live settings first before recording their next album.

From what I heard and what I felt, this album is definitely going to be worth the wait. Their 90 minute set was immaculate. Berninger’s lyrics, so laced with agony, humiliation and lament find their perfect catharsis in the dark, opulent soundscape woven exquisitely together by these musical masters.

The National is entirely in a masterclass all of their own.  Their performance at Bluesfest was nothing short of a revelation. One that as sharp as Bryan Devendorf’s drumming, signalled that this well is deep. I want to swim.

Tuesday, 19 April 2016

On discovering Kaleo at Bluesfest 2016

I’VE just touched down at Byron Bay Bluesfest, set up camp, and am sprinting toward the festival convinced I’m about to miss Lord Huron’s set – one of the band’s on Thursday’s line-up that I definitely  do not want to miss.

I’ve just realised that my Casio is grievously mistaken and it is not, in fact 17:15, but a full hour later here in New South Wales.

I tear into the Delta tent, and come to a gasping halt. Who is that?
The woman standing in front of me, turns around and says “I know, right?”
One thing is certain. I have missed Lord Huron’s set, but my, oh my, who is this? And where did they come from? Iceland. Fucking Iceland.

Yes, these four young dudes who look like they’ve been plucked straight out of 1992, and who have succeeded in striking everyone, including me, glued to the spot and entirely in rapture are from Iceland. As for me, I have died and gone to heaven.

This is what this music festival is all about and as lead singer JJ Júlíusson belts out what he’s been waiting for, I’m nodding my head, knowing that this is exactly what I’ve been waiting for.
They’re just four guys on stage - no horns, no keys, no synths or computerised loops and licks, just good old fashioned, sweet, sweet rock and roll.

Stripped down in the most introspective way, their sound is immaculate. As John Lee Hooker said of Gomez’s debut album, I can find no fault. They do not miss a beat. At once sweaty and growling, the next folded in lament, these guys are completely in sync, completely spell-binding in the blistering blues rock they are laying down on us.

As I’m standing here having the hair follicles on my head rearranged, I offer a silent salute to Led Zepplin and Black Keys, who have no doubt contributed to the banquet I’m feasting on right now. Rubin Pollock’s guitar wails and snarls as the lanky youth bends over it, completely absorbed in the conversation they’re having.

Stumbling across a band this authentic, this raw and this well, damn good is irresistible. I can’t decide which one is more staggering, that they’ve barely been playing together for four years or that they have completely flown under my radar.

The story goes that JJ Juliusson, drummer David Antonsson Crivello and bassist Danny Jones started playing together as teenagers, having been best mates since elementary school. Rubin Pollock joined the band in 2012 and they recorded their album in six short weeks. They moved to Austin, Texas last year after being signed by Atlantic Records.

All I know is that they’re playing another three shows at the fest and I will not be missing a single one.

(Photos are not mine - they were poached off Kaleo's Facebook page)

Monday, 19 January 2015

On moving to Australia and blogangst

Dear Inroad,

Well it has been exactly 1 year, 1 month and 2 weeks since departing the beloved homeland for Australia. It has also been exactly 1 year, 2 months and 2 weeks since my last blog.

Our first year down under has been colourful to say the least. We made the acquaintance of our baby boy Eli on 19 February 2014. Unlike Ceylon who was born in our home on the Barberton Road in South Africa, Eli made his grand debut in a hospital. This was a profoundly different birth experience to say the least. But more on this topic another time.

After nine months spent living in terrifically close quarters - Ceylon, Eli, Papa bear and I, along with all the worldly possessions we had been able to amass onto our flight, crammed into two medium to small bedrooms in my father’s house, which is also home to my father, step-mother, younger sister and two stoepkakkertjies called Logan and Toto – we moved into our first Australian home.  Not only did we survive these initial months in Australia, I can safely say that no animals, in-laws, relatives or relationships were harmed, at least not irrevocably, during this tenure.

In the last year we have befriended a magpie, let our hair grow long, bought a van, become weekend beach bums, quit smoking, gone through more sunscreen than I believe I have used in my entire life, had moments of feeling deeply isolated - from each other, our culture, and our new countrymen – interchanged with moments of childlike wonder and excitement at new discoveries, new experiences and the new people and cultures that inhabit and infuse the lucky country.

The journey of becoming migrants fresh off the boat to residents comfortable in their new surrounds, community and life has been daunting, exciting, challenging and rewarding. It is a long and winding road with many miles still to walk, and, as Jimmy Cliff (who I’ll be seeing live in April at Bluesfest! Yeya!) croons “many rivers to cross”. May we find our way over, and may we never forget that it's all about the journey.

Friday, 23 August 2013

Have I become like "them"?

Australia. It had never called to me, never inspired my wanderlust or found it's way onto my top five voyages to make. Yet here I was. It was 2007 and I, a recent university graduate with the world open to me like a flower to the sun, permanent residency permit in hand (courtesy of my father who had immigrated two years before), had packed my belongings and bright future dreams into an oversized bag and headed to that red continent.

 (Taken en route to the airport as I got dressed into as many items of clothing as humanly possible, to lighten the weight of my bag)

I cannot say I was blown away. Not in the way the Sinai desert, a landscape devastating in its fragility and harshness had taken my breath away, or even the majesty of the Sabie valley in Mpumalanga where I had grown up never ceased to do. Truth be told, I felt like an alien. The way everything just "works" over there unnerved me. The way people on the street look each other in the eye and smile. The cleanliness and order. The whiteness. The absence of shouting and raised voices in a cacophony of African languages. Singing petrol attendants and people trying to sell you cellphone car chargers, coat hangers or wash your windscreen at robots (in Australia known as traffic lights). The way you could walk the city streets at night, talking on your cellphone, alone! And the way motorists obeyed the rules of the road and never exceeded the speed limit. All this just served to make the land down under appear a very bleak and desolate landscape to a girl accustomed to the chaotic and colourful African way of life.

Nine months later I moved back to South Africa. I was in two car accidents (commonplace really, due to corrupt law enforcement and inefficient judicial services that fail to discourage motorists against drunk driving or speeding), my home was burgled, and my car was almost stolen (thieves couldn't get it started, but succeeded in ripping out the inner panels, smashing the windows and eventually making off with the radio and car battery).

Did any of this inspire me to pack up and head back to ordered, safe Australia? No it did not. These are the realities of life in Africa you come to accept as normal. (Was I guilty of better the devil you know?) But 20 months later, Australia called me back. And off I trotted again to that bleak country. To be fair, I was excited about the beaches! I haven't been to all the beaches that adorn this fecund planet but Australian beaches have got to be right up there among the most beautiful.

                                                                                             Fraser Isalnd, Queensland Australia

                                                                                     Point Danger, New South Wales Australia

                                                                                  Dreamtime Beach, New South Wales Australia

This time I stayed for 18 months before heading back to my beloved Mama Africa. I have always been amongst that category of South Africans who abhor disgruntled ex-pats with nothing good to say about their homeland. Who fail to see South Africa's boundless potential, the miracle of our reconciliation and the beauty of our rainbow nation-ness. I had gotten into many a heated debate with such ex-pats over in Australia and sabotaged many a promising friendship with a vehement defence of my country's short-comings. I never ever wanted to be like "them". I couldn't picture a life of purpose away from my country, I couldn't picture a life filled with such passion, excitement and drama anywhere else.

Yet now, 17 months since I once again uprooted myself and moved back home, I am planning a move BACK to Australia, for the third time in six years. And this time, my excitement at building a life in the red continent knows no bounds. It surprises even me. What is different this time? Why do I not feel that familiar lurch in my soul at the thought of being thousands of kilometres from African soil? Why does Australia not seem so bleak after all? Have I become like them? My hope for a better future in South Africa all but snuffed out by the instability that swells year after year in this country of my birth?

It's in the noose of poverty around the necks of millions of my countrymen. The weight of unemployment which rises every year, inefficient healthcare services and understaffed hospitals where patients enter with a headache one day and leave in a coffin the next, spiralling crime statistics and no justice for the victims. Nepotism, corruption and exploitation the plagues that eat away at the fabric of this society, enriching the political elite while the worker trudges home to his tin shack that has never had electricity or running water.

It is the sight of children growing up in Mitchells Plain, one of the biggest townships in the Western Cape; An ocean of corrugated shacks, not a single tree in sight nor patch of grass anywhere, yet the powers that be have erected power lines throughout it. That to me is one of the most sickening sights. What is it if not an approval or acceptance of human beings living out their lives in inhumane conditions. "It's ok that you live like that, we will give you electricity to make you comfortable". No wonder drug abuse has become an epidemic there.

Is it safe to assume that I have become like "them". I don't know.

I still see the beauty in the smiles of children. Yet my heart cannot help but break at their wide-eyed wonder, oblivious to a future wherein they may be denied the right to an education. My optimism is granted wings when I see the progress we have made as a nation to heal the wounds of a turbulent past, but in a heartbeat it is laid to waste when another elderly couple has been murdered in a brutal and senseless attack. And as conditions for the workers and the poor continue to worsen, I cannot help but feel like an accomplice, in my wooden, furnished house, my education and well-paying job, medical aid which will grant me the privilege of medical care in a private hospital, as opposed to the derelict, understaffed and under-resourced government hospitals.

I will never stop believing in the spirit of my countrymen and the potential for greatness, equality and human dignity of this country at the foot of Africa. But the burden bore by the majority of my people threatens to break my heart completely, so to the land of equal opportunity and human dignity I will go, to restore my faith in mankind. And may I never truly become like "them".

Monday, 10 June 2013

Help! Technology is stealing my magic

There is a hot wind blowing, the kind that brings fires, and scatters leaves, Autumn-daubed across the yard.

This has always been what I love most about living up here in this ethereal valley along the Drakensburg escarpment. The way nature forces you to stop and notice her grandoise transition through the seasons. Something that is very often lost in the city; having swallowed up the trees and fields wherein nature conducts her great revolving symphony.

It is with no small helping of bewilderment that I see and hear daily of the great advances being made in technology. And perhaps my better half is correct when he tells me that resistance is futile, that I need to get with it and embrace this evolution that no doubt, will not pause along its monumentous path of progress, to patiently wait for sentimental little me to catch up. But still, I cannot help but feel that this technological age we live in, while opening up the world to us in ways never before imagined, is, in many ways robbing us of the magic, beautiful mysteries and buried treasures.

Take the latest cellphone, for example, the Samsung S4. It has a feature (I am told) that allows you to take a series of photos of a group of people, and then automatically select the best image of each individual and construct a final image. What the?

What happened to the medium of photography being celebrated for its ability to capture moments in time? The word photography itself is derived from the Greek words photos (light) and graphos (draw), and is thus the art and science of drawing a picture through the capturing of light. Is it only me who finds digitally manipulated photographs wholly unexciting and banal? But show me a raw photograph and I can lose myself in the colour of the sky captured, the nuances written in its chiaroscuro and that feeling of a moment suspended forever...

Ok, maybe it's only fair at this point, dear readers, to confess that I own (and love) a 1963 white beetle, a 1964 radiogram (which I found in working order in a second hand store in Australia, fell in love, couldn't say no, bought it for $120 and then shipped it off to South Africa for a whole lot more than it may be worth), I buy lps instead of cds and collect old books.

But for me the saddest act of larceny perpetrated by technology is the modern music recording. How much more soul-smouldering does the Stones' Exile on Main Street become when you learn it was recorded in Keith Richards' basement at Nellcôte, France. Because it was the perfection and exhiliration of acoustics captured, not the trimming, tuning, tweaking, plucking, pruning and final reassembly of each individual instrument to produce a polished product.

Having said/ vented/ lamented all this, I am overwhelmingly grateful that the live band and music festival has not come under technology's axe, and that we can still tap into the magic and beautiful mystery of moments in time, unfettered, unfiltered and free.

No One's Arc live at STRAB 2011