Biographical Log of Michael Furstner - Page 17

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Tuesday March 11, 2008 (diary, bio, mother, Bedriegertjes)

All slides are now at the processing lab, one necklace is being repaired by Flair at Nicklin Way, Kawana, and seven other pieces are with Marc Evans who promises to "bring them back to their former glory".
Going through all these slides the last few days I noticed how wonderfully well my mother was groomed and dressed throughout her years, she kept looking good too. My father was always a stylish and most elegant dresser, right up with the latest up market fashion trends of the time.
He had a beautiful ivory coloured Alcantara jacket, very popular in the late 70s early 80s. Alcantara is an expensive synthetic material which looks like, but is much lighter than, suede leather, only made in a small town, "Alcantara" in Italy I believe. When my father died I wore the jacket myself for many years. I still have it, together with a similar light brown jacket I bought myself, stored in my lockup. I try them on once a year but they are too small for me at present. Perhaps Jeroen will want to wear them one day.

This reminds me of the story of my mother's dress.
Both my parents grew up in well to do families and never had to worry or think much about money. So when they lost literally everything at the end of the war (confiscated by the Dutch Government) they had no experience of dealing with it. They accepted the fact quite well but just had little idea at first of how to handle money when you have so little of it (initially borrowed from my Grandmother).
My mother received a fixed amount of household money from my Dad each week, but usually ran out before the end of the week. I therefore (at 12 or 14) started to help her with it. I wrote every expense of the day on a small slate which we kept in the kitchen. This gave us both an idea of where we were at each day and I literally told my mother what she could buy the next day.
She was very happy with this arrangement and followed it almost to the letter. Very soon we were getting by, some weeks even with a small surplus at the end of it. This we usually saved up to buy necessities like underwear, socks, etc. Gradually our finances improved somewhat as Atelier Martinshof started to make a little money, but buying new things was for quite some time a rarity.

De Bedriegertjes It must have been in 1951 or 52. My Grandmother, by then living again in Scheveningen, went for a week's holiday to Kasteel Rosendael near Velp with one or two of her lady friends, and we (our cousins and us) were all invited to come there for afternoon tea one day.
Kasteel Rosendael is an 18th Century (?) castle converted into a Hotel with a huge beautiful park surrounding it. It is standing right on the Southern escarpment of the Veluwe and overlooks the IJssel valley below.
The original owner of the castle had a paved terrace made at the best look out point in the park and, as a joke, installed a water system which by turning a hidden lever, would spout water upwards from hundreds of small holes in the pavement, inundating any unsuspecting visitors standing there admiring the spectacular view. This system is still intact today and famously called De Bedriegertjes ("The Liars").

My mother was very intent on making a good impression on my Grandmother and our cousins, perhaps partly (looking at it as I write this in retrospect) because she, as German wife, felt largely responsible for the war time calamity that had struck our family. She therefore went to the best ladies fashion shop in Deventer, Spanier and bought for the planned Rosendael visit a beautiful dress she could barely afford then.
It was a silk dress with a silver and light grey mottled pattern (somewhat similar to the pattern on the shopping bags and paper of the Australian 'David Jones' stores), with the skirt finely pleated. A plisé dress as it was called, a really beautiful and very fashionable dress for those days.

After tea in the castle on the great day we all went out into the park. I ran ahead of the rest (perhaps with my cousin Tom, I can't quite remember). I ran to the Bedriegertjes, looked at the scenery and went on further into the park. After a while I got back and joined the rest of the family who were rather upset. My mother with several others had admired the view standing in the middle of the Bediegertjes and, unaware of its secret, had been drenched by the water spouts, her dress totally ruined.
She had ran away into the park crying, exclaiming "If only Michael had been here, he would have warned me !". I ran back into the park and finally found her somewhere totally desolate. I held her and we walked through the park together, while I tried to console her with words, until she had calmed down and we returned back to the others.   But she was right, I would have warned her, if only I had been there.

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Wednesday March 12, 2008 (concept, Big Bang, universe, awareness)

Awareness 7 continues from March 6

Can you see this small red dot   .   ?

Try to imagine it in your mind at least a thousand times smaller and you get close to (what the current scientists believe is) the original size of the entire universe we now live in.
But wait, there is more. Do you know how heavy this tiny dot is ?   20 pounds,   20 pounds ! ! (9 kilograms)
If someone dropped this into your hand it would fall right through it (the pressure in terms of pounds per square inch would be enormous) and feel like a sharp needle had been shot through your hand with a rifle. Or it might feel like a hole burned through your hand, because that dot was bloody hot too.

The Expanding Universe At one point, (if it is at all possible to think in terms of time then) an unknown event but perhaps as simple as a drop in temperature, this tiny dot exploded and in a fraction of time expanded to a size and scale more in keeping with the size of our present universe today. (Although still smaller than at present, as the universe has kept expanding ever since, but at a much slower rate.) This happened roughly 14.5 billion years ago.
But you are not too late to watch it. Every time you turn on the TV and think you are not getting a picture, you are in fact looking at the "mother of all pictures" in the universe, the back ground radiation of the mighty Big Bang itself.

The explosion also created trillions of tiny particles, protons, neutrons, electron, which in turn partly formed atoms of the simplest elements such as helium and hydrogen. As things quietened down a bit the particles clustered together into burning stars. When burned out the stars exploded leaving "ashes" of heavier elements behind. Through this life cycle of birth - growth - decay - death stars kept producing ever more complex elements. These in turn started to cluster together too into planets which, through gravity forces kept rotating around stars.
This is how our own solar system was born, 4.5 billion years ago, 10 billion years after the Big Bang ("ATB").

Perhaps you know all (or most) of this stuff already, but do you consciously consider your own life in this wider (literally "universal") context ? A picture, I believe, always helps to visualise things in your mind, increasing your awareness, of what is and where you are at, and of the true reality as far as we know it.
Life span of our Universe
First life on Earth started roughly 600-700 million years ago (near the end of the Pre-Cambrium) and only in the sea (seaweeds and invertebrate creatures). About 400 million years ago (during the Devonian) the first small animals (spider, wingless insects - following the plants 50 million years earlier) start to appear on land.
Foot prints of human beings (two adults and one child) discovered in Africa in hardened clay have been carbon dated as 3,6 million years old. So we have been around at least that long, but in terms of the Earth's, let alone the Universe's life it is less than a blink of the eye, and much thinner than the vertical green line shown on the above picture.

In another 5 billion years or so the sun will have burned up all its fuel, explode and blow all its surrounding planets (including us) to smithereens. We are therefore at about the halfway point of the solar system's life span.
How appropriate, don't you think ?, that we humans appear on the scene at the exact mid life crisis point of our planet.   So, what is it going to be : suicide ?   or a new life ?  I believe both are well within our grasp.
But either way, the Universe will be around for a long time after we have gone.
Awareness continues on March 15

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Thursday March 13, 2008 (diary, personal, music)

I collected the CD with photos of the eight old negative films I gave Camera House. A few of the pictures I believe are compressed sideways, but I can fix that with 'Photoshop' if need be. The photo with me on accordion as a young boy came out well which is great, as it is the only one I have from those days.

My accordion I am left handed. In a world totally adjusted to the right handed majority that can be a bit of a challenge. You are certainly blatantly discriminated against. My DNA was perhaps aware of this fact beforehand, as I was born with a slightly crooked nose. Halfway down its runway it makes a sharp turn to the right, pointing unambiguously to that side of my body on which I should spend most of my efforts throughout my life. Fair enough.
Mind you, left handed people have been left with a little bit of freedom. You may kick a ball with your left foot, hold a racket or billiard cue in your left hand, or a slingshot or a gun, even wave to people anyway you like. But make sure to shake hands with your right, and don't you ever salute a superior officer in the Army with your left hand, it may cost you a weekend confined to barracks!

And what about writing ? Writing is designed to be done with the right hand. No doubt about it. It flows from left to right, so writing with the right hand enables you to see what you have written as you go, while letting the ink dry without smudging it. Thanks goodness I was taught that way, unlike those unlucky left handed bastards who had (and still have) to suffer under those pseudo enlightened "modern" teaching methods. Have you seen them labouring with their crunched up left wrist, crawling across the paper like a drunken crab ? They look like invalids, and as far as writing is concerned they are !

My right hand now In music too you have to deal with the right handed preference, certainly when you are playing a keyboard.
On the accordion the right hand gets all the juicy bits to play, while the left hand has to slug it out, unseen, with the heavy basses and chords. As if he has not enough hard work to do already he has to pull and squeeze the bellows as well, and in good time.
The saxophone (like all other woodwinds) brings some respite, thanks goodness. Here the left hand for once is the complete equal to the right. Better still he is allowed to play all the high notes for a change, while the right hand is delegated to the lower ones.

But on the piano it is back to the old grind and it is pretty damn hard too. My left hand has had enough, he is pissed off and a bit jealous at all the great stuff the right hand is doing these days So I had to get him an intelligent keyboard. This way I keep my right hand happy, as it can do what it likes. And the left hand is content with putting down chords, while dreaming of that other life, in a Galaxy far away, where one day maybe maybe it will be his turn.

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Friday March 14, 2008 (diary)

Autumn Leaves Repair and cleaning of the Martinshof jewels have been completed today and I pick them up from Mark Evans in Cotton Tree. I am pleased with the result, they look again sparkling fresh, give or take the odd scratch or bump they suffered over the past 55 years. I take photos of them back home and put them online. There is one piece missing, a brooch Adam and Eve which Antien has at present. In due course I will put a picture online of that one too. The story about Atelier Martinshof I will tell later.

Babette brings home some nice salmon and tuna from the fish monger. So we have a great sashimi dinner, talk a lot and drink a fair bit (I back on the sake). Doug skypes us from India, we can see each other but the sound does not work on Babette's laptop, so they write notes to each other, holding the paper in front of the camera. Doug is in an alcohol free zone at present but managed to smuggle in some gin and tonic. I hold up my bottle of Stella Artois to him. He looks envious I think.

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Saturday March 15, 2008 (awareness, religion)

Awareness 8 continues from March 12
Today I finished reading The fabric of the Cosmos. Frankly it is the first of such topic books I ever read to the end. I will read it again to become more familiar with some the concepts it covers.
It appears that some of the most cutting edge research is now directed at discovering the true nature of our familiar three spacial dimensions plus time. Are they too perhaps composites of more basic components (perhaps so called Planck squares), which form a background fabric within which we exist ? In the quest for this yet deeper layer of understanding the two major theories of the 20th Century :

  1. Einstein's theory of General Relativity covering space time, gravity and the large universal phenomena, and

  2. Quantum Mechanics covering the laws governing the tiniest basic components of what we call "matter"

reach out to each other ever more closely, through string theory and beyond, to find the answer.
And it occurs to me that, at a more mundane level, our own personal awareness - which ultimately guides us towards what we believe in - too is a composite of two similar extremes.

  1. At the one hand we have our awareness of the larger world and universe and their history.

  2. On the other we have an awareness derived from our close range observations, experiences, even feelings of the immediate environment we live in. Plants, trees, animals other human beings.

It was initially my growing awareness of this second aspect (b above) which made me turn away from Christianity (and any other formal religion) when I was in my teens. Living in the Martinshof woods, surrounded by farms and nature I concluded very decisively that no existing formal man made religion was anywhere near compatible with even the most simple component of nature, like for example a single blade of grass.
Once I started to study Geology at University, obviously the other aspect of my awareness (a above) started to spring alive, confirming and reinforcing the conclusion I had already arrived at.

It is to my mind highly surprising (although in some ways understandable) that in this modern day and age, where we have advanced so far and comfortably live with TVs, mobile phones, computers and the Internet, so many still cling to the "naive fairy tale" formal believes (as the well known 20th Century philosopher Bertrand Russell describes them) which were formed at a time when humans thought the earth was flat and the entire universe was rotating around it.

The formal religions are of course deeply ingrained in their cultures and still form an integral part of the social fabric. And in this role they perhaps do some good at the personal and communal levels.
I also acknowledge and can understand that many accept their foal believe only in a symbolic sense, and as a convenient vehicle to visualise the more abstract believe they really hold.
But on national and global scales the formal religions have caused (and of course still do) untold misery, harm, torture, war and death. Above all they repress the development of that unique and defining feature of the human species, increasing awareness. Because they have absolutely nothing to gain by such development, but everything to loose and fear from it.

The astonishingly fast development and consequent changes in our lives these 60 odd post WW2 years, especially after the emergence and now dominance of the computer, has had the immediate effect of a storm raving over a corn field. Some strands have flattened backwards to the ground, some are still standing upright, others have bent forward following the direction of the wind.   In other words, some have fled in fear back to what is familiar, their formal religion, some are still unaware of what is going on, but many are going forward with the wind, and by doing so are gaining a greater awareness.

I have noticed that in every single Australian bookshop I have entered this past year they hold an unusually high number of copies on the shelf of Richard Dawkins' book The God Delusion. It obviously is selling like hot cakes. People are searching for new answers. Whether in the end they believe Dawkins is perhaps not so important. They are searching and increasing their awareness, making them more true human beings. And that I believe is important.
Another book on the same subject, perhaps treated slightly more gently is Christopher Hitchen's book "God is NOT Great". A good read.
Awareness continues on March 16

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