Monika Schott PhD

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A life of 'oh wells' is greater than a life of 'what ifs'.

The wart of small mindedness

b2ap3_thumbnail_blind.jpgLast week again, that ‘I know best’ supreme ego reared to block the right for same-sex marriage in Australia. In simple terms, the Prime Minister's party room decided to stand in the way of recognising marriage equality after a six-hour debate that resolved against allowing a conscience vote.

The gall of the ugly wart of small mindedness, festering within a handful of people who believe that they can stand in the way of two people expressing their love for one another through a commitment that is meaningful to them. And to see this handful behave in a way where they yield a power to make such a decision based on what they believe is right, without having a level of empathy and emotional intelligence to ‘read’ what society wants, to listen to what society is saying, or even be bothered to ask. They after all, are representing the people.

You have to wonder what century we’re living in. Oh that’s right, the same century where the government continues to turn their back on asylum-seekers arriving by boat in the hope of finding refuge. That’s another story.

It’s embarrassing that we continue to discuss this right for marriage equality.

No-one has the right to tell another how to live their life (without harming others of course), let alone how they commit to the one they love. It's a taint on the notion of love. Real love. On who should love who, why, and how that love is cemented in commitment, whether founded on the belief of the sanctity of marriage or not. The ability to marry only if two people are of the opposite sex is an incredibly warped concept.

Love isn't something that can be reasoned or slotted into neat compartments. It just is. It can sprout from nowhere, unexpected, whether one is looking for it or not and without ticks in boxes to indicate ‘the right love’. Love comes from the heart and with an unwavering connection between two people, an instinct to support and protect, a physical desire that arouses without understanding, and consideration, acceptance and forgiveness without condition. The head cannot reason with what stems from the heart so how can the head reason with the depth of need to commit to love through the sanctity of marriage?

The head cannot explain the comfort one feels in a first embrace and of never wanting to let go. The head cannot explain that pit of empty in one's gut at the thought of losing someone even when one is unaware of feelings brewing inside.

But I have faith. Momentum is building. Petitions and rallies for same-sex marriage continue across the country and others in government are speaking out, even in the Prime Minister's party room with six Liberal MP's and Senators today committing to crossing the floor. Deputy Leader of the Opposition, Tanya Plibersek, wrote about the huge disappointment to millions of Australians who support marriage equality after last week’s decision and more poignant, she apologised in parliament to children of same-sex parents for not having the same rights as their friends who have parents that can marry, simply because they are of the opposite sex. I felt cheated for those families, compounded because of the effect on the children.

Tanya’s apology can be found here and her story, here.

It bothers me as to why people can’t be left to love who they want and commit in the way that's important to them. Our own heart feels as it does and those feelings can't be rationalised to dictate who can marry who. Perhaps we’ve developed into a society oozing in egotistical opinion and judgement, boosted by super steroids, the same steroids feeding the ugly wart of small mindedness.

The heart will always shine through though, even over the ugly wart. Love isn't a commodity or an issue for politicians to play with to suit the day’s agenda. I have enough belief and trust in humanity that all Australians will have the right to marry, sooner rather than later.

Recent Comments
Katherine Gregor
Hear! Hear! I just think that with all the problems there are in the world, that need attention, why not just let people make what... Read More
Monday, 17 August 2015 09:51
Monika Schott PhD
Exactly. There's so much going on in the world that needs attention, like all those asylum seekers. And that word JUDGE - it has ... Read More
Monday, 17 August 2015 10:09
2297 Hits

Blurred lines


Wriggles and swirls mingle as a web of rhythmic accents in yellow, orange and aluminium. They build momentum in waves of harmonious crescendos, lines of clear and crisp as though viewed under the bluest of country skies in the peak of spring light. Their direction is exact and focused with an edge of spunk, several edges in fact.

The motion that exists within Jackson Pollock's 'Blue Poles' appears in life too, through the enactment of a purpose to be and do whatever inspires and feeds the soul. We bumble as determined busy bees on the waft of a blossomed breeze, sometimes skipping beside Winnie the Pooh.

Other times, that waft transforms as the weather blows in all its unpredictable force in our world of probabilities and non-exacts. Without warning, mornings breathe through a haze that slithers on the horizon and by mid-afternoon, overpowers as the ultimate desert mirage to entice under a blaze of uncertainty. What’s real and what’s not becomes ambiguous and our clarity hides and plays amongst illusions that distend as distrust.

Look hard into 'Blue Poles' and lines can smudge as though an eraser has smeared their lucidity in one clean swipe. Lines obscure into blotched oblivion as they cross into a tangle of disarray and sometimes dive into nothingness where they lurk in unsuspecting existence. And fester.

The first you know of these brutes is when they explode to shatter sensibilities, revealing a pungent torrent of purple and teal murk, bruised and blending in sour and sweet and setting off sparks as clashes of psychotic ramblings. Senses sear to expose the stark of the soul where emotions disrobe in full reveal; vulnerable and disconnected, suspicious and fearful. Life becomes a sparring of naked, thorned sticky.

And yet once that focus has vanished into marbled streaks of scatter and relying on one's judgement becomes a guessing game, then what?

One of the very nice things about life is the way we must regularly stop whatever it is we are doing and devote our attention to eating.

I read that nearly each time I visit my local deli. Its cursive script demands my attention as it blazes across the top of the wall behind the counter. And while I don’t go on to stop and eat at that moment, I realise that taking the time to stop is what counts, time to collect those smatterings that have been blasted to smithereens, to understand what’s been and to help define what’s next. It's time to reflect.

Life would be boring and unchallenging if re-aligning ourselves was as simple as resharpening our eyes on the lines within 'Blue Poles', to see them in their finest.





Recent Comments
Katherine Gregor
I'm afraid I can't bring myself to like Jackson Pollock. But your piece is an explosion of colours, energy, thoughts and passion ... Read More
Sunday, 02 August 2015 13:43
Monika Schott PhD
That's such a big compliment, Katherine, even bigger for me to take on! Thank you. I'm not keen on abstract art but I saw the movi... Read More
Monday, 03 August 2015 20:44
2173 Hits

My kind

b2ap3_thumbnail_hendricks-dark-mofo-2-2015-hobart-parlour-of-curiosities.jpgMONA, MONA FOMA, MOFO, DARK MOFO ... They all mean the one thing: to push the boundaries of thinking, to be part of an organic ooze of creative chaos that meanders and morphs as a chameleon of unpredictability.

A visit to the Museum of Old and New Art (MONA) in Hobart coincided by fate with a major exhibition opening, Marina Abramović’s Private Archaeology. That coincidence extended to stumbling into Dark Mofo, MONA’s dark, winter festival.

MONA has a summer festival too, the Festival of Music and Art (FOMA), and MONA FOMA is also known as MOFO. Considering the meaning of Mofo in urban slang, MONA, MOFO and Dark Mofo invoke an ideal of attitude, challenge and edgy grit, of the avant-garde and slap-in-the-face sassiness.

At MONA, many would be uncomfortable when confronted with the wall of vaginas and offended by the smell that exudes from the installation that replicates the human digestive system to ultimately excrete faeces. Some question the validity as art. But art is a subjective appreciation. Art is a quality, production, expression or realm according to aesthetic principles of what appeals or is in some way, outside of the realm of ordinary in significance. More questions there though – what’s ordinary and what’s of significance?

Ultimately, we all have our own ideals or principles of what appeals, whether we know that consciously or not.

My experience being encapsulated in the binary room at MONA is mine alone. Being in the centre of this room surrounded by computer language that is the back end of all computer functioning, in a way further connected me to computers. It was as if I was in the ‘brain’ of the computer, especially when I looked up and saw my reflection hanging upside-down as a bat. I knew when I reached for the wall to steady my balance that something had struck a chord within.

And then the performing artist, Marina Abramović and her exhibition ... a scream room, a film of people finding their way blind-folded by water and another depicting the growing tension between two people pulling at a bow and arrow led me to uncover a new set of aesthetics. Then to finish the exhibition with the counting rice inter-active exhibit in a quiet sea of white while sitting at a long table counting rice by the hum of a crowd outside, allowed for an uplifting calm and re-centring to settle the excitement and experiments in thinking.

As for Dark Mofo, I would never have imagined that being submerged in a bath of bass sounds would be as sublime as what I experienced. The program introduced Bass Bath at Dark Park as, ‘Prepare to receive the sacrament of sound. Enter the circle of doom, drone and eight 2100 horsepower monolithic subwoofers.’ And yet in the darkness of atmospheric fog that at first made me gasp, my heart pounded to dip into the rhythm and become part of the drone. With a light sequence synchronised to the sound, my body hovered In vibrational alchemy. 

Thick crowds included many families and queues often formed, although I never felt smothered by a mass of people. Those queues simply added another layer as it meant meeting and chatting to strangers that enjoyed too, the excitement of seeing those boundaries pushed, where everything was okay and acceptable, glances that lingered, alternatives of norm ... all was as it was meant to be and we were free to be amongst thinking that was free and without judgement.

Dark Mofo finished on the Southern Hemisphere’s Winter Solstice. That saw the Ogoh-ogoh, a Balinese Hinduism demon-like sculpture crafted to hold fears of festival-goers, carried to its ceremonial cremation as a form of mass purification. 

Finally at sunrise, Dark Mofo ended with a nude swim in 11°C (51°F) waters.

As a gorgeous, dark-haired performance artist and I discussed while queuing for the ferry to take us from MONA to Hobart, we may believe our thinking is off-beat or left-of-centre and feel unsure because of that, but in a world of billions of people, we're not alone in that thinking.

In the end, ‘The things you are passionate about are not random, they are your calling.’ Fabienne Fredrickson.

Here’s to Dark Mofo 2016, and the nude swim I won’t miss.

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b2ap3_thumbnail_fe0d74a12dc58d433946f7d31396c5ac.jpgA segment wrapping up the week on talk back radio got me thinking. The discussion was about the right for same-sex couples to marry.

As of May 2015, nineteen countries have laws that give same-sex couples the freedom to marry - Netherlands, Belgium, Spain, Canada, South Africa, Norway, Sweden, Portugal, Iceland, Argentina, Denmark, France, Brazil, Uruguay, New Zealand, Britain, Luxembourg, Finland and most recently and resoundingly, Ireland. Mexico and the United States have regional or court-directed provisions that give that freedom to marry while the Slovenian parliament approved a marriage bill in March 2015.

Same-sex marriage isn’t legal in Australia and campaigns and protests are ongoing. Australian Marriage Equality is working to win marriage equality Australia-wide and is organising a rally for a free vote for marriage equality this coming Saturday in Melbourne.

Previous Australian Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, asked for parliament to hold a conscience vote on same-sex marriage in 2013. The then opposition leader wouldn’t allow party members to participate and subsequently, the whole of Australia remained locked.

It’s outrageous that one person in politics had that much power in a supposed liberated and democratic society. It’s embarrassing.

Sadly, that then Opposition Leader is now Prime Minister of Australia. Thankfully, party members are breaking rank.

Gender is irrelevant when it comes to love and even as I say that, I don’t understand why it’s necessary for me to say that. Gender isn’t a concern to other animals and we humans are animals after all. It’s not uncommon to see domestic dogs of the same gender form strong bonds and simulate sex. In fact research studies on animal homosexuality show that more than 450 species of animals in the wild and in captivity take part in acts of homosexuality. Same-sex animal coupling can be just as life-long as they are in humans (Bagemihl: 2000). Homosexual acts have been widely documented across a range of mammal species that include apes and monkeys, with only about three per cent monogamous and cohabitating.

So why should humans be any different.

Care, commitment and enjoying the company of another are what matter, regardless of gender. When that first thunderbolt in a stirring storm, that unexpected flicker of the quickest flash that catches your eye just long enough to wonder what has struck your heart’s core ... or that provocative glance that builds in warmth, the soft nurture that hops your heart to send a rush of natural high and extremes of intensity. A glance becomes a gaze that zaps, a touch becomes an explosion of internal fireworks as lust dawns as early morning sun bursting over a cloud-streaked sky without the propulsion of a skerrick of breeze. Fresh, boundless energy of infinite potential, excitement and lust that build in internal feeling of comfortability, that something that resonates between two people on an inexplicable plane, the connectedness two people feel right to the core of their heart ... Love.

Shouldn’t that be all that matters, of happiness, giving and receiving, of loving and living? Regardless of gender.

A law that allows two people in a committed, loving relationship to marry, same-sex or otherwise, provides an accountable law to protect families, the rights of both people in that committed relationship. It can add to a couple’s and family’s health and well-being.

Sure, civil unions and domestic partnerships exist but they’re considered second-class. They allow people to take on commitments and responsibilities akin to marriage but they’re no substitute for the full measure of respect, clarity, security and responsibilities of marriage.

To be clear here, I’m not advocating marriage. I’m advocating the right for two people in love and in a relationship to legalise their union for life through the legal and ceremonial sanction of marriage.

And that’s the key – the choice to marry.

All humans are worthy of that right, the choice to marry and not be discriminated against on the grounds of sexual orientation or gender. No right exists for people to inflict personal values, views and prejudices, particularly those that sully the love and union between two people.

And yet, we’ve let that happen.


For more information on marriage equality, go to:

Recent Comments
Katherine Gregor
Over the past couple of days writer Jeanette Winterson has tweeted pictures of her wedding to Susie Orbach. I find it very touchin... Read More
Wednesday, 10 June 2015 21:59
Monika Schott PhD
It's beautiful to see two people in love. I often see it in their eyes and when I see it I think how lucky they are. They glow and... Read More
Friday, 12 June 2015 07:14
2390 Hits

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