With his ruby and diamond-studded Rolex, and a fleet of ninety-three Rolls-Royces, Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh was the bling guru. He rejected the asceticism of traditional Indian spiritual practice and embraced materialism and sexual disinhibition. It was a clever bit of mystical upcycling targeted at Westerners, and my hometown of Fremantle, WA became a major international hub for his devotees.
You know how once you start to think about something intently, you begin to notice it everywhere? That happened to me when I decided that I wanted to be a writer. In fact, I already knew I wanted to be a writer, it’s just that I just decided that I could be one. All I had to do was write. After that, I kept meeting other writers and stumbling across interviews online that made me feel like maybe it wasn’t such an impossible proposition.
The novel has been adapted countless times, with renditions as stage plays, films, comics and television shows. Interestingly, many of these have been produced in Japan, and have starred predominantly Japanese actors. Indeed, the most well-known rendition of xi you ji in Western countries is the Japanese series, Monkey (better known as Monkey Magic), which was subsequently translated into English and distributed throughout the United Kingdom, New Zealand and Australia.
That morning, Mike Hall, a legendary character in the world of ultra-endurance cycling – multiple winner and record holder of the Tour Divide in the USA, winner of the World Cycle Race and TransAm Bicycle Race, and founder of the Transcontinental Race in Europe – was struck by an automobile and killed on the Monaro Highway, just inside the ACT. Hall was competing in the Indian Pacific Wheel Race (IPWR), Australia’s answer to the ultra-endurance races of Europe and North America.
If someone told me a visit to the Western Treatment Plant, where half of Melbourne’s sewage is treated, would lead me to contemplate the Anthropocene and my place as a human on this planet, I wouldn’t have believed them. But there I was, in an area of the facility that contains the most concentrated result of treated human excrement. Surrounded by rolling hills of biosolids too contaminated by metals to be safely used, I thought about the human impact on the environment, of my own impact, and of how each of us successfully ignores the refuse left behind by our own body.