The triumph of the philistines. Seven Hills, NSW Australia. 2009

As I was filling my car up with petrol at the end of the day on Friday, I looked up and saw one of the most intensely coloured rainbows that I’ve ever seen in all my life. Then it occurred to me that the Mc Donald’s sign was in the way and it instantly angered me. 

A quote of Ogden Nash came to my mind.

I think that I shall never see
A billboard lovely as a tree.
Perhaps, unless the billboards fall,
I’ll never see a tree at all.

In this economically rational capitalist world I live in, there seems to be no place for the naturally beautiful. Big garish plastic signs have taken the place of natural vistas. Even something as magical as a rainbow is lost in the ubiquitous visual cacophony imposed on us by philistine corporations. I just hate the idea (and the people who spread such ideas) that nothing should exist in society unless it makes money. A pox on Ayn Rand and people like her!

Whatever happened to the idea of towns and cities being beautiful places to live?

What is it with the people who decorate their homes with advertising materials from a bygone era? Why is it so “collectable”? It was visual pollution back then and it’s just old crap now! When we have so many people who are completely brain-washed by the advertising industry, what hope is there for nature and beauty? As Joseph de Maistre once said, “Every country has the government it deserves“; and I suspect that’s why we, as a society don’t legislate against such ugliness.

10 thoughts on “The triumph of the philistines. Seven Hills, NSW Australia. 2009”

  1. Great blog and quote.

    You know, this was a subject that I wanted to cover at some point myself.

    If everything in the world becomes chains, why would anyone travel? When I go somewhere new, I don’t eat at chain restaurants… I look for local eateries. I try to avoid the Mcburgerbarns unless I have to. But I weep for small towns.

    I love the Talking Heads song.. “(Nothing but) Flowers”.

  2. I’m not sure I understand the last paragraph about people who decorate their homes with old advertisements. Do you mean on their lawns or inside? Maybe I haven’t been going out enough here in New England, but I think that is at least ONE problem that we don’t have!

    Although we do have some dreadful lawn ornaments!

  3. Pomeroy

    Thanks. “If everything in the world becomes chains, why would anyone travel?” That’s something I’ve always wondered about people who want everything to be standardised where they go. I just don’t get it.


    Surely you must’ve seen those old enamel signs, neon signs or those art nouveau advertising posters that people hang in their houses. Here’s a link to some of the sort of stuff I’m talking about.

    Then there all those “collectable” glasses, mugs or figurines etcetera from the various chains that people clutter up their places with.

  4. Razz, I forgot to tell you about this podcast series (five installments, I think) about Australian writers that is currently going on with Writers and Company at Canadian Broadcasting Company. I have mentioned this woman, Eleanor Wachtel, before and her program. She is a sublime interviewer and always brings to my attention writers that have slipped my notice. All you have to do is go to ITUNES and then to podcasting. On the left hand side is a list of producers of podcasts. CBC is one of them. Click on that and you’ll find Writers & Company. I am listening to DAvid Malouf right now but the Aboriginal writer, Alexis Wright, was several weeks ago. I have read a bit of Malouf but had never heard of Wright. She was fascinating. I missed last week’s but will catch up this week. They archive only four weeks worth of programs, so I’d go and download them and listen at your leisure. I’d love to get your take on them!

  5. A bow and standing applause for your well stated observations. New is often not improved. I wish that slogan would live up to itself or go away.

    Razz- do you take your camera with you whenever you go out? This would have been one of those kick yourself moments had that rainbow appeared and you weren’t prepared.

    Thanks too to Pat for the walk thru on podcasts. I have to try one.

    Great post.

  6. Pat

    Thanks for the heads up about the podcasts. You’re better than me when it comes to David Malouf as I’ve never read any of his works. You’re so full of surprises…… for someone who didn’t know that Captain Cook discovered the east coast of Australia.


    I guess you’re right, but then again, perhaps someone of a different mind set might stumble onto this post. Blogging is such a shot in the dark. Then again, I could be just pissing into the wind. At least it gives me a warm feeling.


    Thanks. I was on my way out of the city to go to a party (it lasted two days and I’m still shattered) and I had my camera in the car.

    I used to (many, many years ago) take my camera everywhere with me, but nowadays I don’t. I tend to be quite deliberate about what I shoot now, whereas in the past I had the notion that great images were sort of “hunted” by stalking around with a bag full of photographic gear.

    For me now, photography is more about expressing what I have to say rather than recording “found objects”. The rainbow in the photo above is a “found object” and if it wasn’t for the sign getting in the way, I wouldn’t have taken the photo because even though I find rainbows and things like sunsets beautiful to experience, I don’t tend to respect photographs of them as such photos are merely records.

  7. Mmm your photo makes me hungry for a Big Mac. Is that the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow?

    Don’t freak out about signs. I travel all over the country. Simply move 200 yards of the main roads and all the signs disappear.

  8. Since you mentioned pissing into the wind, you might like to consider the division between the outer and inner side of the wind – according to a Serbian writer M. Pavic, the inner side of the wind is the one that stays dry when the wind blows through the rain. I guess it could apply to other types of fluids too… so there might be some hope…

    And as for signs and billboards, think of Sao Paolo :)

  9. Dave

    “Is that the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow?”

    No, just an unnecessarily over sized eyesore pimping crap.


    “outer and inner side of the wind”

    Now there’s a concept that I’m going to struggle with for a while. Maybe you can help me understand what it actualy means when we meet up for coffee later this year.

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