The stories Devine herself relates about gender, race and class speak to our contemporary, paradoxical moment: we are in an increasingly conservative Australia within a world where feminist thought – though not without compromise – is becoming increasingly mainstream. Devine, a conservative woman with a politics deeply complicated by her feminine subjectivity, is perfectly placed to articulate the profound traumas of contemporary Australian gender politics.
Take the spoils and leave the debts. In other words, let’s fly the Confederate flag, but refuse to have a conversation about reparations or affirmative action. Let’s have hundreds of Confederate memorials, and not one museum dedicated to slavery. Let’s all read Gone with the Wind, but ignore the convict lease system that locked African Americans into unpaid labour in the aftermath of slavery.
Was it an hour, this premiere episode? It felt unending, progressively folding in on itself like an origami of self-seriousness. True Detective season two’s premiere is stodgy and heavy-handed to the point of oafishness. It plays something like an end-of-times prophecy for slow crime; the whole thing is so done that any genuine new entry to the genre feels like a satire. True Detective is its own comedy sketch.
But if you’re looking for permission to write something, nobody is going to give it to you, ever. Certainly not the deceased. So take the silence of these dead white men you venerate as consent to dig them up and go through their pockets.
‘I think it would also be fair to say that we should have made more of a fuss at the time.’ It was April 2015. In a brightly lit Australian National University lecture theatre, Seven West Media’s Bridget Fair was lamenting the passage of a terrorism law. Depending on how you count such things, it was either the sixty-fifth or sixty-sixth anti-terror law passed by Australia’s parliament since 2001. This one had far-reaching implications. Among other things, it criminalised the conduct of journalism.
It is deeply disturbing for any Minister to attempt to directly control the kinds of culture produced in a democracy that values freedom of expression. We want to continue the Australian tradition of arts funding being independent of any political influence. The Minister himself has previously argued that art will always provoke debate, ‘that’s why we have an arms-length and peer-reviewed structure for the allocation for the funding’. What he now proposes is precisely the opposite.
Not a month goes by in academia or in literary culture without a debate about Australia’s literary canon and calls for a more inclusive list. Undoubtedly our canon should include more voices from women, the LGBTI community and Indigenous Australians. But I’d like to throw forward another undervalued and underrepresented genre: women’s political agency and activism – and this year might be a good time to acknowledge it.
I go to a store to try on coats. Slipping on one after another, I look at my reflection. What does this coat transform me into? Am I flashy, realistic, prosaic, magic or speculative? Is it a perfect fit or slightly too big? Are the sleeves a little too long? Are the seams showing just a bit too much? I am confused, and leave the store.
Charleston, where this latest shooting atrocity took place, is also a historic crime scene. For Charleston was, of course, the capital of the slave trade, with about forty per cent of the Africans brought to the country landing first on American soil on Sullivan’s Island, just outside Charleston Harbour.
What does a fair Australia look like, and how do we get there? The Fair Australia Prize asked writers and artists to engage with these questions and imagine a new political agenda for Australia through fiction, essays, poetry and illustrations. Overland…
This September, Black Inc. is publishing an all-male anthology of short stories called Where There’s Smoke. It’s going to feature people like Nam Le, Tim Winton, Shane Moloney, David Malouf and JM Coetzee. When I first heard about this all-men anthology, I thought it was a joke.
40-odd years ago Australia was considered a workers’ paradise. After hard-won battles, unions had seen legislation gradually introduced for paid sick leave, paid annual leave and paid public holidays, as well an eight hour day and penalty rates for those called on to give up time with their families to work on Sundays and public holidays. It’s hard to believe that we have given up so much without a fight.
It seems to me the politics of dress has a lot in common with the politics of art, forever grappling with the tension between aesthetics and functionality, innovation and social expectation, presentation and representation. Celebrities, for example, are walking product endorsements: designers pay a lot of money to film stars or pop singers to simply go for a walk around New York City wearing their new season’s dress or handbag or overcoat. Exposure and brand alignment creates recognition, influence, and sales.