Editorial

Type
Editorial

‘The global capitalist system is approaching an apocalyptic zero-point,’ Slavoj Žižek observes in Living in the End Times. For Žižek, the four riders are climate change, biogenetics, system imbalances (from intellectual property to water as a resource) and ever-increasing social divisions. Perhaps belief in the apocalypse is not only for fundamentalists: there are many moments one feels these might be the final days of capitalism. There are only so many billions of people it can exhaust, so many planets it can devour.

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Treasury of verse
Type
Column
Category
Reading
Writing

On gateway drugs

Sure, everyone says children’s books are benign, but make no mistake: reading is a gateway drug. I was doing poems by the age of five. At ten I had read every book in the house. Every cent of my pocket money went to support my habit. I fooled around with writing a novel, but back then I still had some sense of self-preservation. I threw it out and stuck with poems. Everyone said poems did no harm.

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Tiso-column
Type
Column
Category
Dignity

On wilful amnesia

When my grandmother developed Alzheimer’s disease, she started to get me confused with her son, who had moved to Brazil at what was then my age. As a result of this, and of the feelings of guilt she still harboured towards him, seeing me had the effect of making her anxious. It was only through conversation that she became calmer to the point where we could enjoy each other’s company.

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Firworks
Type
Column
Category
Writing

On over-writing

I’m worried I’m an over-writer. Look, I just really like adjectives, okay? My worst stylistic habit is stringing them onto my sentences two at a time, like perfect glossy beads. I can see myself doing it, but can’t stop. Adverbs, too. And when I write descriptively, allusively, using grammar rhythmically, I sense my meaning sharpening a little more with each detail.

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Stegemann illustration
Type
Essay
Category
Europe
Politics

Trouble on the hour, every hour

The end of the Cold War and the collapse of the Soviet Bloc had opened up whole swathes of Eastern Europe to the benefits of the European Union; the possibilities for expansion, both for the EU and for NATO, were endless. The sober light of EU economic and social management was shone across the old Iron Curtain and into the obscure corners of the Slavic zone. Or so many thought.

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Type
Essay
Category
Feminism
Violence

Statement of vindication

Today, stories of violence against women – particularly those who self-identify as feminists – appear in what feels like a ceaseless onslaught. Recent examples range from the harassment of Melbourne writer Clementine Ford and the Gamergate scandal, to the brutal murder of American university student Grace Mann. The velocity with which these stories spread across social media suggests that the phenomenon is relatively contemporary and gaining momentum, but one does not need to search hard for earlier examples.

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Screen Shot 2015-08-27 at 5.19.28 pm
Type
Essay
Category
Climate politics
Science

A presence that disturbs

What if our most closely held ideas about nature are reactionary? What if the project of restoring wildernesses that we (humans or moderns) have defiled – is misconceived and counterproductive? What if the deeply inscribed understanding of prelapsarian nature, as McKenzie Wark proposes, ‘an ecology that was self-correcting, self-balancing and self-healing’, is a way of surreptitiously reviving a God who might regulate and constrain human appetites? How would abandoning such ideas help us to address the interlocking emergencies – climatic, economic, humanitarian – that are already underway?

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Screen Shot 2015-08-27 at 5.24.10 pm
Type
Essay
Category
Capitalism in decline
Essay

Detroit, I do mind

Many people I know share a common vision of the end of the world. When humans are gone, we imagine, the wilderness will grow over the ruins of our civilisation. Weeds will break through the cement. Tree roots will crack the foundations of buildings. Decay will restore some kind of natural equilibrium. The absence of human beings will allow the planet to find its level. It’s everywhere, this set of images.

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MacLeod illustration
Type
Essay
Category
Politics
Reading
Writing

Hard to be a god

This paragraph raises a lot of questions. The most straightforward is the one that might seem the hardest to define: what should the science fiction community stand for? In so far as science fiction is a community – a term that could encompass much, from informal gatherings to the industrial empires of media franchises – it should stand for the levels of good practice you would expect in a well-managed and well-organised workplace or public event in an advanced capitalist country. Don’t stand for bullying, harassment, insults, assaults.

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Millers Point
Type
Essay
Category
Activism
Essay
Public housing

No place like home

On 19 March 2014, the NSW Liberal government announced its decision to sell all social housing in Millers Point on the private market. In total, this amounts to 293 properties. The announcement was made by Pru Goward, then Minister for Family and Community Services. Goward described the sell-off as a decision made ‘for the benefit of the entire social housing system.’ For every property sold in Millers Point, the government has argued, another three social housing properties (or another five – the figure seems to fluctuate) can be built elsewhere.

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Screen Shot 2015-08-27 at 5.31.28 pm
Type
Essay
Category
Activism
History

A person of very little interest

I became a person of interest to the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) at 5:40 pm on 14 November 1969. At the time, I was a Year 10 student at Telopea Park High School in Canberra, and I was becoming increasingly interested in radical politics. I was not unique: several activist groups had sprung up already among secondary students. These were generally formed in response to the Vietnam War, and then focused on more local issues, often within schools.

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PyreneFINALF
Type
Fiction

Pyrene

This happened when I was a young man, just shy of my twenty-first birthday. All my life, I’d lived in a New South Wales country town; I won’t say which one, only that it was within four hours of Sydney and has since been abandoned. The town was a combination of abattoirs and grain and white collars. If you listened hard enough, you could hear the cries of a million cows in the throes of death.

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Musa image
Type
Fiction

No breaks

He had always loved driving. One of the reasons he’d been so eager to take up a job at the police station was its remoteness, the long roads unreeling endlessly beneath new vehicles, their wheels handling bitumen or corrugated track with equal ease. He loved doing errands in the town, too, waving at the little Aboriginal kids who wandered the streets, leaning out of the window and calling them by name.

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Type
Poetry

The bush and the internet are interchangeable

A wife looks at her husband; a treefrog at a modem.
They view the bush from a comfortable position: enjoy wifi 
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Wakeling (220)
Type
Poetry

Agora, Arcadia

Hardest of the places to begin the blueprint, chewed cuticles
To the gristle bone-white, stertorous the drafts that make up
Our permanence tethered and forever. Most of what

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NUWoverlandAD2.1
Type
Editorial
Category
Fair Australia Prize

Editorial

In 1958, New Left thinker Raymond Williams published the influential essay, ‘Culture is Ordinary’, articulating through his own experience that, as the title suggests, culture is ordinary and is located in the everyday. Culture does not belong to any particular social class. Culture is not exclusionary. All over the world, workers and their families read and write poetry and literature. They visit art galleries and paint.

Her Evil Behaviour. [A tale.]
Type
Essay
Category
Fair Australia Prize

‘The most fucking intense, crazy, rock ’n’ roll thing you could be writing about’

As Antjie Krog pointed out in Country of My Skull, her account of the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission, to hear the innumerable intimate stories of violence to which ordinary people have been exposed is to feel like you are living in a double world. The material processes of society continue as though they didn’t exist. In fact, they create the very violence on which they subsist.

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Syndye University quadrangle
Type
Essay
Category
Fair Australia Prize

Lessons in class and casualisation

It is not fashionable to write about ‘class’ in universities, unless accompanied by words like ‘transcend’, ‘post-industrial’ or ‘knowledge-economy’. And yet, academics should have a great deal to say about class, not least because they work in one of Australia’s most insecure work environments. If anyone doubts that casualisation is a class issue, just consider that, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, ‘the occupation with the highest proportion of paid leave entitlements was managers (93 per cent)’.

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Henderson NUW
Type
Fiction
Category
Fair Australia Prize

100 days

23.47
It appears we’ve had a coup. Lulz. But not a joke, apparently.

WHAT WE KNOW SO FAR
Around 1000 people dressed in blue and yellow skivvies have occupied federal parliament. No-one has been allowed in or out. The *revolutionaries* (terrorists?) have said we’ll be held hostage until ‘real democracy’ has been established. Great.

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Collins NUW2
Type
Fiction
Category
Fair Australia Prize

Three strikes

In the grey light, the only noise was the hum of the console as it worked through the day’s roster. Elizabeth waited, stretched out on the mattress, not wanting to get up if there wasn’t a reason to. The console whirred, the low-level purr of a sleeping cat, for a few more beats, and then announced the outcome with a sharp bleat.

A notice flashed on the screen.

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