When Robert Cornelius took a photo of himself – reportedly the first selfie in history – outside his father’s gas and lighting business in the North American autumn of 1839, what did he see? On the back of the photo of him looking sideways with hair tousled and arms crossed, he wrote, ‘the first light picture ever taken.’
The latest war in Iraq – coming soon to Syria! – has had many unintended consequences, not least the utter disarray of the neocon project, at least as far as any intellectual or ideological consistency goes. Not least among these has been the changing fortunes of ‘multiculturalism’, which has found itself back in favour again on the right.
There has been plenty of hype over the recent changes to Australia’s national security legislation, and rightly so. But it is worth spending a moment to work out what actually is already on the books, what is new, and what’s coming.
Long before terms like global warming had entered the mainstream, Talking Heads frontman David Byrne was onto something: the fact that the environmental apocalypse won’t come with a bang, but with a gentle erosion. We won’t even notice it. In this world, cranked off its axis, we’re divorced from our own senses, living as if runaway ecological and social disaster is not imminent. Our politicians and parties offer no alternative to living apocalyptically. Zombies live here.
Reviewing Jacks and Jokers for the Sydney Morning Herald earlier this year, Queensland historian Ross Fitzgerald (no relation to Tony) wrote: ‘The reality is that few journalists, lawyers and academics in Queensland publicly protested against Lewis and especially against his powerful premier, who was eventually awarded an honorary Doctorate of Laws by Queensland University.’