Editorial

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Editorial

It’s tempting to see the last decade as the confirmation of Coleridge’s quip about how a politics that begins in fear, ends in folly. God knows, since 9/11 there’s been folly enough.

Costing the occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan is not easy but a very conservative estimate suggests that the US has spent at least $900 billion.

OL204cover-big
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Article

On gardening

I come from a long line of gardeners. Back in Cornwall, Croggons are big in gardens: my grandmother was often visited by people who wished to admire her exotics and my Uncle William spent years restoring a historic garden at Creed Rectory in Grampound. My parents merely have to stick things in the ground for them to sprout and bloom. For a few years, my father even made his living with a franchise for Jim’s Mowing.

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Article

On the online life

Possibly I’m misremembering, but somewhere tucked into the small corpus of published writing by the late JD Salinger is the line ‘The wise man lives without reputation.’ Like a lot of Salinger’s work, this exudes a certain perfumed mysticism, pungent but never quite attributable, befitting an author who devoted himself to kriya yoga, gurus and reading the Bhagavad Gita.

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Article
Category
Culture

Rjurik Davidson on 'Mad Bastards'

When I first arrived in Perth in 1992, the struggle over the development of the Swan Brewery, located on a Nyungar sacred site of the rainbow serpent dreaming, was still raging. In the darkness of early morning, my housemates and I attended the picket line before construction workers or police arrived. Many of the influential activists of the time sat gathered in circles, including Robert Bropho and the wonderfully vital Yaluritja Clarrie Isaacs.

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Article
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Reading

A One-Man Writers′ Festival

Because he’s consistently collected his journalism and reviews in book form over a long career, Clive James can boast a large oeuvre. Yet, if it is large, it is also broad, extending into the higher literary genres of memoir, fiction and poetry. Throw in his fame as a TV performer and he is, in effect, a one-man writers’ festival. At the 2003 Mildura Writers’ Festival, he was even awarded the Philip Hodgins Memorial Medal for his literary excellence.

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Article
Category
Politics

When America changed forever

On the tenth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, the world is a fundamentally different place, one in which indefinite detention without charge or trial has been accepted in the United States for those labelled as terrorists, people who cannot be tried in federal courts because they are considered ‘warriors’ in a war on terror that many in power do not wish to see ended.

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Article
Category
Culture

A rural diary

When Tracy and Tim arrive, I’ll go up and close the double gates behind them. At this time of evening it would be usual to see roos, but none show. Their numbers are down. People have been shooting illegally in the reserve, and earlier in the day I noticed a strand of fence-wire cut where a hunter has stepped over, chasing roos onto our place. Our property. I reject the notion of property. Custodianship sounds too appropriative, and for a non-Indigenous resident, all too convenient. Really, that’s the issue that burns below the surface of all I write about this place. Proudhon is only halfway there with ‘property is theft’. Some theft is more theft than others. He fails to investigate the nature of such theft: that’s more the key to understanding the implications of surveying, gifting, selling, claiming.

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Article
Category
Culture

'My flesh turned to stone'

Historically understood as a physical wound, trauma’s semantic application as an injury both psychic and material developed in the aftermath of the First World War. Its conceptual roots can be traced back to the language used to describe the effects of train wrecks in the late nineteenth century (‘spinal concussion’, ‘railway spins’, ‘railway heart’) and, in the early twentieth century, the afflictions suffered by soldiers (‘shell shock’, ‘war shock’, ‘soldier’s heart’).

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Article
Category
Activism

Life in limbo

Writer Sunil Badami and sociologist Gabrielle Gwyther, among others, have detailed the ‘othering’ of Sydney’s populous western suburbs which are perceived, says Badami, as ‘some bloody hell, beginning somewhere around Annandale, blurring into a distant blank space … a no-man’s land of strange terrors and cultural desolation that evaporates into Emu Plains’. The western suburbs, insists Badami, are heterogeneous, dynamic and complex. Here, multiculturalism is made a meaningful fact of life.

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Article
Category
Culture

'The long night of the Left is drawing to a close'

In 2010, Slavoj Žižek, whom the New Republic once dubbed ‘the most dangerous philosopher in the West’, gave a public lecture at the London School of Economics on the necessity of communism. The audience at this elite university overflowed the auditorium into a nearby room, watching through a video link. At one point, the evening’s host, the international relations theorist David Held (also the PhD advisor to the son of Muammar Gaddafi), looked visibly agitated and managed to interrupt Žižek – itself something of a rare achievement.

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Article
Category
Politics

'No nation can liberate another nation'

The presence of Australian troops is only beneficial for the bunch of warlords and criminals ruling Afghanistan. The Afghan people face dire conditions as the US and their allies have massacred innocent women, children and men – and are continuing to do so. Since 2001, tens of thousands of civilians have been killed by the blind bombardments of the US and their allies, which includes Australia as well.

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Article
Category
Politics
Reading

How to write about Aboriginal Australia

First, be white. If you are Aboriginal, you can certainly speak on behalf of every Aboriginal person in Australia, but it is best to get a white person to write down what they think you should be saying. Non-Aboriginal people of colour will just confuse everybody. Only white people can write objectively about the Aboriginal experience.

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Article
Category
Politics

What was that all about?

The wars go on, interminably, but the ‘war on terror’ is over. Liberties lost have yet to be regained. Secret prisons, kidnapping and torture continue to operate, with the connivance of a post-Bush administration. Still, the war on terror is finished.

Now that it’s over, can we figure out what it was?

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Article
Category
Politics

Kidnapped in Iraq; attacked in Australia

Baghdad. Friday, 16 October 2004.

Almost as soon as my vehicle left the front gates of the compound, I realised something was wrong. There was a black car behind us that seemed to be following. As we turned the first corner, not more than 500 metres from the guarded hotel entrance, another black car that had been parked on the curb moved into the centre of the road to block our path. That car suddenly stopped and two men leapt out, pulling handguns from under their shirts and running towards us.

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Article
Category
Reading

Refiguring fiction

Embassytown is perhaps China Miéville’s most self-consciously literary novel, as well as a classic sci-fi space opera set in the distant future on a planet at the edge of mapped space, Areika. The book’s title comes from the name of the enclave inhabited by the human colonists within the larger city that they share with the native Areikei, referred to by humans as ‘Hosts’.

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Article
Category
Meanland

Vanity Fair

With the rise of services like Smashwords, Lulu, Xlibris, Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing and countless others, the practice of digital self-publishing has received considerable attention in the mainstream media, buoyed by stories of writers such as Amanda Hocking (a self-described author of ‘young adult paranormal romance’) who made almost US$2 million selling 900,000 self-published ebooks.1 While there’s a long history of self-published print books that have become bestsellers – Australian action-thrillers by Matthew Reilly, for example – digital delivery of books lowers the barriers that have traditionally hampered self-publishing.

Type
Fiction

How to tell if you are the red herring

1st. Your shoes don’t fit. They’re either too big, or too small; either way, even if you wore them once, you will wear them no more. What kind of protagonist outgrows their own feet?

2nd. You’re stuck in a rut. Every day, through a camera lens, appears the same routine: you get up, shower, eat two eggs, skim a whole paper. Drive to a generic government high-rise building, park, sign-in, disappear. Here’s the rub: you don’t remember how you got this job or what it is you do. You do remember you despise eggs.

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Fiction

Animal People

The sun was high, relentless in the clear sky as he slammed the door behind him and turned out of his gate. As he stepped from the shade of the house onto the footpath he was stunned motionless for a moment – Christ almighty! – by the white brilliance of the heat. He stood shielding his eyes with his hand – he would have to go back for a hat – when Nerida from up the road called out to him. He hesitated, looking down towards the Centro. He wished he could pretend he hadn’t seen her, but he was caught.

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Fiction

Reading coffee

Kalgoorlie 1916

Not many eleven-year-olds are enamoured with death. Mary Agapitos is. She likes to hang out in the Kalgoorlie graveyard, exulting in the rust-coloured earth that still reigns around the tombs, the bauxite rocks lying about like oversized gravel and the tufts of colourless grass protruding beneath the occasional eucalypt. In particular, she enjoys the Orthodox section where she reads and pats headstones of people she once knew. Old Greek surnames that comfort her like her mother’s embrace.

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Poetry

Two Years On

I want to write a poem about gardening,
watering the veggie patch & how it
reduces things down to a manageable
size. To write a poem about putting on
Type
Poetry

gladstone bag

i’ve picked up a bag of words i packed a long time ago
     i introduce them     listen to long conversations
foil-pink trance suspends     into the filmy mint-green ephemeral
Type
Poetry

Peregrine Falcon

On the harbour library green lamps swayed, and he let out a long breath.
Hoop. She would say redolent like cutting toast. We stripped her. The vowel slightly raised voice as the e followed and was