On Friday 4 August 1939, while members of the Queensland State Labor Caucus were having their morning meeting in a room in Parliament House in Brisbane, a group of 37 men, calling themselves the ‘Social Justice League’, entered, making threats, carrying batons, coils of barbed wire, hammers, knuckledusters and other tools. Barricading themselves in, they demanded a 40-hour week, lower taxes and tolls, unemployment relief, cooperative ownership of primary industry, and a ‘stabilised price’ for farmers.
As the dust settles on another Australian election campaign, in which the population resoundingly supported no party, no program, no leader, British Politics is undergoing a sea change. Thrust into the centre – almost like a feat of the imagination, some flight of fancy recalling A Very British Coup – came Jeremy Corbyn, a social-democrat in the old style. For the first time in decades, there is a national leader in the anglophone world arguing against neoliberalism in Old Left terms.
If nothing else, the incident showed just how normalised Islamophobia has become in Australia. Had Kruger called to ban Jewish immigration, her TV career would (quite rightly) have come to an abrupt end – and no mainstream broadcaster would have dared pipe up on her behalf.
But Aly’s intervention was especially odd given that Kruger had shown no sign of wanting forgiveness.
No Home Movie is, at first ironically perhaps, precisely that: a home movie consisting primarily of conversations between Akerman and her mother Natalia (Nelly), recorded in the months before Nelly’s death. Yet this title also contains an important negation of the ‘domesticated’ history of amateur filmmaking traditions when brought into the family home.
I read Carol Shields’ last novel, Unless, in the summer of 2003, a book that examines, through the fictional life of author Reta Winters, the ‘callous lack of curiosity about great women’s minds’, and the differences in how our culture values books by women and men. Unless helped me realise that all my years of reading books – so-called great books – by male writers had left me fairly clueless about women’s lives. Through my literary education, I had come to embrace a world in which I, as a woman, saw myself as marginal, ephemeral, vague.
Some of my friends in Australia consider my regular amount of anger towards the continuous oppression of Black and Brown people ‘a sensitivity’ – as though I enjoy baiting an argument rather than having constructive, helpful conversations about how to be more proactive in the struggle for equality. The friend I argued with, who religiously blasts Lemonade like it isn’t a letter written to Black women telling them that they deserve equal rights but something fun to learn the dance moves to, believes equality has already arrived.
The recent killing of UK MP Jo Cox is one such example. In no major news outlet in the anglophone world was her death labelled an assassination, despite substantial evidence suggesting the attack was ideologically motivated. Cox was allegedly murdered by Thomas Mair, who gave his name in court as ‘Death to traitors, freedom for Britain’ and was reported to have shouted ‘Britain first!’ repeatedly when he stabbed and shot the West Yorkshire politician after a meeting with her constituents. Considering her involvement in the campaign for Britain to remain in the EU, it is no great leap to conclude that her killing was indeed an act of violent political antagonism.
Slavoj Žižek said that this book taught him what kind of person he really wanted to be. This book did not teach me who I want to be – but it did remind me again what literature may be capable of when it is wielded with a hideous, honest brutality, like an executioner’s sword.
Over the last few days, the streets have filled with Situationists, as Pokemon Go sends its legions of players out on prolonged dérives.
OK, the comparison’s slightly ridiculous. Yet consider Situationist pioneer Guy Debord’s description of the dérive, the psychogeographic technique his coterie was trialling in Paris in the fifties.
That Victorian Education Minister James Merlino appeased these groups and ordered the VCAA to review its text selection process is unsurprising – he found Israel ‘absolutely inspiring’ during a 2013 ALP study tour [read: junket].
In fact, successive Australian governments have staunchly supported the Israeli state since its inception, including its apartheid policies, and parliamentarians from both major parties regularly enjoy its hospitality.
These days, political commentary is dominated by right-wing ratbags, free-market warriors, or urbane personalities like George Megalogenis. From the chaos and moral sterility of the status quo, these wizards of punditry conjure a narrative they hope will soothe us. Never once do these political gurus question the ideological padlocks that chain us like Sisyphus to the dictates of economic rationalism.
In mid-May, I received a Facebook invite to ‘Vessels to a Story’, an exhibition put on by RISE Refugees, the only organisation in Australia founded and run by refugees, asylum seekers and ex-detainees.
‘This exhibition is not a celebration of “multiculturalism”,’ the opening sentence read, ‘nor is it a celebration of Melbourne as a “melting pot” of cultures.’
Overland is honoured to announce the successful applicant of its inaugural residency for women writers who are also sole parents.
Under what conditions, other than renown, is it possible for the media to provoke displays of global empathy or mourning for people we have never met? The question is an especially fraught one at a time when mainstream media has lost much of its authority, and the prevalence of social media platforms has created new ways in which public grief can be expressed and policed.
The Argonauts opens with a description of the first time Maggie Nelson told her partner, the artist Harry Dodge, that she loved him: ‘the first time you fuck me in the ass, my face smashed against the cement floor.’
It may surprise some to know that feminists do not stand unified behind the woman who is frequently portrayed as a feminist icon and the presidential candidate of choice for all women. The dominant narrative of monolithic feminist support for Clinton has drowned out dissenting voices, instead focusing on the significant number of well-known feminists who publicly support her. Opposition to Clinton’s feminist status and suitability as the US President, whether coming from the political left or right, is commonly dismissed as nothing more than sexism.
My grandmother suffered from a rare, congenital kidney disease. An incredible woman blessed with intellect, fierce independence and a biting wit, she also suffered depression for much of her life. In the latter stages of her life, I have no doubt that both depression and her failing kidneys coalesced against her. When she became so depressed that it pushed her into psychosis, her kidney condition meant she was unable to be prescribed psychiatric medication. Instead, doctors put her through electroshock therapy.
By incorporating public spaces, Pokémon Go can’t help but to incorporate the politics of those public spaces that make urban movement much easier for some people than for others.
There has been a surge of public outrage following Merlino’s interference with the Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority’s (VCAA) processes – but the degree of alarm is quite remarkable considering how comfortable Australia has been with state censorship in times gone by.
It is in this textual tradition that Transparent unfortunately falls, with its lead character Maura, a trans woman played by a man, Jeffrey Tambor, an actor best known for playing the patriarch on Arrested Development. Queer theorist Judith Butler has recently cogently pointed out that Transparent, while very good on representing Judaism, harks back to The Birdcage in its level of cliched representation of transness.
In calling on the outraged to employ laudable virtues such as empathy, patience, and understanding towards those seeking to harm them, Aly performs an act typical of mainstream liberalism. That is, to obscure systemic injustices and destructive political realities in preference of a terse symbolism that fails to address those material realities. In this case, an orchestrated appeal to an abstract forgiveness that does nothing to alleviate the suffering already felt by those on the receiving end of Australia’s many violent practices.
The stereotype of the innocent, asexual child is crude, antiquated – and dangerous. As Steven Angelides has persuasively argued, linking childhood with asexuality ‘misrepresents and simplifies child sexuality, sending children the message that sexual behaviour, for them, is dangerous and wrong’. This link makes it more difficult for children to discuss sex and sexuality, and to report sexual abuse.
In October 2015, thousands of South African students took to the streets, bringing their country to a virtual standstill. Mobilising under two interlinked movements – #RhodesMustFall (RMF) and #FeesMustFall (FMF) – the students organised a campaign that shut down the nation’s twenty-six universities. They were protesting an 11.5 per cent tuition hike that was to be introduced for the 2016 academic year. Just weeks after their protests began, the students had won: President Jacob Zuma announced there would be no fee increase.