The man without a legacy

Type
Polemic
Category
Politics

In specular fashion, Key offered instead a paradoxical continuity: putting the Tories in charge of Labour’s house, and making them the custodians of Clark’s achievements. Not a new thing in the country’s political history, but done so well that the public barely noticed. It was not so much an election as a wonderfully executed burglary.

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Apocalypse-Albert_Goodwin
Type
Review
Category
The future
United States

Angela Carter, Donald Trump and the American nightmare

It seemed some kind of cosmic synergy that the week Donald Trump was elected POTUS I happened to finish reading a particular novel by feminist surrealist Angela Carter. The backdrop of The Passion of New Eve is an America aflame, torn apart by contradictory combinations of visions of freedom and prosperity on one hand, and the right to bear arms on the other. For me, the surprise of Trump’s victory was accompanied by the idea that an Englishwoman may have predicted its aftermath 40 years previously.

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Type
Reflection
Category
Misogyny
Violence
Writing

Writing trauma

Trauma, by definition, is a threat to life or personal dignity. Parramatta stripped us of all personal dignity. It was a place where wellbeing and personal safety was compromised on a daily basis.

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Type
Reflection
Category
Culture
History
The future

An Australia ...

An Australia where everyone in public speaks and writes in rhyming poetry with the cadences of Henry Lawson. This is the most prized ability in the whole land. School children are prepped for gruelling contests of rhyme and wit, often with improvisations on a wide range of topics. All debates in parliament are rhymed, as is the evening news. The news takes on somewhat anecdotal quality, favoring a good yarn over factual accuracy. A whole country of Lawsonian Homers sings itself into legend by sheer metrical virtuosity.

facebook piece
Type
Polemic
Category
Technology
The future

On nationalising Facebook, or perhaps just its architecture

Over the past few years I have been diligently collecting public pledges to abandon Facebook, a subset of the equally interesting genre of people saying they will quit the internet altogether. While I seldom agree with the arguments, I look for the sentiments hidden behind these declarations. What these pieces often don’t say but invariably mean is that the swift rise of the networked society has had a profoundly unsettling effect on people’s daily lives.

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Type
Polemic
Category
Activism
The environment

The 400ppm tipping point

Over this past week, I’ve been watching the news roll in from Standing Rock, where protesters are fighting the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline: dramatic images of police brutality woven through news of an election campaign where climate has been glaringly absent. In my newsfeed, a mix of independent and mainstream media, the images of the election and the images of #noDAPL sit side by side but never seem to interact, like an illustration of the chasm between climate policy and climate reality.

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Type
Polemic
Category
Feminism
Politics

A plague on the Whitehouse

Gender oppression is only one part of this story. Simplistic analyses that see men as the problem – for which the binary solution is women – have led to a dead end. It’s time for something new. Or as the great Louise Michel summarised it nearly 150 years ago: ‘[a woman] bends under mortification; in her home her burdens crush her. Man wants to keep her that way, to be sure that she will never encroach upon his function or his titles. Gentlemen, we do not want either your functions or your titles’.

It might not feel like it right now, but there is a lot more to politics than elections.

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Type
Article
Category
Activism
Labour rights

The enemy within

Let’s be clear about how dire this situation is: an Australian trade union representing young, low-paid workers, who are disproportionately women, was found by the independent umpire to have knowingly pushed the wages and conditions of their members below the minimum legal standards. Why would a trade union do such a thing?

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Type
Article
Category
Art
Culture

Authenticity & the market: the existential threat of art fraud

Notwithstanding the seismic shudders that cases like these send through the art world, what is most unsettling about art fraud are not the fakes that we know about, but those that we don’t. In criminology, this statistical and research blind spot is known as ‘dark figure’ crime, which is a suitably ominous way to describe the difficult-to-quantify incidence of a crime that largely goes undetected, unreported and unsolved.

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Type
Article
Category
Class
Culture
Television

Our suburban contempt

All narratives use character types to some degree, but if those types are static, immovable, and fail to be complicated by mediating detail, we have a problem. Notions of ‘suburban values’ provide an excuse to relax into character types, encouraging us to see the other as somehow less culturally dimensional or their worlds as less complex.

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Type
Reflection
Category
Writing

On writing ghosts

Fiction is the product of the things we shied away from as children – whether that was strangers, darkness, or (in my case) a particularly scary episode of Baywatch. Fiction is the people we have loved, the sex we have had, the places that haunt us. Fiction is the stories of our families, our childhood friends. It is whether we believe in ghosts or heaven or hell.

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Type
Polemic
Category
The media
Trump

Truth: executed by political consensus

Of all the improbable things that we are being asked to believe, it seems a growing number of people are settling for the idea that Macedonian teenagers posing as journalists and agents of Vladimir Putin posing as internet commenters swung the US presidential election for Donald Trump. It was fake news who done it, making commentators declare that Mark Zuckerberg could well be the most dangerous person on the planet.

hashtag
Type
Article
Category
Technology
The internet
Writing

Hashtag determinative: how the internet is changing us

Where they coexist, (and they needn’t) spoken and written language are tightly bound to the social and technological regimes that they animate. Technologies of writing – from hammer, chisel, and stone tablet, to ink and parchment or the modern keyboard – influence how specific systems of writing will emerge.

One of the most interesting developments on the internet has been the emergence of the pound (#) symbol as a linguistic figure, for its use in hashtags. What exactly ‘#’ is, is not immediately apparent.

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Type
Polemic
Category
Homophobia
LGBTQI

The small violences

In a piece written for Guernica, Lydia Yuknavitch talked about ‘the small violences in our daily lives’, and I couldn’t help but liken it to the queer experience. Small daily violences committed against queer people are so invisible to those in positions of power and unexamined privilege that they are rendered implausible. This is why we need marriage equality – not in a year, not next election, but now.

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Type
Article
Category
Democracy
Far right
United States

Žižek during Trump: rhetoric and philosophical impotence

Wikileaks was quick to post to Facebook a video of Žižek endorsing Trump as his candidate of choice. A post-election interview has him repeating, somewhat chastened in the rainy streets of Manhattan, that Trump is unconscionable but preferable to Clinton. What do his claims amount to now that that possibility is fact? What might before the election have passed as a hope for a radical displacement of what Žižek calls ‘status quo’ Democratic exceptionalism, now promises something more radical than even Žižek had in mind.

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Type
Article
Category
Activism
Labour rights

Divinely feminist: the case for domestic violence leave

We like to think we are an enlightened, postfeminist society, but in reality it still takes real courage for a domestic violence victim to come out to her employer, especially in such lean and mean economic times where steady and reliable jobs are difficult to find and hold. In a neoliberal society, where it is often assumed everyone should be productive, disciplined and ‘in control’ of their lives, especially at work, it can be embarrassing and risky to admit you do need help.

Danish Royalty
Type
Article
Category
Feminism
imperialism

Feminism, not fempirism

We can trace imperialist feminism to the Victorian era. In 1882 Lord Cromer, a British Consul General in Egypt, claimed to be liberating women through the British occupation of Egypt. While using women’s rights to advance empire in Egypt, he was also championing the anti-suffragist cause at home.

crop22
Type
Review
Category
Reading

November in nonfiction

His focus is on people who live and work here, who pay taxes and are subject to our laws, but who are not citizens and cannot vote: international students, New Zealanders, backpackers on working holiday visas, asylum seekers and refugees, the holders of 457 visas. This detailed, careful and topical book is illuminated by the personal stories of individuals and families caught up in a complex and bureaucratic system, and it leaves a lasting impression of an Australia that is becoming a two-tiered country.