All my doctors counsel me against being open about having a serious mental illness. Finding ways to massage the truth to people – and explain away periods of absence from the workforce – has become second nature to me. But, as a gay man who has been open and proud about his sexuality, I can’t help but feel a bit conflicted. Is the counselling to stay secret actually denying people their proper supports in society and jeopardising mental health?
The problem is less that these new ways of organising society have been radically successful than they’re being run in a way which is exploitative and undemocratic. Since 2008, Scholz has been considering the ramifications of the internet for labour. As the trends to platforms became more pertinent, he shifted his focus from cognitive work to labour in the more traditional sense. ‘In the United States in 2016, 24% of workers had worked on some kind of platform. Every third person is a freelancer – fifty five million people. How do you make an intervention in this kind of work?’
The argument that is made with the most passion is the one that says that the rights of minorities should not be the subject of a popular vote. This seems reasonable, but it rather misunderstands the nature of rights in a society like Australia. Here, rights are not to be found in the Constitution. They are not inherent in the human being; nor are they bestowed by the gods. Rather, rights are accumulated over time. At particular moment in history some section of the population will decide that, for example, women should have the right to vote, or own property.
Driving through the West Bank, you get the sense that the hope-turned-disappointment cycles of the failed, successive peace accords have been replaced by grim resignation to the reality of an implacable occupation and settlement project. All the trappings of occupation and land theft have only reinforced the incongruity of the Israeli settlements, not least of which is the prison-like fencing and barbed wire that encircle them.
At the start of the election campaign, the Labour Party’s position on immigration was clear. Armed with a raft of new policies and an inflammatory vow to stop ‘tens of thousands’ from coming to New Zealand, Labour signalled loudly that reducing migration was one its key electoral pledges. With the recent turnover in leadership and accompanying guarded sound bites on immigration, one could be fooled into believing that the party has softened its stance.
Popular culture has long touted the link between creativity and mental illness. The image of the tortured artist is a trope: a highly unstable individual, buzzing with mania and turmoil that is released periodically through art and placated perpetually through substance abuse. This image draws our compassion as well as a dark fascination. We have been conditioned to view the suffering of artists romantically, because we equate madness with genius.
In the last few weeks, a mass exodus of more than a quarter of a million Rohingya, terrorised and starving, have fled towards the Bangladeshi border – a frontier that the Burmese military, known as the Tatmadaw, have booby trapped with land mines. This unfolding tragedy is a reminder that some people are considered superfluous. It’s a reminder that some lives matter less than others and that some people are sacrificed to serve the political and economic ends of others.
By liberating marriage from the oppressive character of its tradition, marriage equality allows for a less rigid understanding of roles within heterosexual marriage as well.
SUFF seeks to program independent international and local films that won’t make it to a cinema. But this does not mean that they are all low-budget, lo-fi or unheard of. ‘We’ve had films from Cannes, we’ve had films from Berlin and South By Southwest – these are films that have played at major world festivals – it’s not the sideshow part of the film festival. Here, they are marginalised.’
I live with Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME), commonly referred to as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. Far more of a handicap than commonly thought, it is a devastating invisible burden we know very little about. ME is an umbrella term simplifying a host of smaller conditions and symptoms. Coming wave after wave, they adversely affect the body’s systems, severely cutting one’s ability to think, sleep, concentrate, work, exercise, filter toxins and fight infection.
While the right’s response to the postal survey has been somewhat predictable, what has also been hard to watch is the response of some in the ‘yes’ campaign. Despite the unfolding homophobia and transphobia around the postal survey, it is clear that groups like Australian Marriage Equality and GetUp have decided to steer away from these topics. These groups have rolled out doctors and heterosexual families to provide reassurance that marriage equality does not involve a gay agenda of radical ‘gender theory’.
There were about five other women there – each with two kids of their own – and I knew them all. I knew that each was sharp, brilliant and creative. I was filled with horror, and something of grief, that they were being subjected to any of this, were bound to it and by it. My ears rang, my heart pounded and the room closed in around me. Let’s get out of here I wanted to urge them, let’s leave the kids and run.
Literary festivals are complex beasts. They’re simultaneously social spaces, cultural projects and political platforms. As providers of entertainment, drivers of tourist revenue and exercises in government branding – think ‘Melbourne: City of Literature’ – they cop flak for their commercialisation. Nevertheless, these festivals do work hard to build audiences for writers from marginalised backgrounds, and to program events that critique inequalities in contemporary publishing.
My favourite living poet, a poet who seemed like he’d never stop writing, died in his sleep in his home in Hudson, New York, on Sunday 3rd of September, a strangely appropriate way to go, perhaps, for John Ashbery – unconscious, half in this world, half in another, kind of like his poems.
What we don’t know about Joan of Arc could fill a server farm. Yet the basic facts of her life are simple enough that they’ve continuously inspired children’s books. A teenage peasant who never held a formal position of power, she is more famous today than the French king she fought for or the English king she opposed. (Charles VII, to us, is simply the king who met Joan.) She has spawned movies, plays, fashion lines, advertisements and 1920s flapper hairstyles. Christians, feminists, transgender activists, neopagans, leftists, the French Resistance and Marine Le Pen supporters have all revered (and repurposed) her story.
As we brace ourselves for the endurance test of what is set to be another shocking chapter for the LGBTQI community, we need people of influence to stand with us in solidarity, unflinchingly. We need the support, love and bravery of allies, not through tokenistic messages and throwaway hash tags (#lovers), but through heartfelt compassionate declarations and grandiose gestures.
Sometimes, when I miss L, I go back into my inbox and read the old emails she wrote to me. My favourite one is about the Finnish writer, Tove Jansson, and Jansson’s book of seasons. The email is beautiful and even in the years after it was sent, when we were no longer talking or in love with other people, or things were just all too painful, I would still go back to her words: it is still summer, but the summer is no longer alive. It has come to a standstill; nothing withers, and fall is not ready to begin.
When I crossed there was only little light darkly.
This place where I have been told to find you is light and floor-stained tea tree, as my sister who dreams has described, she who sees still water when she hears my name. It is she who should be here to lay down in you and listen, but I was the one who was unravelled by silence.
the all too public ‘lyrical age’: a decade of ironised nostalgia. (Cf. Kundera’s Life Is Elsewhere, Kerouac, Hesse. Films of G van Sant, G Armstrong, B Ellis. East of Eden, the origin myth. All ‘those indies.’ The music, the music – too profuse to list. Retro R & B on the car stereo: the late 60s, the 70s, all over again.) Life is always elsewhere, especially when it most palpably isn’t. The emergence from crepuscular puberty into the high self-romance that follows.