Over the past three years, a series of raids against and arrests of LGBTQI people have been conducted throughout Indonesia by police and vigilante groups. The populist electioneering cycle currently taking place is only worsening the situation. One of the most confronting anti-queer raids to date took place on 21 May last year in Jakarta, at the men’s-only Atlantis Gym & Spa.
But the most fantastical, fairytale aspect of the show isn’t the nature or degree of heinousness of the crimes committed, or the fact that only 10% of victims are black on SVU when FBI figures tell us that number is actually 50%. It’s the fact that it portrays the police as a stalwart moral force: always on the side of the vulnerable, always anguished when the legal system fails them, always compassionate and concerned.
But why should the climate crisis be so unthinkable for literary fiction?
This week forty years ago, Italy became the first country in the world to legislate the closure of its asylums. The law was drafted by a psychiatrist and member of the governing Christian Democratic party, Bruno Orsini, but was known from the outset as ‘Basaglia Law’, after the leader of the movement that pushed for that radical and in some ways paradoxical reform.
The mass expulsion of Palestinians was overwhelming in its scope. Arab Palestine was erased and replaced with Jewish Israel. It is estimated that between 750,000 and 900,000 Palestinians were expelled from their homes and became refugees in the aftermath of the 1948 Arab–Israeli War. About 500 villages were destroyed and Palestinian cities were purged of their Arab residents. Only 160,000 Palestinians remained in what became Israel. But Nakba Day is as much about the present as it is about the past.
Friday 25–Sunday 27 May, Queen Victoria Women’s Centre
Three days of feminist politics, feminist perspectives and collective solutions. Catch the editor of Overland Jacinda Woodhead, with fiction editor Jennifer Mills and writer Natalie Kon-yu in conversation on mentorship in the arts – then stick around for special event presented by Overland on writing and activism with Santilla Chingaipe, Tarneen Onus-Williams and Asher Wolf.
Last year I was fortunate enough to have the creative component of my PhD published as a novel. Would I say my PhD has taught me how to write novels? I think, rather, it helped me write that one. As Helen Garner has famously said, ‘we have to learn to write again for each new book’. For context, I’d already had one novel published; for further context, that too had been developed through a higher education program – a masters. Clearly I’m in favour of formal learning, but coming to the end of our highest arts degree I’ve been reflecting on what, exactly, it’s taught me.
Even once you fix the technology and buy a sensible set of textbooks, it is easy for teachers, who are often in a state of high-alert for most of a lesson, to forget how the class is actually being seen by those in the hard plastic chairs.
In a first for the inmates of Rimutaka Prison – one of New Zealand’s largest carceral sites located thirty kilometres north of Wellington – a house constructed with prison labour was recently added to the stock of Housing New Zealand. The house was lifted over the razor wire and out of the prison compound by crane, and politicians and prison officials were on hand to make the most of the moment.
On several dates, usually between the fourth and fifth beer, my companion and I have found common ground over our mutual disdain for the whole hellish ritual of online dating, only for one of us to ask resignedly, ‘But how else do you meet someone these days?’ It feels impossible to stave off the inexorable force of the ever-encroaching market.
As Zoe Samudzi pointed out this morning, it is impossible to see the images coming out of occupied Palestine and to not think of Apartheid South Africa; of the brutality of a government that attempts to displace, extinguish and erase all existence of a people who complicate a state narrative.
Antidepressants work. For me, they have helped lift me out of a deep slump, but had I been prescribed them alone, I would not have sought – with the help of a fantastic psychologist – a deeper understanding of myself; one that acknowledged that my depression was partly existential anguish at the direction my life had taken. An unpromising job market had made me desperate for work, which compounded my own personal anxieties about pleasing people, making it harder to leave a job I hated.
Two settler colonies – Australia and Israel – and seventy years on, existing here, my family has come to know both intimately. While in Australia we have benefited from our proximity to whiteness, despite the Islamophobia and the surveillance our communities are subjected to. In Israel, we are Indigenous with no legal rights.
Oscar Wilde’s Dorian Gray lamented the importance of words when he mused ‘How terrible they were! How clear, and vivid, and cruel!’ However, in the modern, post-truth reality that we live in, words are often cruel without being clear or vivid, and have been cleverly employed by international media in describing the Israeli response to the Great March of Return protests.
I don’t remember the second time I heard about the Nakba, but I can see its traces every day.
I see it when my friends are separated from their families and arbitrarily denied movement on their own land.
I see it when soldiers enter private homes in the middle of the night just because they can, terrorising children.