The remainder of Overland 193 is now available online.
In ‘“Eyewitness” in a slouch hat’, Kevin Foster explores the woeful media coverage of the war in Afghanistan:
If, in December 2007, Richard Tanter could question, ‘Why are we in Afghanistan?’, it seems more pertinent now to ask, what’s happening there and why do we know so little about it? Not a single Australian correspondent is based there. As such, the news we get from Afghanistan, ‘almost every picture and video of Australian troops, every audio “grab” and almost every quote from a digger comes from ADF [Australian Defence Forces] “public affairs and imagery specialists”’. These are soldiers ‘trained to use cameras and write press releases’.
In ‘Murderous exhibitions’, Michael Winkler examines the role of violence in sport:
The enjoyment of violence is an inextricable part of being an animal – but only one part. The will to do violence, and the passive willingness to see violence done, rubs against another function of our animalism: that we are extremely social. Consequently the sporting sphere is not untrammelled but ritualised and obsessively rule-laden. This is the nexus between the individual desire to prevail over everyone else and the need to live in society. You cannot prevail outside society (you cannot win a sporting contest if you are not allowed to participate in that contest) so there is a tension between wanting to win via violence and using social instinct to govern the expression of that violence.
In the ‘Last Fanzine’, Andrew Ramadge traces the career of Louise Dickinson, editor of the legendary zine Lemon:
For a time in the early 1990s, Dickinson was at the forefront of underground music journalism in Australia. She urged friends and readers of Lemon to create their own zines and, in a story told by one author, walked around town with new writers making sure that they didn’t wimp out from placing their work in local record stores. Other zines such as TMT, The Skills Of Defensive Driving and Underworldnamed her as an inspiration in their opening pages and published ‘Louise updates’ below each issue’s editorial, informing readers of what Dickinson was working on and when the next Lemon would be released.
In ‘Death of the Father’, Sandy Jeffs describes her descent into madness:
I failed the sanity test. My fatal flaw was to say I was the Prime Minister of Australia. (This is a cautionary tale, in case someone ever asks you.) I was taken by ambulance to Larundel, my mind in a haze of delusional ecstasy in which I was not only the leader of the country but also the Virgin Mary. The logic that they were different genders, let alone people, did not seem to bother me. Yet, all the while, I was persecuted by the voices: You stupid cow. You piece of shit. Don’t tell them we are here. Don’t tell them about our secret. You are the leader of the world’s people. Go to Uluru and sacrifice yourself. Bob Hawke wants to exterminate you!
In ‘The Disappearance of Desire’, Tanya Serisier and Mark Pendleton argue that the Left needs a fundamentally different approach to sexual politics:
While we may live in a society where ‘sex’ is everywhere, there is a clear poverty of imagination as to what sex is and could be. We can easily understand why the Right would not want to have a discussion about sexual alternatives. But the Left’s abandonment of that discussion leaves us unable to respond to controversies like the Henson debate or the banning of Ken Park in ways that don’t simply replicate the Right’s terminology and politics. The confusion around questions of ‘art’ and censorship masks a deeper inability to contest the social politics of sex.
The Craven/Gelder debate led me to reflect on aspects of Australian contemporary writing that I have touched on in a chapter for the Cambridge History of Australian Literature (edited by Peter Pierce), due for publication late next year. One is what I regard as a peculiar tradition of Australian fiction: the dominance of an eccentric, wayward, sometimes aggressive, sometimes satirical voice. It is evident in the novels of Xavier Herbert, in the late work of Patrick White, in all of David Ireland, Peter Mathers, David Foster, Murray Bail, even in Gerald Murnane. It’s the voice of Carey’s Illywhacker, of Les Murray’s Fredy Neptune, of Thea Astley’s ranting narrators. It’s the voice of Jack Hibberd’s Monk O’Neill in A Stretch of the Imagination.