Editorial

Type
Editorial

This edition has many unusual aspects – Mel Campbell’s desire to understand her 25-year obsession with a low-fi computer game, Michalia Arathimos’s reflection on the 10-year anniversary of her partner being charged with terrorism, Alice Melike Ülgezer’s fictional meditation on the lives of refugees in Turkey, Allan Drew’s examination of the persisting influence of Paradise Lost, first published 350 years ago.

229-cover
Tiso column
Type
Column
Category
astronomy
Technology

On living under a hyperreal sky

On the morning of 11 August 1993, my partner and I took a train and then a bus from Milan, where we lived, to Courmayeur, an alpine town near the French border. We didn’t book any accommodation, but headed with our blankets a little way up Mont Blanc, in search of an open space protected from the lights of the city.

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Croggon
Type
Column
Category
Identity

On power

In a world marked by pain and damage, it’s difficult to put down our shields. Most of us have them; I have several. Usually we are born with them, but sometimes we make them. We hold these shields in front of our faces, to protect ourselves from the pain of others.

Birch column
Type
Column
Category
Activism

On sovereignty

Four years ago, the federal government embarked on an expensive branding and education campaign to convince Aboriginal people and broader Australian society that we should be given formal ‘recognition’ in the constitution. No wording was formalised and the process remained vague at best, and many Aboriginal communities remained sceptical of a proposal regarded as nothing more than a symbolic gesture.

Campbell
Type
Essay
Category
Criticism
Gaming

A quest for critique

Wave 1 – Annoyer (25 points)

Crystal Quest is a 1987 action game for the Apple Macintosh. The word ‘quest’ implies some kind of drawn-out chivalric expedition in search of an elusive goal, but this videogame’s design is simpler: moving the mouse, you pilot a hockey-puck-like spaceship around the screen, collecting star-shaped crystals.

Drew essay
Type
Essay
Category
Reading
Writing

Indefatigable wings

My pilgrimage to Milton’s cottage began with my first experience of Paradise Lost. I say ‘experience’ because my initial exposure to the poem wasn’t in print, but rather through an audio book. I listened to it – all 10,000 lines of verse – in my car driving to and from work. Milton, I like to think, let me come to him.

Arathimos
Type
Essay
Category
dissent
War on Terror

Napalm, guns & underwear

On 15 October 2007, my partner was arrested for terrorism. This came as a shock, as I hadn’t been aware of any nefarious activities. This sense of disbelief continued in the years that followed, during which we hoped the charges would be dropped and my partner would avoid prison.

Biron and Gibson
Type
Essay
Category
Inequality
Violence

Sleeping the deep, deep sleep

December 1972. Edward Gough Whitlam is elected as Australia’s first Labor prime minister in twenty-three years. In the United States, the Watergate scandal is smouldering, and former president Harry Truman, the man responsible for the 1945 nuclear strikes on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, dies aged eighty-eight.

It’s also the month of Apollo 17, the final NASA mission to the moon. The two astronauts who land on the surface, Eugene Cernan and Harrison Schmitt, busy themselves collecting various soil and rock samples, driving around in a lunar rover and setting off explosives for a ‘seismic profiling experiment’.

Cromb essay
Type
Essay
Category
Indigenous rights
Paternalism

Australia’s custodial culture

Since first contact, Indigenous people have been viewed as a problem that needs to be solved.

This viewpoint, rooted in ethnocentric colonialism – a form of cultural supremacy in which specific cultural groups strive to make the world in their image – remains pervasive over 230 years later. It’s visible in the current epidemic of child removals (Indigenous children are eleven times more likely to be removed from their families, and one in five lives with a state-appointed carer) and in Australia’s abhorrent detention statistics (Indigenous children are twenty-six times more likely to end up in juvenile detention than their non-Indigenous peers).

Edmond
Type
Essay
Category
Sexism
the arts

We need more mediocre women!

Look, it hasn’t been a great year for women artists. But let’s be frank: it very rarely is.

In January, the Australian Book Review launched its inaugural Gender Fellowship, which asked a writer to produce an article on gender in contemporary Australian letters, only to later decide that none of the applicants had met the criteria ‘in sufficiently new or compelling ways’. Leaving aside ABR’s poor judgement in launching a gender fellowship dictating recipients must write about gender issues, the magazine then announced that the initial applicants weren’t good enough on International Women’s Day.

Humphreys
Type
Essay
Category
censorship

One of three banned books

Euthanasia remains a polarising topic. It garners popular support, incites expert opposition and sparks heated water-cooler discussions in offices around the country. Why? Because death is the one issue that affects everyone.

Euthanasia is illegal in Australia (with the recent exception of Victoria). While it’s not a crime to take your own life, it’s a crime to assist in the act. For a brief period, the Northern Territory’s Rights of the Terminally Ill Act 1995 permitted assisted dying – the first law in the world to do so – but was later voided by the Euthanasia Laws Act 1997, a move by the federal parliament to bring the matter back under its jurisdiction.

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Boland essay
Type
Essay
Category
Art
Reading

A library for the future

To talk about the future, you have to first imagine there is one. This is a lesson learnt by some of the more intuitive among us – the fiction writer, say, who looks at the state of the world and traces the contours of a future path that is only, just now, a distant possibility. It’s a path carved from the imagination, but with both feet firmly planted in the present. Jump forward 50, 100, 1000 years, and in the writer’s imagination you will find our planet’s destruction, or maybe its future hope.

McKeogh
Type
Fiction

Her

May

I knock on the door at exactly 9am, and she opens it a few seconds later. Her clothes are all wispy layers of black and she has bright red hair clipped up on top of her head and lipstick the same colour as her hair. She is far more beautiful than I had imagined when we talked on the phone, but also far more anxious – her hands flutter to and from her face as she shows me around, and she apologises constantly for the mess, even though the house is spotless.

Finn
Type
Fiction

Infiltration

Lying still, Skilton imagines little robotic Pac-Men chomping through the inflamed tissue along her spine. Their mouths, almost half the size of their heads, are gobbling up everything that hurts, swallowing the big glob of shadow she remembers from her X-rays. It’s like they jumped from one of the machines they’ve put in all the pubs and landed in her back, devouring her pulpy tissue like they do ghosts.

Ulgezer crop
Type
Fiction

Freedom

Outside, night had fallen. The low rolling plains were blind with snow and the trees stripped of any shelter. There was a small building ahead, visible in the cone of the truck’s headlights. A trail of footprints had sunk in the grubby white, and exhaust fumes dissipated in whirling drifts. Karl could only imagine all of this. A blindfold had been tied around his head.

Wilkinson crop
Type
Poetry

Serenade

Wide open chords raise a blue night on the orange grove
of crossed lines. We angle towards metaphor, as if art
travels deeper through weird parallel: arms might be

Farrell poem
Type
Poetry

Fiat in Turin

We’ve gone inside with the bluebells, literary bluebells

naturally. I am in your shirt pocket, where I always

wanted to be. New Order plays somewhere outside but

OL229 cover_crop
Type
Art

Guest artist for Overland 229: Laura Wills

Artwork for this edition by guest artist Laura Wills.

Laura is an Adelaide-based multidisciplinary visual artist, who explores social and environmental themes through the innovative use of found materials, collaborative processes and community-based projects.

Aboriginal artist Albert Namatjira at
Type
Essay
Category
Fair Australia Prize

Essay winner: Aussie Albert

Alice Springs, 28 September 1958: Albert Namatjira, first Australia’s first citizen, enjoying a quiet drink with his mates down at the local. That’s Albert on the left of the photo, hand in pocket standing alone appearing bemused – the man whom fellow painter Charles Blackman said had the saddest eyes he’d ever seen – looking through the crowded room into the distance.

Dulaney crop
Type
Essay
Category
Fair Australia Prize

Member winner: Beyond the bridge to nowhere

Having only lived in town for a few weeks, I asked one of my new co-workers why council would be so committed to vigorously cleaning the play equipment. She explained that just a few years ago there were no playground washers, until some environmental researchers from Sydney found dangerous amounts of lead dust on the hands of children who had used the playground for just 20 minutes.

Fair Australia Prize fic
Type
Fiction
Category
Fair Australia Prize

Fiction winner: Collision

It began as a loose congregation in Victoria Park. The Parramatta Road smog stifled by the last bout of rain and the air smelt like fresh laundry. The plan was they would march down Broadway and George Street and loop around. Gradually, more arrived and were met with warm embrace.