There seems to be a consensus forming in Australian publishing circles that 2010 will be the year when the e-book goes mainstream. That’s the context for the first essay in Overland’s ‘Meanland’ collaboration with Meanjin: Margaret Simons’ exploration of current and future reading practices.
Thank heavens someone – and, what a delicious irony, a woman – should finally point out (Overland 197) that the Emperor (I know he would prefer King, but then I’ve seen him referred to as St Nick – the Devil, of course, rather than the man torturing reindeer at the North Pole) has no clothes.
Why do Australians, normally a laid-back and tolerant, if not welcoming, people, suddenly turn in to foaming paranoiacs when a few leaky craft bearing the wretched of the earth appear off our shores? Certainly the program of propaganda and brainwashing run by the last government did not help: asylum seekers were transformed by a longstanding campaign into queue jumpers, disease carriers, drug runners, potential terrorists and eventually child murderers.
So what of the technological innovations of our own time – the internet and digital media – which are surely at least the equivalent of the printing press in their disruptive effects? It is helpful to get a grip on what is new, and what is not. I think that, up until a couple of years go, there were two really important changes brought about by the internet.
When Overland began, the Left in Australia was fairly easy to define. It consisted of a large, blokey faction in the Labor Party and the unions, plus a fast-shrinking Communist Party, plus a small crowd of intellectuals and peace marchers orbiting those organisations.
In the dispute between Curthoys and Altman over responses to Zionism, I sympathise with both positions, albeit with reservations. On the one hand, Altman’s seems more moderate and cautious. Yet he dismisses calls for a boycott of Israel. To me, this is unreasonable. I agree that the campaign for boycotts, divestments and sanctions (BDS) is likely to be ineffective in the struggle for Palestinian rights, and I have argued this at length elsewhere.
On 1 May 2007, the Australian Federal Police (AFP) used the Commonwealth Criminal Code to charge three prominent members of the Australian Tamil community with serious offences, including being members of a terrorist organisation, namely, the Liberation Tigers for Tamil Eelam (LTTE or Tamil Tigers). The charges carried penalties of twenty-five years jail.
A key difference between the Australian military’s relations with the media and the American model is that the ADF neither needs nor wants the media to tell its story or endorse its credibility. It is, then, little wonder that we are so ill-informed about what the ADF are up to in Afghanistan.
While technical proficiency has remained consistent within the scene, storytelling has improved markedly. Though you can still find an emphasis on dunny humour (which, to be fair, saturates all of Australian society, not just animation), Australian animation has grown up. Gone are the too-cutesy anthropomorphised objects, animated to voyage on a discovery of self-awareness.
I’m puzzled by your decision to deny availability to Axcel’s film and photographic archive. Since the technologies being investigated are now, effectively, public domain, you should expect the public to be cynical about appeals to commercial confidentiality. Though it’s our wish to remain open-minded with regard to the efficacy and conduct of your researches, obstructive behaviour will, inevitably, have implications when forming a narrative viewpoint.
The RSL hall stinks of boiled meat, and Reece and Dooley are running late. I’ve got some footage on the mobile from the game this afternoon. At least it’s a distraction, something to help me avoid the small-town desperation milling around. All those slavering mums and dads waiting for their chance to corner me and dump a load of shit about their shitty adolescents.
My brother tends to a nest of prehistoric computer games under his hospital bed. He plays them to access old memories the way some couples use sex toys to create new ones. He once said memories are limited like game cartridges: write-once. Your brain can’t look back and see new details your child eyes missed. Maybe. When I replay the picnic my brother and I had on a roundabout once, my brain is seven again.
day’s thread equivalence
reading the distance
As I listen to you
In a common peculiar mood
Something within wants to kill you
dead ground [ ] in this median season [ ] of trees ingrown [ ] [ ] like scissors pushed [ ]
Having spent some years before the mast
He became skipper of a flute
Resumed his savage habits.
There could be anything … elongation of a spear
Needling To a sphere they think, mind suffused with
honey, i reach out, hes a dead man,
The ‘differential threshold’ is the smallest change
in sensory stimulation that a person can detect.
When you left the room it was barely sensory:
A fly kindly punctuates the table cloth
before moving to remedy the syntax of a wall,
a banana, a door knob … my lip. And the sun
You’d say this grass is a slab of light green sea
and the myriad white flowers scattered through it
the tips of waves whipped up by the wind, or
wet is the colour of thinking
this is the season of lulls
the moon, as if lit from within
a honeyeater’s beak invades her ear canal – watch,
the concrete’s too yeasty
The last year or so has yielded a good crop of new Australian fiction writers, including Tom Cho, Jacinta Halloran, Steven Amsterdam, Nam Le, Vivienne Kelly and Patrick Cullen. Beyond the fact that (with the notable exception of Nam Le) they are all supported by small independent publishers, the most striking thing about these writers is how unalike they are.
The most memorable character is ‘The Butcher’, leader of an anti-Italian squadron that re-groups as a resistance cell after the surrender. He gets his name because ‘He made us hold down/ Italian prisoners as he cut their throats,/ explaining as he did so/ the importance of saving bullets’.
In recent times, academics have been turning to the subject of Australian editorial cartoons for research, thesis subjects, or published projects. Two academics, Robert Phiddian and Haydon Manning, have compiled fourteen essays of contemporary cartooning in Australia, five of which are written by practicing artists.