Most of the articles in this edition of Overland were written before the Occupy Together movement began. The issue was finished as occupations spread to more than 80 countries and 1000 cities, in the biggest wave of international protest since the Iraq war. In Melbourne, where Overland’s based, Occupy demonstrators were violently dispersed in an extraordinary police operation. As we go to press, crackdowns are scheduled for other cities across the world.
From Montaigne to Nabokov to Emerson, writers have extolled the pleasures of reading in bed. And why not? Reading in bed rolls two of life’s enjoyments into a single uber-pleasure, without the need for the military organisational abilities – not to say the waterproof books – that go with reading in the bath.
During a notorious incident at the Sundance Film Festival, a viewer leaped to his feet after the premiere of Lucky McKee’s movie The Woman and began to protest: ‘This movie degrades women! This movie degrades men! You are sick! This is not art! You are sick! This is a disgusting movie! Sundance should be ashamed! How dare you show this!’
As security approached, he continued: ‘Anyone else who’d like to talk in a similar mind about the degradation of women like this come outside and we’ll talk …’
A woman yelled in response: ‘Are you a woman?’
There is a certain brand of moral outrage that’s a common fixture of public discourse. The most obvious example is the indignity that artists such as Bill Henson, Catherine Breillat or Larry Clark have suffered at the hands of reactionaries calling for the censorship of their work. But moral outrage is not exclusively the terrain of the Right. Those who follow pop music might remember an incident from earlier this year in which Sara Quin, one half of indie band Tegan and Sara, posted an editorial on her band’s website condemning the acclaimed rap artist Tyler, the Creator for his use of gay slurs and rape imagery:
In any other industry would I be expected to tolerate, overlook and find deeper meaning in this kid’s sickening rhetoric? Why should I care about this music or its ‘brilliance’ when the message is so repulsive and irresponsible?
The first time I did this to my neck, I’d been carrying you home on my shoulders. I’d carried you everywhere on my shoulders, until that day. Swung you up over my neck and grabbed your toes. You clamped your chubby thighs around me and clutched at my eyes. The last time, you were holed up in the caravan, texting your friends to come get you because I had nosed out your drug habit. The sink was full of dishes. I had done my neck again. We yelled at each other through the rattly aluminium door. I yelled with worry and pain; you yelled with worry and pain.
Who was Bet B? She is recorded in a census taken in Van Diemen’s Land in 1843 as cohabiting with a ‘former whaler’ named Samuel Sawyer on a property near Launceston. The census included scraps of descriptive detail, according to the whim of the census taker. In the case of Bet, she was described as a ‘protected black’.
Sam Harris, the hero of the New Atheists, suggests that ‘anyone who cares about the fate of civilisation would do well to recognise that the combination of great power and great stupidity is simply terrifying’.
Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett and Christopher Hitchens are full of praise for Harris’ sanctimonious rhetoric suggesting that ignorance and religious credulity ‘should be considered a moral and intellectual emergency’. These highbrow thinkers pick, however, an easy, perhaps even irrelevant, target, since the real danger to the world arises more from the secular and educated intellectuals like themselves – a proposition for which there is ample evidence, as we will see. Religious belief that is unfounded is less culpable than belief that is refuted by overwhelming evidence known to the believer. We must ask whether the ‘ancient stupidity’ of religion that Hitchens says ‘poisons everything’ can conceivably compare with the moral lapse of apologists for our own vast crimes.
Lethal political violence in Scandinavia has almost exclusively been perpetrated by far-Right groups or individuals.1 Yet, on 22 July 2011, when a homemade bomb exploded at the office of Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg, head of the social democratic Labour Party, and a gunman opened fire on the youth camp of the same party, ‘terrorism experts’, the media and politicians instantly blamed Islamic terrorists.
A lot has been written since the 1997 Kyoto conference – and even more since Kevin Rudd agreed to ratify the protocol in 2007, committing Australia to a reduction target. The media has, however, done very little to explain how the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by at least 5 per cent below 1990 levels by 2012 via ‘flexible mechanisms’ would work.
Linguist John Bradley has sat with the Yanyuwa people of the south-west Gulf of Carpentaria for three decades and through language has gained insights into the Yanyuwa way of knowing the world. Singing Saltwater Country is his account of his journey into that world. The retrieval of the Noongar language is a passionate concern of Kim Scott and features in all his work. Scott weaves language into his groundbreaking novel That Deadman Dance with powerful effect. Darwin-based novelist Marie Munkara is a distinct new voice in Australian literature. Her debut novel Every Secret Thing is a biting satire about the mission experience which, among many things, integrates Indigenous words into the text.
The 1000-word limit for the follow-up essays was a tough ask. Yet each essay offers unique insights into Indigenous languages, their adaptations and their critical importance in the contemporary world.
Earlier this year, the animal rights group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) announced plans for a porn site intended to highlight animal cruelty. Overland asked Katrina Fox and Stephanie Honor Convery for their thoughts on the relationship between sexualised imagery and political advocacy.
Looking out the window of a tram, I saw a girl sitting on the front steps of a block of grey-brick units. She looked about thirteen and was crying with abandon. Her face was red and she had what might have been blue ink smudged across her arms and cheeks.
According to the AP website, the organisation’s primary aim is to ‘promote excellence in Australian poetry’. If so, AP should desist from further bringing poetry into the so-called mainstream.
Ali Alizadeh makes the case that bringing poetry into the mainstream is incompatible with excellence in the art form, that it would turn poetry into a degraded commodity, that the mainstream is a wholly horrid and irredeemable thing. On these points I disagree.
Robert Lukins’ argument is redolent with over-sentimental symbolism, jargon of motivational speaking, discourse of self-help culture and PR clichés.
The publishing industry has never been a convincing example of sound business logic. Even before a page is printed, vast amounts of time and sums of money are spent without any guarantee that anyone will like – much less buy – the eventual product.
For decades, the model was accepted as a happy marriage between art and commerce. But something happened in the 1960s that began a transformation of the book publishing business: the industry was bought up bit-by-bit by conglomerate media corporations and the economic imperatives of the global free market encroached on the trade, imposing alien business norms.
1: seca Australia, fat fucking traitor hijo de puta spawn of all the mines and the mula the filthy fonts fijate skinny
Arrange it and throw it away – the morning’s slow progress, clouds building, sunlight
Jennifer Maiden woke up in The Lodge during National Poetry Week. The PM’s popularity ratings had dipped
The venetians creak – fog’s tonnage. Condensation gasps on glassy corners, gloomy Xmas
missing being winched onto the toilet seat hi jinx in the nursing home
Set off later than we meant to. At home, we’d been nagging about dishes,
shopping lists, the bike with the chain hanging.
[E]ither destroy the embryo in the womb, or cast it off when born Mary Wollstonecraft, 1792 No light streamed through the shutters when I woke this morning. I knew you had taken root this past night. I felt
History is the heavy. The Azure Dragon lives in a world woven by ration and romantics. It’s easiest to capture things that don’t move.
Is this lunch definitive? If I were Manet it would be. The cows are thin, corrugated & still. Small, singular observations are reassuring,
Calling out in an underground parking garage in Ottawa or Montreal, but I tell you no-one was lost. At least I wasn’t. Then how was it we ended up on St Kilda beach later that morning,
At school I’m the outgoing kinda guy who sits all alone like a stump at the back of the classroom,
I followed Darwin’s Walk again this evening to the falls, from the ridgetop’s open forest,
desire creates the hollow in which the bird can roost to what is not I add you a song yet looking for its truth