With the release of ‘Formation’ and Beyoncé’s performance at this year’s Super Bowl, the Black Lives Matter (BLM) campaign pierced living rooms across the United States. Complete with Black Panther salute and iconography, accompanied by a film clip with a hurricane-drenched landscape and graffiti reading ‘stop shooting us’, a movement that had been demonised by the mainstream media and the right was given a heroic performance in what is, arguably, capitalism’s ultimate spectacle.
Horror is the shock and revulsion of apprehending something sickeningly awful. In literary terms, it’s often distinguished from terror, a creeping dread of something yet unseen. Terror is the build-up; horror is the reveal. ‘Horror is an emotion,’ American author Caitlín R Kiernan told Weird Fiction Review in 2012, ‘and it’s an – increasingly unsuccessful – marketing category.’
Personal narratives are often shared at considerable risk. But they continue to be shared because of their ability to resonate, to inform something much larger, something beyond the self. They counter Australia’s national – at times wilful – amnesia and offer a potential shift toward ‘something else’.
‘A book changes by the fact that it does not change when the world changes.’ Roger Chartier wrote this in The Order of Books, although he knew it not to be entirely true: just a few pages earlier, he had remarked how the practice of dividing the Bible into chapter and verse, originating in the seventeenth century, ultimately modified its mode of interpretation, a fact that troubled the English philosopher John Locke at the time.
I’ve long held a visceral hostility towards what I’ve called the ‘muesli theory’ of art. This theory maintains that art should be consumed because it’s good for you. Aside from anything else, the idea that art is good for you takes all the fun out of it. It gives art an air of lugubrious obligation that is completely at odds with the involuntary suspension of the self that is art’s most beautiful side effect.
Among other virtues, Stephen Murray-Smith, founder-editor of Overland, is acknowledged for his many good deeds. One I treasure is the introduction that led to a thirty-two-year friendship with John McLaren.
What does the exploitation of animals have to do with anything except the exploitation of animals? As Carol J Adams observes in The Sexual Politics of Meat, vegetarians appear to be saying one thing only: ‘Don’t eat meat’. But is it possible that there is more to be said?
‘I believe women’ has become something of a feminist catchcry. It has developed as a response to frequent and institutionalised trivialisation of sexual assault. The suggestion that women are making it up or just ‘looking for attention’, combined with the high acquittal rate of sexual assault cases, has brought about a kind of activism centred on an unshakeable faith in women’s accusations of sexual assault and on the public articulation of this position.
South Sudan is land-locked, sharing borders with Uganda, Central African Republic, Ethiopia, Kenya, Democratic Republic of Congo and Sudan. Like its neighbours, the country continues to endure the after effects of colonisation, having been occupied in the twentieth century by British interests. Much of the land is swamp or tropical forest, and the country hosts one of the largest wildlife migrations in the world.
Jamaica is a beautiful place, the book announced. It explained that it was almost always some mild kind of summer. Everything that grew there – mango, banana, sugarcane – was rich and sweet, and the fields were lush and green. The brown-black soil was almost like compost, not the kind of sandy dirt or terracotta clay you reached after half a foot or so of digging in our veggie garden at home.
We invited four Australian poets to reflect on race in the world today and, specifically, on the ways that racism manifests in the intellectual and literary fields, particularly in poetry, where thought and representation are crystallised and magnified.
Its settings were Melbourne’s dimly lit streets and alleys, its public bars and cramped workers’ cottages. The show also presented a realistic portrayal of criminals, investigators and the methods used to solve crimes. This authenticity was the chief selling point of Homicide and its successors, Division 4 and Matlock Police. And crucial to this authenticity was the in-depth involvement of the Victorian police.
But Audrey is partial to the Panasonic birds, a cheaper but no less handsome variety; they acknowledge the dawn without extravagance, pip pip pip pip pip, little notes of fixed widths, such deft, even spacing. They are not meant to be here in the city; Audrey suspects they have migrated from Russet Hill, a network over a hundred kilometres away, renowned for wildflowers.
The accident happened on a Friday. It was reported on the six o’clock news. At half-past four the cameras found the street and interviewed the nurse on the lawn. His neighbour; she just happened to be a nurse. She rolled him; he screamed. A tragedy, he was such a nice man. A young man, a teacher at the local school. A nice, quiet man.
What do you tell a woman with two black eyes? is the joke.
She turns her face away, towards the bar, for the punch line. She sees that there are stained-glass light shades hanging above the counter, the glass pieces coloured red, green and yellow, the joins thick and black.
Millie found her sister hunched over the grill, poking the narrow end of a wooden spoon into a length of hosepipe fitted to the end of the grease tray. The diner was empty except for Peter Hewler. He sat over his steak watching a cowboy movie on the little television mounted on the far wall.
In reading through the hundreds of entries to the Neilma Sidney Prize, we were not only looking for quality writing but also for originality and an engaging narrative. Those stories that stood out to us often employed description in a way that appeared effortless, yet brought to life both the familiar and the unknown.
The phone call comes while my mother is rinsing her hair in the kitchen sink, with one of those white rubber faucet attachments that don’t quite fit the tap so water spurts every which way out of its would-be seal. I can see from my vantage point sitting on the countertop that a pool is forming between the back of the sink and the windowpane; a couple of dead flies are floating, exposing their bloated bellies, and the spray from the tap is creating a water-feature effect so it looks like the scene is missing only a miniature palm tree.
- I am going to tell you a story about my sister. It is not a beautiful story. There are beautiful pieces. But not all of it is beauty. But there is my nephew. His name was Joseph. He arrived not forty minutes ago at our place beneath the silky oak tree.
- So skip wee moat about the tre may kol.
Darling Street, one last time. Over the crow-black tarmac, under the linden branches where cicadas abandon their clinging husks, beyond the footpath and the unfenced lawn – leveled now, you notice, humps, divots, desert patches all effaced – is the house you came all this way, all these ways, round the world, back through time, on a bus, down Darling Street to see.
But really, isn’t nurturing the penniless avant-garde something we should all embrace? If we sincerely believe in the great life of the imagination, the radiant promise of its daily emergence in literature, music, art, and film, and in deep reflection and complex thought – all those inalienable horizons to being truly human – then we should also step-up and protect the imagination from the many equally great forces that humanity casts against it daily.
a punchline flies business class towards vague archipelagos in the deepening Pacific
In the mornings, I’d loiter outside your house, shivering in the cold mist, breathing out your name & waiting for you to fill it.
You notice something on the avenue. Some perfect system crumbles into gold. The sum of 2 + 2 is always four.