The anniversary of October 1917

Type
Editorial

The first of the 1917 revolutions began – unexpectedly – on International Women’s Day, when Petrograd’s factories were overflowing with speeches on the state of women’s lives.

‘As the meetings ended,’ China Miéville writes in his book October, which documents the revolution and what it aspired to, ‘women began to pour from the factories onto the streets, shouting for bread.’

OL228-front-cover
coal awash
Type
Column
Category
Capitalism
Indigenous rights

On little black rocks

Least anyone in the parliament was unsure of what Morrison held aloft like an extracted pound of flesh, he heightened the drama. ‘This is coal – don’t be afraid, don’t be scared,’ he announced. ‘It’s coal. It was dug up by men and women who live and work in the electorates of those who sit opposite.’

Campbell col2
Type
Column
Category
Writing

On experimentalism

The fact I wondered what ‘experimental’ meant was probably a sign I am not very experimental. A bad sign. The literary industry so often valorises experimenting with form, genre and voice as something bold and revolutionary that I felt small and conformist for finding the whole field of ‘experimental writing’ intimidating, and not knowing how to enter it.

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Croggon col
Type
Column
Category
Culture

On reason

Both of these vocations are popularly supposed to be the antithesis of rationality: the fantasist/poet lives with her head in the clouds, oblivious to the ‘real world’. And it is true that when I was a teenager daydreams were my lifeline, my escape from an emotional universe that at the time felt unremittingly bleak.

But even then, reason and the obduracy of reality mattered to me a great deal.

Jutel essay
Type
Essay
Category
Liberalism
The future

Paranoia and delusion

The sense that one’s time is inferior to what has preceded it is a lament that propels history and allows one to vicariously experience past glories. As Marx wrote in his essay ‘The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Napoleon’, we ‘anxiously conjure up the spirits of the past to their service, borrowing from them names, battle slogans, and costumes in order to present this new scene in world history in time-honoured disguise and borrowed language.’

Tiso essay
Type
Essay
Category
radicalism
terrorism

Dynamite for the people

The La Dynamite pamphlet of 1 May 1892 included the official program of explosions organised to coincide with the May Day celebrations in Paris. Dawn would be greeted with a volley of dynamite over the police station at Clichy, followed by the gathering of the marchers. At nine o’clock, the procession would visit the home of magistrate Jules Quesnay de Beaurepaire, where they would give an ovation to nitro-glycerine.

Whyte image
Type
Essay
Category
Russian Revolution
The future

Human rights after October

The drafting of the Declaration in 1947–8 reminds us of the conditions in which social welfare came to be viewed as a human right. More than three decades on, the spectre of the Russian Revolution still haunted attempts to determine what was needed for human flourishing.

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Riboldi essay
Type
Essay
Category
Reading
Technology

Controlled immersion

Technologically, the first VR device was Morton Heilig’s Sensorama – a ‘Revolutionary Motion Picture System that takes you into another world with 3-D, wide vision, motion, color, stereo-sound, aromas, wind, vibrations’. Heilig shot, produced and edited the films himself. Titles included Motorcycle, Belly Dancer and I’m a Coca Cola Bottle. The machine had a bucket seat, handles, vents and a hooded canopy. In the end, the machinery was too complex and expensive, and Heilig failed to find investors; the Sensorama remained a prototype.

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Chamseddine crop
Type
Essay
Category
Marx
roswell

Wanting to believe

Over the past seventy years, the quiet New Mexico town of Roswell, an agricultural community with a population of 48,000, has become the very heart of conspiracy lore – its alien autopsies, unidentified flying objects and layered government cover-ups combining to redefine versions of reality. On 8 July 1947, the Roswell Daily Record published a story that would change the course of history, not only for the small farming town, but also for many around the world, who turned the locale into a setting of other­worldly fascination and a symbol for governments concealing larger truths.

Brull crop
Type
Essay
Category
The Middle East

Saudi Arabia, Qatar & us

On 5 June, a kind of mini-crisis struck the Middle East: Arab countries, including Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), broke ties with Qatar. Saudi Arabia, the only country to share a land border with Qatar, announced they were closing the border. Other Arab countries declared that they would expel their Qatari inhabitants and diplomats and blockade Qatar until it submitted to their demands; delivered a few weeks later, the demands included shutting down the Doha-based news organisation Al Jazeera, severing ties with Iran, limiting ties with Turkey and ‘ending interference in sovereign countries’ internal affairs’.

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di Pasquale
Type
Essay
Category
Religion
Russian Revolution

The phantom of liberty is in heaven

There is a common perception that the Russ­ian Revolution ushered in an era of draconian, merciless state atheism that was utterly hostile to all forms of religion. Even among those who might be sympathetic to the aims of the Revolution, it is taken for granted that the destruction of the Orthodox Church and the ‘withering away’ of religion was a key ideological plank for the Bolsheviks. It is true that not all radicalised Muslims thought as highly of Lenin and the Bolsheviks as Barakatullah; but the policies of religious freedom and national self-determination pursued by the Bolsheviks and the fledgling Soviet government in its early days helped wind back the oppression that Central Asian Muslims had experienced under the Tsar’s rule.

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Screen Shot 2017-10-26 at 4.17.21 PM
Type
Short Story Prize
Category
Writing

VU Short Story Prize: Judges’ notes

800 stories were submitted for consideration this year, many exploring the politics of this decade. After six weeks of reading, we decided on a shortlist of ten impressive examples of the contemporary short story, which included this year’s three finalists.

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Niehaus story
Type
Short Story Prize

Breeding season | First place, VU Short Story Prize

It’s pre-dawn, all dark. Breeding season. Elise wakes just before her alarm goes off, skin sharp in the cold air. She tugs the blankets back across her body, curls her knees in and lets herself – for a moment – think of Dan asleep at home in Brisbane, long limbs spidered into all the corners of their bed.

Emanuel story
Type
Short Story Prize

Girlish Roadkill | Runner-up, VU Short Story Prize

The woman fibs her age of thirty-eight bleached, Does. Right. The Desperate Affirmations. Pixie naked stands in front of the mirror built-in custom made Scandinavian closets. She cannot bear to look at her bare. Body lost pretty perk. Faint streak veins a few stretch lines train tracks leading down.

Carey interview
Type
Fiction

Talking ‘Crabs’

JM: Overland published ‘Crabs’ just before Whitlam was elected – historically a time we remember as full of political hope for the future. But the story is suffused with a punk sentiment of ‘no future’ nihilism. Where did that energy come from? What was it about the Australia of that time that produced such a dark story?

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Dead-End-Drive-In still
Type
Fiction

Crabs

Crabs is very neat in everything he does. His movements are almost fussy, but he has so much fight in his delicate frame that they’re not fussy at all. Lately he has been eating. When Frank eats one steak, Crabs eats two. When Frank has a pint of milk, Crabs drinks two. He spends a lot of time lying on his bed, groaning, because of the food.

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Ferney poem
Type
Poetry

Everything that happens in the film clip for Men At Work’s ‘Down Under’

A mid-twenties yarn, classic as A Country Practice
kicks off with a caveman’s sodapop bottle steel kettle drum.

Kombi cracks in the Cronulla dunes.

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Edwards poem 2
Type
Poetry

If you think

In industrialised societies (I say this

to his daily activities (setting off alarm bells

(wherever mere comes in (he ascribes to his amateurism