I first heard about Marielle Franco in April this year. While visiting Rio de Janeiro in Brazil as a tourist with my family, I found myself in a bar late one night with an expat who had lived in the country for more than thirty years.
I was stopped by immigration officials and asked questions like: why had I travelled to India in the past? Why had I stayed so long on my previous trip? What were the full names and professions of the friends I’d be staying with? What was my job? How many books had I written? After about an hour of this, and despite having a valid visa and an onward ticket to Bangladesh, I was refused entry to India and ordered to book the first flight back to my port of origin.
In a competitive, capitalist culture, the descriptor ‘brilliant’ tends to refer to somebody who makes connections others have not, or perhaps to have made them faster, or first. It is to burn the brightest, to out-do, to dazzle to the point of disbelief. Brilliance, in this sense, is the fake currency of the elite humanities academy – the fissile defence that protects against wrongdoing; the light that shines so brightly it cannot touch, nor recognise, shadow.
Even as a workplace drama, Fear is a disappointment. We are promised in the prologue the story of the ‘nervous breakdown’ of the executive branch of the US government: a story of insubordination and sabotage, of documents removed from the president’s desk and orders to the military flatly disobeyed.
Streets give an illusion of permanence; their concrete slabs and rows of buildings fixed addresses with immutable histories. In fact, streets change names, open or close off, and disappear altogether. Sydney is unique in that it grows without plan or direction. There is a difficulty in reading old maps of Sydney, because it has gone through more changes than any other city in Australia. Names disappear when ideas transform.