We’re locked down, little by little losing touch with familiar, comforting elements of the greater world. Social distancing is one thing, but we can still join, shoulder to shoulder, in the life of the mind. Here at Meanjin we’d like to make a small contribution, dipping into our 80-year archive to offer a daily piece of reading … some words to fill the growing quiet moments of our days. It’s an odd reflection, but when Meanjin as established, back in December 1940, the intention of its founding editor Clem Christesen was to offer a literary buffer to hard times. Back […]
I join Co-Star and click I don’t know my birth time. I click Text My Mom, just to see what will happen, and the app generates a text message addressed to the sort of mother assumed by a tech company. I look at the cursor, blinking, in the empty field for recipients. ‘Don’t worry,’ a classmate told me, before my mother died. ‘That only happens in books.’ Cancer, writes Anne Boyer, in The Undying, feels quaintly catastrophic in the manner of the previous century. I am always thinking of my mother’s death but rarely of her illness. I remember only incidental details: the pool […]
Is this what we are? Are we what we do, what we say, what we show when everything goes wrong? Are we fights in the supermarket aisle over toilet paper, or are we nurses slumped at the desk because we can work no more? We’re finding out. It’s Day Three of the state of emergency. This afternoon my phone pinged with a warning from an app that’s supposed to warn me about bushfires. This time, the alert read ‘communicable disease’. Wash your hands, it told me. Don’t visit old people. No gatherings of more than 100 people. But of course […]
‘When you want to know how things really work, study them when they’re coming apart.’ ― William Gibson, Zero History A crisis has its own way of focusing our minds on what matters and what doesn’t. It still feels like such early days and who knows what’s over the edge of this thing, really, but our relationships, our politics, our infrastructure—everything—is facing a stress test unlike anything we’ve ever experienced. The outlines of some things become clear immediately; while panic buying captured the headlines, a quieter surge of self-organised kindness has welled up from all quarters. Fast-moving, adaptive, and […]
Was the interest in my work explicitly linked to my identity? Were they looking for the next successful blak book?
The hostage sky
The days spent staring at the sky: in daylight and at night, winter through to autumn, outdoors and from the window, on foot, at the wheel, starry, starless, a half-formed prayer on his lips that he dares not speak.
When he first arrived, he was transfixed by the sky.
When I was a ten-year-old I started going to The Sun Theatre in Yarraville all the time. It was a big old art deco building that had fallen into disrepair in the previous decades, but around 1997 it was resurrected as a film society. It had an enormous 1000-seat auditorium, one screen, and barely anyone ever went. The film society only showed films on the weekends, mostly black-and-white stuff. Films such as Rififi (Jules Dassin, 1955) and The Asphalt Jungle (John Huston, 1950). I saw Le Cercle Rouge (Jean-Pierre Melville, 1970) and soaked it up like a cinematic sponge.
I separated them today
As you instructed …
Already the vines had begun
To release their tiny tendrils,
So that one plant was sort of
Clinging to the other, its leaves
Furling about the other’s stem.