To be conservative is to be nothing. It’s a philosophy founded on negation: the negation of progress, the negation of movement, the negation of art. To enact conservatism is to attempt the realisation of myth, and in so doing conservatism creates nothing but a patchwork void held together by a vast and churning nihilism. Tickets to this void ran between $149 (‘The Menzies Three Day Pass’) and $599 (‘The Reagan Pass’) at CPAC Sydney last week. There you could see the greatest conservative minds of this generation destroyed by madness, starving hysterical nakedly off-chops. A Ringling’s of gormless geeks: come […]
There’s a moment in Patrick White’s Voss when Tom Radclyffe remarks that he would be ‘curious to read little Laura’s thoughts’. Little Laura responds, mischievously, if not maliciously, that she has been thinking ‘of nothing in particular. Which is another way of saying: almost everything.’ This is almost certainly the recognisable condition of those currently in possession of an internet password and the hardware to put it to work. We are mushroom people now, our mycelium constantly interacting with countless threads that have been sent out by others to find, lose, or avoid us. We are novelists now, too, digging […]
Some records become indelibly associated in our minds with a particular time or place or moment, even if we haven’t listened to them for years. For me Darren Hanlon’s Little Chills will always be the sound of moving to Melbourne, when I lived for a year in the middle of Fitzroy and spent every dollar I could spare in Polyester Records; similarly Clap Your Hands Say Yeah’s self-titled album is the sound of moving out of that Fitzroy house and getting the hell away from its dodgy landlord: relief and freedom and joy. Some records, though, have no such concrete […]
Rather than speak about the work of the Financial Services Royal Commission, I want to say something about what seems to be the place Royal Commissions are now being given in our democracy and what that may say about the structures of government.
I am acutely aware while visiting other places that I am in the home of the ancestors whose stories since ancient times are preserved in the land, seas, skies and atmosphere. These stories of country live inside us and are ‘the extraordinary literacy of place’, of ancient land titles, and are similar to understanding the old stories of places that the British landscape writer Robert Macfarlane might describe as being the ‘intricate stories to map the landscape’.
Tell me more about New York, her mother says, shifting on the overstuffed couch to make room for Clara. The green leather creaks. You really are in the big smoke now. But then it’s not all that wet, is it? It’s wet enough, Clara answers. Wetter than it is here in Melbourne. Her mother sighs. I don’t know. Last year Osaka had 1624 millimetres. And New York was what, 58 millimetres in February?
As my 20-year working life at the University of Melbourne was coming to its natural end by teaching for the last time an introductory subject on modern poetry during the first half of 2018, Andrea and I were planning to spend the following four months travelling in the far north of Australia, first crossing the Great Sandy Desert on the Tanami Track up from Alice Springs to revisit a community in that desert where we had lived for most of the past two years, and then crossing and recrossing the area of Western Australia known as the Kimberley, a craggy region of spinifex, boab trees and laterite still sparsely populated and still unforgiving to the unprepared.
What is the peculiar
consolation of a sky
like a violet lamp
above a crunched-foil sea?
Meanwhile, your mother
does not love you.