There is a moment—a threshold that can’t be neatly mapped—when an interest becomes an attachment. Here’s how it goes. At first you appreciate an object, you enjoy it and you can say why: a sensation, a colour, a texture, a run of words, some combination of these. Then, suddenly, you’re in its thrall. It’s as if someone had rotated the object slightly, allowing you to approach it from a new angle. The assemblage of pieces that once seemed notable but ordinary now rings at a frequency that resonates with your soul. You can’t quite account for what caused the difference, […]
Unless you had something better to do this week, you’ve probably seen Gillette’s new ‘The Best Men Can Be’ campaign. Interestingly, the Gillette YouTube account doesn’t call this an ad but a ‘short film’. It’s upfront about intending to spark an emotional response. But from whom? ‘Is this the best a man can be?” asks a serious voiceover to a slideshow of classic male behaviour. There’s wolf-whistling and old sexist cartoons and Girls Gone Wild. There’s a barbecue, which as we know is extremely manly. A line of man-drones repeats without emotion: Boys will be boys. Boys will be boys […]
I often feel shy, even embarrassed, when asked what I am reading. Books can indicate our likes, our passions; they can reveal what catches our eye when browsing, or what we seek out when no-one is watching us. Granted, sometimes what we are reading says nothing about us beyond that we will force ourselves through anything if it is a gift from a beloved aunt, or that we mistakenly assumed Fifty Shades of Grey was a book about black and white photography. Nevertheless, the question of what one is reading can be—or at least feel—immensely personal. How do I tell you […]
‘He’s writing about Donald Trump, right?’ The student quoted by the American author and academic Jay Parini no doubt echoes countless other students participating in literature classes being held throughout the world. The student in Parini’s class also joins more than one commentator who has noticed a recent surge in the popularity of W.B. Yeats’s poem ‘The Second Coming’ coinciding with the advent of the Trump administration and what so many of us feel is a new era of global turmoil, uncertainty and dislocation, if not outright criminal insanity. What’s more, all this takes place at the centenary of the […]
Of the few Indigenous Australian languages still spoken as a first language, Warlpiri is one of the most alive. My people have an earthy, often self-deprecating sense of humour. Their profound linguistic awareness leads them to invent hilarious jokes about their constant mispronunciation of English, and other Aboriginal languages, as well as the mispronunciation of Warlpiri by tin-eared English-speakers.
I promised my wife that she could throw the first stone. There’s a story called ‘The Lottery’. You might have read it. Carnage, very literary, hell of a twist, which is nothing really, not once you’ve come home late and your wife’s in bed, tears streaming down her face, and she can’t get out, not now, and you think, I know what I need to do.
The image of Australia is of a man in an open-necked shirt solemnly enjoying an ice cream. His kiddy is beside him. —Donald Horne. Have we done with the man in the open-necked shirt solemnly enjoying his ice cream? It would appear not. For a long time he was there in the flesh, as real as you or me.
Slippery vinyl, cold glass,
the old smoke of your uncle’s embrace,
pulse flamenco dancing,
as streetlights smudge to neon
in the click and hiss of an aluminium can.