Tuesday, September 09, 2014

Rivers of Devilry

Celebrities are only immortal because they’ve managed to patent their own inimitable afterlife in the form of electronic wakes. If Robin William’s death occasioned much public angst about suicide and anxiety, including reams - more accurately prolixed scrollbars - of confessional identification (who could resist) Joan Rivers’ decease will surely cathect much schadenfreude on the dangers of endoscopy.
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Liz Conor: Comment and Critique

Death by Suicide comes in the Guise of a Suitor

There’s a very funny moment in an early Jim Carrey stand-up when he’s impersonating Jimmy Stewart’s irrepressible optimism. In Stewart’s Mid-Atlantic drawl Carrey greets Death with, ‘Wull, Hullo Mr Death! You look like you could use some soup!’ Implacable, Death makes no reply. Carrey conjures him as we mostly imagine - a spectral wraith drained of life, maybe an inky floating stain like a Harry Potter Dementor. Carrey reckons you can warm Death up, farcically, with soup. Our most recent celebrity applicant to Death, Robin Williams battled with Demons like this, didn’t he? His Depression was a terrible foe, a hoary-headed beast, a dark nightmare cast in long gothic shadows harboring Succubae and Holy Terrors.

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Abreast of Retractable Abetz

In memory of Pauline Toner and Linda Zardo A conga line of medical students once diagnosed me with breast cancer. In an unusually interactive life-modeling gig at the Alfred Hospital my breasts were hired for med school finals. Awkward aspiring young doctors filed in and got me to flex and raise my arms while they palpated, plumped and roiled. Alarmed when they successively concluded from my ‘ropiness’ and ‘density’ that I showed clinical markers of cancer, I asked their examiner to examine me too.

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Friday, August 01, 2014

Silence of the Lambie in the Echo Chamber of Penetration

As if we hadn’t heard enough about the preferences of the Tasmanian PUPs at their last/first electoral contest, without now being privy to their sexual preferences as well. Senator Jacqui Lambie’s radio gabble about her whipper-snippered map of Tassie and hunt for a ‘well-hung’ sexual partner on Hobart's Heart 107.3 breakfast show may well have broken records in callback response from a certain demographic of exhibitionist young men. Hobart’s codpiece subculture a calling. Hard to know the order of business for rapid responder ‘Jamie’ – his dating Lambie or letting ‘Heart’s’ listeners know that he is ‘hung like a donkey’.

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Wednesday, July 23, 2014

The Monkey-grip of Conflict Photojournalism

If you look closely you’ll see they’ve just lit up. Russian insurgents raise a soft toy in salute to nearly 300 deaths on flight MH17. A dead child’s stuffed monkey is in ghastly repose in his meaty fist, its long arms trailing limp. It’s been pulled lifeless from the wreckage, intact, unmarked. The newly lit fags insinuate muddled undisciplined rebels. The toy evokes a lost child. But as the world condemns the rebels for contamination, perhaps looting, of the site, along with exclusion of investigators and of abusing protocol towards human remains, this toy has come to poignantly attest the anguish of relatives debarred from repatriating their loved ones and their last belongings. The photo puts us on notice: given means, a motley gang of ham-fisted yokels might arbitrarily and summarily extinguish the life of any child, and then stand guard over their remains despite world condemnation.
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Dangerous Premises: The Bendigo Mosque

On the serene shaded lawn of the Bendigo Base Hospital stands a building that threatens to rent apart the township's social fabric, infuse it with terror and importune the chastity and honour of its fair ‘Daughters and Granddaughters’. This inoffensive white stucco cottage contains a file room jammed from floor to ceiling detailing the, mostly, father and grandfathers who have terrorised the women and girls of Bendigo over decades.

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Sunday, March 30, 2014

Families, Weapons, Warfare, Annihilation and other Varieties of the Nuclear Age

We should more properly refer to Nuclear Families as Nucleus Families, as the term derives from the central properties of cells from 1846, and atoms from 1914. It was first applied to families in the 1920s but took hold in the heyday of its realization, the gingham and valium drenched ‘50s. But whether this normative family structure associates with Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD), apocalyptic Fallout or Winters, or thermonuclear global catastrophe remains to be seen. For better or worse Nuclear Families are not about to self destruct, but as long as they remain heteronormative and monogamous and place the burden of childcare on women, they deserve to.

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Saturday, February 22, 2014

For Pity's Sake: Deterrence and Asylum

‘Tis the season to be inundated with Ferrero chocolates, lost for a park and trawling stands of trinketry under piped contemporized carols. Until the kiddies pounce on your bed at half-light and the family arrives all smiles, it’s a hard slog of preparation, of par boiled potatoes, canvas coddled puddings and marinating roulades. If any spirit of Christmas survives this onslaught of consumerism and resource gouging, it tends to contract to our nearest and dearest, as we put to one side sniping family dynamics and get stuck into the totem tennis while cousins run and splash in happy herds. The ethos of giving is certainly not forgotten by our favoured charities, as an influx of Christmas appeals slot through our letter boxes at a rate to rival Harry Potter’s Owlish call to Hogwarts. There is barely time to attend to them all, and they all play on precisely this disjoint between fostering family while some families go untended. This season that disjoint is most defined by families in detention as a series of distressing revelations of the conditions on Nauru, Manus and Christmas Islands have recently come to light.

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Monday, August 19, 2013

Feminine Beauty and its Mystifications

There few things over which confusions reigns so manifestly yet mutely as feminine beauty. In the pie graph of women’s identity, feminine beauty has, since the industrialisation of photography, fanned out to a disproportionate wedge. There is nowhere we can go in public space without encountering it. It is not only a central cultural trope but the very rationale for billion dollar industries not to mention myriad personal regimes in the maintenance of the self. Being such a large-scale enterprise feminine beauty is enmeshed in some of the principle operations of power. It is racist and commodified, sexualised and ageist. It affords some women opportunities of unimaginable consequence, presence and even influence.

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Inverting the Causality of Suffering: Asylum and the Legacy of Xenophobia

Since Kevin Rudd announced his government’s resettlement deal with PNG Australians have reeled into opposing camps on the question of asylum seekers that loosely side with the slogans of the main political parties: ‘Stop the Boats’ and ‘Stop the Drownings’. Between the increasingly polarized camps of refugee advocates and their adversaries debate has raged over the definition of terms. The legality and accuracy of captioning the plight of asylum seekers with coercive language such as ‘queue jumpers’ and ‘illegals’ has been rightly disputed. Our obligations under UN Convention on Refugees have been correctly restated. Yet something more that confusion reigns, arguably something far more inflected with emotion and affect and beyond even invoking threat through the language of border security and invasion. There is something else in play that is difficult to acknowledge in such a sharply divided debate; that is the disquiet Australians feel about the drownings, sinkings and violent landfalls.

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Aping Racism: Adam Goodes and Typecasting

In the aftermath of that now famous racial taunt Adam Goodes asked a worthy question. Pointing out that his assailant was just a kid he asked, ‘how could that happen?’ He was right to point to her innocence, and question what we’re teaching our kids, even to argue it’s a wider social issue. Since Eddie McGuire’s radio gaff his question became more acute, posed as it is now to an adult who has publicly adopted an anti-racist stance. It goes to the heart of how racism persists. But where does the idea that Aborigines are apes come from in the first place?

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