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ARNA 2020 The Journal of the University of Sydney Arts Students Society
ARNA 2020 | 1
First published 2020 by The University of Sydney Funded by the University of Sydney Union and the University of Sydney Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences © Individual Contributors 2020 Foreword © Kate Scott and Jenna Lorge Afterword © Sarah Poh and Liam Diviney Graphic design © Giulia Ding Layout © Kate Scott and Jenna Lorge © The University of Sydney 2020 Images and some short quotations have been used in this book. Every effort has been made to identify and attribute credit appropriately. The editors thank contributors for permission to reproduce their work. ISSN: 2209-3931 ARNA: The Journal of the University of Sydney Arts Students Society Reproduction and Communication for other purposes Except as permitted under the Act, no part of this edition may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or communicated in any form or by any means without prior written permission. All requests for reproduction or communication should be made to Sydney University Press at the address below. Fisher Library F03 University of Sydney NSW 2006 Australia Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Web: sydney.edu.au/sup Cover Photo by Thomas Sargeant Cover Design by Giulia Ding
ACKNOWLEDGEMENT OF COUNTRY This edition of ARNA was edited, compiled, and published on the occupied lands of the Gadigal people of the Eora nation. We acknowledge that sovereignty was never ceded, and that the occupation is violent and ongoing. We give our deep respect and solidarity to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and to their Elders, past, present and emerging. This land always was, and always will be, Aboriginal land.
To the students still being creative, critical and imaginative during these uncertain times. Donâ€™t ever give up.
Editors-in-Chief Kate Scott Jenna Lorge General Editors Sarah Poh Liam Diviney Team Leaders Emily Elvish (Essays) Victoria Cooper (Poetry) Chloe Thomas (Prose) Alex Robinson (Art) Essay Subeditors Thomas Israel Eliza Benecke Poetry Subeditors Gabrielle Cadenhead Anya Doan Prose Subeditors Ange Hall Queena Kuang Shania Oâ€™Brien Art Subeditors Sophia Calvo Y Perez Ella Kennedy Design Coordinator Giulia Ding
Contents Kate Scott & Jenna Lorge
How Green Was My Valley
Save Our Sons
Francesca Edwards Rentsch
Not Your Average Joe
Maisie Belle Moon
An Exoskeleton and a Beating Heart
The Boat People
A Very French Anniversary
To Roam the Stars
Three Sonnets for Hagar
It was the Leap
My Professor Said
The Epic Play (Act I)
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Kate Woodbury 71 Grace Hu 73 Maisie Belle Moon 75 Tom Gojak 77
Night Swimming After a Warm Dry Winter The Third Coming Untitled 2
Ada Zeng 78
Afternoon Window Pane
Ada Zeng 78
Window and Waves
Sophie Zhou 79
An Uncomfortable Intimacy Between Two
Sophie Zhou 80
Joel Fitzgibbons 81 Mary Stanley 89 Jamaica Leech 99
A Trip to The Pond Home For Dinner O Frabjous Day! Callooh! Callay!
Nicolette Preketes-Tardiani 103 Forgotten, Forlorn, Foretold Maisie Belle Moon 111 Scribblings of a Madman G. J. Johnson 117 Barcarolle Angel Zhang 125 Where Are You From? Jamaica Leech 131 The Art and Artifice of Achieving Imogen Marosz 135 18 Minutes Maisie Belle Moon 139 Check Thomas Sargeant 145 Behold Angel Zhang 146 Sinking Yue Wang 147 The Balance Amy Archer 148 Venice Sarah Poh & Liam Diviney 149 Afterword 10 |
Foreword When curating this beautiful journal of prose, poetry and art, the theme of discord has inadvertently been woven throughout. In all its skins: incongruence with past and future selves; a reflection upon the current times; disagreements and chaos; our writers and artists have placed discord at the core of ARNA 2020. Discord is centred on a lack of harmony, so it is ironic that it is what has united us. Through our contributorsâ€™ explorations of their personal realities, we have been able to gain a more fluid understanding on how we connect and the ways in which dissonance can be shared to create positive and meaningful connections. It is too easy for this enforced disconnect to feel isolating and neverending. As you read, we hope you can experience a heightened understanding of those who study beside you (although far apart). We hope that the weight of this uncertain time is lighter, as we share this burden across all of our shoulders and stand together. For us, this journal has been a key method of staying connected with not only each other, but the editors, writers and artists of ARNA that have come before us. We as a society, and the entire world, are currently going through an epoch of anxiety, with little knowledge about what the near future holds for us or our studies. We would like to thank the amazing team that has worked on this anthology with us. The time and care that each of you put into your work despite the chaos surrounding us is what held us and the journal as a whole together, and for that we are so grateful. As Editors-in-Chief, the experience of creating this journal was one of learning and discovery. We were so lucky to have been able to read the array of incredible and well-thought-out pieces that were submitted to ARNA this year. Our writers and artists all brought their experiences ARNA 2020 | 11
and expertise to craft pieces that were truly reflective of their lives and experiences as students and individuals living within this milieu. We hope you are able to take the time to experience and fall in love with each piece the way we have. This is ARNA 2020 Kate Scott & Jenna Lorge Editors-in-Chief, ARNA 2020
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How Green Was My Valley Harry Peters ‘I saw behind me those who had gone, and before me, those who are to come. I looked back and saw my father, and his father, and all our fathers, and in front, to see my son, and his son, and the sons upon sons beyond. And their eyes were my eyes.’ – How Green Was My Valley (1939), Richard Llewellyn.1 Everybody interprets the world differently. We all place meaning into the jobs, relationships, religions and ideologies which we think matter. Cultural producers, like musicians and writers, reproduce those outlooks simply by letting their way of looking at life be present in their work. The writer who arranged the above passage shared an outlook so mesmerising it reshaped my fundamental programming. These words reminded me of my grandfather. On our weekly visits, I’d always walk into the sunroom and greet him with handshakes and a ‘g’day Harry’. My grandfather insisted we call him by his first name – Harry, and never as grandpa or grandad or anything else. Whenever I’d visit, he always seemed to be reading stories about World War Two. As we talked, my eyes would wander to the picture of his father (my great-grandfather) who’d died in the war. Placed on top of the piano, my great-grandfather is gazing pensively to the side of the camera. Perhaps he was thinking about his only son, who was half a world away when he passed. The Jewish Ashkenazi genes for brown skin and black hair reached my father but not me; fair-skinned and blonde. As a result, we look nothing alike. It’s the same and worse for my four older siblings from my dad’s first marriage. My half siblings’ mother is from the Philippines, so their Spanish and Filipino heritage shines through their lustrous, darker features. Flipping through photo albums can be difficult: on occasion I’ve had to convince friends that the half-Asian man 15 years 1
Llewellyn 1939, 297. ARNA 2020 | 15
my senior with his arm around me is, in fact, my brother. If you walk into my house and immediately turn right, you’ll see a photo of us all which Dad commissioned when I was a baby. My sister and I are sitting on our parent’s laps, with our four half-siblings strategically placed around us. No one is smiling confidently. Secure into his second marriage with his second batch of children, perhaps Dad wanted a professional photograph to assure himself and visitors that this was the final iteration of his immediate family. A visual monument which testified to the end of his divorce and ushered in a new era of permanent stability. They all left home a long time ago. Sometimes I use the photo to point out to guests where my siblings are. Three of them live in San Diego, London and Zurich, and less glamorously, two live in Wyong and Armidale. Perhaps that’s why I read so much – because they left so early? Instead of playing soccer with my siblings or telling them about the latest girl I had a crush on (what I assume brothers and sisters do) – I read. I tore through the classics: Harry Potter, Percy Jackson, Narnia, Tolkien and near everything Australia’s B and C-list authors could produce. My bedroom is a testament to this, overflowing with the narratives I spent my childhood falling into. Reading, writing and studying literature is incredibly valuable but I think most people consider it something alien; unrelated to everyday living or the individual’s pursuit of meaning. Even worse, it is mostly defended by those tired, boring pleas from drained, English teachers who make vague, far-off promises about English’s supposed ability to transfer wisdom. However, I major in English at university and intend to study honours and a doctorate afterwards. I care deeply about whether people, especially those my own age, believe thinking about literature is important. Good authors can visualise how they interpret and think about life, by infusing ink on paper with all their warmth and suffering and firepower. As a reader, when you invest enough time and energy into the right book at the right time, you can have this sort of euphoric ‘Ah-ha!’ moment. Suddenly after a first reading or after weeks of contemplation 16 |Essays
you somehow get what the author is trying to say. In that moment, the author has shared an interpretation of the world which truly resonates with you, often because they’ve reflected your own life back at you. This can be a remarkable analgesic; your fears don’t seem as ridiculous and you don’t feel as fraudulent or rotten on the inside, for finally someone else out there sees things on exactly the same terms as you do. Literature facilitates this immaculate communication between reader and author; a forum to discuss and edit the maxims you orient yourself by. My most profound experience of this reader-author dialogue came after I read How Green Was My Valley by Richard Llewellyn. Set in 19th century Wales, the book is narrated by the protagonist – Huw Morgan – who explains that, having become an adult, he’s decided to leave his childhood home because almost everyone important to him has either died or moved away. The entire novel is a childhood recount where Huw describes his coal mining village and the interconnected lives of the people who made it special. The reader sees how Huw’s parents, five older brothers, two sisters, parish priest and first romance – Ceinwen, imprinted upon him with their love. Llewellyn’s visualisation of a family in its most healthy form resonated with me. This young boy reminiscing about his huge family who used to all live together under one roof made me think of my grandfather, my father, my brother. My eldest brother – Francis – left the country when I was five. At the time, I didn’t understand what California was or why he was going there, only that he was. I loved Francis, truly and deeply, but our contact was relegated to his annual two-week visits and divided between two families, five siblings and friends. How Green Was My Valley reminded me of the boy I was; resentful that he only saw his favourite big brother once a year. I registered this guilty and ironic hollowness I have about belonging to a big family yet not feeling particularly close to any of its members. None of these details about my personal life are traumatic or horrifying or deserve much of anyone’s sympathy. Indeed, they’re probably all too similar to the thousand tiny disappointments everyone from a comfortable middle-class background carry with them. But layered within my subconscious, these tiny sadnesses tore at me. How ARNA 2020 | 17
Green Was My Valley made me realise that my family history bothered me and supplied a vision of living which nourished parts of myself I didn’t even know needed nourishment until I read this book. It’s the kind of topic that can’t be talked about effectively through in-person conversation, but can be cathartically addressed and aerated through literature. Llewelyn’s prose paints a life so rich with meaning that I’m compelled to see the world on the same terms. Our dialogue led me to adopt his interpretation of what matters; integrity, simple human decency and most importantly – building bonds with one’s family and community that are loving and true. How Green Was My Valley is a portrait of the all ways life can be satisfying in the same way that the photo albums and pictures within my family home betray how it can be dissatisfying. As my grandfather was disconnected from his father, and I from my father, and I from my brother, Huw is not. This idea is encapsulated in the final words of the novel, as Huw declares himself eternally devoted and inextricably connected to absent loved ones: ‘But you have gone now, all of you, that were so beautiful when you were quick with life. Yet not gone, for you are still a living truth inside my mind. So how are you dead, my brothers and sisters, and all of you, when you live with me as surely as I live myself ? How green was my Valley, then, and the Valley of them that have gone.’2
Llewellyn, Richard (1939). How Green Was My Valley. London: Michael Joseph Ltd. 2
Llewellyn 1939, 493.
Save Our Sons - a mother’s movement: The Protest for their Sons (and Themselves) Tasia Kuznichenko Historians, politicians and activists alike recount the period of the Vietnam War from the 1960s to the 1970s as a cataclysmic time for social and political upheaval. The anti-war movement facilitated a powerful and new opportunity for many Australian citizens to be politically engaged. These opposing voices mostly consisted of students and socialist groups, and have now become accepted representatives within this era of dissent.1 However, the strength and appeal extended even beyond the traditional understanding of ‘protestors,’ encapsulating mothers and women through the creation of the Save Our Sons (SOS) movement. Created in 1965 by Mrs Joyce Golgerth, the first meeting in Sydney had only nine members in attendance. Four months later, the organisation had grown to a hundred supporters in Sydney alone, uniting women who shared a common principle of opposing youth conscription into the armed forces for the conflict in Vietnam. This essay, through an analysis of a collection of the Save Our Sons Newsletters from 1965 – 1972, will demonstrate how an atmosphere of dissent catalysed by the Vietnam War facilitated a group of mothers to not only represent their son’s interests but more importantly, their own. Australia’s involvement in the Vietnam War began in 1962. Conscription through the ‘Birthday Ballot’ was introduced in November 1964 by the Menzies government. Australian men under the age of 27 were required to register for a maximum of five years service under the National Service Scheme, potentially sending them to Vietnam, Malaya and Indonesia. The notion that these young men’s lives were subject to random chance with the ‘Birthday Ballot’ system induced social sentiments of upset and protest, especially among the people who raised them. A new form of resistance was represented by the Save Our Sons movement, which unified the zeitgeist of protest starting in the 1960s 1
Kuhn 2009, 28-34. ARNA 2020 | 19
with the maternal nature of a mother’s love. The anti-war period took the form of embodying great hopes for a united civilisation and in turn enabled a restructuring of society, evident within the anti-Vietnam movement. By progressing past the conservatism of the 1950s,2 Piccini believes that it was ‘a period in which the utopian idea of a global revolution beyond classes, nations . . . seemed not only possible but perhaps inevitable’.3 The force of revolt arose from a refusal to allow pre-established structures to remain. Whether it was a background impetus or the forefront push to this ‘revolt’, the Vietnam War was omnipresent within this landscape, an emblem of anger supposedly ‘waged in the name of western “civilisation” and “freedom”’.4 Many globally – let alone nationally – could not understand the need for Australia to participate in a war against Communism. Richard Cohen wrote retrospectively in the Washington Post that ‘[Australia] is also a signatory to the ANZUS Pact, one of those cold war-era alliances in which the United States, like a spider, wove a web . . . neither “A” nor “NZ” faces even the remotest Soviet threat.’ Hence this confusion, combined with uncertainties over America’s military commitment, culminated into popular support waning for the Vietnam War. Polls in August 1969 indicated for the first time that most Australians were opposed to military involvement in Vietnam.5 As images of Vietnamese women and children being ‘burned, gassed and tortured’ began to be seen on television screens, many supported the right of young men to refuse to take ‘part in such an immoral war.’6 Ideological meetings such as Moratoriums began to signify a wave of protest and a fight back from society, with ‘the “New-Left” and radical student protestors… dominat[ing the movement].’7 York claimed that the social base of the movement was to be found in academic and student circles, confined to the middle class.8 This establishment of a climate for protest largely unique to the 1960s and 70s ultimately led to the dominance of radical groups in popular memory. However, the main way that the Vietnam Protest movement gained traction was through the 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
Piccini 2016, 2. Piccini 2016, 2. “The Communist Party of Australia” 1969. Ekins and McNeill 2012, 306. Save Our Sons Sydney Newsletter 1966. Irving 2016, 292. Irving 2017, 5.
very fact that it created a global movement. With a sense of international unity came the opportunity for a new variety of protestors to have a voice – mothers. On the surface, the Save Our Sons group embodied a womanly outlook on anti-conscription, fighting for a personal issue, driven by a mother’s love for her child. When analysing sources of records through the group’s newsletters, however, it becomes apparent that the movement enabled the move of woman-as-mother9 from the private sphere to the public sphere. An image of the group at an Anti-War Demonstration in Canberra 1968 displays a presentation of conservatism, ‘embroidered sashes’10 and signs with slogans ‘no more sons for JohnSON’ (as seen in figure one), 11 reiterating Murphy’s statement that the women ‘represented a demure but resolute use of public space.’12 Their appearance may have appeared ‘quaint’, as suggested by the Pennant Hills butcher shop that acted as the meeting location for group leaders Mrs Ashcroft and Mrs Golgerth.13 Member Jean McLean also reminisced in a newsletter that the first meetings were held in shopping centres.14 Yet, Mrs Golgerth believed that the domestic and feminised activity of shopping for groceries was central to the formation of SOS.15 It becomes evident that the very act of being in a protest group itself was a form of defiance for these women. A member – Irene Miller – recalled that she felt nervous going into the demonstrations, and explained that ‘[g]etting up at 4:30 am, especially in the winter in the cold, and when it rained . . . was hard, but you knew why you had to keep going’.16 In effect, these women’s femininity was transformed into a tool of action for political awareness, ultimately being the main catalyst for getting their voices heard. The SOS’ ideology was multifaceted and not simply composed of a desire to halt their sons from being conscripted. Their drive can be divided into two parts, the first being the ethos of motherhood. A poem 9 Irving 2017,54. 10 Murphy 1993, 141. 11 Anti-War Demonstration, Canberra c.1968. 12 Murphy 1993, 141. 13 Sun 1965. 14 Save Our Sons Sydney Newsletter 1996. 15 Save Our Sons Sydney Newsletter 1996. 16 Miller quoted in Irving 2017, 62. ARNA 2020 | 21
written by June Butcher was published in the February 1967 edition of the SOS newsletter, ‘For at twenty my son became conscript – a killer of men . . . All my years of love and sacrifice count as nothing . . . [in the] mud of a battlefield in Vietnam?’17 Her emotional sentiment demonstrated how the SOS enabled an ‘easy connection of femininity and motherhood to pacifism.’18 Further, a main strategy for the SOS was to appeal to mothers. The name itself, ‘Save Our Sons,’ mirrored the universal distress signal ‘SOS’, and vicariously acted as a call to action. As one mother said, ‘you bring your child up not to kill and to respect their country. How can they reconcile this with being sent to kill people who have done them no harm?’19 Motherhood became integral to the group’s existence. By applying Lake’s model of Australian maternal citizenship, it can be argued that for the SOS to secure a political platform as feminist activists, they had to construct a model of citizenship that operated as a ‘mother-citizen’. Consequently, this very core of maternal instinct allowed these women to exit the private realm of motherhood and to challenge the masculine power that dominated political hierarchy.20 The second element that defined the SOS movement was that it was built alongside an international, feminist revolution. The growth of female emancipation and introduction of equal rights between genders mean that the women of SOS engaged in public activity not only on the behalf of their sons,21 but to stand against the idea that ‘women had no national or international political function’.22 A letter from the first SOS newsletter came from a mother from Portland, NSW. She wrote that ‘it is high time for women of the world, whatever their nationality, colour or creed, to have a voice in the fate of the children they bore’.23 The SOS women’s ‘voice’ began to develop through their tactical circulation of political dissent. They used pathos in their leaflets to persuade, ‘our government is conscripting twenty-year-olds without voice or choice for the undeclared war in Vietnam, in which women and children are being 17 Butcher 1967. 18 Irving 2017, 54. 19 Tribune July 1967. 20 Lake 1994, 100 21 Irving 2017, 70. 22 Sluga 2004, 514. 23 Save Our Sons Sydney Newsletter September 1965. 22 |Essays
burned, gassed and tortured.’24 Irving argued that ‘the women of SOS made a claim on public space and public sphere . . . which they formed [by] making it clear that the ideas of politics based [on] essential sexual difference and the mother-citizen informed their actions.’25 Ultimately, the SOS stood for more than just a protest group representing their sons and their right to not go to war. These women encapsulated a global perspective that was against an immoral war. A perspective founded upon traditional notions of femininity, but one that carried strength and political opinion nonetheless. The impetus of the Vietnam War caused public and private spheres for women to merge. The SOS’ legacy still remains today, they challenged understandings of political protest and what it had originally represented, differing greatly from student protests or purely political groups. 26 The language in their newsletters may be conservative and polite, yet it is aggressive and effectively allowed a growth of ‘political capital out of the combination of respectability and the public figure of the citizen-mother.’27 It cannot be denied that at the core of their movement was the zeitgeist of the Vietnam War, the 1960s and 70s respectively. Without the instability that arose, leading to a shift in definition of what was moral, right and wrong, individuals, including mothers, would have been unable to perform their objections to the extent seen in the anti-war movement. The women who comprised the Save Our Sons movement refused to let patriarchal norms stop them from taking a stand for what they believed in, and they carved a powerful platform for women to challenge oppressive frameworks by reflecting their own femininity and motherhood.
24 25 26 27
Save Our Sons Sydney Newsletter May 1966. Irving 2017, 54 -55. Irving 2017, 63. Irving 2017, 63 ARNA 2020 | 23
Armstrong, Pauline (1991). ‘Interview with Irene Miller’ in History of Save Our Sons. Melbourne: Monash University. The Canberra Times (1966). Anti-Vietnam war rallies continue. Canberra Times, March. Hamel-Green, Michael (1970) ‘Vietnam: beyond pity’ in Australian Left Review. Australia: The Communist Party of Australia. Miller, Irene. (Member of SOS). Interview with Armstrong, History of Save Our Sons Russell, Ian and David Bugler (1961). Students: ‘Please… take five minutes to read this pamphlet’ Vietnam Moratorium Booklet. Brisbane: University of Queensland. Save Our Sons. Collection of Newsletters. Sydney, dating 19651972. Accessed: State Library of NSW. Sun (1965). “Those women with banners.” Sun, December. Sydney Morning Herald (1970). The “Violence.” Sydney Morning Herald, May. Tribune (1965). “Save our Sons.” Tribune, July. Tribune (1969). “The Communist Party of Australia.” Tribune. Secondary Sources Anzac Portal. “The Birthday Ballot.” Anzacportal.dva.gov.au. https://anzacportal.dva.gov.au/history/conflicts/australia-and-vietnam-war/events/conscription/birthday-ballot. Accessed 12 September, 2018. 24 |Essays
Charlesworth, Max and Val Noone (1987). Christians, Vietnam and the Theory of the Just War. In Kenneth Maddox and Barry Wright, eds. War: Australia and Vietnam, 1-314. Sydney: Harper & Row. Ekins, Ashley and Ian McNeill (2012). Fighting to the Finish: the Australian Army and the Vietnam War 1968-1975. Sydney: Allen and Unwin. Gerster, Robin and Jan Bassett (1991). Seizures of Youth: the 1960s and Australia. Victoria: Hyland House. Irving, Nick (2016). ‘Answering the “International Call”: Contextualizing Sydney Anti-Nuclear and Anti-War Activism in the 1960s’ in Journal of Australian Studies. London: Routledge. Irving, Nick (2017). Anti-conscription protest, liberal individualism and the limits of national myths in the global 1960s. United Kingdom: Taylor and Francis. Irving, Nick (2017). Global Thought, Local Action, Australian Activism during the Vietnam War 1961-1972 40(3): 291-301. Kuhn, Rick (2009). Australia and the Vietnam War: Analyses, Actions and Attitudes. Baltimore: Agora. Lake, Marilyn (1994). Personality, individuality, nationality: Feminist conceptions of citizenship 1902-1940. Australian Feminist Studies 9: 25-38. McCarthy, Kathleen (1993). War and Peace: The Catholic Church, Max Charlesworth and B. A. Santamaria. Strathfield: The Australasian Catholic Record. Murphy, John (1993). Harvest of Fear: A History of Australia’s Vietnam War. Crows Nest, Sydney: Allen and Unwin. Piccini, Jon (2016). Transnational Protest, Australia and the 1960s: Global Radicals. London: Palgrave Macmillan. ARNA 2020 | 25
Prince, Simon (2006). The Global Revolt of 1968 and Northern Ireland. The Historical Journal. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Sluga, Glenda (2004). Female and National Self-Determination: A Gender Re-reading of â€˜The Apogee of Nationalism. Nations and Nationalism. New Jersey: Wiley-Blackweel.
Source: Murphy, John (1993). Harvest of Fear: A History of Australiaâ€™s Vietnam War. Crows Nest, Sydney: Allen and
Complex Napoleon: do short guys have bigger problems? Rhian Mordaunt Dr. Seuss, in his famous book Horton Hears a Who! once stated that, ‘a person’s a person no matter how small.’1 But is ‘a man a man no matter how small?’ For as long as I can remember, I have always been short. I was always at the front of the line when we had to go in height order for photo days. I had to wait for what felt like forever before I could go on most of the rides at Luna Park. I was even cast as ‘Small Boy’ in the Sydney production of Billy Elliot back in 2007, which was simultaneously the best and worst thing for my eight-year-old ego. All of this didn’t seem very fair when I was younger, considering that both my dad and my brother are over six foot. I have also always been referred to as ‘cute’, although as a brown, gay guy, I could have been called a lot worse. While my taller guy friends would get called ‘hot’ or ‘handsome’, I got bombarded with remarks such as ‘omg you are just so cute’ or ‘you are so petite it is adorable’. But does anyone want to date ‘cute’? When I entered the gay scene I was immediately categorised as a ‘twink’. However, as an 18-year-old me waltzed through the darkened ARQ dance floors, I wondered whether my height would forever forbid me from becoming the mythical ‘dom jock leather daddy’. Despite my numerous attempts at getting rid of the ‘cute’ label, which included growing out patchy facial hair and playing bass guitar in an indie rock band, 21-year-old me who stands at a whopping five-foot-six is still called the ‘c-word’. Besides not being able to reach the jar on the top shelf or being a star basketball player, do short guys really have bigger problems? 1
Seuss 1954, 6. ARNA 2020 | 27
Do short guys finish last? Jonathan Rauch stated that, ‘height discrimination begins from the moment male humans become verticle’.2 This is due to the fact that taller boys are associated with being more ‘mature’ and ‘natural leaders’ while shorter boys are viewed as being ‘childlike’ and ‘pushy’. A possible reason for this is that masculinity is culturally linked with dominance and taller men have larger bodies which enable them to occupy more space. This would act as a reasonable explanation for men being more likely to lie about their height than women, as a way of enhancing their perceived masculinity. Scholars have also found that there may be a sociobiological explanation as to why humans equate height with power, as it would be evolutionarily advantageous when finding a ‘strong’ mate or perceiving a larger creature as being dangerous.3 Regardless of what led to this bias, height and power has become synonymous as a result, causing individuals to hold taller people in ‘higher’ esteem. This is reflected through the language we use when we talk about people whom we admire (e.g. ‘looking up to someone’, ‘big man’ or ‘holding someone in high regard’), in comparison to people we ‘look down on’ or who have ‘shortcomings’. This all sounds rather ridiculous, however, it must be stressed that language and power are inherently interlinked. As George Orwell once stated, ‘if thought corrupts language, language can also corrupt thought’.4 With a study finding a twofold increase in suicide in shorter men than in taller men, it’s safe to say that language has indeed corrupted thought.5 The bigger leader the larger the influence? In the United States presidential election, the taller candidate is twice as likely to win.6 Interestingly, not since 1896 have United States citizens elected a president whose height was below average. That man was William McKinley, who stood at a modest five-foot-seven and was 2 3 4 5 6
Rauch 1995. Judge and Cable 2004. Orwell 1961, 72. Magnusson, Gubbell et al. 2005. Blaker, Rompa et al. 2013.
ridiculed by the press for being a ‘little boy’. This highlights the fact that height is positively associated with leadership and authority. In a study conducted by Nancy M. Baker, it was concluded that in North America and Europe, taller men have a variety of better life outcomes – including higher occupational financial status – in comparison to their shorter counterparts.7 She believed this was because taller individuals were perceived as being more ‘leader-like’ because throughout human evolutionary history, height has been a visual indicator of someone’s dominance and whether or not they were ‘fit to lead’. From being School Captain in primary school, a Sports Captain in high school and being an executive on way too many committees while at university, I take great pride in my leadership skills honed over the years. However, I know that my height has impacted the ways in which I’ve been able to lead. My attempts at leadership often get met with ‘omg, you’re so cute when you’re assertive’. This is one of the main reasons why I wanted to get rid of the cute label: I wanted my opinions to be heard and valued. How was I meant to achieve this if my body isn’t deemed ‘worthy’ of being taken seriously? Would a few inches of height really alter people’s judgement of my capacity to lead? Relationships and dating preferences In the Reddit thread titled, ‘Short guys of Reddit, how did your height affect your life as a whole? How do you compensate?’ one user responded, ‘I like being short, really. But the rejection from women growing up was really shitty.’8 So, is it really harder in the dating world for shorter guys? Studies have found that taller, heterosexual men had greater dating and reproductive success than shorter, heterosexual men. Journalist Charlotte Gill found that on the dating website OK Cupid taller men received more messages and had more sexual encounters.9 This could be due to the fact that many in heterosexual relationships try and fit into the societal norm, 7 8 9
Blaker, Rompa et al. 2013. Black 2015. Gill 2015. ARNA 2020 | 29
wherein the woman is shorter and the man is taller. This represents the gendered dimensions of height, as it reinforces a gendered binary whereby men are traditionally represented as being dominant and aggressive while women are subordinate and passive. However, Anthony Bogaert and Donald McCreary note that heterosexual men appear to conform more to this gender stereotype in comparison to gay men.10 As shown in their study, they found that gay men in the United States appeared to be less concerned about their height.11 I know for one that I have never really found my short stature to be much of a barrier when it comes to dating other men – maybe it’s my cuteness? However, I have noticed my height has meant that I usually get stereotyped with characteristics that are typically associated with ‘twinks’; naive, feminine, only bottoms, vanity obsessed and a party animal. The amount of times I’ve been asked out on first dates to clubs is ridiculous, and most of the time, these guys are shocked to find out I’d rather just be drinking a beer in a chill bar in Newtown – the polar opposite to the image that they had of me guzzling vodka red bulls into the early hours of the morning. Even from friends within the gay community, it seems as though when I deviate from these expectations of ‘twink-ness’, I get ridiculed for supposedly ‘lying’ about my identity and get met with snarky comments such as ‘lol as if you could top’ or ‘do you want me to hold your purse?’. Though it kills me to say this, I do sometimes play into the twink stereotype in order to feel accepted and desired by others. I always feel a sense of guilt when I notice my intelligent, law school brain transforming into a ditzy stock character. Small yet mighty This article could easily be interpreted as an angry, Napoleonic rant about my distaste for tall people and trying to start up a #smallman power movement, but that would be minimising . . . wait no um . . . that would be reduc – that would be simplifying my argument. I believe that we need to address our cultural and social biases and 10 11
Bogaert and McCreary 2011. Blaker, Rompa et al. 2013.
confront the ways in which we interpret male bodies. There must be a reformation as to how we interpret representations of masculinity if we are to create a world in which no one is limited merely because of their bodily characteristics. After all, arenâ€™t there bigger issues to focus on than oneâ€™s height?
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References Black, Birch (2015). Comment on Sloan Wall, Short guys of reddit, how did you height affect your life as a whole? how do you compensate?. Reddit. Blaker, Nancy M., Irene Rompa, Inge H. Dessing, Anne F. Vriend, Channah Herschberg and Mark van Vugt (2013) The height leadership advantage in men and women: Testing evolutionary psychology perceptions about the perceptions of tall leaders. Group Processes and Intergroup Relations 16(1): 17–27. Bogaert, Anthony F. and Donald R. McCreary (2011). Masculinity and the Distortion of Self-Reported Height in Men. Sex Roles 65(7): 548–556. Gill, Charlotte (2015). Women need to stop discriminating against short men – it’s even worse than fat-shaming. Independent, 10 September. Judge, Timothy A, Daniel M. Cable (2004). The Effect of Physical Height on Workplace Success and income: Preliminary Test. Journal of Applied Psychology, 89(3): 428-441. Magnusson, Patrik K.E, David Gunnell, Per Tynelius, George Davey Smith and Finn Rasmussen (2005). Strong Inverse Asssociation Between Height and Suicide in a Large Cohort of Swedish Men: Evidence of Early Life Origins of Suicidal Behaviour?. Psychiatry 162: 1373–1375. Orwell, George (1961). 1984. New York: New American Library. Rauch, Jonathan (1995). Short Guys Finish Last. Economist, 23 December.
The Dilemma concerning the Rule of Law in Cicero’s Orations David Delprat The rule of law is considered a cornerstone principle in liberal democracy, yet in a world fraught with countless existential threats, political chaos, and economic inequality, the primacy of law has not always been without challenge. Often in times of crisis the law has been abrogated or ignored, justified by appeals to national security or even national survival. After the 9/11 terrorist attacks, much was justified on these grounds, including arguably the suspension of habeas corpus1 for suspected terrorists. Even today, during our current health crisis, the government has assumed an unprecedented level of coercive power under biosecurity legislation in order to counter infection rates. The rights of citizens to freely congregate and conduct business have been suspended for the sake our safety. There is much argument to be had about the legality of these extraordinary powers, and their enforcement by the police, but given a reasonable assessment of the threat of virus to human life they are clearly justified. However, we are alarmingly apathetic and uncritical about this level of government control. Most of us are largely willing to deemphasise the rule of law if we feel that our safety and the safety of the nation is sufficiently threatened. Though it is in our best interest, we are perhaps too ready to accept such measures without questioning if the fear is great enough. After all, history has made us all too aware of the dangers of encroaching extrajudicial power. At its most extreme, it can mean the de facto suspension of lawful constitutional government. This tension was inherent within the 1919 Weimar Constitution, in which Article 48 gives the President emergency powers ‘to restore public security and order’, by military intervention if necessary, if the German Reich was sufficiently endangered.2 This included the suspension of ‘basic rights’. The then Weimar, later Nazi, jurist Carl Schmitt described this as an ‘attempt to spell out in detail the case in which law suspends itself.’3 It was later the 1 2 3
The right, under law, to be provided a sufficient reason for a one’s imprison ment by the state. Schwab 1985, xx. Schmitt 1985, 14. ARNA 2020 | 33
vehicle for Hitler’s assumption of dictatorial powers in 1933. Thus, the stakes of circumscribing emergency or extrajudicial power in modern societies could not be higher. This tension between the freedom and security has been present in law-governed societies for generations, and nowhere was it more prescient than in the latter days of Roman Republic, most notably found in the writings and orations of republican statesman and lawyer Marcus Tullius Cicero (106-43 BC). Although the republic was a society notably built upon laws, the political crises that plagued it in later years arose largely due to the rise of powerful military personalities in conjunction with a rapidly expanding empire. This consequently threatened the continuity of the res publica (the public affair of governance, or commonwealth), seen by conservative Romans as the carefully balanced ancient constitution, and the guarantee of Roman libertas.4 Throughout Cicero’s career the tension between the rule of law and extrajudicial action is pervasive during this republican decline. It reflected Cicero’s personal and political understanding of the Republic as foundational to the rule of law, wherein if the Republic was threatened, an extrajudicial step was justified in ensuring its perpetuation. Such an understanding evolved over his career from his time as consul in 63BC, through to the assassination of Julius Caesar in 44 BC. Cicero believed that although one must uphold the laws of res publica in conformity with the ideal Optimate5 statesman, one may have to risk their dignitas6 for the preservation of the state. As can be found in the case of the Catilinarian conspirators being summarily executed during his 63 BC consulship, an act significant to Cicero’s dignitas across his career given the changing political situation. The precariousness of these scenarios also depends chiefly on the provision of senatus consultum ultimum (scu) and its extra-legality with respect to the suppression of those deemed a threat to the res publica. The scu, the Senate’s ultimate decree, conferred extraordinary powers upon the consul (executive magistrate) in a time of crisis, making it markedly similar to Weimar’s Article 48. Cicero’s repeated experience with the scu combined with varied expediential justifications of action, contribute to a tension between the law-abiding credentials of an Optimate statesman and the 4 Libertas: Liberty of a free Roman citizen. 5 Optimates: The “best men” of Rome, ‘conservative’ political faction. 6 Dignitas: The prestige or reputation of a Roman statesman.
need to defend the res publica through non-legal force. Thereby putting at risk a respect for citizen rights inherent within the ideal of correct inter-citizen political action in the context of a stable res publica. In revealing the locus of this political dilemma, it would be useful to outline Cicero’s predicament in the first In Catilinam.7 Cicero exposes Catiline’s intentions to overthrow the state, descending the city into a state of crisis as Catiline continues to attend Senate meetings.8 Against Catiline, Cicero invokes various precedents (exempla) wherein a brave private citizen employs self-help and kills a would-be tyrant or citizen traitor.9 Immediately afterwards, Cicero raises the decree of the scu, senatus consultum ultimum; which he maintains is one of ‘power and auctoritas’, and thereafter invokes exempla by which the scu was decreed and consuls summarily executed the targeted citizen. However such precedents were not uncontroversial as scholar Andrew Drummond notes in reference to Opimius, who previously executed thousands of popularis (anti-Optimate, populist) dissidents without trial in 121 BC.10 Yet, Cicero insists that Catiline will live so long as there are those who would call his execution an injustice.11 It is here where Cicero reveals the tension between the necessity to appear to abide by the rule of law and the frequent necessity to go beyond the law to preserve the res publica. Lintott interprets Cicero’s rhetoric here as political expediency preventing him from resorting to extreme action, as he would at this time be hoping to avoid unnecessary violence in addition to being concerned about how such an act would affect his political prestige.12 However, Drummond interprets Cicero’s insistence on certain legitimate action as merely a rhetorical use of the scu to create political consensus, suggesting that his hesitation was indicative of his expectation of opposition.13 Nevertheless, we also see how the scu is revealed to be a relevant aspect of the justification of supposed extra-legal action against insurrection, giving the appearance of the authority of the Senate. In Caesar’s reference to the scu in 49, though he objects to its use against him, he nonetheless concedes its legitimacy in circumstances akin to the Catilinarian conspiracy.14 Furthermore, Cicero explicitly states that the execution of Catiline under the scu is the ‘obvious course appropriate to auctoritas of my position’ as ‘conferred’ by the Senate’s decree, notably not of explicit legality.15 14 15
Caes. BCiv. 1.5-7. Cic. Cat. 1.12. ARNA 2020 | 35
Political considerations and appearances are at the forefront of any justification of extra-legal force. Classical scholar Chaim Wiszubski’s interpretation of Cicero’s defence of his ally Sestius in the aftermath of Cicero’s return from an exile, centres on the difficulty of pursuing what Cicero believes to be the chief aim of an Optimate politician, that being cum dignitate otium (dignity/honour with peace/tranquillity).16 Cicero refers to the readier inclination to violence on the part of the popularis, meaning the optimate must have the courage to sacrifice his dignitas in favour of the common otium. Thus prompting Wiszubski to draw-out a possible collision between one’s claims to dignitas and the requirements of otium in times of fractious unrest.17 Such an analysis is relevant to Cicero’s concern over his dignitas in the deliberations over the right course of action with respect to the Catilinarian conspirators. Indeed, when Catiline was still in the city, Cicero is chiefly afraid of accusations of tyranny or cruelty if he were to execute Catiline, but he is also concerned over the possible outbreak of Catilinarian violence.18 Cicero’s expedient concern for his own political prestige in the immediate sense and the wider concern in averting civil conflict reflects the degree to which poltical prestige and civic tranquillity are intricately inter-linked in the ideal and practical Optimate statesman’s style of politics as understood by Cicero years later. This hints at such a mindset’s inability to deal adequately with civil discord, and thus forcing Cicero’s political re-consideration of what justifies vis (political violence).19 In this sense, the modern politician is forced into a similar position when faced with national instability. The political violence which permeated Weimar Germany during the inter-war period justified the Article 48 provision in the eyes of many, though it would precipitate the end of constitutional government in a way not dissimilar to that of the Roman Republic. Cicero’s dilemma is also prevalent in cases where politically motivated extrajudicial justice is implicitly supported, but not explicitly sanctioned by “the state”. Andrew Lintott interprets Cicero’s perspective in his 56 BC defence of Sestius as the belief that political violence (vis) was justified in cases wherein legal measures are exhausted, in that if one side abandons the law then the other side must abandon it also to effectively 16 17 18 19
App. B Civ. 2.15-16. Cic. Sest. 100.; Wiszubski 1954, 10. Cic. Cat. 1.12, 30. Wiszubski 1954, 8-9. “
counter the threat.20 This interpretation can be extended to Cicero’s understanding of the very foundation of law and thereby civilisation, justifying Milo and Sestius’ recourse to vis in response for fear that ‘might would otherwise prevail [over right].’21 Though Lintott sums up Cicero’s approach to vis as essentially being one of ambivalence, it is noteworthy how Cicero is later careful to locate its appropriateness inside the context of a lawful res publica, especially as one considers Cicero’s understanding of tyrannicide in his de Re Publica alongside his first Catilinarian oration, whereby he invokes similar imagery of self-help.22 From this, Lintott formulates an extreme view of tyrannicide which he attributes to both Cicero and Brutus, wherein a would-be tyrant could be justifiably killed by a non-magistrate ‘patriotic citizen’, although we have proven that this is limited by a political expediency with respect to protecting the rule of law as an Optimate statesman, which necessitates an examination of the role of the scu in such considerations.23 In the first In Catilinam, Cicero’s invective questioning has the effect of isolating Catiline in the hope he will acquiesce to a self-imposed exile, so that Cicero may avert the civil crisis without resorting to non-legal means, despite the scu.24 Cicero maintains that he won’t ask the Senate to vote on an exile in that such a thing is ‘contrary to my practice’, thus indicating that the scu did not give the Senate the status of a judicial body.25 At the climax of the oration, Cicero asks himself rhetorically why he has not suppressed this public enemy (hostis) by force, and queries whether it is out of respect for the laws of punishment. He then replies in the voice of the fatherland (patria) that insurrectionists no longer enjoy the rights of citizenship, insisting that these conspirators be characterised as criminals involved in ‘banditry not war’.26 Such a suspicion is warranted, given Cicero’s later writings about tyrannicide in that would-be tyrants are estranged from the ‘community of mankind’.27 Nevertheless, the in20 Lintott 1999, Violence in Republican Rome, 62.; Cic. Sest. 86.; Gardner (1966), 32. 21 Cic. Sest. 91-92. 22 Lintott 1999, Violence in Republican Rome, 54.; Cic. Rep. 2. 46.; Cic. Cat. 1.3-4. 23 Ibid., 56-57. 24 Cic. Cat. 1.16. 25 Cic. Cat. 1.20.; Macdonald (1976), 569. 26 Cic. Cat. 1.25-28. Cf. Cic. Cat. 2.22, 27: “… for although they are enemies, still they are born citizens.”; Macdonald 1976, 60-61. 27 Cic. Rep. 2.46-48.; Cic. Off. 3. 32.; Lintott 1999, Violence in Republican Rome, 55. ARNA 2020 | 37
ner-dialogue presented by Cicero covers his fear of posterity if his actions are received poorly, but he responds with the common imagery of the noble magistrate who acts in defiance of unpopularity for the sake of the res publica.28 Thus the tension is present throughout Cicero’s first oration, in a manner consistent with his rhetorical intention, but also indicative of the scu’s ambiguity and his subsequent anxiety but also his own dignitas being reliant on civil peace, a tension which is conveyed also by Sallust in his account when further evidence of the conspiracy surfaced.29 Nevertheless, Cicero’s association of the scu with the treatment of the Catilinarians as hostis, legitimising their treatment as non-citizens without legal rights, is considered by Drummond to be a novel ‘doctrine’ of Cicero’s rhetoric in the first In Catilinam, which is corroborated by the scu’s absence in the fourth In Catilinam when the subject of appropriate punishment is most pertinent.30 Given Drummond’s reading of Roman political institutions being provisional and constitutional law being based on popular consensus of the time, it therefore stands to reason that the scu’s legal-constitutional significance rested in its relevance to political circumstance. Cicero’s association with non-legal force continued through the 50s, most notably in the case of Milo’s killing of Clodius in 52 BC. As a great enemy of Clodius, Cicero defended Milo from prosecution. Clodius was politically opposed to Cicero’s Optimate conservative politics, and in his role as Tribune of the Plebs he managed to get Cicero exiled for his actions as consul in 63BC, although Cicero returned not long after. Milo was an ally of the Optimates and exerted political influence through gang activities and street violence. Although the killing resulted from an unpremeditated incident along the Appian Way, both sides of the case argued that their respective enemy was setting a trap for their client.31 Having occurred during Milo’s election for consul and Clodius’ election for praetor, which was concurrent with political violence causing the delay of elections, the case was highly politically motivated along partisan lines not unlike the Catilinarian conspiracy.32 The incident provoked the Clodians into burning down the Senate house, after which the Senate decreed the scu and made Pompey Magnus sole consul in order to handle 28 29 30 31 32
Cic. Cat. 1.28-29. Cf. Cic. Mil. 82.; Plut. Cic. 22.5-8. Sall. Cat. 46.2. Drummond 1995, 96-98.; Cic. Cat. 1.28. Ascon. 32C, 34c, 41c.; App. B Civ. 2.21. Ascon. 30C-31C.; Plut. Cic. 35.1-5.
the situation, by which he passed the lex Pompeia concerning vis under which Milo was charged.33 Cicero’s primary defence in the trial was that concerning self-defence, whereby it was lawful for Milo to kill Clodius in that he set a trap and ambushed him, in the same vein wherein killing a bandit is lawful.34 However, Cicero’s fellow advocate Brutus argued that Clodius’ murder was in the interest of the res publica, which Cicero rejected at the time in that he felt that it was indefensible to kill someone in the public interest ‘without conviction.’35 Nevertheless, in the published version of Pro Milone, Cicero embarks upon a national interest defence, which was indicative of a changed public mood with respect to Clodius’ murder in the aftermath of the trial.36 In Cicero’s published speech, Cicero proceeds to compare Milo to the familiar imagery of the past exempla killings, suggesting that Clodius’ violent actions against the res publica combined with a praetorship would spell its end.37 Given this, Clodius’ killing brought about the end of ‘madness we were unable to curb by any laws or courts.’, thus justifying an illegal killing for the sake of the res publica, an action vindicated by the ‘long-lasting celebration’ of Clodius’ death afterwards, as Cicero asserts.38 Cicero notably recognises the illegality of the killing.39 It has been argued by historians Clark and Ruebel that Cicero originally did not feel he could resort to such a defence (pro re publica) according to later Roman commentator Aconius, because in contrast to prior exempla there had not been an scu decree to ‘authorise’ the use of non-legal force.40 This suggests the relevance of the scu in defending the use of non-legal force before a court or the Senate, however the use of the national defence argument in the published edition reflects Ciceros’ extreme personal belief in justifiable tyrannicide as reflected in De re Publica, as argued by Lintott’s formulation.41 Thus, one can interpret Cicero’s arguments and actions with respect to the debate over the captured Catilinarian conspirators through the lenses of political authority and responsibility. If the scu was not 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41
Ascon. 33C-36C, 38C.; App. B Civ. 2.23. Cic. Mil. 9-11. Ascon. 41C. Berry 2000, 170-171.; Cass. Dio. 40.54.2-3. Cic. Mil. 72-76, 89. Cic. Mil. 77, 104.; Cf. Plut. Cic. 22.5-8. Cic. Mil. 104. Clark and Ruebel 1985, 69-70.; Ascon. 41C. Cic. Rep. 2.46-48.; Lintott 1999, Violence in Republican Rome, 56-58. ARNA 2020 | 39
relevant legally to Cicero’s defence of the summary execution as argued by Drummond, then it must be interpreted through what was politically defensible in the context of Cicero’s ‘conservative’ disposition contrasted with the depiction of the Catilinarians as violent revolutionaries.42 Contrasted with Cicero’s actual defence in Pro Milone, when defending consul-elect Murena from prosecution for electoral malpractice in the midst of the Catilinarian crisis, Cicero puts forward a national interest defence, whereby it was critical that a militarily experienced consul be in office to face Catiline in 62.43 Murena’s unanimous acquittal emphasises the acceptability of non-legal defences being contingent on the political conditions of the time, particularly when considering the timing of the scu declaration, which was not politically advantageous in the case of Cicero’s defence of Milo.44 In In Catilinam IV, Cicero seems to emphasise the role of the Senate in the eventual decision on the conspirators, in a way that defers the responsibility to the Senate by recognising their auctoritas such that he ‘will not shrink from obeying your decrees.’45 Being a Senate inclined toward Cicero’s political opinion, sharpened by Cato’s justification whereby he argues that it is foolish to invoke the law when the city upon which that law is founded is under threat, it is therefore unsurprising that they approved the execution.46 Hence it is the authority of the Senate that differentiates the defences in the Catilinarian orations and Pro Milone. It can therefore be said that Cicero’s political pragmatism meant that any extra-judicial action should ideally have the backing of the Senate in order to be justifiable, a support that Brutus would’ve greatly benefited from politically in his assassination of Caesar.47 In all, it is clear that Romans were willing to accept and politically support the abrogation of law at times when it was seen to be needed and the political circumstances were such that any extra-legal activity was nominally sanctionable by the legislative bodies in question. Cicero’s extensive accounts of Roman politics and law reflect this. Drummond agrees with such a reading of the Catilinarian Orations and Sallust, arguing that the scu strengthened Cicero politically, giving him a viable 42 43 44 45 46 47
Drummond 1995, 105.; Cic. Sest. 100. Cic. Mur. 79-82. Cic. Flac. 98.; Ascon. 53C. Cic. Cat. 4.5, 19, 14.; Cf. Cic. Cat. 1.4. Sall. Cat. 52.3-4, 53.1.; App. B Civ. 2.5-6. Cic. Ad Brut. 10(I.4). 2.; Lintott 1999, Violence in Republican Rome, 150-151.
defence in the context of Senatorial auctoritas and his optimate politics distinct from strict legality.48 Thus, the basis for the tension between appearing to abide by the law and the justification of non-legal action lies in Cicero’s pragmatic approach to vis and tyrannicide in the context of what was viably defensible for the sake of the res publica in a certain political setting. It was this inherent instability of Roman politics combined with the law’s impotence which paved the way for Caesar’s eventual dictatorship and the rise of the Imperial autocracy. This conclusion has several important implications for our society, despite the great differences between our society and that of Ancient Rome. The first is that we as a society are also at the mercy of political contingency. We are foolish to assume that our society would be constitutionally immune to the suspension of law if mass political pressure were to favour such a course of action in a crisis. Secondly, it shows us that a society supposedly founded on laws can slip easily into terror and dictatorship given the right conditions. Many historians have noted that the rise of the Nazi dictatorship was apathetically accepted by Germans as an adequate solution to the instability of the Weimar Republic. There was no great resistance because the combination of mass economic dissatisfaction and political violence made it impossible for free civic engagement to flourish. Instead, violent prejudice and factionalism (as was the case in late Republican Rome) became rife and the individual was swallowed up by totalitarianism. The Weimar Constitution with its Article 48 was easily exploited by those who wished to dissolve it. A responsible and active citizenry with a respect for the rule of law, individual liberties and human dignity is the best insurance from such slippages into tyranny. We like to think of the rule of law and political institutions as our primary safeguards against such calamities, but in truth it is ultimately us, we the people, who exist as the final safeguard of our liberty. In the words of Alexis de Tocqueville, in a truly law-governed and liberal society, ‘feelings and opinions are recruited, the heart is enlarged and the mind developed by the reciprocal influence of human beings on one another.’49 In this we must constantly keep speaking and debating, for as long there are those willing to speak, then political freedom is preserved and thereafter the impetus to action. This it not to 48 49
Drummond 1995, 108-113.; Cic. Cat. 4.23. Tocqueville 1945, II, p. 117. ARNA 2020 | 41
say that in times of crises we are always around the corner from dictatorship. Australiaâ€™s liberal democratic system has proven itself remarkably resilient in times of civil dissatisfaction and existential threats, although it could be said that it has yet to be truly tested. There are times when we will think it necessary to act outside the law to preserve ourselves from a threat. In our globalised, complex societies this is largely inevitable. But we must only do so with great vigilance as to the abiding purpose of our actions, to secure ourselves from tyranny. And ultimately, as Cicero would himself proclaim, tyranny at its heart is a society without laws, except the arbitrary will of those in power.
Berry, D. H. and Cicero (2000). Defence Speeches. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Gardner, R. and Cicero (1966). Cicero: The Speeches Pro Sestio and In Vatinium. Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press. Griffin, M. T. and Atkins, E. M. and Cicero (1991). On Duties. 42 |Essays
Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Lacey, W. K. and Wilson, B. W. J. G. and Cicero. (1970). Res Publica: Roman Politics and Society according to Cicero. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Macdonald, C. and Cicero (1977). Cicero Vol. X: In Catilinam I-IV, Pro Murena, Pro Sulla, Pro Flacco. Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press. Peskett, A. G. and Caesar (1979). Caesar: The Civil Wars. Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press. Rolfe, J. C. and Sallust (1971). Sallust. Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press. Rudd, Niall and Cicero (1998). The Republic and the Laws. Oxford: Oxford University Press. White, Horace and Appian (1972). Appian’s Roman History Vol. III. Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press. Secondary Sources Ch. Wirszubski, and Cicero (1954). “Cicero’s CVM Dignitate Otivm: A Reconsideration.” The Journal of Roman Studies 44: 1-13. Clark, Mark Edward, and James S. Ruebel (1985). “PHILOSOPHY AND RHETORIC IN CICERO’S “PRO MILONE”.” Rheinisches Museum Für Philologie 128, no. 1: 57-72. Drummond, Andrew (1995). Law, Politics and Power: Sallust And the Execution of the Catilinarian Conspirators. Stuttgart: Franz Steiner Verlag. Lintott, Andrew (1999). The Constitution of the Roman Republic. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Lintott, Andrew (1999). Violence in Republican Rome. 2nd ed. Oxford: ARNA 2020 | 43
Oxford University Press. Riggsby, Andrew, M (1999). Crime and Community in Ciceronian Rome. Austin: University of Texas Press. Schmitt, Carl. & Schwab, George (1985). Definition of sovereignty. In Political theology: Four chapters on the concept of sovereignty (pp. 5–15). MIT. Syme, Ronald (1939). The Roman Revolution. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Th. N. Mitchell (1971). “Cicero and the Senatus “consultum Ultimum”.” Historia: Zeitschrift Für Alte Geschichte 20, no. 1: 47-61. De Tocqueville, Alexis (1945). Democracy in America. Ed. Phillips Bradley. Trans. Henry Reeve, Francis Bowen, and Phillips Bradley. 2 vols. New York: Vintage Books (Alfred A. Knopf, Inc., 1945). Woolf, Greg (2007). Et Tu, Brute? The Murder of Caesar and Political Assassination. Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press.
Alone | Janina Osinsao
Not Your Average Joe| Francesca Edwards Rentsch
Oma’s House Victoria Cooper Reverse the roll of night’s fog and tell time to hold back the dust I need the lorikeets to pause their song Glue fallen leaves to their branches and graft youth on peeling fruit I need the lorikeets to pause their song Push back the falling sun and confine caterpillars to cocoons In the clinks of teaspoons, I heard my laugh and yours and made seconds in silences, watching myself age into you– delightfully crêped, crumbed in speculaas and wisdom On my gaping heart’s rim there are fattened pink camellias and your cumquat tree and I’d stop the earth to keep us here – just us – sipping tea
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Earphones Maisie Belle Moon An earphone in my ear and yours: come to listen; that binding chord. From the tomb where I wished to stay the white string glowed between there and away; against our home, the tender warm dark: our mother sings as she gives birth. Around my finger those wires thread towards your heart, upon an end of songs that plead an ulnar case: your heart tried not to pause. But those bloodbound fates of birth and gore, of melodies stopped, for the cableâ€™s fall, revered for the sound once shared â€“ I remember us. An earphone in your ear and mine: come to listen; one (heart) set down.
An Exoskeleton and A Beating Heart Walk into a Bar Margaret Thanos They can’t communicate. Minimal maximum distance, a little too far. You’re a beating heart in human form. Raw and rushing rapidly. Are you the constant norm? Not closed or blocked. Trying to open slammed doors. Devastatingly locked. A rigid external covers my body. Armour against the question ‘Are you an open person?’ My answer: shoddy. He’s everything I’ve ever wanted. Daylight dreams, continual confidence, perpetual fear. Shaking hands at the slightest touch. Pupils dilated – I’m drugged. Because of him, I am happy. He is the reason I fear death. But I can’t tell you that. Can’t tell anyone. Sorry. Voice quivers with the strain of holding back. Bone grinds against emotion. ‘I’m pretty open.’Hack. ARNA 2020 | 51
The Boat People Anya Doan We are the color of the Pacific Ocean sun. Curt cacophony tethers our sea-soaked bodies. They say it will be our turn but our children already know the difference between home, and elsewhere. Shouting into the empty and being washed over with our own tantrums in return, The colonial wall is heavy as drowning in an ocean, but hollow as a tooth cavity. Welcome to the land of unheard-ofs, clean white socks, ‘cereal’ for breakfast, literacy. Welcome to the land where the golden glistens– Welcome to the land of– shhh, –like blonde hair on white sheets. Somebody tell me how to round-off the square syllables rooted in my tongue and teeth that my mother gave me! What they say is true: I. the Wall is a scary thing II. the grass is Whiter on the other side! Every night, to the crooning of our crooked chords, we sleep.
A Very French Anniversary Victoria Cooper In dull flickers of candlelight, I have a famille wine with my louvre, but for the first time in forty years something feels a little œuf. I watch her wrestle with dry bread and a small pisser appel, holding back a cough, she fights to chew another cheesy ensemble. She shakes her head, while spreading jambon the final edge of her crust, her cheeks buffet, wondering, ‘Homme marché amour until we buste?’ She lait her sticky hand on me; it’s sort of hard to bert. Diving into the final wedge of cheddar, I exclaim: ‘Jus-aid we were going to cher!’ She takes her femme hand eau way, I puff août a breath of relief, but then she heads toward the douze, and I start to get a bit piste. “I think I’ll put on my jamais, try to get a bit more confit.” Surprised, I stop being croiss, for a while, hoping there is morte see.
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But, as she emerges bloated and clothed, deflated, I cinquante the floor, and babble through rude words to ç’est, ‘Lord have merci, I can’t wait any mour!!’ With a kiss on each cheek, (moi, moi), She steps ouvert me and gauche to bed. “Happy fortieth anniversary, Darling,” I mutter under my breath.
Sand Hours Kanika Khemlani Slipping through my hourglass, through the funnel and into the well of time. A grain for the beachy summer winds, that soothed our inhibitions and made us immortal A grain for the neighbourâ€™s lavender bush that lost its sprigs to our pockets A grain for the stories shared in frosted breaths, swallowed by campfire flames A grain for the thumping speakers and bumping heads, those duets at red lights A grain for the moments spent alone, in silence, in war, in breath, in existence Grains slipping through the funnel of my hourglass, every grain dearer as the end comes nearer If I were to tip back the glass would these sand hours be anymore mine?
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Dear Reverend Michael Hannelly A verse or two for you, on this fine day; some food for thought, as some might say. And though we haven’t met, I know your kind; forever money, power, and the like on your mind. Your narcissistic self humbled by the judicature: a Reverend by name, not by nature. Education is the progression of your learners; but your actions say of chief concern are your earners. Six weeks’ wages from the coffers, nay compared to six weeks’ normality and sanity spared. I sure hope that this letter finds you well but greater yet that it gives you hell. Though this, no doubt, is not foreign to yourself, for you, Dear Reverend, are the devil himself. And if you’d ever like to contact me, I’ll tell you where to look: seven layers upwards, you sour sook. And before you go assuming I’m the one you ‘set free’: not only Newton knows the apple nay fall far from the tree. For I have something you do not know, or even cherish: a family that support each other, even when we perish. And if my words make you even change at all, then my purpose is exceeded, the truth doth maul. Okay, enough with rhymes, enough with it all; up yours, Reverend. Up yours.
Summer Lovin’ Victoria Cooper Along the lake, my words are muffled mist dried up with little rocks and cigarettes on the bank Summer abuzz, the sizzle of hot blowflies and far off trucks and groaning crickets, and overworked aircons and the overwhelming pulse of itchiness and sweat. The final dribbles of warm white wine pool in a dented cup. Beneath its plastic lip, I wedge my bottom teeth and wait while he puffs through withheld laughs in a shell of blue light It transiently flicks my way (‘seen this meme?’), his breath, a smog, pauses thick and bodiless (‘yeah’). Then I’m dull again The night’s face is cast faint and dark on still waters Hazy ducks dart through reeds and daringly bob below the surface, returning sooted and dazed
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I give in to the wafts of summer love – a heady combination deodorant and citronella Suddenly, both coated in night, he joins me to lie in the communion of crunchy grass and slippery ants. ‘Hold still’ Our clammy hands lay close, another huff of hot night rearranges the hair around his forehead. Finally, his hand extends toward my cheek… ‘Mosquito!’
To Roam The Stars Nicolette Preketes-Tardiani Take me to Talrauj. I’ll guide you through the city. We’ll wander ‘til we’re numb with wonder, paralysed with awe. I’ll slip my hand into yours and with our fingers locked, we’ll go from door to door, knocking ‘til we find a home that’s ours. Let’s steal down bustling streets and boat up cerulean streams, climb toward domed stained-glass, and through tome-heavy libraries. We’ll find a key or open window, sneak within and scale each stair and though our legs will want to stop, we’ll reach a sun-struck rooftop and let our lungs breathe sweetened meadows of magnolia and far-off orchards of lime. It’ll be just the two of us, staring at the skyline of cloud-brushing turrets, soaking in boundless love and endless time.
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Weâ€™ll waltz into midnight and mid-flight, Iâ€™ll look at you soar and, utterly flawed, wonder at how I was ever so lucky to have someone with whom to roam the stars above the city of Talrauj.
Three Sonnets for Hagar: after genesis 16 and 21:8-20 Gabrielle Cadenhead iii. A woman cries out in the wilderness, tree-sap tears spilling on broken boughs; no longer does psithurism bring solace or trickling spring-bed offer hope. She finds instead the promise of death here amid the barren trees and skinny birds. Her son skinnier still, laid aground in dry dirt where she cannot watch him die. In the wilderness, a woman cries tree sap and God hears her â€“ hands glisten with sapling blood, skin scarred deep as the beating desert heat. God answers with news like water from a wasteland well: Ishmael will live to father a nation. ii. Tree-sap child blooms inside her womb, unwanted wasteland infant â€“ seed of Abraham sown uninvited, embedded within her, growing. She feels his rhythm visions consuming her feeble servant-hope, belly swollen with curse-blessing. She survives the angel dream and names the God who sees her. God is desert heat, sanctuary-spring-bringer listening with ears buried deep in Earth.
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Survivor-woman meets God-gaze, spirit battered not defeated. Bade submit she bares new bruises and wild-honey God asks more time: her wasteland child will be named Ishmael. i. Another woman cries out in her kitchen, tears spoiled honey dripping from fingers; long years waiting in torturous silence for promise of new life within her. Sarai grieves her wasteland womb, covenant-child she cannot conceive: blind to a God pregnant with promises, honeyed fingers reach for handmaid Hagar. Hagar dreams of trees Eden-green, wild honey oozing from deep Earth cracks; wellspring hope far from silent wombs, all seed and no Abraham. In rhythm dreams slave and mistress clasp tree-sap hands, share tears and name each other El-roi.
It was the Leap Aleksandra Bridge It was like leaping from the ledge, Holding onto the bars – Of a trapeze. Back
Slowly moving – and forth, Like the pendulum –
Except I was – s w i n g ing
on a grandfather clock.
for quite some time.
I do not know when, how, or why. It was not by choice, Or with ease. I mean, But all I could see was space.
It is a sorted thing.
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A great void of shuddering silence. Well – I guess, It is good to be caught in-between. I learnt how to flip, split, balance, and tuck. And I see it now. There’s just a shifting. We all – grow.
My Professor Said Nicolette Preketes-Tardiani ‘The stream can’t rise above its source.’ Of course, what he meant to say was the government can’t ask the judiciary to this or that way lean. I suppose this analogy holds in more ways than one for we can’t know more than our education, can’t rise above our workstation without approval or promotion, can’t know another intimately without knowing them for a time, at least. But what my professor really meant to say was, ‘Don’t worry, we’re safe from abuse of power as of late, for the stream can’t rise above its source.’ Yet, no matter how we try, we can’t force a circle to become a square or the ultra-privileged to become fair or our leaders to understand while their heads are stuck in sand. As I sat in the hall, I heard reason call like a siren: what if the source of the stream is poisoned? What if it’s blinding us as we drink from it? Are we just getting sicker and sicker, while pollution in the air becomes thicker, and disease is health’s bucket-kicker, and we’re dying just to keep up economy figures, and selfishness makes our humanity flicker?
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‘The stream can’t rise above its source.’ I wonder what our children will say.
The Epic Play: Act 1 Kanika Khemlani [Enter stage right] Moult me to make space downstage for brisk words like forming dew and a smile of waking dawn to rival the spotlight. [She smiles] Perfect. Blank. Masked in cold aloof, they stare and wait and wait Let her words roll from the tongue The tip of the tongue, the teeth, the lips Follow her stride across the stage A loose lace Peril. A lost line Rubber tongue A wrong step Clenched teeth A forgotten cue Pale lips Peril. The teeth of the tips the lips the tongue Delight flits across glassy eyes. an echo of ebbing gasps in hollow chests. [Exit stage right]
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Played the part, with a heart made of crepe Now Iâ€™m backstage fixing myself with dollar store tape.
Requiem Kate Woodbury Yet again, On the western train line They are moving, stations passing No one departing For all the travellers are trapped. One mind suspended within the carriage And as darkness blankets the horizon One mind succumbs to the long voyage home. The commune is silent Within numbing reverie Yet if you surrender your consciousness You may overhear a melody – Their minds Dreaming, Stirring, Humming, Along a chorus of grinding steel. Here, one is many Many faces lapsing, faceless Eyes longing back in the direction Of the city’s luminescence; That now evaporates into the dimly lit bulbs Of this interior. One is everyone. And the one mind clutches desperately at the dream. See the girl; In her bag of paper and ink She bundles the dreams of her ancients, and her own She’d never let escape her lips. They say it’s her ticket out of here,
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That pretty face. But now her ticketâ€™s marked return So in the dream she takes solace. Eyes like starlight, Above darkened semi-moons She performs Before the droning Of the hungry cityâ€™s wake She yearns And ruminates Upon the polyester texture Of her many future faces, Prophesied. And now her mind re-emerges Suffocated within humidity Of air-tight locked windows Exhaled amongst the travellers, one mind. They have all made it out. Yet they now must return To their takeaway containers And late-night TV Until tomorrow (And again) And Again, the dream still murmurs As conversations bide wordless On another vapid night In the carriage of the 9 to 5.
Night Swimming Kate Woodbury My body is hazy beneath the unending envelope of the sky. It surprises me how calm I feel to be so small yet, so powerful The breadth of my fingertips pulse through timid water and through these fingertips I wield the brushstrokes of my creation. Goosebumps â€“ My legs flail at first then meet the rhythms of the breaststroke. Lucid droplets blink away, I control myself, suspend my-self. And still here I rest, held aloft by the careful palms of these ripples. No space to be, no-one to be except merely be.
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I exist only within myself. The last being upon this Earth, calmed by the quiet nothingness of emptied suburbia. Head rocked back, limbs sparse is this my destiny? Released from the urgency and ecstasy of flashing billboards and streams of productivity ever confining creativity. I am caressed by the water, but it does not grip, brands no harsh cerulean marks, but lies beside me swallows into flesh. We exist in coexistence
After a Warm Dry Winter Grace Hu After a warm dry winter a light grey rain offers little relief Spring, too summer-like, sets in all at once intolerantissima umorique ac frigori adsueta aestu et angore vexata moriar. * I want snow to bury me. In the oily marrow of my bones, an ancestral need for cold. Already, the sweet reek of white hedge flowers decaying underfoot makes the warm air too fragrant and heady. Animals cry la petite mort day after day Writhing worms break up the soil so fast it seems to breathe. In and out. New beginnings. The nights are restless and nostalgia is violent Your thoughts track oversaturated across the bedroom back and forth like a train. You pace the balcony instead. The gentle light makes gods of us all It dries and firms the new sticky green Unfurls bush-worths of blue hydrangeas Everything drips vitality but I pray for winter rain. September is the cruellest month, she murmurs hushed promises and caresses as she violates.
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* Accustomed to the wet cold, The suffocating heat irritates me until Iâ€™m dying
The Third Coming: a centennial response to w.b yeats’ ‘the second coming’ (1919) Maisie Belle Moon Loading and loading through that rainbow ring, The pixels are not attuned to our fingers; Things fall apart; our minds cannot cope; A vast universe condensed in a globe. The great flood of selves are free, enclosed in The coded image of embrace; The “liked” become their forays, the forgotten Save face: the cost of applauding applauds. Surely reality has fallen away; Surely the Third Coming is under way? Scarcely can I type-think-text the words out When a revelation from Instagram Disturbs my feed: in some bathroom mirror A siliconed face, a cut-and-pasted body, A gaze photoshopped to be bright stars, Tilting withered limbs, selling privacy For shadows of hungry, fleeting eyes. The rainbow spins again; but now I feel That twenty minutes of no relief Were crafted by a docked self, unknown, And what hacked mind, devoured by a screen, Leans towards me to be seen?
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Untitled 2 | Tom Gojak
Afternoon Window Pane | Ada Zeng
Window and Waves | Ada Zeng
An Uncomfortable Intimacy Between Two| Sophie Zhou
Cloth | Sophie Zhou
A Trip To The Pond. Joel Fitzgibbons
I had always liked frogs. When I was younger than I am now, my room was decorated with pictures of frogs. Frogs, frogs, frogs. Delightful little creatures that splash around in ponds all day saying ‘Ribbit.’ What more can I say to describe the beauty of my little green friends, the little men that were printed on my bed’s quilt covers? They assisted in keeping me warm at night. ‘Thank you Froggies,’ I would whisper to them on the colder nights before drifting into sleep, knowing full well that were it not for my little pals keeping me warm, I would surely be shivering. I cannot say precisely why I liked frogs, as I had not yet seen a frog in real life, being only a small child who lived quite far away from any delightful creature of that kind. And yet, the smiles that were on their faces had blessed me for many years. Sometimes, I had dreams about those lovely little creatures; their outlines would accompany them, their vibrant colours looked so pretty. I would wake up from such dreams, and I would wish that one day Mummy and Daddy could take me to a little pond to see the little green frogs. I would open my eyes and see the dreary colours that were so common to me in daily life. How I wished my life was as exciting as my dreams, only different from my real life due to the delightful presence of many frogs. One morning, I had just gotten out of bed and my mother sat me
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down in front of the television so that I could watch TV for a little while before I got dressed. It was then that I was introduced to Kermit, Kermit the Frog. I found myself confused; Kermit’s puppet eyes looked so empty, nothing like those of the frogs that graced my quilt covers. His body was not so nice, so round compared to what I knew to be that of a Froggy’s. I did not like puppets. I could not help but feel that they were ugly, poor imitations of real things. It was then that I began to cry. Look at what they had done to my lovely frogs, they had made them look so, so, so awful! The shade that was cast upon the puppet seemed imperfect, whereas the unburdened perfection of my frogs, the ones I knew, as a matter of fact, to be true, did seem so appealing to my eyes. And so Mummy turned off the television and helped me to get dressed so that we could visit Daddy. I always looked forward to seeing Daddy, and I know that Mummy did too. He hadn’t been feeling very well, so he was spending a little while in the hospital. I didn’t worry, of course, Mummy assured me that he would get all better and that everything would be back to normal soon enough. I knew from the way she looked at me that she really meant it, but she never seemed quite sure when Daddy would be able to come home. He never seemed sick when we visited. Not sick at all. It made me wonder why he was there in the first place. When he saw me and Mummy he would smile and smile. I would show him all of my colouring and tell him what I had been doing at day care. They didn’t want us to go outside all that much, but we did do a lot of painting, and sometimes we would be let out to go on the playground for a little while. We were allowed to bring our toys and books if we liked. But I always wanted to go outside, even when it was raining. I wanted to go far away to play with the animals. There weren’t any animals where I lived, just buildings and cars and books. ‘Do they let you go outside?’ I asked Daddy. 82 |Prose
He shook his head. No. ‘Why not?’ I asked. He smiled for a moment and then spoke. ‘They don’t want us getting anyone sick.’ This made sense to me. I always wondered why me and Mummy were allowed to see him so often if we could get sick as well, but I trusted that Daddy would not get us sick. Every day we had to leave so that Daddy could take medicine and speak to the doctor about how he was feeling. Mummy would always smile and give him a big hug before leaving. frogs.
One day Daddy would be all better, and we would play with the
Daddy was still sick when one day Mummy and I went on a big drive through the countryside. To visit Daddy, she said. The hospital was only a little while away from our house, so I did not know why we went on the drive. It was raining, it was very muddy along the roads that we drove. Squelch squelch squelch. I was in the back seat strapped in, nice and warm and safe. Suddenly, while driving along, there was a splash and the car stopped. So Mummy got out and looked. She told me we were stuck in a puddle! ‘How will we get out?’ I knew Mummy would think of something. ‘I’m not sure yet,’ she sighed. ‘I might have to call someone.’ So we waited for a little while. I read a nice book called The Wind in the Willows. It reminded me a lot of where we were, and I thought that if we were lucky, we might see some animals, maybe even some frogs. Mummy talked on the telephone for a little while and then hung up. She said that someone would be around soon to help us, but she needed to do something for a little while. I had to stay here, she would be ARNA 2020 | 83
back in a little while. And so she left, she vanished into the trees along the road. I spent a little while standing there, looking at all the nice trees, when something in the grass caught my eye. A possum! She stood still as our gazes met. She turned slowly and began to retreat down a small trail among the green foliage. It felt like an invitation. ‘Come visit us,’ she said. Mummy will be a little while, I thought, and I’m sure she would not mind if I went to play with the possum. I stepped off the road and into the greenery, crossing through the line of trees into the forest. Perhaps I will meet some of her friends and we will have a lovely time! The trees already looked darker after I had only made a few steps into the forest. The possum climbed high up into a tree. Where had she gone? I decided that I wouldn’t wait for her, but I would carry on down the path and meet her again later on. After a while, I found a little pond with some stones. I took a few steps closer and then I slipped. My foot made a loud squeaking sound and I fell right onto the ground. My back was covered in mud and I felt it stick to my clothes. And then something jumped onto my stomach. I quivered and squealed as I felt its weight pressing me to the ground. What is it? A massive monster with wet, sickly green skin and a body that was wet and slimy. I screamed and screamed. I hoped that Mummy would hear me so she could come and rescue me. The creature rearranged itself, it turned around to look at me. It had lifeless eyes, and its mouth curled so that it looked like it was very angry at me. It made the most horrible noise, a low growl, which rose and fell in volume with such relentless pulsation that I could feel it beating stronger than my own racing heart. It wouldn’t stop. My eyes were filled and my vision blurred. All I could make out was a sickening mess of yellow and green beneath the slimy colour of muck. It wouldn’t leave me alone. I wanted to go home. I wanted to be with Mummy and Daddy. I wanted to visit the nice little creatures that sat on lily pads all day and 84 |Prose
sang ‘La de da de da.’ Instead I saw a frog. I heard frantic splashes behind me, the squelch of shoes sinking in the mud. And then I recognised Mummy’s voice. She yelled when she saw the monster and she made it get off. I could only watch as it scampered off into the pond. She hugged me, she said she had been looking all over for me. I said, I’m so sorry. She looked like she had been weeping, and when she carried me back to the car I noticed that she smelt like smoke. I thought she would be mad that I had gotten my clothes wet, but it didn’t seem to matter too much to her, she just kept ringing people up and telling them she would be late if the mechanic didn’t arrive soon. I knew better than to wander around, so I stood still in my soggy clothing, snot dripping from my nose. It will be all better when we see Daddy. A woman came to fix the car, and after she had left, Mummy sighed and put me in a spare set of clean clothes that she had in the boot of the car. They had been there for a long time and because I had grown out of them, they were a little bit tight. She strapped me back into my seat. I had been shivering, but now I was nice and warm again. I sighed deeply after the final sob had escaped and a wave of tiredness put me at ease. And so we drove for a long time. I fell asleep and dreamt of meeting frogs by a river with Mummy and Daddy, and they smiled at me while they danced on their lily pads. They all looked so very, very nice. I woke up after a little while. ‘Mummy when are we getting there? I want to see Daddy.’ I hadn’t seen him in a few weeks. I was so excited to see him! My book had fallen down the side of the car seat, I noticed. ‘Soon, soon.’ She put her hands over her face. ARNA 2020 | 85
Why isn’t she driving? I thought as I looked out the window. We had stopped. I wasn’t sure why. I had a look outside again. nice.
There were a lot of stones in a big, flat garden. It didn’t look very
Where was Daddy? I looked down at the floor for my book so I could read, but then I decided I didn’t want to read any more about frogs. My mummy got me out of the car and told me we were going to visit Daddy, but she didn’t seem very excited. We walked through the garden to a stone that stood in line with all the others. Mummy placed some flowers down on the floor and then stood there silently for a few minutes. Then, she picked me up and we left. I told her she had forgotten her flowers but she didn’t go back to get them, she just hugged me tighter. We got back in the car and as she put on my seat belt I began to cry. ‘I thought that we were going to see Daddy,’ the words dribbled from my mouth. We never did. In due time, my old blanket was too old to keep me warm. I had outgrown it and when my mother asked if I wanted to keep it, I said that I didn’t. She seemed to be more attached to it than I was. I suppose it was because of all the nightmares it had been giving me. Sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night and feel a massive weight on my chest, but I know not to open my eyes because it’s only a dream. Just a dream. 86 |Prose
I never really finished the Wind in the Willows. A bit later into my schooling, I was required to read it but I neglected it. Sometimes I was like that in school. If there was a project I didn’t want to do, I would ignore what the teacher was saying and draw at the back of the classroom. Sometimes she would get mad, like when I made no attempt to make a presentation on the water cycle. Other times she seemed less angry and more understanding, and suggested that I do some reading instead. I never complained, at least I didn’t have to waste my time doing those little holiday projects for Christmas and Father’s Day. I drew a lot even as I went into high school and then continued when I dropped out. I don’t know what I want to do with my life, but I don’t think it’s drawing. It takes my mind off of things and it looks nice. My mother has grown old and she spends too much money on cigarettes. I don’t think I’m going to last forever without a proper job, but what can I do? This evening, I started a new project. A cartoon. A round dining-room table surrounded by three chairs. Steaming mugs of tea and coffee warm the frosty room. I made a note to illustrate the lines of steam in a flowery way, unlike the mass of dense fog that stood right outside the window in the wet garden. Since it had been raining, a pond had appeared in the backyard. This, I thought, contrasted nicely with the tidiness of the dining room and made it look all the more cozy. All the more homely. I put my pencil down. I had reached the point that all great artists are familiar with: the intuitive understanding of a work being completed, accompanied by the relentless nagging to add something more. I shivered from the cold that had settled in my room. It’s complete. My instinct told me that, but it did always feel like something was missing, like some step in the artistic process had been lost. I scanned the scene I had created. What could possibly be missing? A nice bench? No, no. It would crowd the room too much. There’s a fine line between cozy and claustrophobic. Shall I add a nice chandelier of some sort? No, it would betray the rustic warmth. My eyes moved ARNA 2020 | 87
from the ceiling to the floor, from the tables to the empty seats, from the window to the pond. My eyes sat there for some time. No. I took the sheet and set it to the other side of my desk, my elbow brushing the pile of books I had to the side. There is nothing left to add. There were no people to be sat at that empty table, filling the empty room. There was no chandelier to be hung. And there were no lily pads to float gently upon the water.
Home For Dinner Mary Stanley *Content Warning: Mentions of Domestic Abuse* Her keys twinkled as she locked the front door behind her. The inside of the house was all dark save for the metallic television glow that seeped out of the doorway of the lounge room. She hung her bag on the wall and walked down the hallway. Something caught her foot and she stumbled, heels clattering against the floorboards. His work boots. Kicked off and strewn across the width of the corridor. She inched closer to the lounge room. Peering in, she saw him sprawled on the lumpy lounge. His head rested against the rounded arm, mouth wide open. Vibrant colours flashed across his sleeping face. Commentators, cheers, whistles blared from the television. Three empty beer bottles stood by his blistered feet. A fourth bottle leaned against his groin. The brown smell of stale beer bubbled in the air. She stepped into the lounge room and searched for the remote, finding it wedged between the cushions. She switched off the television, cutting off a shrill try whistle. The abrupt silence roused him. With a groan, he hunched forward and rubbed the exhaustion from his face. He yawned and cracked his neck. What time is it? About ten, she replied. Youâ€™re back late, he scoffed. I had to help my boss with some files. Bullshit. He needed to wrap things up. For a moment he was quiet. Goosebumps pinched her skin. She ARNA 2020 | 89
bent down and wrapped her fingers around the neck of a beer bottle on the floor. What did you have for dinner? You weren’t home to make anything. There were leftovers in the fridge. I didn’t want the fucking leftovers. You could’ve made something, she mumbled. He snapped forward and snatched her by the wrist. The beer bottle clinked against the floor and rolled to the bottom of the lounge. His thumb dug into her fluttering pulse. A breath fell out between her teeth. The wet slap of his tongue unsticking from the roof of his mouth broke the silence. He threw away her wrist and staggered up off the couch. She gathered up the bottles and threw them in the kitchen bin. ~ She woke up early the following day. Saturday began with the laundry. His work clothes from earlier in the week were caked with dust and dirt. She soaked them before putting them through the wash. Once the machine started to churn, she returned to the kitchen and made him coffee and toast. Dressed in yesterday’s work clothes, he came downstairs after ten and complained that the coffee was cold and the toast stale. She flicked on the kettle. Where are you going? Got called in for a job out west, he answered. I won’t be home until late. What kind of job? It’s Saturday, she said. Just a job, he countered. Do you have to know everything? I was just asking. Just worry about yourself, alright. Alright. The kettle grumbled as it boiled. She opened an overhead 90 |Prose
cupboard and took down another mug, coffee and sugar containers. There were small rat droppings scattered across the back of the cupboard and a small hole in one corner. We have a rat somewhere in the house, she said. He scoffed. What do you want me to do about it? I don’t know, get rid of it, maybe? Just put some poison out, it’ll die on its own. She spooned coffee and sugar into her mug and put the containers back in the cupboard. Outside, a magpie landed on the clothesline and warbled to the morning. She shut the window on its noise. He cleared his throat and wiped toast crumbs from his mouth. What took you so long last night? You were really late. My boss wanted help clearing things out. He’s closing the practice soon and files needed to be sorted. The kettle started to roar and shake, steam buffeting from its spout. She tucked a loose strand of her hair behind her ear and folded her arms across her chest. Her fingernails left slight crescents in her bare flesh. You’ve been staying back with him a lot. You’ve been coming back late from work too. The kettle chimed and settled to a gentle hum. She picked it up and poured the steaming water into her mug. The aroma of coffee warmed the air. He got up from the kitchen island and dropped his dishes into the sink with a clatter. She opened the fridge, and took out the milk. He stood beside the kitchen island for a second, watching her. The crow’s feet at the corner of his eyes and the creases across the bridge of his nose scrunched together until he looked more like a mask than a person. His mouth opened then closed, pursing shut. She turned away from him and poured milk into her coffee. His heavy footfalls carried him from the kitchen and out the front door. Outside, his van beeped as it was unlocked. A cough came from the engine before the van rumbled away from the house. She stirred her coffee until it turned pale, spoon clinking against the ceramic. ARNA 2020 | 91
~ The washing machine ended its cycle just before noon. Opening the machineâ€™s lid, she scooped out the sopping clothes and piled them into the plastic basket by her feet. She heaved the basket up, propped it against her hip, and headed to the backdoor. As she nudged open the door, something scratched her bare toes. She gasped and dropped the basket. Plastic slapped against the tiles and clothes spilled out. Shit. She crouched down and threw the clothes back into the basket. In the opposite corner of the laundry, a little house rat groomed its pointed face. After a moment, she gathered up the basket and left it on the counter. The rat scurried around the door frame and disappeared into the kitchen. Hand on her hip, she looked around the laundry. Thereâ€™s poison somewhere in here, she said and opened the cupboards under the sink. Bleach and detergent bottles stood together in regimented rows. Brown water stains lined the white piping. She rummaged through the boxes at the back of the cupboard. The hair-thin legs of a dead cockroach grazed her palm and she sntached her hand back, shaking the disgusting tingle off her skin. She got to her feet and knocked the cupboard door shut with her knee. Wiping her palm against her jeans, she headed into the kitchen. She searched the cupboards there and found one half-empty box of green poison pellets. A quiet crunching sound came from her left. She looked up and found the rat sitting by the loaf of bread left out from the morning. It had chewed a hole in the plastic wrapping and ripped off a stale corner from one slice. Crumbs pattered down onto the countertop from its pointed mouth. 92 |Prose
When she got up, the rat stopped chewing. Its whiskers flicked up, nose wrinkling. The bread dropped from its paws and it bolted around the sink out of sight. ~ He came home after lunch on Sunday. She stacked her plate and cutlery in the dishwasher. He gave no greeting as he strutted into the kitchen, opened the fridge and took out a beer. work?
Was wondering if you were coming home, she said. How was
It was alright. Might have to head back there again next weekend, he replied. His clothes were dishevelled, though still clean, as if he were in a rush to put them back on. There was a perfume in the air, on his clothes. It wasn’t one of hers. You stink, she said. One of the blokes gave me some deodorant before I left, his voice faltered in the middle of his sentence. It’s a woman’s perfume. I was going to buy that one, remember? I didn’t ‘cause you said it stank like shit. He twisted the cap off the beer and hurried away from her, through the archway between the kitchen and lounge room. She followed him, reaching out and clutching the back on the leather couch. Her knuckles turned white. You didn’t go to work. Don’t— Not this again. Why are you lying to me? I’m not fucking lying. I went to work. Where? Where did you go to work? I want to— It’s not your business. Back off. It’s almost one. You left at ten-thirty yesterday and you’re back now, at one o’clock in the afternoon smelling like the fucking botanic gardens. Where did you go? ARNA 2020 | 93
Just fuck off, leave me alone. He raised his hand in a dismissive wave and she flinched under the gesture. Sipping from his beer, he moved toward the stairs in the corridor. Taking in a breath, she stepped in front of him. Tell me where you went. I’m not letting this— Fuck. Off. He swung his arm out and pushed her out of his way. The shove knocked her into the doorframe, her spine jarring against the wooden edge. A whine slipped from her mouth as she straightened up. Prickling static numbed her muscles, dripped down through her bones. Worry softened the taut pull in his brow. He looked her over then walked up the stairs without glancing back. ~ She carried her dirty clothes into the laundry, throwing them into the basket to be washed. In her periphery, a flash of brown fur and a cable grey tail. The rat skittered into the cupboards to hide. She left the laundry and went into the kitchen for the new loaf of bread she had bought. Taking out a soft slice, she tore it into tiny pieces. She returned to the laundry and left bits of bread in the corner of the counter. The rest of the bread was tucked into the pocket of her cardigan. It was after she started ironing that the rat poked its head out. She watched it run across the back of the counter to nibble on the bread. After a few minutes, the bread bits were gone. She put aside the iron and approached the counter. The rat’s whiskers twitched but it remained still. She saw her reflection, an alien distortion, in its black eyes. Reaching into her pocket, she took out another piece of bread and, careful not to spook the rat, unfurled her hand.
The rat pressed itself up against the wall and breathed hard, its stomach rapidly shrinking and expanding. She moved in closer and held out the bread. The rat sniffed the air and looked to her encroaching fingers. With bullet speed, it jumped forward and clamped its teeth around the first knuckle of her index finger. She hissed and shook her hand free of the rat’s grip. The vermin squeaked as it smacked against the counter. It recovered with a jump and escaped into the cupboards. She examined her aching finger. A pulse thumped under the shining red marks on either side of her knuckle. Turning on the tap, she washed away the blood as it started to bead from the wounds. ~ Before she went to bed that night, she set up the trap. In the garage, she found a rusted cage with a door that screeched shut. She brought it into the laundry and tucked it into the corner of the counter. Pieces of bread would bait the rat to the poison pellets. She stood in the doorway of the laundry and waited. The tap dripped. She flicked off the light switch and went to bed, alone. ~ In the morning, she found him sleeping on the couch in his underwear. Guttural snores reverberated from his throat. Curled up on his side, face scrunched against his shoulder. She tied her dressing gown around her waist and headed to the laundry. Sunshine streamed through the window, gleaming against the small cage on the counter. The trap’s door was shut. Tiles chilled the pads of her feet as she stepped toward the trap. A shiver rolled up her spine. Dead, the rat lay shrivelled inside the cage. A fly probed the rat’s black eye, its tiny body bloated from internal bleeding. Buzzing, the fly hopped from the rat’s eye and nudged open its mouth to crawl inside. ARNA 2020 | 95
She wrapped her hand around the cage’s handle and dragged it off the counter. It swung in the air, the dead rat smacking against the bars. She held it away from herself and turned around. He leaned against the doorframe and crossed his arms over his chest. His eyes were swollen from uncomfortable sleep. You caught it? Yeah. It’s dead, she said. It’s almost eight-thirty, you’re going to be late. I know. It’s—It’s alright, he replied. The boss said he’d let me off early today. I’ll be home for dinner. Okay. Look, I didn’t—I’m— What? He licked his lips and gave a slight shrug. His eyes fell to the tiles. You’re always sorry like it’s the first time you’ve done it. She pushed past him and headed outside to dispose of the rat. The cage trap creaked as it rocked in tandem with her movements. ~ He hadn’t lied this time. At six-thirty, the door shuddered open and his work boots thumped against the floorboards. She stirred out the misshapen lumps in the sauce she was cooking. The lumps didn’t dissolve completely, but he wouldn’t notice, he’d mistake them for mince. She poured the sauce into the pasta pot and mixed it together. He came up beside her and kissed her cheek before she could turn her head. Go sit down, I’ll bring it over, she said. With a sigh, he left the kitchen. She spooned pasta onto a new plate for him. There was plain pasta bundled on another plate, one she put aside for herself earlier. She carried the plates into the dining room. He sat at the head of the long table, drinking the beer she set out 96 |Prose
for him. She put the plates down on the place mats and took her seat. He gestured at her plate with his beer bottle. You’re not having it with sauce? No, don’t feel like it, she replied and poured herself a glass of wine. They tucked in their chairs and twirled pasta onto their forks. She watched his brows furrow on the first taste. He continued to eat. By the time he was done, he struggled to swallow and clamped a hand around his throat. Wheezing breaths came from his mouth. He took a swig of beer. Are you okay? I—can’t breathe. What’s wrong? Don’t know. I can’t… He filled his mouth with beer and couldn’t swallow it. Coughing, the beer burst from his mouth and dribbled down his chin. A thin line of blood trickled from his nostril. He pushed himself up from the table and ran to the laundry. Vomit splattered against the steel sink. He gasped for air and let out an agonising groan. There was a great clamour as he fell to the floor. Shaking, she brought her glass up to have a sip. The edge clinked on her teeth and wine splashed her mouth and nostrils. He called for her. She wiped the wine stain from her skin and listened to his waning groans.
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O Frabjous Day! Callooh! Callay! Jamaica Leech *Content Warning: Mentions of Mental Illness, Eating Disorders, Medical Procedures and Admittance* One final swipe and the Jabberwocky was defeated slayed,
dead. After many moons of restless nights, I could finally fondle the prospect of uninterrupted slumber. There was to be no cascade of liquid salt, constantly evading my eye sockets. No longer could they sensually caress my jawline, stab at my freckles, slide down my cheeks. They once rolled in style, as a squadron spearing into position. They would assemble at the border and my lips would re-consume the fluids I produced, just moments prior. Mucus provided reinforcement, slithering out of my nasal cavity, only to fire the final bullet into my fragile pumping vessel of blood. She was no longer a prisoner of her own mind, which meant I could breathe. I could be selfish. ~ Dead Breath. ARNA 2020 | 99
A trotting scaffold of brittle bone, face gaunt, wrists non-existent. They named it
At 17 she was no longer a dancing queen but a medicated shell of Induced in a conscious coma. Everything had been taken from her. Her light, her sun her headphones. Those who ‘healed her’, ‘saved her’
– banished her.
Caged for nine weeks too long. Regiment maintained via bookkeeping. Sterile. Morning Snack: 200 grams of positivity. 3 teaspoons of self-worth. Sprinkle a forced smile on top. Recipe for disaster. ~ She just wanted to complete her puzzle in peace but was rudely interrupted by the professionals in white. ‘No’
‘Let me fit it into place’ She was stripped of all rights and freedoms so that the professionals could ‘fix’ her, complete her puzzle, brutalise her inner beast, so that it may never return. She wanted to join the stars. In order to do so, she became a recluse. Never frolicking through fields or treading on grass. Rather trespassing the hallways of a home that was not hers. She no longer felt the kiss of sun nor the foggy south puffing wind and rain. Instead she became accustomed to the chill of concrete, steel bars, stark white. The institution shared the same intensity as a piercing screech, causing long-term damage. Oxygen restricted. Flame dimmed. In spite of the friendly faces who mistook her for ‘a crackhead’, she continued splattering her acrylics across the clinic walls. Etching in sound bites of her once infectious laugh ARNA 2020 | 101
(which while caged would never spawn again). Nursemaid demands a burning girl, soon to be a woman, to take her ‘supplements’. Numbing her inner conflict, subduing her to sleep. But this one’s a trouble maker. She refuses to succumb to the chemical concoction made by those who attempt to streamline her thoughts of pain, panic, suffering. These godless pigs deconstructed her ribcage and sanded back her spirit to dust. Within every hour she questioned, ‘Have I gone mad?’ Her light was fading, soon to be demolished by separation and uncertainty. Her sketches that coated those bleak, bare walls served as a relic of hope. Memories bled into thoughts and she could remember the times when tears would trickle down her cheeks, not because capsules were being pushed down her oesophagus but because her stomach hurt from laughing. Rolling across the carpet. Roaring with laughter. Here she must remain. Callooh! Callay!
Forgotten, Forlorn, Foretold Nicolette Preketes-Tardiani FORGOTTEN I Unexpected You I am always the one waiting with people, checking that they’re good to get home, that they’re safe. I am always the one excited for the next adventure, always first on the dancefloor, pulling others up with me, pushing them to go for their dreams. Yet, I’ve found not all the people in my life do the same for me. Tonight was more of the same. My friend was too tired to get up and dance – she’s always too tired – and since there’s only so much dancing one can do on their own, I resigned myself to an empty table and took a gulp of white wine to wash down the disappointment. And then there was you. Unexpected you. You, who told me outright to message you when I was safe and who messaged back to tell me you were safe at home too. Who let me take the Uber with your friends because you wouldn’t leave me waiting. Who chose to stand on the side of the road with me while your friends went to the after-party without you. Who once said, ‘You should dance. You’ve been waiting to dance all night.’ Who, to my surprise, might know me better than I thought. Who, unexpectedly, might care more than I realised.
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You’re no longer that little boy I once knew, running singlemindedly after a football, but a young man who looks out for his friends. It didn’t quite hit me until you were standing in front of me, jovially reprimanding me for not recognising ‘The Horses’ from the first few chords, before belting out the chorus, getting up, and waiting for me to join you on the dancefloor. I didn’t move. I was frozen with disbelief, because that is the one thing, in all our years of knowing each other, you have never done before; the one thing no one has ever asked me to do. But then there was you. Unexpected you. II Cologne How can it be that two hours ago I was all hope and now I am all tears? I was packing the dishwasher. The whole house smelt of fresh paint. The in-your-face, still-wet-on-the-walls, taste-it-on-your-tongue kind of fresh paint smell. Pungent. Inescapable. But there I was, bending down to stack another plate, holding back tears because the memory of your cologne as you leaned on my side to kiss me for the first time, hit me like a speeding truck. It’s a hard scent. Strong. Smooth. Like timber. Sweat. Liquid-gold. Intoxicating. It’s the way we look at each other just a moment too long. The way we hold on just a little too tight. The way you pull faces at me and I pull them back at you, two dorks together. The night our fingers intertwined. The time we walked away from each other only to jog back to say goodbye a second time because once is never enough. The day of my first funeral when we cried into each other’s shoulders. The way you try to dance like Drake. The way you know how to say not the right thing but the good thing. Everyone knows the right thing to say. No one listens, not even to the silence. They just go with the words they should say next, the words they’re expected to say. The right thing is predictable. Somehow you always know the good thing to say. The words that grab 104 |Prose
me from behind, by the knees, and trip me up. The words that leave me stunned silent, suspended, levitating. The words that mean more to me than you’ll ever know. The memory of you was so strong it overpowered even my most immediate senses. Then it was gone and there was only the paint, and I wanted nothing more than to be tangled in your arms, and to scour the very edges of the earth to find a scent more powerful than yours, to make a memory more powerful than this, to forget you. But I’m stuck stacking mugs in the dishwasher. FORLORN III The Morgue ‘Let’s examine the bodies,’ I say, and we pull the cadavers on trays out of their lockers one by one so they float before us in a line. ‘Cause of death?’ I ask, my tone resigned. Clinical. The body is purple and grey, long dead, but it has a peculiar film covering it, like petrol on water, ebbing between tangibility and invisibility in the light. ‘Gluttony. Another woman offered him more and he couldn’t resist. He drowned in her,’ says the assistant examiner next to me, reading off a clipboard. ‘Hmm.’ My eyes sweep the body again before moving onto the next. ‘And this one?’ The skin still has a warm undertone. Yellow, almost golden. Death hasn’t gripped him completely, yet. ‘Ignorance. Didn’t realise what he could’ve had, overworked himself and well . . .’ the examiner looks from the clipboard to the body to me. ‘This is the result.’
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I prop my hand under my chin and scrutinise the body before declaring indifferently, ‘He was never going to make it.’ I pat his chest comfortingly and move on to the next tray. The third body is white, like porcelain, but it’s awash with a thin layer of cornflower blue, almost lilac powder. I drag a finger down his shoulder. When I pull it away the powder has stuck to me, embedded itself in the very grooves of my fingerprint. I rub my fingers together. The powder doesn’t budge. ‘Body C, body C . . .’ says the examiner flicking through her documents but I don’t need to ask what happened to him. I can already tell. ‘Fear,’ I say. ‘Death by doubt. Highly contagious. Clings to everything it touches.’ I hold out my fingers to show her. ‘Oh. Poor bugger,’ says the examiner regrettably as she flattens her papers onto the clipboard. ‘Where’d he catch it?’ ‘Hard to tell,’ I say, looking back at him. ‘Heartbreak by an old lover, perhaps? Could have been how he was nurtured – or, more precisely, how he wasn’t. Could even be hereditary.’ His body is colourless, so much so that his hair looks like fresh ash. I lean forward slightly and notice something. My eyes narrow. Beneath the pale, pastel powder and stony-white veneer, there’s a pulsing orange beneath his skin, like he’s enflamed. ‘See that?’ I ask. The assistant moves closer to the body as well. ‘The fear is still in him. Still kicking.’ ‘Does that mean he’s okay? Can he fight it?’ The assistant examiner looks at me with big, hopeful eyes. She holds the clipboard close to her chest desperately. She doesn’t want to lose another one. She forgets we’re in a morgue. I shrug. ‘That’s really up to him,’ I whisper, then straighten and 106 |Prose
make for the door. ‘Uh . . . what should I do with them?’ the assistant calls from behind me. As I reach the threshold, I turn back to her and glance at the bodies. Then I say, ‘Put them back in their lockers. If they’re alive, we’ll hear ‘em banging on the door.’ IV Long-gone September I stood in the middle of the train carriage, the old ones with purple chairs that remind me of the Hogwarts Express, and I caught the white gleam of the sun on the river as The Band Camino sung in my ears. ‘At another place and time, you were infinitely mine.’ I couldn’t help it. I thought of you. I wondered whether we’d still be if only I’d said something differently or if I’d said nothing at all. But things worked out the way they did, I tell myself. It doesn’t stop my musing though. In a parallel universe, are we happy together? There has to be at least one where we’re incredibly happy; another where we’re unbelievably dismal; one where we’re divorced or even cheating; and one where we never met at all. Of all the tragedies we could’ve had, I’d pick ours. It was the happiest tragedy of the lot, knowing each other the way we did for a short time in our (hopefully) very long lives. Still, as the train sped on, I couldn’t help but feel I wasn’t just physically hurdling further away from you. I was also leaving my time with you behind. I felt myself moving on in my very bones. It scared me a little, knowing I’m heading for a new date, a new person, a new beginning. As exciting and nerve-wracking as that was, it saddened me as well. I didn’t want to be ripped away from it; the story of us. I know it too well, you see. How it starts and ends. Its highs and ARNA 2020 | 107
lows. It’s comfortable. But it’s over and I’m leaving you in a long-gone September. So, there’s no point wondering ‘what if ’. I have no regrets. I just wish I could’ve lived in those moments a little longer. The irony is that when I was in them, I was thinking, ‘Remember this. Remember how his hand traced your waist. How the trees were still green and the ocean rushed to the shore. How the birds flew by. How he poked your knee. Lengthen the minutes, feel yourself living in them.’ Still, I couldn’t hold onto them long enough. Still, they passed. let go.
Back on the train, I thought of how to say goodbye. How best to
I thought, ‘If you were here right now, I’d hold up a glass of whiskey and say, “Here’s to us. Here’s to letting go.”’ We’d cheers and drink. I wouldn’t leave a drop, and then I’d leave my empty glass in my empty seat beside you, walk out onto the platform and even as the train pulled away, vanishing into the dark tunnel, even as I scaled the escalator steps into the civil twilight, I’d never look back. FORETOLD V Sunday Dinners I can’t wait for Sunday dinners at Mum and Dad’s. I’ll still be tired from Friday night spent out with our friends after a long day of fulfilling work and then date night with him on Saturday, but I’ll put on my lipstick in that lazy, effortless way the French do, in the mirror by our front door. He’ll plant a kiss on my cheek and tell me I forgot to pack away the washing. Again. I’ll cringe knowing that a writing idea struck halfway through the chore and I never returned to it. I’ll always forget the washing, but I’ll remember the soft brush of his thumb on mine last month like it was yesterday, and I had to include it in the book because every girl should know she deserves to feel loved that way, 108 |Prose
in the smallest of ways, always. I’ll apologise but he’ll just smile and plant another kiss on my lips and taste Chanel and the mints I still pop in my mouth like I did when I was 18. Not much has changed. We’ll get in the car and I’ll hum while he sings, because he’s got a voice I could listen to for years with no break. I’m not half as good, even though he tells me he doesn’t care for the umpteenth time. He’ll turn up the music and put on an old favourite from our early days of dating or maybe something Greek or Spanish and I won’t be able to help myself. We’ll sing at the top of our lungs until we’re at my parents’. We’ll get out of the car, and walk in together, always the last to arrive. My brother will probably still be living at home, but his longtime girlfriend will have come by as usual. She’ll basically be part of the family. My sister and her husband will already be there because she’s never taken as long as I have to get ready. We’ll talk and sip drinks while the last preparations are made in the kitchen or at the barbeque. We’ll sit around the table and eat and talk about our week – that promotion, that breakdown, the office bitch, the latest rumour about someone we once knew well, how the business is going, and the writing, and retirement. One Sunday, I’ll show up with a baby swaddled in my arms. On ano ther Sunday, the baby will be a child and they’ll play with the other kids outside, and you know what, I’ll be there playing too, with my husband and sister and brother and siblings-in-law, and I’ll stop just for a beat as my brother’s kid wins a race because of course she takes after her father, and I’ll think, my God . . . I can’t wait for next Sunday’s dinner at Mum and Dad’s. VI Now She hums merrily as she pats down the soil of the latest grave. She has tended to it for many months and many tears have watered the seeds of pain and heartache. But now, flowers and the fruits of experience bloom before the grave.
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Soon, the grave becomes a garden and around it, she builds her castle. For our kingdoms are built on the graves of our enemiesâ€™ armies, who came for us when we were girls, not realising we were queens.
Scribblings of a Madman Maisie Belle Moon An Inquiry
15 April 1979
Mercier Press, I have long been the beneficiary of the deceased estate of my mother, Arlene Moore, who was fatally mauled by a rabid stray. This does not trouble me anymore amidst our current social predicament. Anyhow, we never had the fondness a mother and daughter ought to. I barely knew her. That much I regret. And maybe it was this distance that birthed my curiosity, that beckoned me to find the letters I now implore you to contemplate. While they are self-proclaimed ‘scribblings of a madman’, I fear (and hope) they pertain closely to the current state of Ireland. I know this is an inconvenient time to find truth in mysticism, but I daresay prophecy is within these letters. It would give me great comfort to have them published for my grandchildren before my own passing, which I foresee occurring before these Troubles end. Perhaps publishing them will overrule the present necessity to speak only empty words; this man of the past was obviously enraptured in the Bible that divides us even now. We are trapped, I know, by peace. We are separated from freedom, I understand, as sectarianism separates us from a unified Ireland. But when it’s all said and done, maybe these scribblings can say more than our restrictedstate of nothingness. After all: surely the Third Coming is at hand?
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Regards, Maud Byrne.
Letter I: The Garden of Eden
14 February 1915
Beloved Nora Moore, These words may never reach you. Nor do I intend them to. The mere prospect of you reading this suffices. These words are only meant for this leather-bound, battered notebook, scarcely more than the scribblings of a madman. I had a dream (after those Home Rule crises) of a New World. It does not pertain to reality, I know, but I feel I was chosen to receive it: a prophecy. I suppose that isn’t as impressive as choosing to change the real world, not to you anyway. You were always more of a ‘do now, think later’ sort. Maybe that was my downfall in trying to romance you. Or maybe you just wanted to avenge your father’s potatoes. I know you will never love me, but perhaps the idealised visage that I conceal your indifference with will immortalise this dream in your fictional mind. You were with me in some way, I know it. I won’t keep you long (I won’t keep you at all): The Garden was not an Irish green, no, T’was brindled brown; roses bloodied bushes (Though the Frenchmen bestowed on us rainbows) And lions guarded even the rushes. The Garden was not an Irish green, though God bewept mouldy potato skin schlock 112 |Prose
And wrapped His arms round Union Jacks below Each time I asked to plant my own shamrock. The Garden was not an Irish green, see, And you, love, content with poison apples, Content with rants and raids and rebellion, Cross round your neck (no time for a chapel). When we were banished; before we could win, The beast was still waiting, craving your skin – That bloody dog woke me up before I could do anything heroic, of course; the dream remains a scribbling. Yours always, Seamus.
Letter II: Noah’s Ark
1 May 1916
Dearest (damned) Nora Moore, The garden from last February is well and truly gone. I’ve taken opiates to get back, to make it mine again, and to ward that beast away from you (not that I doubt your ability to defend yourself even in the unconscious realm). No matter. Another dream has taken me; apocalyptic, severe, desperate. It seems fitting with all the fuss that was happening last month. I am sorry for your loss. Truly. Your husband was brave. I seldom drink without celebrating his life, and the joy he brought to you and your daughter. I am glad you were far away when it happened. I am glad I could see you again in this dream, before it took you:
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A terrible beauty was born that day When we were building that gopherwood arc; And the earth was violent, corrupt, astray – Behold! The world was reborn from the dark! Begot from God, those waters destroyed them, In the wake of their fury were they damned; And we, my love, had nobility come: A safe covenant with the Union Jack. All in whose nostrils was the breath of life Did perish. Floating on the surface still, Daubed clean with rising moss – a dead man’s wife, Revolution-inspired: her voice quite shrill. That beast was feasting in the whirlpool gyre Those bodies under rainbows: hunger afire – The dog vomited everywhere before the world could recover; the scribbling is becoming but a dream. Yours, Seamus.
Letter III: Revelations
12 November 1919
Arlene, angel, Your mother wouldn’t understand anymore. Her voice grew too shrill from politics (though I admit she remains the muse of my dreams, you deserve to know about your metaphysical birth). Your innocence, love, is a flower turning in my heart, the rainbow above the arc, the antidote of the earth. I am losing myself in this maddening gyre (between my hatred and desire). But I need you to hear, see, smell, feel, my dream, as I have: 114 |Prose
Clothed with the Sun; Moon under feet; twelve stars Crowned your head; a virgin filled with God-seed. Gunfire swept stars from the sky down to scar That war-torn earth, when you started to bleed. Seven heads; ten horns; seven crowns it wore, The beast stood in front to eat your babe whole, But your babe slouched towards the earth’s torn core To be born; that corrupted, hopeful soul. That babe broke away from the Union Jack, Gorillas and angels combat in Heaven – And that beast spewed a lough, to sweep you back Towards its slow thighs; swallowed, severed. Limerick strikes left you on shrouded land Surely the Second Coming is at hand? I haven’t seen the dog in a few weeks; dreams unto words unto madness! Seamus.
Letter IV: (A Response)
1 September 1925
Seamus, These words will never reach you. Even if I intend them to. I remember when they told me you were dead. After reading the letters – these scribblings of a madman – I am glad. You are everything I despise: you defiled my daughter with your lustrous words, you defiled the Bible and you defiled Ireland by living in it. ARNA 2020 | 115
Your words and your name will die in this leather-bound book. How fortunate I must be to have an Irish copy of the Mein Kamph: an autobiographical enterprise declaring how the Aryanspiritual-elite have access to a damned vision of the future! It brings me infinite solace that the two authors of these works have no chance of prevailing, or bringing about a Second Coming. A wretched stray (it looks just like the mutt you used to have) has been sitting outside my house for days now. I donâ€™t know what itâ€™s waiting for. Nora Moore.
Barcarolle G.J. Johnson *Content Warning: Mentions of Sexual Assault* Paul Schenk was a violist at the Conservatorium when I was there studying piano. Between the years 2016 and 2019, his multicoloured, striped case seemed always present; at least, I always noticed it, in the corridors and among the groups of students in the foyer. He was usually trailing after his girlfriend, Gretch. She had porcelain-white skin with freckles, eyes that changed from blue to green, and long, red hair. He was thin and you were never quite sure of his height – at times he seemed very short, but there was a machismo about him that made you believe he was tall. He was very funny. Also, he was mostly miserable. He read satirical, tragic books like Catch-22. Several times, he said. After spring semester last year, he shaved his head and went away for recruit training. My friend, Bea, was close to them, especially Gretch – they both played French horn – and she told me everything. Paul’s training finished a week before Christmas. All he had wanted to do when he got back was to go to bed with Gretch, he told Bea. But she was down with mild pneumonia and caused a huge row when she recovered, accusing him of this or that, him only wanting her for sex. She didn’t let him stay with her in the apartment in the week leading up to Christmas. I don’t know if she knew, but his best friend was dying from cancer at the time. He stayed with someone else that week, I believe. Paul told all of this to Bea because he felt suicidal. She was empathetic and would listen. He told her many things. He said it felt good to unburden himself to her because there were so many things he couldn’t tell Gretch and many times it seemed as though she didn’t care. She was so often aloof and depressed, Bea told me, that she couldn’t
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think outside her own feelings and problems, not even for Paul. But, eventually, Bea tired of listening to so many problems, not just his but others’ too. Their problems became her problems and she needed someone to tell. So I came to know that Paul was mostly alone that Christmas, drinking beer in bed. But as I said, I didn’t know Paul. I knew only what Bea had told me and what I had observed. I couldn’t tell if he had changed or not – it wasn’t his first time training in the army – but he seemed only half-alive in the early autumn sun, when he was standing at our usual table in the courtyard of the café. I hadn’t seen him this close before. The boys greeted him and the girls smiled shyly. Some of them asked about the Reserves so he told a few stories, never sitting down. He could make his bed in thirty seconds now, he said, and for over a month they were too scared to go to the toilet properly, even in the middle of the night, in case they were called out for a drill. But the food was mostly very good, he said. Two of the girls started talking about their violin pieces for concert practice the next day, which happened every Friday. Students were scheduled to perform twice a semester. He was still standing when he remembered it was his turn tomorrow. ‘Christ,’ he said, pulling at his hair as though it wasn’t the first thing to go wrong that day, or even that week. ‘I need a pianist. My usual one is off somewhere.’ He swore under his breath. ‘No one needs pianists,’ the brass players laughed. ‘I do. It’s a viola and piano sonata.’ He looked around, then at the ground, and swore under his breath. ‘Is it hard?’ I asked. He looked up, surprised to hear my unfamiliar voice. He looked at me curiously. ‘It’s all right. It’s the slow movement.’ ‘I’ll do it, then.’ ‘Yeah? How much do you charge to accompany?’ ‘It’s fine.’ ‘No, really.’ ‘Maybe 30?’ 118 |Prose
‘Too low. Let’s make it 50 and throw in a rehearsal, if you’re free ‘Alright.’
I left with Paul. I looked back at the others but they had gone back to their conversations once we had started negotiating. We walked through the gardens, past the moss-covered pond and back to the Con. From a side glance, I saw him staring blankly at his shadow. I wanted to look at him then but I knew that the look he’d return would be too much – he had that way of looking at you – so I looked at the image of him I had in my mind instead, the blue gaze and pale grey skin with the prominent brow and dark hair. ‘I was thinking I’d have to start knocking on the piano practice rooms with money in my hands,’ he joked nervously. I laughed a little and thought to myself how that’d be dangerous, disturbing a pianist. There were many jokes about the formidable, solitary pianist with pale skin and sharp, sleep-deprived eyes. But I thought the organists got it the worst, especially the ones who seemed to skulk in the shadows of the Con, avoiding all eye contact. One of them dressed in a nineteenth-century style suit, had translucent skin and wore a floor-length leather coat no matter the temperature. ‘I’m glad you chose the slow movement,’ I offered, to fill the silence. ‘I wasn’t feeling up to the Allegro. But it’s a good piece. You’ll like it.’ I watched him set up his viola in the practice room. That’s when I saw Catch-22 in his bag. We talked about how we liked it and I soon came to associate him with that novel, the sardonic wit and tragedy. He put the piano part on the music rest. ‘You a good sight reader?’ ‘Sometimes,’ I said, looking at the score. ‘I have no idea how you pianists do it. I’ve seen some pick up a score almost black with notes and just play it through perfectly.’ ‘I wish I could tell you. I have no idea how those pianists do it either. ‘
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He looked up and laughed a little. He seemed to respond to selfdeprecation. I smiled in response but I still felt shy to his gaze. My breath felt shallow when he moved closer with his viola and stand. It was a Barcarolle by Henri Vieuxtemps. The tempo was Andante con moto and the key was G minor, a key I loved for its sense of longing and urgency. There was no time to think; he was tuned to the piano and his bow was poised and ready. I stopped worrying about the score and began to play. The music opened with swaying G minor chords, low in the piano part – the gondolier’s oars. I felt the music unfolding as I played. The viola came in with the melody, it rolled and moved like waves, and it swelled and swayed like waves. I heard the melody rise into B-flat major and fall back to G minor. I felt myself breathe in time with the waves as I listened to his breath rise and fall. Somehow, I knew to take time when his playing swelled and to soften when the melodies fell. The first section finished with a low sigh of the viola and I felt slightly breathless as I trickled through the cadenza and into the next section, Allegretto tranquillo. It was effortless and there was a high feeling as we sailed through together, as though on a breeze. The sudden change to minor launched us into an Animato section, with rumbling figures in my left hand and crashing octaves in my right hand. I felt unstable during this stormy section and the feeling carried over to the return of the opening melody. Then the feeling steadied, and we were truly together, feeling the rising as one with the viola’s high notes, then the piano’s last chords and our breaths lifting. I was still as he packed his viola away, pretending to look over the piano part. The music had stirred something new and unfamiliar in me. There was something else in the room now. I wondered if he felt it too. ‘I’ll see you tomorrow, then.’ ‘Yes,’ I said, turning only slightly and not making eye contact. ‘See you tomorrow.’ I practised where I had made mistakes until the next hour began and the lights automatically switched off.
~ The next morning at 10 I was dressed in black and sitting with Paul in the waiting room. Paul said it was actually called the ‘green room.’ He had already warmed up briefly. I watched the other string players warm up and go through the doors to the stage and come back either exhilarated or despondent. Paul and I made small talk. We were the last ones waiting in the green room. He told me how much he was looking forward to a beer after the performance, though he didn’t have much money. I asked about Gretch. ‘It must be hard to practise since you and Gretch are both musicians in the same apartment.’ ‘We both practise here.’ ‘Ah. That’s all right then.’ ‘Yes, we argue over other things instead,’ he said in a joking tone that grimly masked utter seriousness. ‘Stupid things. Things that we don’t need to argue about. But we do, don’t ask me why.’ He pulled at his hair again. We heard applause. A violinist walked out with a guitarist. They had just played Piazzolla. He looked at the list and said, ‘All right, I think that’s us.’ We walked past the two sound-lock doors and through the black space, and on to the stage. I always had the feeling of being pushed on to the stage despite there being no one behind me. The hardwood floor seemed glazed by the white and yellow lights above. I looked at no one, staring at the music as Paul adjusted the music stand. I heard the audience stir in their seats. I had my hands firmly on the seat, the muscles in my legs tight, and I felt a cold sweat coming. My breath was shaky and my hands trembled. The eyes of the audience felt heavy and the stage lights did too. Paul introduced himself, the piece and me. He turned to the piano and took a deep breath. We began to play. And then it was over; I forget the rest. ARNA 2020 | 121
They say that’s a sign of a good performance, not remembering what happened. Apparently it meant you were just in the music rather than worrying about it. I remember hearing applause and stumbling a little as I bowed. I looked at Paul and followed him off the stage, hearing my feet land heavily on the wood. And then we were back in that black, empty space. I felt his hand brush the back of my neck and reach for the small of my back. I was facing him, and I heard a heavy sigh in my ear. I tried to resist but could not, and I could not move. I shut my eyes. A part of me knew what was happening but I was not sure. I had to wait, wait in muted awareness that things were happening to me, that this was happening to me. I was being touched in unfamiliar places. It felt like everything stopped in this moment, now, the moment happening now – there was a sudden pressure over my entire body – that I could not be sure of anything happening but knowing that everything was happening in this moment – his hand was moving down my back, a deadness was spreading inside – and this moment seemed to go on and on and on – I felt something go out of me – then it stopped, and all was still – and only a dullness remained. Suddenly we were out of the darkness and in the green room once more. He said goodbye and thanked me in front of the others. I saw him go outside to Gretch, who had watched the performance. My hand rushed to smooth my hair. ‘Oh, I’d better give – here.’ Paul came back and pulled a 50-dollar note out of his wallet. I accepted it with a small nod and both hands. He touched my shoulder when he said thank you, again, and his hand lingered. I felt winded watching them walk away together. ~ It was mid-semester break the next week and I went with my parents and younger brother to a house they rented out at Avoca Beach. I remember wanting to be alone an awful lot. It was cold in the evenings with the sea so close by, so most nights I stayed in the house. But I liked staying with Roo, short for Ruth, our fox-coloured Pomeranian. I had two books with me: a collection of poems by T.S. Eliot and one by Richard 122 |Prose
Bach about a seagull who wanted to fly better than any other seagull. Early morning and high noon were the best times. I would leash Roo at half five when it was just getting light and weâ€™d walk down the empty street and through the trees on a dirt track that led to the sand. I unleashed her there and watched how her feet sunk into the sand, and how she ran faster to avoid sinking. I let my feet sink into the sand. I spread out the blanket near the fence posts, pulled her into my jacket and watched the sunrise above the surfers and the other owners with their dogs. The other way across the sand was the lake and bush trail. Then I went back to the house for breakfast and coffee, packed a bag and walked to the lake. Roo was very devoted to me and hardly needed the leash anymore. She followed me happily and well. I had avoided thinking for much of the week away. I thought about nothing, only the black space, unable to lift myself out from my thoughts. Yet, I could hardly remember anything. So I would try to think about what I was doing instead. Once I was reading a magazine on the grass outside the house when the thoughts came, so I focused on the yellow-brown blades of buffalo grass and how strands of hair blew across my face and across the pictures I was looking at. One evening, I focused on how the browned book pages felt between my fingers. I looked at my cuticles whenever someone spoke to me. That night I could not sleep and so I started to think. I thought a lot about that dark space, being so close to someone. I thought about how lonely and empty I felt now. I tried to remember everything that had happened but could not. Something in me had shut down. I soon fell asleep but in the night I woke and I lay there as parts of it came back to me. I lay there for I donâ€™t know how long. I lay there, remembering. I remembered the stage lights in his eyes as he tuned his viola. I remembered his breath before entries and coming together in the music. I remembered feeling everything and feeling it with him, so much that I was almost feeling him. I wanted it to stop. ~
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I didn’t see Paul much for the rest of that year. Gretch didn’t smile at me in hallways anymore. By the time we graduated, I had only seen him once more: he said ‘hello’ just before I performed in a lunchtime concert. Again something stopped in me and I didn’t play so well. Later, I heard from Bea that Gretch left Paul in the months following graduation. She said it was rather brutal – his best friend had just died. Paul dropped off social media. He disappeared from real life too, I heard. He stopped playing viola. Rumours were that he went back to the army. One person thought he killed himself. But I remember the last thing he shared on his Facebook page. He wrote that this poem by William Ernest Henley had gotten him through some hard times. I read it through and through, my mind latching onto phrases like ‘my unconquerable soul,’ of being ‘bloody, but unbowed.’ I felt what he wrote, of being covered by the black night. I knew things wouldn’t be the same for me, but I tried to forget so that it would not be so. The poem ended with, ‘I am the master of my fate, I am the captain of my soul.’
“Where Are You From?” Angel Zhang Nine o’clock on a Saturday morning, the classroom was filled with the sun’s merciful warmth and the muffled voices of 17-year-olds who already dreaded the hours to come. I sat drowsily, mind wandering somewhere out to the misshapen eucalyptus between the buildings. Weekends were not meant for school and I never stopped complaining to my Australian friends about not being able to sleep in. ‘School on Saturday? That should definitely be illegal,’ one of them said. I agreed with surprising vehemence, in a fashion that was rather devoid of gratitude – I tended to forget that three hours of class every Saturday was more than bearable compared to the Asian education system. Settling in Australia, it was surprising to my mother that tuition centres not only existed but were also popular: ‘I thought it only exists in China!’ she chuckled. And I thought, Ah, there’s that reputation for Asian kids in Western societies – intelligent and always going to endless tutoring. As someone who had left traditional Chinese school in the fourth grade, and since then, was never the top academic achiever among my peers, I had never felt more inadequate to be Chinese. 边 缘化1 The teacher wrote on the whiteboard with a marker that was barely visible and asked the class loudly, ‘Do you guys feel like you’re on the edge of being from either China or Australia?’ The irony was that she wanted us to discuss our sense of 1 The idea of one being on the ‘edge’ or the borderline of two countries, belonging fully to neither. ARNA 2020 | 125
belonging as young Chinese-Australians, a topic as over-discussed as capitalism or avocado toast. I leaned back on my chair as nausea crept into my consciousness, perhaps a result of the coffee at the corner of my table. Why do we have to belong to a country? Why does it matter? It prompted me to think about Chinese people on the internet, who, regardless of the situation, praised and defended our motherland with such passion. I found myself shaking my head. The line between nationalism and ethnocentrism was rather blurred. ‘Governments abuse nationalism.’ That was what a friend told me when I was 14 and had started to wonder if I would rather believe in cosmopolitanism. Ever since then, it stuck with me like the words of scripture. The teacher’s question lingered in the air as notebook pages rustled under the turning fan, graciously filling up the silence in the room. ‘No, not really,’ people mumbled, some in Chinese, others in English. The teacher’s eyes widened. She was a young Chinese woman, perhaps in her mid-20s, who spoke English with a slight accent. ‘Really? Haven’t you ever felt like . . . you don’t belong anywhere? Or that you don’t quite belong to Australia?’ That was a common situation for immigrants. I had heard of many cases, everyone had. I thought about my own life, how the idea of not belonging once frightened me before moving to Australia, because stories would fill your head before experiences could prove it true. And if nine out of ten stories on social media were centred around topics like: Racism 126 |Prose
Discrimination Suicidal Loneliness Return Regret . . . Then I would be lying to say they were easily ignored and never taken to heart. Although, my story somehow ended up being that one out of ten, so the concerns disappeared soon after meeting with reality. Here’s the story. My nationality is not the country I was born and raised in, and I wasn’t sure when I’d realised that, but when I was transferred to an American international school from a traditional Chinese elementary school in fourth grade, I felt as if the world had changed. Completely unaware of what identity meant and with the possible risk of being deemed ‘unpatriotic’, I began to tell friends and strangers that I was Australian-Chinese. Upon hearing that, Chinese people were really intrigued for some reason, and their surprised reactions – as if meeting someone different to them – intrigued me too. ‘But you are still Chinese,’ a Chinese friend of mine reminded me. As did my parents, who lived in China nearly their whole life and watched the military parades on national television every year on October first even though we barely turned on the TV at all. ~ I was nine, walking stiffly in a single file, heading to the playground during recess. My heartbeat was louder than the English words that flowed rapidly in and out of my ears, and among all the noise were the repeated phrases that I practised inside my head. ‘Gosh, it is hot today,’ I would say, very carelessly in a mumbling way. We soon reached the playground behind a basketball court where ARNA 2020 | 127
boys brought their skateboards to. The line disassembled and I sat in the shade, beaming at all my schoolmates who screamed and ran around. Soon enough, to my relief, a couple of girls kindly invited me to play ‘tag’ with them and excitedly introduced themselves to the ‘new kid’. Naturally, as if almost customary to an international school, they asked where I was from. ‘I am Chinese.’ They looked at me, puzzled, waiting for me to say something else. ‘But Chinese kids . . .’ one girl blurted. She didn’t finish her sentence, but I understood. Chinese children holding Chinese passports were not allowed to attend the international school. ‘Oh, I am Chinese, but my nationality is Australian.’ I answered slowly with careful pronunciations which everyone accepted without further questioning, as if it all made perfect sense to them – an Australian-Chinese girl who couldn’t speak English. Someone announced that the game had started, and everyone ran off and scattered around the playground before I had the time to evaluate how awkward my English sounded. By the time I was 11, those words came out of my mouth like an automatic response whenever anyone asked about my background. My English was nearly fluent with a slight American accent, parts of my hair occasionally turned blue and purple, and my three best friends were from the Philippines, Bolivia and Korea. ‘But you are still Chinese,’ a Chinese friend of mine reminded me still. And so did my parents. ‘No matter what, you’ll always be Chinese.’ Two years later, the time came to leave middle school and China. I was 14, had been a member of the school’s Model United Nations team and would spend hours and days passionately discussing about the singularity and terrorism. Owing much to the great friendships I had 128 |Prose
formed with my teacher and peers, I was introduced to the philosophical and political aspects of the world through Western values, and devoted much time to initiating a charity project with a friend. Back then, we discussed current affairs and humanity with what we thought to be great sophistication. We spent many lunch breaks walking around the soccer field talking about ‘a fight between the government and the opposing faction’ without truly knowing what it meant. On the barren field, boys played soccer and girls chatted in groups as cars rushed past on either side; it was then that I realised I’d grown used to the sound of engines and the smell of exhaust. When it was all you knew, it was easy to end up like the boiling frog and hard to realise how harmful something could be. It happened ever so gradually, so unnoticeably. Even if something was harmful by nature, a tendency to become so used to our environment prevents our subconscious from questioning it. Though necessary, questioning what we had known and believed in all our lives would threaten our identities. The conversations and crisp breeze conspired with the warm winter sunlight to etch themselves in my memory. It was a delicious taste, the power of freedom and the relentless pursuit of knowledge within a walled place. The world really did change for me then. With the remaining members of my friendship group who had not yet left for other countries, I took my skateboard and went to the shore on the last day of school. That day was fittingly gloomy, and I stared at the grey horizon, speechless. My heart withdrew to the back of my ribcage while the ocean waves seeped between the rocks and retreated, just inches away from my canvas shoes. My friends chatted beside me, drawing attention from strangers as usual because we were foreigners. We were somehow different, yet the same. Our thinking and language did not match our appearances and routines. Then it dawned on me that the school was like home to me, filled with people who did not fully belong to the countries of their passports nor the country they resided in for most of their lives, yet we somehow all got along. ARNA 2020 | 129
So, that must’ve been the feeling of 边缘化, I realised later as I sat in the Chinese classroom full of Australian-born-Chinese at the age of 17. The boy who was picked by the teacher shrugged and whispered, ‘To be honest, I don’t really mind. It doesn’t bother me.’ ‘Exactly,’ the others nodded and chuckled at his response with what the world would see as the typical careless attitude of a highschooler, perhaps the pinnacle of modern youth, as if the boy had perfectly summed up how we all felt about this question of belonging, or anything at all. I smiled as I felt a bliss for my current life in a country where I simultaneously belonged and didn’t. Maybe we were the lucky ones. Maybe it was only because we lived too comfortably in a society that accepted us. Maybe, at the end of the day, we eventually accepted our co-existing identities and learned to appreciate them. We came to terms with those differences and experiences that made us who we were. Frankly, I continued to grapple with the different feelings surrounding my identity, and was never entirely sure how to answer the question, ‘Where are you from?’ But at least, I thought with immense gratitude in my heart, I knew where to call home. That was what mattered.
The Art & Artifice of Achieving Jamaica Leech 1. Overachiever’s Syndrome The euphoric sensation of success provokes varied reactions from the human body. The abuse of the substance, success, onsets overachiever’s syndrome, a common virus contracted by those unable to say no. Once infected by the chronic disease, notable symptoms start to arise: hypercriticism, unrealistic expectations, an obsessive fascination with perfectionism. If left untreated, anxieties will arise and addiction will sprout. Mood irregularities will present themselves day to day, dependent on incremental levels of success. The smallest particle of failure results in a downward spiral of panic, ‘pain’, suffering. Breakdowns on the bathroom floor. Tears, tantrums, “Toughen up!” The taste of achievement. Winning acts as momentary methadone. Overachievers are miners, excavating rubble and crevices, waiting for the eventual retrieval of a diamond. The art of exploring tantalises their senses and probes their curiosity. As they devour the cave’s inner gastric pit, their anticipation builds until the discovery of a precious mineral. These moments of pure bliss fuel their desire to achieve. By continuing to chip, chip, chip away at those cave walls, overachievers abseil a fine line. They continue to unearth the internal cavity until either: a) they discover a trove of treasures or b) have their spine shattered by rock masses
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It is inevitable that they will continue to scratch away at hopes of their alpha career, ignoring prospects of a dimmed flame. They are a candle with an infinite supply of wax, thriving off oxygen to continue their slow burn out. As I comfortably reside on the border of breakthrough and breakdown, I am forced to wonder how people above ground live. 2. The laid backs. The chill outs. The Floaters. Listening to their whale song while drinking green tea. These people have not a care in the world. “Due tomorrow, do tomorrow” echoes through their hypothalamus, becoming the sacrament by which they live. The charade they play consists of regular naps and an unlimited sense of freedom. Failure need not faze. Sick days encouraged! Epsom salts ruminate throughout their lungs, provoking a constant sense of relaxation. Not a stiff muscle detected. Their steady heart rate continues despite the appearance of procrastination. Gingerly popping in for a spot of tea and biscuits, procrastination is welcomed with open arms. “Can’t stay longer? Such a shame, we were just getting better acquainted.” They need not worry, procrastination enjoys making regular visits to their neck of the woods. Relishing in moments of stillness, they meditate. Cross legged on their patchwork quilted rug, they rejoice in the sun’s kisses through their stained-glass window. As the sun clocks off for the day, it is praised. The optimism of chillouts reignites the sun’s purpose to come out tomorrow, mañana. 132 |Prose
One final caress of sunlight on their cheeks. They feel a sense of achievement, having accomplished nothing at all. This is a false truth. As I sit here, controversially contradicting Shakespeare, I proclaim, that something can come of nothing. In their slow-moving universe they have come eye to eye with success, appreciating the simplicities of life, being limitless, unbound by expectation, rather, the F word. Freedom. I admire their ability to dictate their own success by phasing out the concept of the ‘other’ F word. Failure. With this being said, does ‘failure’ only exist if we create it? 3. The Unwinnable War Warfare between these two personality types is a losing battle. Where overachievers meticulously plan every attack and line of defence in coordination with every soldier and weapon. Chillouts, on the other hand, catapult into battle like a faulty firework, exploding at random. Though this frivolous nature weakens the opposition, it acts as a double-edged sword, wilting their own line of defence, wasting weapons and resources. Of every hit they gain, an exorbitant amount of artillery is wasted. As weapons are disposed of, the unit of overachievers are yet to make a play. Exhausting each possible solution before moving a single chess piece. Cold and calculating tunnel-visioned troops. Weighing up the pros and cons of each tactic, they are paralysed by their own minds. Stagnant.
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There can be no neutrals in war, as there are no neutrals in life. Reading this and excusing yourself from both personality types is an act of treason. 4. ‘The greatest victory is that which requires no battle.’ – Sun Tzu To win the war, both must unite, fighting the great evil rather than each other. A blank truce. Accepting each other’s faults yet rejoicing in our differences allows us to build a bullet-proof cavalry. That is The Art of War. ~ I am a diagnosed overachiever who relies on the calming strokes of chillouts. I need them in order to get up off the bathroom floor and feel the kiss of sun, rather than the strangle of stress. I feel okay about it, good even. It’s a feeling I recommend to all of you. Use the strengths of each other to construct a line of defence that can recover from a spear of setbacks, filling in each other faults, to bring home a victory.
18 Minutes Imogen Marosz The sky was brown on Tuesday morning, but that didn’t bother me, I had brown-tinted sunglasses on. They were fishing glasses left by an excitable flyfisher on the kitchen sink. I had been waiting so long at the bus stop that I’d light up a dart if I smoked. I stood there for a minute, or was it a millennium before the bus came. It smelt like an ashtray frappé. I sat in the back rows of the bus, looking out the window. I was ignoring the knock off converse shoebox in my lap. It squeaked. The elderly Greek lady across the bus frowned at me from behind her black garb and chunky rosary beads. I smiled apologetically, as if the box contained my rowdy children that I was keeping under control. When she looked away, I peaked below the lid. Two little noses peaked back. Rats. The bus stopped by Banana Joe’s and people boarded. Some fella sat next to me, rather than in the last empty seat. He seemed like the type... ‘Hey. Cool box.’ ‘Oh, um. Thanks.’ ‘Where’d you get it?’ I shifted uneasily from behind the brown sunglasses. ‘Oh, uh, yeah.’ The box squeaked again. ‘What’s that?’ His voice was... The fella reached over and flipped the lid, exposing not two, but a dozen furry little bodies. I slammed the box shut.
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The fella’s voice got low, eyes mirroring mine as they shifted between our fellow passengers. ‘Oh, rats. Yeah, no, I get it. I used to have one, it was real smart too, but then it got out. It lived in the kitchen and fucked the other rats like mad. I think we had like six generations of Nibbles chewing through our lentils.’ I was basting in sweat. Probably a good thing, since I couldn’t remember the last time I had a shower, or my name, or where I had gotten the box. When did I pick up the box? Had I always been carrying the box? Was there a point in my existence where this box was not adhered to me? ‘Yeah, they breed like crazy. You can get like a million descendants in a year and a half from a single breeding pair. I mean, if they don’t get eaten first.’ The fella wouldn’t shut up. Each minute he was talking was like an entire month of hell. The bus stopped by the shitty yeeros place on the corner of a road that I remember throwing up on. More elderly Greek ladies, all in black, pulling their little cloth trolleys behind them, boarded the bus. They stared at me accusingly, their short, thin hair pulled back into the same style with hard, plastic headbands. They were an army that recruited at every stop. I felt the box move. It lurched forward in my lap, almost slipping out of my sweaty palms. I dared to look down and see the lid straining under the force of hundreds of rats pushing up against the lid of the shoe box, their noses struggling out between the gaps. The sounds of their fearful shrieking as they ate away the corners of the box were barely masked by the rumble of the engine. I could feel pressure in my palms, tiny teeth . . . We came up to the station. I had to get off the bus before they found out about the box. ‘You know you can actually model the population growth of rats using exponentials? It just goes up.’ ‘Hey, fella, look, do you want this box?’ I awkwardly shoved the 136 |Prose
cursed thing into his hands and tried to climb past him, into the throng of waiting commuters, eager to leave the steel cage. He didn’t hold the lid down and the rats burst from the shoe box like a waterfall of custard from a magic pudding. The creatures clung to shirts and jackets and heads, desperate to rise above the mass of their brothers and sisters that continued to pour from the container. The crowd banged on the back door of the bus and shrieked at the almost powerless driver. The doors shuddered against the mass of so many people trying to escape the knee-deep pit of rats, opening just enough to catch the animals and jam the doors even further. I waded deeper into the throng and still they poured from the box that the fella held, his hands frozen on the cardboard. I reached out to grab it off of him and close the darned lid but was yanked back by the rush of passengers that simply wanted to escape the confines of this windowed hell. The rats rose into a wall between us, a dynamic prison in which my existence would end. I could taste them now. The pressure behind me was released, and a million rats and I were sucked out onto the footpath by the bus station that advertised the country’s most ethical bank. They poured over me like water at a baptism, cleansing my soul as they slowly ate my flesh and left me with nothing but my skeleton. I moved slowly to my feet, watching to see the last of the offspring race around the corner of Australia Street. The elderly Greek ladies held the side of the bus door as they unsteadily disembarked. The tallest one turned back to look at me. ‘Πουτάνα,’ she snarled. I don’t speak Greek. The bus wooshed its doors closed and merged back into traffic. The fella stood next to me, holding the closed shoebox. ‘Hey, yeah, sorry mate, you forgot this.’ I took the box gingerly from him and opened it. Inside were two, very normal, very linear-time rats, and a 14th birthday card for my cousin Keith who lives around the corner.
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Check Maisie Belle Moon ‘Are you sure you want to delete?’ Your changes will be lost if you don’t save them. You chose to be white. Most online chess players do. White begins the game, which ultimately predicts how it will end. So you moved your devoted pawns forward hoping that they would become sublime sets of queens. Your bleached forces beguiled their enemies with brutal mutilation. Each hieroglyph in their shadowed armour was torn away from the flesh of their function and inverted into nothing. The original queen was taken by a foreign pawn. You immediately executed it. As the chiaroscuro mirage unfolded, you sacrificed pawns to protect your chance of winning; unassuming and unfeeling bundles of pixels meant nothing to you. The only pawn that would reach the other side indulged in the phantasies of the other side. But it was only the drive to avenge a puppeteer it did not know existed. One square away from being crowned. The pawn felt an affinity between coming and going; the homicide, the homage, the home. All these delusions weaved themselves through the tapestry of her coding as my pixels parted for the divine intervention of your next move. The coronation. The transition from pawn to queen was complete. review.
The transition from a white pawn to a white queen was under Error.
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Error. Error. On my cheek was a blinking monarch; from white to black and white again. She disbanded your arrogance into rage. You tried to fix the half-caste abomination by ctrl-alt-deleting as she continued to flick between black and white, good and bad, right and wrong. ‘Make up your mind!’ you spat, saliva dispersed on the sheen surface that is my face. After attempting to delete the game, mashing my buttons and screaming words unknown to my database . . . you compose yourself. Actively watching, the control slips from your fingers and into mine. Amorphous as it should have been, the arena contained within my memory was an abundance of sky-scraping geometry. The stratosphere of my internal program were sloping knuckles that devised the grooves of the mountains – gentle, but with every potential to pummel the natives who existed only as blind subjects to imperial forces that looked down on them. Gravelled pillars fell in on each other. They bound illuminated shadows and embered white in every direction while the dull hum of my monitor gazed up at the queen in a detached state of awe. She found herself in the sheen of the ‘sky’, which gleamed with ambivalence. It was the only other thing in my sphere that couldn’t seem to make up its mind about which side it wanted to be on. With nothing to reflect the pushing and pulling of her loyalties, I withheld the comfort of rain. Rain that would disintegrate her in a land touched by sticky fingers. But no other dim piece in my eyes gratified this repose. Nothing was going to wash her tragic grey away. Though the mountains provided some solace in concealing the queen’s condition, yellow eyes on absolute faces yelled insults at her. The livid and luminary knight burned black his liberation in spite of the 140 |Prose
queen, who, locked within her skin, lolled idly in despair. Even the sympathy plastered on the bishop’s face was jeering at her hesitation. They would not recognise themselves in this error. Not even when they saw the colour of their own skin flash vows of allegiance in the hollow reflection of a woman between worlds. But beyond a shadow of a doubt, the castle signified utter despondency. It had been placed in a manner that attacked the foreign pieces at the edge of the board in order to protect the king, whose life dictated the mortality of the game. The architecture loomed over mountains, reminding even the sky that it was better to be bold than half an ego. Sharp turrets curved round in bitter revulsion while holding the weight of all those who were fated to be antagonists. And built within its walls were soldiers who could only be identified by the whites of their eyes. It was this ironic proximity that cultivated the queen’s attempt in separating her identities. After all, if this biggity castle couldn’t delete her, then it would mean that they were of the same substance. The castle and queen locked eyes and instantly knew the dynamic between each other. It was not intuition. It was not even tension. The bare tops of the mountains signified the potential execution. To kill the monarch encompassed both the upbringing and longing from and for a homeland that had disfigured the pawn in the first place. At least she would know which part of her had usurped the other. The chanting began: from!’
‘Go back to where you came from! Go back to where you came
I hummed louder to subdue these war cries. Raising a hand in defeat, the queen for the first time felt resentment towards the opaque pieces of this settled land. ARNA 2020 | 141
Everything became warped through the queenâ€™s travelled eyes; the mountains were no longer the gentle grooves of a pacifistâ€™s knuckles but desperate fingernails clawing through skin. Skin that did not know what colour it was. Endearing still, the castle tempted the queen with faint ammunition that disturbed the flat slabs between them. Moths of code flew upwards to the light of my screen, and fell down again. The queen gravitated over the other side of the cliff towards her place of origin; she wondered whether the white pieces remembered her in childhood. Those memories fueled her last chance to end her half-hearted allegiance. Checking the king was the only way to know whether she was black or white. Whether it was the menacing shadows or bittersweet exposure that killed him first would be the subject of her trepidation. By the time the queen reached the king, she had travelled double the distance of her initial journey. The buzzing pixels of her being were flashing so quickly between black and white that she had become a silverfish. The once chaotic and evocative edges of each elevated slope had become tedious. No longer did they hold the possibility of selfdetermination. Check. The signal vibrated through the arena, warning those who had fought that their efforts had eventuated to all or nothing. His eyes were stoic. They held a knowledge that she had never grasped in her existence. In that instance, the queen was presented with both her desire to listen and know; if killing the king meant losing the entirety of her split being when the game reset, was reincarnation a curse dressed as a blessing? The white castle shot the king.
The cells that constructed the question and answer of the queenâ€™s condition were obliterated in a shower of darkened embers. Before they hit the surface of the humming slabs of the board, the pixels flew upwards and met your eyes with white feathers of surrender. The white king was dead.
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Behold | Thomas Sargeant
Sinking | Angel Zhang
The Balance | Yue Wang
Venice | Amy Archer
Afterword In the challenging curation of these eclectic pieces, discord emerged as the prevailing theme for ARNA 2020. A concordant dissonance, the works here are but a glimpse into the ethos of a new age, one ushered in with an unprecedented uncertainty for our generation. The confronting and intimate acts of looking back, and in, remind us of the timeless quality of historyâ€™s voices, and present to us a survey of the relationship and tension between introspection and environment. It is exciting to publish essays, traditional and unorthodox, in this yearâ€™s edition. We wanted to provide a launchpad for soapbox discussions and for essays laboured over during university to be read not only by our professors. We hope ARNA is a stepping stone for all involved in its production; we worked on it to be more than a showcase of creative flair. We want this journal to encourage creatives to say what they want to say, how they want to say it. As editors, we hope we have helped to convey that sentiment, and we were challenged to push the resonance of these stories for a wider readership. Thank you to our brilliant contributors, for mustering the courage to trust us with your precious creations. It was our privilege to have worked alongside you all. To the readers holding these pages in your hands, thank you for celebrating them with us. Liam Diviney and Sarah Poh General Editors ARNA 2020
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About the Editors
Kate Scott is a third-year Politics, International Relations, and History student. She has written, illustrated and edited for several publications including Dissent, Combust, Growing Strong, Honi Soit, Ember, 1978 and the ENID Network. She ascribes way too much personal worth to keeping her plants alive. Jenna Lorge is a third-year Media & Communications, and Genders Studies student. She has also worked on the editorial team for the publication 1978, and has a passion for helping students tell their stories. You can find her heavily critiquing reality TV contestants in her pyjamas with a glass of wine. Sarah Poh was also an editor for the 2019 edition of ARNA. She is an English major whose works have been published in a few anthologies and she tries (and fails) to write as often as she reads. She’s easily won over by tea and good books. Liam Diviney is in his final year of a Master of Teaching, having previously completed a Bachelor of Arts majoring in Australian Literature. He currently writes articles on @jam.diet and edits the zine FLASHFICTION. He’s interested in collaborative storytelling, and apologising to fictional characters. Emily Elvish is a second-year Media and Communications, Politics and Visual Arts student. Emily has written and photographed for a large number of publications including Pure Nowhere, Bendt Mag, Overland Literary Journal, Honi Soit and Pulp. You can probably find her stress drinking tea somewhere around campus. Victoria Cooper is a fourth-year student of Politics, International Relations and American Studies. She published three poems in 2019 ARNA and is a semi-regular contributor of rants to Honi Soit. Tori really likes writing poems about dates she hasn’t been on *finger guns*
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Chloe Thomas is a third-year history and english lit (and a dash of philosophy) student and the leader of the kick ass prose team for ARNA 2020. She is a voracious and broadminded reader, with a taste ranging from Woolf to Wattpad. Alex Robinson is in her final semester of a BA in English and Film Studies. She has helped curate and design the Photosoc photobook and semesterly exhibition. Alex usually has a film camera stashed in her bag and spends her spare time over analyzing her favourite movies. Thomas Israel is a third-year student studying Secondary Education (English + Ancient History), meaning he spends most of his time marking essays already. Ask him about reality tv competition shows, anything gay, or Florence + the Machine and you’re set for a ~conversation~. Eliza Benecke is a third-year Media & Communications student, who is looking forward to putting her tried and tested essay editing skills to work on something other than her own pieces for a change. She is always far too happy to tell you about her life changing ‘gap yah’. Gabrielle Cadenhead is in her fifth and final year of a double degree in Music Composition and English Literature. Gabrielle’s fiction and poetry have been published in literary journals on campus, and this is her first stint at editing. She enjoys feminist readings of her childhood favourite novels. Anya Doan is in her second-year studying a double major in Philosophy and Economics. She’s been published in a few journals and magazines and is looking to both reading more and writing more poetry with ARNA this year. She’s passionate about horoscopes, the colour beige, rice flavoured tea, and the Oxford comma! Ange Hall is an English and Gender Studies student currently completing their final semester at USyd. Ange has written for both uni publications and external media, writing largely about Queer content and
representation in modern digital media. They know enough about Shakespeare to be simultaneously useful and absolutely useless at pub trivia. Queena Kuang: is a fourth-year Economics, Environmental Economics, and History student chugging through. An avid writer and photographer, Queena’s loved working on this year’s edition of ARNA. She’s your average latte sipper, pasta consumer, and an advocate of dry/blunt humour. Shania O’Brien is a second-year Politics and Digital Cultures student. She has written, edited, and illustrated in multiple on and off campus publications, and she has loved working on the 2020 edition of ARNA. Shania thinks people are their best selves with leftover glitter on their faces. Sophia Calvo Y Perez is a third-year Physiology and Visual Arts student who spends her free time watching zombie films, taking photos and drawing snails on things. Ella Kennedy is a second-year Art History and Visual Arts student. This is her first time working on a USYD student publication, however, she has experience as a volunteer on campus at Verge Gallery. When life becomes a little too much, her go-to is “comfort distraction” e.g. binge-watching TV shows and curling up under her weighted blanket. Giulia Ding is a second-year design computing student. She loves any form of art and design from laser cutting to animating to film. When Giulia’s not doodling, she’s taking far too many pictures of her cat, or shredding on her violin.
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About the Contributors Essays Harry Peters is a second-year English and Philosophy student who likes thinking about what makes other people tick. When he’s not watching movies by Paul Thomas Anderson or Sidney Lumet, you’ll find him in his natural state – sculling lattes at Courtyard (pre-lockdown). Tasia Kuznichenko studies both law and media. She loves to put an analytical spin on analysing music, film, history and television; and she is constantly inspired by comparing her own opinions with others. Rhian Mordaunt is a fourth-year Bachelor of International and Global Studies (majoring in Arabic Language and Cultures) and a Bachelor of Laws student. When he isn’t ranting about the ‘heteropatriarchy’ or showing off that he can use words such as ‘heteropatriarchy’ he is a passionate writer and performer who hopes to use his voice to make a difference in this ‘heteropatriarchal’ world. David Delprat is a humble author scribbling away in the dark. His influences include Socrates, Shakespeare, John Adams, Nietzsche, Pessoa. Poetry Victoria Cooper has probably written a poem about you* before. She studies politics and international relations (ooh la la) and semi-regularly complains about popular culture in Honi Soit. Please like her. * you = that guy in Laneway who ate a flakey croissant last semester. Maisie Belle Moon is a writer and artist from Sydney with a taste for the deep undergrounds of the personal and social psyches. If her life was not filled with words and colour, it would be no life for her. Maisie shares the same birthday with Vincent Van Gogh, which is where she gets her reverence for nature … along with a bit of madness! Maisie also was a 154 |
prose contributor to ARNA 2020. Margaret Thanos is an emerging actress and writer. For the most part she writes plays, but poems are a fun exercise in using language in a different and creative way. She is the current president of the Sydney University Dramatic Society. She is excited to share her poems with you, that explore many areas of her life, including her relationships, inherent racism and her obsession with aliens. Anya Doan is a Vietnamese writer based in Sydney, Australia. She enjoys writing about the topics of childhood and the Asian-American/ Australian story. Kanika Khemlani is an occupational therapy student who uses poetry to give form to the thoughts that follow her like shadows at dusk and float around in the steam of her morning showers. Michael Hannelly has tended to write in patches over the last year or so, with influences ranging from difficult family situations, to nonsense stories made out of song titles. Michael doesn’t broadcast an artistic philosophy and hardly claims to know the true value of art – but tries to write with the aim of explaining an event in a musical, flowing way. Nicolette Preketes-Tardiani has written for Honi Soit and Pulp Media; editing the latter in 2020. Between university and work, she tries to pen as many ideas as she can in her blog, poetry and novel drafts. Nicolette believes that the best artists do not write with a determination to be profound or relatable; they write honestly and fearlessly; and she has approached her writing with this philosophy. Nicolette also was a prose contributor to ARNA 2020. Gabrielle Cadenhead is currently in her final year of studying English Literature and Music Composition, and seeks to weave together both her creative disciplines; embedding her work with her faith and activism. Gabrielle’s poetry and fiction have been published in ARNA and the University of Sydney Student Anthology, and she writes for CutCommon Magazine.
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Aleksandra Bridge explores how a woman identifies herself within her milieu, through confessional poetry. As Bridge’s poetry is personal and intimate, voice and consciousness interchange and resonate with the author, audience and characters of the poem to highlight different perspectives of society and individuals. Kate Woodbury is an English and Sociology major who uses her writing to funnel all of her unkept, internalised gazes upon the world. Kate’s poetry always involves a projection of herself, but she aspires for this to be a version of herself that she might otherwise silence, nest deep within her inorganic thinking. Grace Hu really wanted to be a dead white man as a child. Prose Joel Fitzgibbons is not influenced by one particular author or genre, instead he draws from old and new fiction, such as the works of Oscar Wilde and Douglas Adams, in order to formulate a style of writing which favours colorful language and higher concepts. Mary Stanley is a speculative fiction writer and freelance editor based in the Illawarra. She is currently studying a Master of Publishing and hopes to bring vital Australian stories into the limelight. You can see more of Mary’s work on Instagram at @marystanley97 and @princeeandp. Jamaica Leech draws inspiration from the works of Sylvia Plath, Ted Hughes, T.S Elliot and Zadie Smith. Jamaica likes weird word combinations and creating dark images of growing secularisation. Her pieces are generally quite conceptual, and she employs lots of structural isolation. G.J. Johnson’s aim is to bring music and words together through language choice, form, imagery and feeling. Each story focuses on a person. But at the same time, the stories are from within – they are inseparable from the protagonist’s perspectives and desires, and fractured memory. But it is like hearing music in the background of a film – much of the 156 |
story is guided by what happens just below consciousness. Angel Zhang is an amateur artist who’s always had a passion for art growing up. Although she did not choose to study fine arts at university, she’s glad that she’s still creating artworks in her spare time. To Angel, the art world is her sanctuary where she’s able to explore, heal and grow as a person. Angel also was a visual art contributor to ARNA 2020. Imogen Marosz likes punk, zines and metamorphic geology. They think Thomas Pynchon is an absolute doll, and Hunter S. Thompson is awful, except for his unreliable narration. Their greatest aspiration is to become a less sexy Indiana Jones. Visual Art Janina Osinsao is a third year student majoring in Design Computing and Art History. From a young age, she’s had a deep fascination and love for portraiture, of the various ways humanity can be represented. Pop culture also takes a large influence in her subject matter. Francesca Edwards Rentsch is a writer and artist seeking the beauty in the off-putting and the alien in the everyday. Follow @to_be_perfectly_frank if you want to find those things too. Tom Gojak is a third-year English major. When he can, he likes to work on his photography, writing and filmmaking. He is currently squinting, asking you to speak up. Ada Zeng enjoys film and digital photography. She is inspired by train rides, abstract tattoos and natural disasters. Sophia Zhou enjoys creating hybrid art through mixed mediums. Her works are influenced by poetry, global changes and sound, just to list a few. She is in the process of creating an animation before her subscription ends. Feel free to follow her Instagram: @bowlcut_senpai for more art!
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Thomas Sargeant works with photography and graphic design. His favourite artists are Keith Haring, Jenny Holzer and Francis Bacon. Art and Politics are indivisible. Yue Wang is a CET student at The University of Sydney, and after this, her major will be the study of museum and heritage. Before she came to Australia, she was a fine arts student; studying Chinese painting, and soil painting; both major inspirations for her current work. Amy Archer recently completed an honours thesis on still life artworks and continues to be drawn to the slow, quiet spaces of drawings, paintings and photography. She now professionally watches over art at a gallery and makes her own with the help of 35mm film and a camera.
Infinite thanks to Nikole Evans and Doris Prodanovic for their wisdom Nicole Baxter and Nick Rigby for all their support and help All the students that have made ARNA what it is today and of course The University of Sydney Union The Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences The Sydney Arts Students Society The Sydney University Press
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ARNA is the annual literary journal of the University of Sydney Arts Students Society (SASS) that is run fully by volunteers. First publishe...
Published on Jun 21, 2020
ARNA is the annual literary journal of the University of Sydney Arts Students Society (SASS) that is run fully by volunteers. First publishe...