FARRAGO E DITION T H R EE · 2 0 2 1
NEWS · CULTURE · OPINION · PHOTOGRAPHY · POETRY · FICTION · SATIRE · ART
Acknowledgement of Country On May 21, protestors from all over Australia took to the streets for another National Climate Strike. As the climate crisis continues to hurtle towards a point of no return, and calls for action increase in urgency, it becomes even more necessary to acknowledge that climate and racial justice are inseparably intertwined. Any attempts to address the former while ignoring the latter are inadequate and doomed to fail. Although their contribution to climate change is significantly lower, Indigenous communities are amongst the first and hardest hit by its impacts. From rising sea levels in the Torres Strait, to natural disasters that increasingly threaten traditional sites, climate change has disproportionate, racialised impacts on Indigenous communities. It causes further economic marginalisation, exacerbates food and water insecurity, and contributes to the destruction of Country and culture. A significant perpetrator of the standard whitewashed narrative about climate activism is the mainstream media. Even now, the Australian media continues to marginalise the contributions of First Nations activists in climate movements. Instead, the focus is often laid disproportionately on certain white-dominated movements which are problematic and exclusionary. A minority of white activists are fetishistically idolised while the significant contributions of their First Nations counterparts are mostly ignored. Such white saviour narratives conveniently forget that it was First Nations peoples who preserved these lands for millennia—caring for it and conserving it in responsible and sustainable ways. That today, in the wake of the irrevocable damage wreaked on their lands by the destructive alien forces of capitalism and settler colonialism, First Nations communities and activists remain at the front lines, leading the fight to protect Country. Climate change has brought us to a watershed moment. But as we use this opportunity to fight for a better, fairer future, we would do well to keep in mind that any visions of climate justice that do not centre Indigenous peoples’ right to environmental self-determination will simply result in outcomes that replicate the inequalities of the present Ailish Hallinan Wurundjeri Land of the Kulin Nation Lauren Berry Boon Wurrung Land of the Kulin Nation Pavani Ambagahawattha Out of Country
REGULARS 03 04 79
Editorial Calendar Flash Fiction: Fairytales with a Twist
Marija Mrvosevic & Mushu
For and Against: Vampire Romances Christina Savopoulos & Katie
UMSU 05 06 08
Southbank Updates OB Reports UMSU Updates
News-in-brief UniMelb Posts Surplus During COVID-19–At Whose Cost? Jennifer Chance 12 UniMelb Not Offering Rebates for Students Stuck Overseas—but why? Charlene Phua 13 Sports are Back at UniMelb: A Guide on How and Where to Get Involved Micol Carmignani 14 News-In-Brief: Environmental Edition Donna Burroughs 15 Sustainability at Melbourne Aeva Milos & Donna Burroughs 16 OPINION: New Media Legislation Benefits the Powerful, and Leaves Us Behind Georgie Atkins
Fangirls and Fantasies: Why We Love to Hate Twilight Aeva Milos Cinemas Buckle Under the Weight of the Netflix Empire Christina Savopoulos
Goodbye, Dragon Inn (Tsai Ming-Liang, 2003)
to all my women, who are all of you
The Invisibles: Reflections of an Overseas International Student Anonymous
Talking to The Moon Christina Savopoulos
What’s All This? Olivia Ryan
Featured Photography Akash Nail Nair Candy Chu Andi Xu Christian Theodosiou Carolyn West Mollie Crompton Kashish Sandhu
Megan Tan Tan
Face of Silver
Rude Vibes at Club Retro Charlie Joyce
The Lake House
Ordinary Joys: The Restaurant Institution E.S.
The Craft: Ours is the Power Nishtha Banavalikar
Slogans and Nonsense Josh Abbey
Race Against the Odds ilundi tinga
The World of Dragons Zoe Keeghan
The Foggy Shores of Our Bedrooms Charlotte Waters and Lee Perkins
The Pier Review Torsten Strokirch
It’s Complicated: The Oversimplification of ADHD
A Review of Women in Fiction and Men in Nonfiction
Hannah Montana: The Icon, 15 Years Later
Katie Zhang Katie Zhang
______ : The Collector Marija Mrvosevic
on my way to uni Meredith Tyler
Illustrated by Casey Boswell & Chelsea Rozario
EDITORS Ailish Hallinan Lauren Berry Pavani Ambagahawattha
COVER Jasmine Pierce
MANAGERS Elmira Vivian Li Anoushka Arora Shaunak Wanikar Sweeney Preston Charlotte Armstrong Samantha Thomson Pujitha Gaddam Ben Levy Carolyn West Mark Yin Janelle Del Vecchio Joanna Guelas
CONTRIBUTORS Donna Burroughs Joanna Guelas Vatsal Desai Jennifer Chance Charlene Phua Micol Carmignani Georgie Atkins Megan Tan Tan Amelia Joy Aeva Milos Riley Doran Noa Abrahams Christina Savopoulos Digby Houghton Katie Ellul Olivia Ryan Laura Bishop James Gordon Raina Shauki Josh Abbey Rowan Burridge Ella McCartney Charlotte Armstrong Sweeney Preston Janvi Sikand Charlie Joyce Izma Haider Elmira Mushu
Laura Habib Meredith Tyler Marija Mrvosevic Joel Keith Jessica Faulkner Hannah Winspear-Schillings Emma-Grace Clarke Hannah Bowles Helena Pantsis
SUBEDITORS Tun Xiang Foo Emma Barrett Jennifer Chance Frank Harvey Tyson Sophie Alexandra Dungan Vanshika Agarwal Zoe Keeghan Amber Meyer Kate King-Smith Isabelle McConaghy Cassie Starc Nishtha Banavalikar Christina Savopoulos Mickhaella Ermita Lucy Robin Rachel Ko Joel Keith Josh Abbey Noa Abrahams Austin J. Ceravolo Saanjana Kapoor Melana Uceda Chelsea Rozario Ella Crowley Charlotte Armstrong Xiaole Zhan Laura Franks Joel Duggan Helena Pantsis Marcie Di Bartolomeo Claire Yip Sam Hadden Nat Hollis Poppy Willis Ioanna Petropolou Bridget Schwerdt Gwynneth Thomas Charlotte Waters Elizabeth Seychell
E.S. iundi tinga Charlotte Waters Lee Perkins Josh Abbey Nishtha Banavalikar
Srishti Chatterjee James Gordon
Vertigo Alice Aliandy Rohith Sundaresa Prabhu Kitman Yeung Zoe Lau Rachel Ko Rai Melana Uceda Mochen Tang Georgia Huang Rose Gertsakis Michelle Chang Joy Sha Arielle Vlahotis Casey Boswell Tereza Ljubicic Nina Hughes Torsten Strokirch Elmira Katie Zhang Jasmine Pierce Zoe Eyles Marco Sy Anannya Musale Cathy Chen Alice Tai Alice Jakobus Maddy Cronn Sally (Mingqing) Yuan Chelsea Rozario
Steph Markerink Gen Schiesser Torsten Strokirch
SATIRE TEAM Charlotte Armstrong Sweeney Preston James Gordon Emma-Grace Clarke Rowan Burridge Chelsea Rozario Josh Abbey Laura Bishop Janvi Sikand Raina Shauki
SOCIAL MEDIA Jessica Seychell Janelle Del Vecchio Emily Gu Anindya Setiawan Keely Tzoukos Jenslie George Isabella Ross Megan van Vegten
PHOTOGRAPHERS Abir Hiranandani Akash Nail Nair Candy Chu Andi Xu Christian Theodosiou Carolyn West Mollie Crompton Kashish Sandhu Maddy Cronn Yuwei Lin Joanna Guelas
Zoe Keeghan Lisa Jacomos
Illustrated by Jasmine Pierce
This magazine is made from 100% recycled paper. Please recycle this magazine after use. Farrago is the publication of the University of Melbourne Student Union (UMSU). Farrago is published by the General Secretary. The views expressed herein are not necessarily those of UMSU.
EDITORIAL All three of us, I think, have always been quite open about how much we love Farrago. It’s a gushy, embarrassing, fundamentally uncool sort of love. Like three over-supportive suburban soccer mums, we plaster every edition over our Facebook feeds, force our entire social circle to attend launches, and squeal incoherently every time a magazine arrives from the printer. Half our term is over now. It’s been a strange six months, and I don’t think we were perfect. I have regrets, too many to count. And the odds were stacked against us. I probably won’t return to Australia till 2022, we have one less editor than usual, student politics has been particularly vitriolic this year. Etcetera. But I still love this hot mess of a department enough to keep trying. That’s all I’ve done since day one, anyway. I don’t think I’m a natural at this. The writing, the editing, the managing—none of it comes to me with that careless ease I so envy in others. I just… try. Plan a new event, throw out another joke or compliment, fuck up badly, write one more op-ed, try, try, try. And I wish this for you too, reader—the good fortune to stumble across whatever it is you love, and the strength to persevere imperfectly through it.
They say that honesty is the best policy. So, let’s get real—making a magazine is f*#cking hard, especially this one. Not sure why I didn’t just spell fuck there? Guess I’m still trying to preserve the image that I’m a professional #girlboss editor with my shit together—which is clearly not the case. But I think that’s the lesson I took away most from this edition: nobody’s perfect and we’re all struggling along and fucking up together. Whenever I’m feeling blue, I regress deep into nostalgia. A friend once told me I was the “most nostalgic person” she’d ever met. I take this as a compliment, even though it wasn’t necessarily meant that way. Working on our retrothemed Edition Three has definitely helped me through the last few months. Being constantly immersed in bright colours and psychedelic patterns, as well as reading (and re-reading) pieces about popular culture from my childhood (special mentions to Twilight, Hannah Montana and Buffy) has brought me immense joy. I hope, dear reader, it brings you some too. So, take care everyone, it’s a whacky time to be alive. Regress into some nostalgia sometimes too. Now, I’m not a licensed therapist, but hey it works for me?
One of the many perks of working with print media these days is that the job really becomes you. On deadline day, the fear of sending a magazine to print with mistakes is so great that you proofread down to the last minute, frantically scanning as it gets exported, unable to let go as it makes its way to the printing press… taking you with it... Look at me, I’m 2D!! I didn’t realise a side effect of perfectionism was interdimensional space travel (but I’m also a bit behind in my readings). As I melted down into the pages of Edition Three, the press sent me soaring far across the universe, where the sky is a hazy pink and the stars are liquorice swirls. The wind does not whoosh; it plays ‘Echoes’ on repeat. I spend my days reclining in lush grass, crunching a Cola Sunnyboy. An existential David Byrne lives next door in a beautiful house with a beautiful wife. We have BBQs sometimes, it’s nice. You could say I got swept up in the emotions of it all. Gah. I hope you like this vibe as much as I do.
Illustrated by Jasmine Pierce
THURSDAY 1 12pm Climate Action Collective (Southbank campus) 12:30pm Queer People of Colour Collective 1pm CISSA DiversiTEA 4pm Creative Arts Collective
12pm Environment Collective
1pm People of Colour Collective 2pm Queer Political Action Collective 4:30pm UMAPS Hump Day Chats!
TUESDAY 13 12pm Environment Collective
TUESDAY 20 12pm Environment Collective
WEDNESDAY 22 1pm People of Colour Collective 2pm Queer Political Action Collective 4:30pm UMAPS Hump Day Chats!
TUESDAY 27 12pm Environment Collective
WEDNESDAY 14 1pm People of Colour Collective 2pm Queer Political Action Collective
WEDNESDAY 28 1pm People of Colour Collective 2pm Queer Political Action Collective
THURSDAY 9 12.30pm Queer People of Colour Collective 1pm CISSA DiversiTEA 1pm Radical Reading Group (Environment) 4pm Creative Arts Collective 6pm UMSU Southbank Campaigns SubCommittee
THURSDAY 15 12 pm Climate Action Collective (Southbank campus) 12:30pm Queer People of Colour Collective 1pm CISSA DiversiTEA 4pm Creative Arts Collective
THURSDAY 23 12.30pm Queer People of Colour Collective 1pm CISSA DiversiTEA 4pm Creative Arts Collective 6pm UMSU Southbank Campaigns SubCommittee
THURSDAY 29 12pm Climate Action Collective (Southbank campus) 12.30pm Queer People of Colour Collective 1pm CISSA DiversiTEA 4pm Creative Arts Collective
Illustrated by Melana Uceda
FRIDAY 2 6:30pm COSDU: Catholics of One Spirit Down Under
FRIDAY 10 6:30pm COSDU: Catholics of One Spirit Down Under
FRIDAY 16 6:30pm COSDU: Catholics of One Spirit Down Under
FRIDAY 24 6:30pm COSDU: Catholics of One Spirit Down Under
FRIDAY 30 10am VSSV: Tea Time 6.30pm COSDU: Catholics of One Spirit Down Under
Southbank Updates Welcome to the Southbank page—a space for students from the Southbank campus to share their thoughts, ideas and latest works. This edition, Music student Hannah Bowles speaks about the necessity gender quotas in the Conservatorium. If you’re a Southbank student, please come and say hello to join a beautiful creative community of unionists. You can also contact the Southbank Office Bearers at email@example.com.
Are Quotas Necessary for the Future of the Conservatorium? Written by Hannah Bowles Gender quotas are becoming an increasingly debated topic. The idea is simple; within teams or in positions of leadership, quotas are put in place to help achieve greater representation of women, BIPOC, and non-binary people. This ensures the representation of those who society has historically ignored and treats as lesser. However, some argue that quotas lead to tokenism, and that ‘merit’ should be the only factor in allocating positions. The problem with this argument is that it assumes there is a level playing field. A look at the Conservatorium music staff shows that out of 55 positions, there are 38 men to 17 women. Counting music performance only that number is 19 men to 6 women, When you exclude Voice teachers, this becomes 17 men to two women. In the Conservatorium directorate, there are five men and one woman. The Director is a man. There is an evident lack of female and non-binary representation in these positions, which leads directly to the need for quotas. The feminist scholar Catherine MacKinnon puts it best. In a neutral setting, people who have a natural advantage will win. To borrow an example from David Runciman—here is a soccer match between two teams. One is over 16s, and one is over 13s. The referee is entirely neutral and directs both teams to the same rules. Naturally, the over 16s win because of their age and experience. This is widely reflected in society. Status matters when one is born into an unfair society. The fact is that white men have more status than BIPOC people, and men have more status than women and gender-nonconforming people. So, without quotas, the rate of change is drastically slowed. There are problems with quotas, and they can lead to tokenism, leading to the idea of the “quota woman”. Someone who only earned their position over another who was more experienced than them to fill a quota, leading to an argument that quotas could decrease the quality of learning. However, who is to say that the woman chosen is not qualified? Why is she a token? Like the myth of the welfare queen, it doesn’t happen. The token woman, or the token Person of Colour, only exists in the conservative imagination. All the teaching staff at the Conservatorium are exceptional musicians and academics. As positions become available, the Conservatorium should enact policies directed towards creating a more representative and equal environment... Modernisation is an issue the classical music community is grappling with. Classical music is drastically losing popularity. Attendance rates before the pandemic were declining, and much of the younger generation does not enjoy classical music. The appearance of classical musicians and places that teach it, like the Conservatorium, is a factor. Modernisation is essential, and quotas are necessary for that to happen.
Illustrated by Casey Boswell & Chelsea Rozario
President | Jack Buksh
It’s been a really busy semester, but as we move into the exam period, it is really important that all students know that support is available during this time. UMSU’s Advocacy service is here to help you when things get difficult, whether in special consideration, assessment misconducts or anything else. UMSU is working hard to make sure your voices are represented, whether advocating for a better return to campus, fairer processes or more support for students. I’ve also spent this week up in Canberra for the Federal Budget, making sure that student voices are at the forefront of what our government is doing. As always, drop me a line if you need help: president@union. unimelb.edu.au
General Secretary | POSITION VACANT At time of print, position was vacant.
Clubs and Societies | Kalyana Vania and Muskaan Hakhu
Clash of Clubs and Clubs Expo have been a massive hit! A massive thank you and shoutout to all the clubs and students that participated! We couldn’t have done it without you <3 We would also like to thank Activities and Welfare for collaborating with us on this event. Last but not least we would also like to thank UMSU International for helping us cover the event and providing us with all the extra help that we needed <3 Stay tuned for more such fun events planned by the C&S!
Creative Arts | Merryn Hughes and Vaishnavi Ravikrishna
Could it Really be Edition 3 Already? This Is Very Exciting! And it’s Retro Themed? Sick! See? Creative Arts and Farrago have so much overlap! If you love this mag (like we do), check out our department’s arty workshops, events and grant program! Follow us on IG @umsu_creative_arts for updates and @mudfestarts to keep track of the biggest arts festival on campus that only happens once every two years!
Education Academic | Jennisha Arnanta and Planning Saw
Hey everyone, this is Planning and Jennisha providing an update on Education (Academic)! We will be launching a campaign that speaks on the various ways in which our quality of education has been affected this year. This is a campaign that we have been planning for the past week and it is essential that it becomes an entire union campaign, and for us to collaborate with UMSU INTL, the National Union of Students (NUS) and the National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) so that both students and staff are represented! In addition, our Student Representative Network (SRN) applications are also open so please do apply!
Education Public | Hannah Krasovec and Tejas Gandhi
The second half of Semester 1 is an interesting one! Tejas has been on leave so I (Hannah) have been running the show. As usual, we’ve been fighting the cuts to staff jobs and courses through the No Cuts Campaign and the Education Action Collective (Thursdays 1-2pm). UniMelb is currently asking every faculty to cut ten per cent of spending, which will hurt the education of students big time. We’ve also been running Rural, Regional and Interstate Students Collective every Tuesday at 3-4pm. We also have a rally on May 27 1pm on South Lawn to defend our staff and education!
Burnley | Kaitlyn Hammond
Hello from Burnley! It was fantastic to see so many familiar faces on campus for our welcome back party! As we move into the cooler months, get ready for our online R-efreshers workshop series highlighting different skills in the coolest (according to our totally unbiased opinion) programming language there is! As always, stay tuned for more fun, like trivia nights, by following us on Facebook and Instagram (Instagram: @umsuburnley & Facebook: / burnleystudentassociation).
Disabilities | Brigit Doyle and Lindsay Tupper-Creed
The Disabilities Department continues to develop the versatility of our space. This led to having our Nintendo switch available for use in the disabilities space on the third floor of Union House, holding games and craft events and enjoying quiet times in the mornings. Come and relax or meet new and interesting people in the space, it is open every day, at any time when Union House is open. Check out our Facebook page to find out about the upcoming events.
Indigenous | Shanysa McConville
What a fantastic semester this has been! We’ve loved hosting events for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cohort, including a pottery class, a book swap and a trivia night which were all very successful! We also had an opportunity to head down to the Wilin Centre and catch up with mob down at the VCA campus. As work on Under Bunjil Volume 9 continues, we hope to have the publication ready for distribution at the start of Semester 2, which is also when submissions for Volume 10 will open, so get excited for that!
People of Colour | Emily AlRamadhan and Mohamed Omer
The semester flew by, hope our events have been fly ! We’re having our final events this semester, which include a big collaboration for Eid which is open to all (you definitely should come) and a party for the BIPOC Queer community featuring a jaw dropping drag artist, our collectives are still up and running most of them with the food we’ve missed for so long, check out our website to see all the different ones we offer! Happy studying and, as always, we can’t wait to see you!
Activities | Christos Preovolos and Phoebe Chen No report submitted
Queer | Amelia Bright and Laura Ehrensperger
As COVID-19 restrictions have been getting progressively less strict, our events are able to implement more things. This predominantly includes food, such as snack food or catering for collectives and Queer Lunch. We have managed to get Pronto Pizza back for Queer Lunch! This includes vegan, vegetarian, and gluten free options. We have also brought back some popular events from last year, such as Bubble Teas with the LGBTs, which is the non-alcoholic equivalent of G&Ts with the LGBTs which runs at the Ida Bar. With regards to political action, there has been traction on the No Transphobia in our Tutes campaign. This includes the Trans rally of Parkville, the Trans barbeque at Southbank, and the Trans march around campus. For Transgender Day of Visibility a Working Bee ran, and a rally accompanied this.
Southbank | Will Hall
Oh Southbank, you sweet, sweet thing. Are you hungry? If so our Queer Collective hosts lunches every Tuesday on even weeks, from 1-2pm (if you miss out swing by, we might be able to sort you) and on the odd weeks our BBQs are back! Come grab a feed and meet your Union reps, committee and OBs alike, from 12-2pm. Or meet us at the office at level 2 in the library on Monday, Tuesday and Friday, sometimes Wednesday and Thursday, for our naive perception of time doesn’t correspond with the physical reality. We’ve got tea and coffee and an ear or four. Our next subcommittee meetings are on the 13th and the 27th of this month. I hope to see you soon, you gorgeous enigma. Stay well. Stay rebellious.
Welfare | Allen Xiao and Hue Man Dang No report submitted
Women | Srishti Chatterjee and Mickhaella Ermita
Hey! The Women’s Department has been busy running our Zero Tolerance for Zero Action Campaign, along with having conversations with students and the University to work on a safer campus. Your Office Bearers have also been big ol’ nerds—sat on panels on research publications, held discussions on Feminism and Climate Justice, and had workshops and open mics! Get involved with the Feminist Action Collective, where we discuss all things campaigns and activism, or come along to our fun collectives to meet pals—because the real feminism is the friends we make along the way (we’re sorry for the dad joke, we’re just tired).
Environment | Anh Nguyen and James Park
Enviro has been up to all sorts of shenanigans! We had the most wonderful time during Sustainability Week. We started with a native plants gardening session at the System Gardens launch, followed by a climate strike organising collective, a HUGE BBQ that fed yummy sustainable food to 400 students, a radical reading group at the Community Garden, and wrapped the week up with a Student Sustainability Forum! All our efforts from now will be directed towards building the contingent for the May 21st Climate Strike. Get involved! Come to our weekly organising meeting every Tuesday at 12pm, click ‘going’ on our Facebook event, and sign our petition!
UMSU Updates G’day folks—I’m Jack and I’m the President of UMSU. Semester 1 has been a hectic time for us all, especially as we navigate coming back to COVID-normal as best we can. While things are slowly getting better, there are still many areas in which the University has done poorly this year. I’ve had so many students contacting me this semester talking about how difficult it is being stuck online, when we can go to a restaurant or the footy like normal. Of course, we need to ensure that the University keeps hybrid subject delivery for those who can’t be on campus, but for those who can be, it is vital that University comes back. I’ve spoken multiple times to ABC Radio, The Age and the Herald Sun about this issue, and it is great to see that this pressure has paid off. We will see a massive return to campus next semester, with around 90 per cent of onshore students able to be back in class next semester. This is a big win for students, and it’s great to see it happening. I don’t have enough room on the page to talk about all the amazing things your student representatives are doing at the moment, but I highly recommend checking out their reports in this mag, their social media pages or on the website to see more and get involved! UMSU’s Students’ Council has deliberated on a proposed constitution and voted to take it to a Special General Meeting of UMSU. A Special General Meeting (SGM) of UMSU will be held on Thursday 27 May 2021 at 12pm, at a venue to be specified at the University of Melbourne to consider a Special Resolution to amend the UMSU Constitution. It’s important that all members of UMSU have their say on the proposed constitution— you can find more details at: https://umsu.unimelb.edu.au/about/secretariat/gm/. Jack Buksh UMSU President firstname.lastname@example.org
Illustrated by Casey Boswell & Chelsea Rozario
NEWS Photograph by Joanna Guelas
content warning: COVID-19, death
NEWS-IN-BRIEF Written by Donna Burroughs, Joanna Guelas and Vatsal Desai
Australian Strategy for International Education 2021-2030
Australia Falling Behind in Vaccine Rollout
On 31 March 2021, Minister for Education and Youth, Alan Tudge, launched consultations for the new Australian Strategy for International Education. The strategy aims to provide a framework for long-term transformative development with an immediate focus on recovery from COVID-19 by adopting a student-centred approach.
PM Scott Morrison has claimed that the federal government’s rollout of COVID-19 vaccinations has outperformed Germany, New Zealand, South Korea and Japan. This follows his promise last year to put Australia at the forefront of the vaccine queue, with the government aiming to administer four million doses by the end of march. By early April, approximately 850,000 vaccinations had been given. Despite this, Morrison maintains that Australia is still ahead in its rollout, whilst also blaming the European Union for blocking export of three million doses to Australia. A European Commission spokesperson has denied this claim by Morrison, stating that the only export request rejected was for a shipment of 250,000 doses to Australia in March which is already widely known.
The overhaul was in response to the International Education Data’s prediction which states that COVID-19 will continue to pose significant challenges to the Australian Education sector over the medium term. Latest statistics suggest a 22 per cent decline in global commencements in 2020 compared to the last year.
NASA’s Ingenuity Makes History On 19 April 2021, Ingenuity—NASA’s robotic solar-powered helicopter—made history as it successfully completed the first powered controlled flight on a planet besides Earth. The flight is considered as an engineering breakthrough, despite lasting only 40 seconds. The operation included taking-off vertically, hovering at 10 feet, and landing. Ingenuity overcame the challenge of generating sufficient thrust in the extremely sparse atmosphere present on Mars’s surface which is equivalent to about 100,000 feet on Earth.
Australia Left Behind as the US Surges Forward In a global climate summit hosted virtually by the United States on 22 April, major countries, including the U.S, upgraded their emissions reduction targets—with Australia and China as the exception. As President Joe Biden announced the goal of a 50-52 per cent carbon emissions reduction compared with 2005 levels by 2030, Australia stuck to its relatively modest goal of a 2628 per cent cut by the same standards. The Morrison government has reportedly taken a “technology not taxes” approach towards putting downward pressure on carbon emissions, however analysts have noted that Australia’s spending on technology is minimal compared to that of other countries.
Prince Phillip Passes Away On 9 April 2021, Prince Phillip, Duke of Edinburgh, passed away at Windsor Castle. At age 99, he was the longestserving royal consort in British history, having been married to Queen Elizabeth for 73 years. His funeral took place on 17 April, at St George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle. More than 13 million people in the UK watched live television coverage of the funeral, and royal palaces were adorned with floral tributes, cards, and letters in the Prince’s memory.
COVID in India—Oxygen Supplies Critically Low for a Second Time In April 2021, several states in India were left with critically low oxygen reserves to handle the influx of patients amidst the rising cases following the country’s second COVID-19 wave. This caused an uproar of public backlash against the Indian government, as it failed to maintain sufficient oxygen stocks for the second time. While certain hospitals have limited new admits, others have advised family members to arrange for oxygen supplies independently. Desperate relatives in several cities are lining up outside refilling centres. Seven months ago, during the peak of the first wave, the country faced similar shortage but on a relatively smaller scale.
Australia and New Zealand Connected via Travel Bubble Australia’s long-awaited travel bubble with New Zealand opened on 19 April 2021. Travelers can now move between the two countries without having to undergo quarantine. As a result, the University of Melbourne will restart its student exchange program with New Zealand universities in Semester 2 of 2021.
Morrison Government’s “Milkshake” Sexual Consent Advertisement Withdrawn The federal government released a consent education video in mid-April as part of their ‘Respect Matters’ campaign to teach children about sexual consent. The advertisement has been widely condemned for “missing the mark” when discussing sexual consent for its decision to analogise sex with a milkshake scenario. The video features a woman smearing a milkshake over her boyfriend’s face with male narration questioning whether the boyfriend should mend their relationship. Victorian education minister James Merlino shared this sentiment and slammed the advertisement as “disappointing, confusing and cringe-worthy”.
Illustrated by Annanya Musale
UniMelb Posts Surplus During COVID-19—At Whose Cost? Written by Jennifer Chance The University of Melbourne posted a surplus of $8 million during the COVID-19 pandemic, having cut more than 750 jobs and dozens of University subjects, alongside $360 million in spending. Cost-cutting policies, however, have come at the expense of the student experience and well-being of University staff.
honest with its employees. Some faculties have had more enrolments than before the pandemic [yet] have been targeted for job cuts. $8 million might seem small for someone ... earning a million-plus a year, but [this surplus] could have funded 80 full-time jobs at one hundred thousand dollars a year.”
University Vice-Chancellor Duncan Maskell said that the small surplus—in comparison to the $74 million posted in 2019—was because of “prudent financial management and the resilience of the University community”. The story, however, sounds less victorious from those shortchanged by the budget cuts.
Herrera maintained that the $252 million dollar costcutting target will be detrimental to the University’s quality of education.
“In February we were told we have a surplus and in the same communication that we still must find $252 million in savings,” said Annette Herrera, Vice President of the National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU). Herrera added that the University was “far from being at financial risk”, having ranked as the richest university in Australia as of 2019. Luis Bogliolo, a casual tutor at the Faculty of Arts and Melbourne Law School, told Farrago that while he enjoys teaching, the University does not pay enough to make the work worth it.
“Less [funding for] teaching, research, [and] support staff means less support for students ... [especially] when your class size doubles.” Students are already feeling the pinch. As a recent survey of Australian tertiary institutions found, the University of Melbourne recorded the greatest fall in student satisfaction across the country. Only 52.3 per cent mentioned they were satisfied with the quality of education they received in 2020, a decrease of 25.3 per cent from 2019. Herrera added that it will be “students from marginalised backgrounds” that are the hardest hit by the University’s money-saving scheme.
“I am paid for three hours of work for each tutorial, and it [is] not an exaggeration to say sometimes I take three days to prepare a class.”
Arletta Witaria, a third-year international student, said that it was “ludicrous” that the University couldn’t cut a portion of student fees even when they earned a surplus.
Bogliolo’s financial situation, like many of the University’s underpaid casual staff, was made worse by the transition to online teaching. He cited the “drastic learning curve” as he juggled completing a PhD with having to rethink tutorial activities and learn video editing.
“With my parents earning money in [Indonesian rupiah], having to keep up with my cost of living in Australia [has] deeply affected their wallets.” Witaria told _ that she has since moved back home “for a more affordable cost of living”.
His response to the $8 million surplus was one of “anger and frustration”.
The University is expected to continue with planned job cuts in 2021.
“The University has done a terrible job in being open and
Photograph by Abir Hiranandani
UniMelb Not Offering Rebates For Students Stuck Overseas—but why? Written by Charlene Phua “Why are we paying so much to attend Zoom University?” Ah, the common line we hear these days. COVID-19 has definitely changed university life drastically, particularly for international students stuck overseas. Many feel that the quality of education has been severely compromised, especially with the lack of face-to-face interaction. Having to pay hefty tuition fees each semester feels like paying extra for a premium online course—with the student life aspect a far cry from pre-COVID days. It is no wonder that students are not considering pursuing overseas education lately, with many parents’ sources of income greatly affected. In a bid to attract more students, universities such as the University of Adelaide are offering fee rebates of up to 20 per cent for continuing and commencing overseas international students. As for the University of Queensland, its rebate is 12.5 per cent. It’s a smart move for these universities to prevent public backlash as well. Online petitions indicate significant demand from students to get a refund for their studies. Students believe that universities do not need much money now that everything’s online, and they are just collecting that money as profit. In UniMelb’s defense, they allege they are not collecting fees purely for profit. They claim they cannot offer student rebates, because they need the money to run basic services and pay staff the bare minimum. Back in late 2020, an article by The Guardian stated that the University had cut 450 jobs due to projected losses of $1 billion, caused by factors such as reduced student and commercial revenues. In the article, Vice-Chancellor Duncan Maskell emphasised that the University is doing all it can to use its savings wisely, even drawing on reserves from previous years. However, looking beyond the surface, we realise the loopholes in this argument. Is the money really used to pay staff adequately? According to an article by ABC News,
millions of dollars are being quietly repaid to at least 1500 academics across various disciplines involving a “wage theft” case in UniMelb. This resulted in massive outcry and growing concern that this may happen in other universities. Looking at a University report released in February 2021, there was a budget surplus of $8 million in 2020, $66 million less as compared to 2019. The University can argue that this surplus came from “prudent” financial decisions, and that it is needed for “specific endowments”, but it can’t be denied that a surplus of $180 million is still a lot. How did it come about, especially when student enrolments have decreased? This has led to student-led campaigns such as No Cuts at UniMelb being vocal in their displeasure at the University treating international students like cash cows. Their most recent protest on 14 April was the result of the University administration demanding 10 per cent expenditure cuts for every faculty, which will likely cause students to suffer a poorer quality of education. The protesters argued that the demand for cuts isn’t understandable given how rich the University is. Rebates, however, do not guarantee that all students will continue with their studies during the pandemic, and could mean that universities still suffer. The question now is to consider the long-term consequences and how long this situation will last—something still largely unknown. For starters, COVID-19 is highly unpredictable, especially across countries. There is also a big ‘what if’ towards Australia itself, and whether things might become worse. There is also much talk about vaccines and how successful they are in preventing disease spread. Prime Minister Scott Morrison said that Australia is on track to reopen its borders by October 2021. However, there are no guarantees. So, the decision lies at students’ hands: to fork out more money to Zoom University, or to defer studies or change universities? Will the same problems persist?
Illustrated by Alice Tai
Sports are Back at UniMelb: A Guide on How and Where to Get Involved Written by Micol Carmignani Sports are back on at the University of Melbourne (UniMelb) after a year of COVID-19 cancellations. For those looking to play, the University offers a wide variety of sports clubs, ranging from cricket and basketball to more niche activities such as quidditch. Clubs train and compete around the Parkville campus, facilitating student participation via easy access. Although the Semester 1 “come and try” sessions have ended, it is still possible to email club executives to enquire about joining. Contact information can be found on the University of Melbourne Sport website under the “join a club” tab. Toby Chilver, member of the UniMelb Rugby team, encourages students to join a club as “playing for the team has been a really great way of getting into uni life”. “I would strongly recommend getting around sports, not only as a way of being active, but it’s also a good way to meet new people.” Students looking to play without the added commitment of training have the alternative option of Tin Alley Netball. This offers a fun and social way of getting active through lunchtime matches for people of all abilities. While registrations for Tin Alley Netball in Semester 1 are now closed, sign-ups will re-open at the start of Semester 2. To enrol, visit the University of Melbourne Sport website and select “Tin Alley Sport”. Those who prefer to be supporters have the opportunity to spectate intervarsity sporting tournaments, where UniMelb competes against other universities across Australia and overseas. One such event is the Big Blue Varsity Challenge. Based in Melbourne, between UniMelb’s Parkville campus and Monash’s Clayton campus, the event sees Victoria’s two largest universities channel their rivalry into sporting, with a winner being announced at the conclusion of Semester 2 when the head-to-head points are tallied. “I’m excited to battle it out with the University of Melbourne students, may the best uni win,” remarks Grace Bubb, a pharmacy student at Monash’s Parkville campus. UniMelb also engages in another head-to-head rivalry with the University of Sydney in a rowing competition called the Australian Boat Race. The event is held annually, alternating between the Yarra River and the Sydney Harbour. According to the schedule, it is due to take place in Melbourne this year. However, its 2020 cancellation might mean it will be hosted in Sydney instead. More information is to be released on the official Australian Boat Race website. Other intervarsity competitions in 34 different sports, from athletics through to water polo, can nevertheless be spectated in Melbourne. Information on where and when to go is posted on the University of Melbourne Sport website under “intervarsity sport”. Opportunities to participate as a competitor in these intervarsity tournaments can be found on the same page. For students wanting physical activity outside of organised sport, the university gym and pool have also re-opened. Membership information is on the University of Melbourne Sport website. Although 2020 saw sports cancelled, the new year has welcomed them back with ample opportunity for involvement; students are ultimately afforded back the chance to be active, social and continue the legacy of sporting which has been core to the University since its formation.
Illustrated by Arielle Vlahiotis
News-In-Brief: Environmental Edition Written by Donna Burroughs Reading about the environment can be a daunting task, but it’s important to understand what is going on with the climate crisis. Thus, I present a collection of top environmental stories in bite-sized chunks. By including stories other than the ones that spell out doom and gloom, I’m here to give you an idea of what’s going on without the crushing climate anxiety! Australia left behind in global move towards electric cars
UN calls out climate inaction
On 17 March, the Victorian Government announced plans to tax electric vehicle (EV) owners a road usage fee that threatens to leave Australia behind in a global demand shift towards EVs.
On 26 February 2021, United Nations (UN) Secretary-General António Guterres raised a “red alert” for the planet. This occurred after only 75 of 197 Paris accord signatories submitted their national action plans to reduce emissions.
Victorian Treasurer Tim Pallas said this fee would fund a boost to the state’s charging network and ensure drivers pay their fair share to use roads. While the policy will only affect Victoria, the demand across Australia may remain low due to the lack of financial incentives when purchasing an EV. In contrast with the state’s response, the United Kingdom (UK) is incentivising new EV purchases by offering a tax subsidy that equates to around $10,000. Countries like the UK, Germany, Ireland, and the Netherlands have also moved to ban fossil fuel vehicles by 2030. As a result, the car industry is seeing a boom in EV sales in the European market. Following this market trend, Ford has announced that all cars sold in Europe will be electric by 2040, while Volkswagen aims to have 40 per cent of its fleet be electric by 2030. Australia’s lithium may assist electric vehicle development as demand surges Australia is poised to benefit from the global surge in demand for electric vehicles due to its large lithium reserves. However, increased federal investment in the industry is needed in order to build up Australia’s lithium supply chain. Australia possesses approximately 6.3 million tons of lithium reserves, which can be used to create batteries for electric vehicles and renewable energy storage systems. As demand for electric vehicles increases globally, major powers including China and the US have looked to secure greater lithium supplies. Australia competes with Bolivia, Chile, and Argentina to meet this demand. The sector isn’t booming just yet, but the research principal at the Institute for Sustainable Futures, Elsa Dominish, has said that Australia has an opportunity to establish itself as a world leader in lithium mining by carefully monitoring water and energy usage involved in the process of mining, managing waste, and considering the impact on sacred cultural sites. If Australia is able to accomplish this, it stands to profit greatly. Climate change causing decline in butterfly populations Decline in butterfly populations in the United States (US) over the past 40 years is ramping up the threat of extinction. The total number of butterflies west of the Rocky Mountain range has declined by 1.6 per cent each year since 1977, causing what were once common species—such as the monarch butterfly— to become rare. The monarch butterfly is at particular risk—Matt Forister, a biology professor at the University of Nevada said of the monarch, “we are on the verge of losing migration, if not the species itself”. The researchers found that even without other environmental stressors, such as habitat loss and toxic pesticide, the continuous heating of the planet has contributed to the steady decline in butterfly numbers. Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute researcher, Dara Satterfield, pointed out that this decline may cause ramifications for the natural environment in the region. “Butterflies and moths act as pollinators, decomposers, nutrienttransport vessels, and food sources for birds and wildlife.”
Missing from the list of the countries who had submitted plans were some of the world’s biggest emitters, such as China, the US, and India. Submission of a plan to curb the use of greenhouse gases between now and 2030, however, is not necessarily an indicator of climate commitment. Australia’s and Brazil’s plans, for instance, were widely seen as inadequate. Chile’s environment minister, Carolina Schmidt, said that the EU and the UK were the only major economies that had pledged enough. Patricia Espinosa, the Executive Secretary of UN Climate Change, commented, “we are very far away from a pathway that will meet the Paris agreement goal. We are collectively walking into a minefield blindfolded.” La Niña leads to frog baby boom The Booroolong frog, a critically endangered species, has seen a baby boom in northern New South Wales over summer. This is likely due to the La Niña weather pattern, which caused higher than average rainfall over the warmer months. The frogs had been rediscovered in 2017 after being undetected for a period of 40 years. Frog populations across Australia are highly vulnerable to the disease amphibian chytrid fungus, which is spread by the global trade in frogs. This disease makes it difficult for frogs to breathe and severely impacts their nervous systems. Habitat loss is likely a big factor in the extinction of Australian frog species. Australian Museum frog scientist Jodi Rowley hopes that the baby boom will lead to a local resurgence of the species. Endangered animals on Kangaroo Island find new protection Following the bushfire devastation that occurred on Kangaroo Island last year, a new wildlife refuge has opened with the aim of protecting some of Australia’s most endangered species. The project is overseen by the Australian Wildlife Conservancy, Kangaroo Island Land for Wildlife organisation, and private landholders. The Western River Refuge spans 370 hectares and is enclosed by an 8.8km long fence designed to keep predators such as feral cats out. The EW provides a safe haven for species such as the Kangaroo Island dunnart, which saw more than 90 per cent of its habitat destroyed by fire. The National Plastics Plan The federal government released the first National Plastics Plan in early March with the aim of reducing the environmental impact of plastic usage. The National Plastics Plan was one component of the COAG’s 2019 National Waste Strategy, which encouraged increasing the recycling rate of plastics to 30p per cent across all goods and infrastructure by 2030. The plan will stop the use of polystyrene packaging for takeaway and polystyrene cups, and ban plastic on beaches. The government also expects to phase out “biodegradable” plastics, which are not always better for the environment. The plan wants to ensure all forms of packaging are reusable, recyclable, or compostable by 2025.
Illustrated by Marco Sy
Sustainability at the University of Melbourne Written by Aeva Milos and Donna Burroughs The University of Melbourne’s 2017–2020 Sustainability Plan has come to an end, with the new plan due to be released soon. The plan is expected to adhere to the principles of Advancing Melbourne; however, it remains to be seen to what extent the 2021–2025 plan will address the issues of its predecessor. The University successfully achieved several targets stated in the previous plan, according to internal metrics. These successes include the target to increase student awareness in University sustainability issues, as reflected in survey results and a growth in the number of students volunteering in sustainability initiatives. The University has also adhered to its commitment to support research projects that develop understanding of the climate crisis. However, the University failed to meet the target of waste reduction to 20kg per person. As Farrago has previously reported, the average waste generated per person was 29kg in 2019. Despite the University’s progress towards meeting some of these sustainability goals, Farrago found that students had vastly different views of the University’s sustainability practices. One student, Jack*, said that initiatives such as bike cages on campus were “useful and much appreciated”, and thought that the University offered many opportunities to learn about sustainability. However, another student, Robert*, reported having “limited knowledge” of sustainability on campus, although they had a vague awareness of the University’s investments in the fossil fuel industry. Students also reported a lack of sustainability education embedded within their degrees—Ann* told Farrago that sustainability issues are “not covered well” in commerce subjects, given the “consequences caused by overconsumption and wealth distribution”. “Students should not have to opt in to learn more about sustainability... it should be embedded in our curriculum and
widely informed to everyone on a more regular basis.” Another concern with the plan is the vague phrasing the University uses. In the 2017–2020 Sustainability Plan, the University states it will “have divested from, or be in the process of divesting from within a reasonable period, any material holdings that do not satisfy the requirements of the University’s sustainable investment framework for managing climate change risk” by 2021. The Sustainable Investment Framework (SIF) is questionable at best. In the SIF released on 28 March 2018, the University stated that it would not adopt a “strict exclusion approach from investing in the fossil fuel industry”. The University cites financial concerns for this continued investment, despite the fact the Australian National University divested from seven fossil fuels companies in 2014, and Sydney University announced plans to divest from some fossil fuel investments in 2016. The University of Melbourne’s Socialist Alternative Club has criticised the Sustainability Plans as attempts to “greenwash” the University’s brand, working as “PR cover”. The University’s various ties to the fossil fuel industry— sponsorship of the International Mining and Resources Conference (IMARC), investments in the Carbon Underground 200 (CU200), and coordination with ExxonMobil to advertise graduate positions—serve as grounds for such accusations. While the University certainly makes significant contributions in the field of climate research, and has made progress in improving on-campus sustainability in recent years, there is significant room for improvement. Given that the University is aware of a high level of student discontent with its Sustainable Investment Framework, there is hope the University will move to a more robust plan in 2021. More to come. *Student wished to remain anonymous. A pseudonym has been used in place of their name.
Illustrated by Marco Sy
OPINION: New Media Legislation Benefits the Powerful, and Leaves Us Behind Written by Georgie Atkins The recent stand-off between the Australian Government and Big Tech has proved to be nothing but a pretentious display of power. Disguised under a blanket of good intentions to “save journalism” in Australia, the News Media Bargaining Code ineffectively addresses the power imbalance between Australian news media and digital platforms.
The original draft of the legislation also gives the Treasurer the ability to designate certain digital platforms to negotiate deals if they don’t do so on their own terms. However, Facebook’s toddler-like response in blocking all news content in Australia (including information surrounding emergency services) demonstrates they have little concern for anything but their own financial gain.
There is no denying the fact that Big Tech companies like Facebook and Google are taking over traditional forms of media at an alarming rate. According to Time Magazine, Australian media advertising revenue has dropped 75 per cent in the last 15 years, with a further 125 regional newspapers transitioning to online-only content in 2020 alone.
After discussions between Facebook and Frydenberg took place, the government agreed to make some amendments to the bill and Facebook reversed the news ban. The legislation now sees the Treasurer having to consider whether a digital platform has significantly contributed to the Australian news industry before designation can occur.
It is this downward trend that has sparked concern from the federal government—and rightly so. But while the News Media Bargaining Code honourably attempts to level the playing field between Big Tech and media companies, all it really does is tip the scales from one giant to another. According to Treasurer Josh Frydenberg and Communications Minister Paul Fletcher, the new legislation aims to provide “a framework for good faith negotiations” between Big Tech companies and media outlets, in which sites like Facebook and Google pay media businesses to display their news content. How noble of the government to enact such a policy. I guess they forgot to mention that media companies are only able to receive payments if they earn at least $150,000 in revenue per year. With Australia’s high concentration of media ownership, this condition of the code only strengthens the power of News Corp and Nine Entertainment. As a result, we will begin to see not only a disproportionate impact on small and regional news media outlets, but also a dominance of mainstream political opinion in our news content. According to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), the code aims “to address bargaining power imbalances between Australian news media businesses and digital platforms”. However, it only seems to shift said power into the greedy hands of Big Media rather than all media. Former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd’s campaign to remedy media diversity in Australia has received the support of over 500,000 people, who petitioned for a Senate inquiry into the issue. Despite this overwhelming concern for Australia’s current climate of media diversity (or lack thereof), dominant media platforms such as News Corp and Nine Entertainment continue to prevail through the implementation of policies like the News Media Bargaining Code.
These new changes provide very little incentive for Big Tech companies to make “good” offers to media outlets, leaving Australian journalism in the same place that it started. Belinda Barnet, a Senior Lecturer in Media at Swinburne University, has said that it is likely we will now see Facebook come out with enough deals to “prove to the government they are serious”. “If they don’t, then the Treasurer could designate Facebook and what will happen, of course, is Facebook will promptly shut off news again.” Campbell Brown, Facebook’s Vice President for global news partnerships, has even indicated that the site could very well pull news content from Australians again. It feels like we’re watching history’s worst game of tennis, with a back and forth of designation threats and news content retraction. No one wins in this never-ending exchange between the federal government and Big Tech— especially not us. The government has yet to demonstrate any real concern over the fate of the Australian media industry. The legislation, as it currently stands, does nothing but disadvantage small media outlets and marginalised communities who rely on Facebook for access to critical information and services. Perhaps the only meaningful thing that the News Media Bargaining Code has shown us is how much we depend on these tech giants to connect with the world, but what other choice do we have? Australia is in desperate need of a media revamp. If the government placed a stronger emphasis on creating a diversely-owned media sector through grassroots platforms and publicly-funded initiatives, we might be able to counterbalance the Big Media players hanging heavy on our democracy.
Illustrated by Cathy Chen
NON-FICTION Photograph by Yuwei Lin
content warning: mental illness
It’s Complicated: The Oversimplification of ADHD Written by Megan Tan Tan It was past midnight, and I was packing for a school trip. The room looked like a tornado had hit. Clothes were strewn around the floor. Random toiletries were tossed carelessly about. Electronics sat in a tangled heap. And there, amidst all the chaos, was a small attempt at organisation—an abandoned, half-checked packing list. Staring at the mess before me, I felt ashamed. I was a wellseasoned traveller. Why had I left it to the last minute, again? How should I even begin to disentangle this mess? Anxiety seized me like a vice—what if I couldn’t finish packing? What if I got to my destination only to find that half the things I needed were missing? What if my inability to pack meant I was late, and everyone would be forced to wait for me? What if I angered everyone because I made them wait? Would my group be disappointed they had gotten such an incompetent leader? Should I even ask my parents for help? Would they yell at me for not being able to complete such a simple task? So, I did the most logical thing I could think of in that situation. I burst into tears. Eventually, I pulled myself together, and unearthed the abandoned packing list. Okay. First thing to pack: clothes. “Clothes”? What did that even mean? Was underwear also considered clothes? How many outfits should I bring? What colour? Which type? A fresh wave of frustration set in. Other items yielded similar questions. At one point, I may have balled up the list and thrown it at the wall. The luggage was packed many painful hours later, and I woke up the next morning sleep deprived and irritable. I didn’t understand what was wrong with me. It wasn’t until three years later that I would receive answers in the form of a diagnosis: Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), the inattentive presentation. There are three presentations of ADHD—hyperactive, inattentive and combined. Having the inattentive presentation means that I am less hyperactive, but present with other ADHD symptoms
such as inattentiveness, forgetfulness and disorganisation. Though Inattentive ADHD was initially called ADD, or Attention Deficit Disorder, that has since changed. Ah, Gender One of the reasons I went under the radar? My gender. ADHD is notoriously underdiagnosed in women. According to ADDitude, a site dedicated to all things ADHD, women tend to be diagnosed with other disorders like depression (this was also the case for me) before they are diagnosed with ADHD. Additionally, girls tend to present as inattentive, rather than the stereotypical image of a boy bouncing off the walls. Dani Donovan, an ADHD comic artist and creator of the #neurodiversesquad hashtag said, “For me, hyperactivity was extreme talkativeness. I just have this bounding enthusiasm, energy, which is awesome. I like that part of my personality. But it can really be a lot for some people.” According to Jessica McCabe at How to ADHD, a YouTube channel that teaches people with ADHD how to manage their symptoms, it is important to look out for social struggles when checking for ADHD in girls. Being talkative, interrupting others often, can lead to difficulties in making and maintaining friendships. Executive is the name, dysfunction is the game Many people believe ADHD is an inability to pay attention, but it is far more complicated than that. It is, after all, a neurodevelopmental disorder affecting our frontal lobe. That means our ‘executive functions’ like our ability to make decisions, regulate our emotions, plan, control our impulses and our social cognition—are affected. Sometimes I think the name ADHD should be changed to Executive Function Disorder, since that is what we struggle with the most. To the outside world, it might look like procrastination when we sit on the couch, staring into space instead of doing the laundry. What most people don’t see is the internal struggle as we try to force ourselves to do the thing. My friend, Yee Shin, who also has ADHD, shared with me, “My parents always got mad at me for not immediately obeying their orders to do things around the house. I knew I wasn’t inherently disobedient, but as with the homework, I was struggling to understand why I just found it so difficult to do things on command.” The inability to regulate executive functioning is affected by the brain’s reward system. In ADHD brains, the brain doesn’t produce enough of the ‘happy chemicals’ like dopamine when we finish a task. As a result, people with ADHD find it difficult to do things like chores. It’s the reason why I couldn’t pack that night, despite being a well-seasoned traveller. I wasn’t able to plan or prioritise, skills that should have come easily to most people my age.
Illustrated by Elmira
And what happens when you can’t get things done? People stop counting on you. They start labelling you with names like lazy or unmotivated or flaky or failure. When you also struggle with regulating emotion, this can become a big problem. Feelings, so many feelings Dani Donovan describes emotional dysregulation as “spinning out of control”. We’ve all had times when we felt like that, but what if that was your whole life? Emotional dysregulation has always been my biggest problem. I always feel like I’m spiralling, swept away by an ocean of emotion with no ground to stand on. Couple that with poor impulse control, and you have a perfect storm. My social life, for the longest time, was in shambles. I bristled at the slightest comment, lashed out at friends instead of talking calmly, and said many things I regret. And it’s not just social life that’s affected. Dani shared that it would affect her professional life, too. While she’s now self-employed, in the past, bosses would call her in for performance reviews. Often, she would try to keep it together, but certain criticisms would bring on the waterworks. “And that’s embarrassing, to cry when a boss is criticizing you,” she said. It’s also important to address an aspect of ADHD most people unknowingly contribute to: rejection sensitivity. When your emotions already feel disproportionately intense, rejection cuts like a knife. While seeking help for depression I started therapy. About 30 minutes into our first session, my therapist asked, “Are you afraid of rejection?”
It can turn into a chain reaction. Our executive dysfunction makes everyday life difficult. Someone sees this and criticises us for it. Our rejection sensitivity kicks in. Because we can’t regulate our emotions as well, the feeling becomes all encompassing. We lash out, hurt, and say something we don’t mean. Wash, rinse and repeat. It’s exhausting and often hurts our self-esteem, yet we continue to be judged by those not privy to our struggles anyway. Ever tried losing weight? Dani uses the analogy of losing weight to illustrate this. We all know that losing weight entails exercising and healthy eating. We might even succeed at doing this for a while. But eventually, that motivation fades. We know we should exercise. We know we should be putting on our sportswear and heading out, but we can’t seem to find the motivation, so we sit on the couch, berating ourselves for it. “We’re just as frustrated with ourselves as you are,” Dani says. So, the next time you want to judge someone for being ‘unmotivated’, take a second to think. As Yee Shin says, “Be patient and understanding. That’s the most important [thing] of all. Our brains work differently than yours do; that doesn’t mean we’re inherently bad or lazy.” Hi, nice to meet you, my name is Megan and I have ADHD. And I am very, very tired of explaining to people what that means, or justifying to them that my condition is even real. Which is my primary motivation for writing this piece.
It was like she’d pulled a trigger. I remembered countless instances where I would wait, anxious, wondering why my friend took one minute longer than yesterday to respond to my text. During group projects, I felt hesitant to add my voice, worried my ideas would be rejected, often choosing to go with the group even if I didn’t agree. Of course, it doesn’t help that growing up with ADHD, you often feel like you don’t fit in. Struggling with attention regulation means we don’t always listen when someone talks. Our poor impulse control means we tend to interrupt, or not think before we speak. Adults in our lives criticise us for our behaviours without questioning why. It’s no wonder ADHD kids develop into adults who are sensitive to rejection. “How it feels a lot of the time is over sensitivity to people, people’s comments, people’s tone, people’s body language, people’s facial expressions, I read into everything and get anxious about stuff,” Dani shared.
Illustrated by Elmira
content warning: sexual assault, rape, child grooming
to all my women, who are all of you Written by Amelia Joy I always dream of the same house. I remember all 21 houses I’ve lived in, but I only dream of this one. I dream that I’m standing on the porch, watching a tsunami crash in. I dream of ghosts invading, throwing open every door, curtain and window, and no matter how fast I run through the hall, trying to lock everything, the ghosts are faster. I dream that I visit the house, years later, as if we’d abandoned it and left everything in its place, our lives frozen in time. It’s cold and silent. The air is still, like a tomb. When I pull back my covers, my bed is crawling with insects. * I almost never talk about it. I almost never even write about it, even in my own journals. It’s too ugly—far too ugly. I never even discuss it in therapy, because where do you even begin? I was maybe 12 when a man in his 20’s slipped a note under my door that said: “If you show me yours, I’ll show you mine.” * It’s me who carries the shame—because I am the one to blame. When I’m 14, and a boy in Year 11 asks me to shave, I comply. He gets me to sneak out at 4am to do things to him on that pile of dirt in the empty lot across from my house. He smells like booze and cigarettes, and I think it’s love. When I’m 15, and I send photos to a boy I like, he shares them around the school. I showed my face, so everyone has seen me naked, and it’s all my own fault. When I’m 17, and I’m assaulted at a party by two soccer players whose names I never learn, I must have wanted it. * I leave that hotel room by the stairs. They never seem to end. I said no, but he did it anyway. They both did. I keep thinking the stairs will end soon—I keep getting off at different floors, trying different doors, running into different arms in a panic, hoping to be saved. I want to drift out into the sea where nobody knows me. I want to swallow the world whole and laugh. I want to smash my fist to the ground and shatter the earth around me—I want my pain to be felt. * By the time I’m 18, my reputation precedes me. It poisons my subconscious. She has herpes, did you hear? One in the pink and one in the stink—I’ve heard she likes that. I keep thinking I’m making friends. But they’ve just heard things about me and want to see if they’re true. They shove me up against bars and car doors and push their tongue down my throat and wrestle me into acquiescence. I’m the slut who fucks girls’ boyfriends, the tease who leads boys on. He’s the nice guy, for insisting on an intimacy I’ve supposedly asked for. The truth is that I think sex will bring me love. But instead, it eats me from the inside out, like I’m rotten from the core. * I carry this trauma with me. I put it on my back and haul it into every relationship I have. I walk with my shame and I think it makes me stink. All my past selves are inside me like babushka dolls, and it’s too often that triggers snap us open and apart. So many of us are wounded, grieving the safety we’ll never get, and we all howl together like wolves under full moons, barrelling through the streets. * I think of Nina Azarova in The OA, and the bus crash that split her consciousness like a smashed mirror, dashing her identities across alternate dimensions: integration was the key. But sometimes, all that my past selves and I can do is to gather together on my bed and sit in the immense sadness. Sadness for my younger selves, for not knowing one simple word: no. Sadness for my younger selves, for their victimhood. But most of all, sadness for my most youngest self, who wasn’t protected in her own home. Who was alone. Who wasn’t safe. * Sometimes, maybe, soon, that sadness can turn into power. Sometimes, maybe, soon, I can protect myself like a wild animal—I can bare my sharpened teeth, armed knife and nail, when I need to. We can buy new sheets for my 14-year-old self because she still remembers the covers she had when he moved against her. We can lodge DMCA’s for stolen content for my 26-year-old self, and fight off panic. For my 17-year-old self, we can forgive women for internalising misogyny, because none of us knew then. We can get tattoos over our scars. We can use words as our weapon and write about revolution. Sometimes, maybe, soon, I can hold us all, when we need to. Sometimes, maybe, soon, I’ll do it for all my women, who are all of you.
Illustrated by Zoe Eyles
content warning: discussions of mental illness
Art Musing: Curating Mental Illness Written by Lisa Jacomos
“What?” my brother asked, starting to panic; I could see his hands shaking.
“Schizophrenia,” the man repeated. “Do you paint?”
His anxiety skyrocketing, my brother, again, only managed a confused “What?”
The man smiled, obviously trying to put my brother at ease. “Schizophrenics are amazing painters.”
Protectively, I jumped in: “No. He doesn’t paint.”
“Ah well,” the man cheerily replied.
Despite the 20 per cent of the Australian population that has been diagnosed, mental illness is still widely misunderstood. While psychiatric practices and general acceptance of disorders have greatly improved over the past several decades, those who have been labelled as ‘mentally ill’ still suffer ridicule and discrimination—even in seemingly positive ways, like in the interaction above. This is particularly prevalent for those who suffer from less common mental illnesses such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, not to mention dissociative identity disorder. The stigmas attached to these disorders still hang heavy in the air. Access to public resources is limited and difficult, especially for those who survive on government payments. The system is broken. Given this lack of governmental support, how then does the 80 per cent of the population not affected by mental illness develop their understanding of it? Unfortunately, the answer is usually popular culture—specifically film and television. I say ‘unfortunately’ because the media’s portrayal of mental health issues is often problematic, and sometimes downright offensive. If popular culture is to be believed, it is common practice for those with schizophrenia to have walls covered in newspaper and red string, and the majority of those with dissociative identity disorder to have at least one personality that is a serial killer. There is, however, one portion of our community that has long had a positive relationship with mental health. That is, the visual arts. The benefit of art as therapy has been explored by professionals for a century. Initially, the process of analysing artworks was used as a diagnostic tool by doctors. While this still occurs, the emphasis of art therapy is often now placed on healing through artmaking. Julia Young, curator at the Dax Centre, comments: “You don’t necessarily have the words to describe how you feel. Why can’t that come through your art?” Founded in 2012, the Dax Centre holds a unique place in the Melbourne art world. The gallery holds the collection of leading psychiatrist and art therapy advocate, Dr Cunningham Dax. His collection began as some 9,000 works created by inpatients of Victorian psychiatric centres during the second half of the twentieth century. As these institutions began to close down in the 1980s, Dr Dax collected many works that would otherwise have been consigned to the garbage. Later, the collection expanded to include donated work by contemporary artists with lived experience of mental illness. With an impressive collection of over 16,000 works, the mission of the Dax Centre is simple: “To advance the understanding of mental health issues and reduce stigma through ART.” In any circumstance, when a curator assumes the role of displaying artworks, they take upon themselves a certain level of authority; they speak for the art and communicate its ideas. If the curator and the artist are not one and the same, there is a level of responsibility on the part of the curator to not misrepresent the artist. When dealing with the work of vulnerable members of society, that burden is far greater. Assuming the Dax Centre has permission from the artists and/or their families to show the works, there is still a heavy burden on the staff when it comes to the curation of artworks and management of exhibitions and public programmes. This is particularly important when working with the historical collection, which contains artwork created during art therapy sessions that were never meant to be displayed. Its public exhibition, therefore, raises certain ethical questions. Art therapists would be quick to point out that their mantra is do no harm. This is something that the Dax Centre takes very seriously, creating certain policies around the dissemination of information, including the withholding of certain names. And while the centre holds original patient notes, including diagnoses, it is important to Julia that she not focus on these medical papers. “I like to have my own relationship with [the artworks],” she says. “We use this art to talk about mental health, but we don’t use it to analyse people. I like to not put any kind of curatorial oversight or voice over the top.” This way, the centre’s aim to reduce the stigma around mental health is foremost in the curator’s mind. Maintaining the artists’ dignity, while helping the public understand lived experience of mental health issues, leads Julia’s curatorial approach. With the proliferation of negative representations of mental illness, spaces like the Dax Centre are crucial in changing societal attitudes. Speaking of the visitors to the centre, Julia notes, “They’ve left with better understanding and they’ve left with greater empathy. So, whatever the art is doing, it’s working. We just have to do more of it.”
Illustrated by Melana Uceda
The Invisibles: Reflections of an Overseas International Student Written by Anonymous As semester one 2021 began, campus grounds awoke from almost a year of dormancy, filling up again with sights, sounds and students. Social media timelines flooded with summery snapshots of students on South Lawn, or hugging the University’s teddy bear mascot. Some official University accounts even started pushing the #RediscoverUnimelb hashtag, urging students to explore campus beauties. Everything looked beautiful, and back to normal. Except nothing is normal. Not for me, not for many, not really. For the pandemic has divided the student population in two. On one hand: the visibles—primarily locals, interspersed with a handful of international students who had the capacity and resources to wait COVID out in Melbourne. To clarify: this piece is not an indictment of such students. Good for them. Like all of us, they deserve the university experience of their dreams. This is instead an indictment of the University, who refuse to acknowledge the other half—the silent mass of international students sprinkled over the world and across timezones. The invisibles—those both out of sight and out of mind. Conversations with other international students reassured me that such concerns and disappointment were not mine alone. Some spoke of having to wake up early or stay awake until midnight because certain subjects do not accommodate for their time zones. Many said they felt isolated, disconnected from campus and from each other. One described their University experience as tantamount to “watching Youtube tutorials a few times a week”. All unanimously echoed the absurdity of having to pay tens of thousands of dollars for online courses Eyes rolled at the University’s gaslighty claim that Zoom tutorials offered the same quality of education as in-person classes.
Beneath the University’s attempts to project normality seethed despair, hopelessness and uncertainty. Given past reactions to international student concerns, I expect little empathy from most readers. Well, you shouldn’t have chosen to go home, one might say. To that, I reply: imagine being a teenager whose first language isn’t English, living alone in a continent that is not home. Imagine losing your job, and watching yourself haemorrhage rent and living costs despite not actually needing to be in Melbourne. Imagine having to choose between seeing your family and being kept away from a campus you nonetheless pay full fees to study at. Believe me when I say the choice wasn’t made lightly. To me, at least, it was an unjust and impossible choice that resulted in unjust and impossible consequences. Our community’s issues have always mattered less. For example, it’s undeniable that the ‘No Cuts’ campaign attracted much more effort and attention than the fight for fee relief. This is in no way a condemnation of the former, which was a courageous attempt by grassroots activists to defend higher education against destructive neoliberalism. But why was there not equal outrage on behalf of international students, who were told to leave the country by the PM, and are now banned by that very government from returning? Who find themselves paying the same rate for an experience that is vastly different to what they initially signed up for? Who see the University returning to ‘business as usual’, posting aesthetic pictures from South Lawn as though they are not continuing to actively exploit a massive percentage of their student population? Where is the outrage? Where, the solidarity? Sometimes, in my most paranoid moments, I even wonder: given the tensions and pushback that have
Illustrated by Rai
always surrounded the issue of international student presence on Australian campuses, is this not what many would consider the ideal situation? A campus largely devoid of internationals, but that continues to be disproportionately funded by them anyway. An overseas student population whose money is still funneled into expansions and developments, while the nuances and complexities of their physical presence no longer have to be dealt with. Does the silence, both from the University and from most student representatives, reveal implicit acceptance of a convenient situation? An ugly accusation, but I find no other explanation for the deafening silence that surrounds the many injustices international students have faced since this pandemic began. Because, surely, if the roles were reversed, things would be different. If mostly local students were forced to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars for online classes, the outrage from the public and from students representatives would be immense. Those in power would at least have the decency to make a little clamour and clangour, feign some outrage and pretend to care. But instead of rallies, pitchforks and torches, we get silence and invisibility. I am certainly outraged. But one person is not a productive movement. My outrage alone will change nothing; it will only end up consuming me whole. So, I tend not to dwell on it, and occupy myself instead with work and study. Mysilence is a coping mechanism against the awfulness of the position I find myself in. Writing this piece meant opening old wounds; it meant confronting the awfulness and being hurt by it anew. But silence is not complacency. My silence, like that of most international students, is the product of hopelessness and despair. It is the silence of those who find themselves alone on the field, with neither allies nor reinforcements, and realise they are fighting a battle most people couldn’t care less about.
Our community is a diverse one, as is reflected in our demands. Some students I spoke to mentioned their desire for fee relief. Others wanted the University to take a firm stance on easing border restrictions for students, or at least keeping international students more regularly updated on the situation. Some demanded they channel their ridiculous surplus into avenues tailored towards international student needs, such as extra academic support, internships and job or visa opportunities. And what I—a tired, worn-out international student miles away from a campus I can hardly remember—want is visibility, fury, and solidarity. Allies and reinforcements to help funnel the pinpricks of anger felt by overseas students across the globe into an organised channel that makes the University sit up and pay attention. Would this result in any tangible change? I am by now jaded enough to say probably not. But silence and invisibility cannot be how we respond to injustice, even injustice of the seemingly insurmountable variety. In a few years, the international students who were at the University of Melbourne during COVID-19 will have graduated. The University will be back to promoting themselves as ‘Australia’s Best’, promising prospective internationals a once-in-a-lifetime, comingof-age experience. Our memory, and the memory of the University’s unjust silence at our impossible situation, will fade. I will then truly become as I now feel: a student who was never really a student—unimportant, non-existent, and invisible.
Illustrated by Rai
COLUMN 24 01
Illustrated by Steph Markerink
Illustrated by Steph Markerink
HANNAH MONTANA: THE ICON, 15 YEARS LATER Written by Riley Doran 2006 is ingrained in my memory as a time of wanting to transition away from early childhood media. In my thensix-year-old mind, gone were the days of Hi-5, The Wiggles and The Hooley Dooleys; I was craving content that I saw as more mature and less condescending, even though I couldn’t possibly have articulated that at the time. It was in 2006 that I grew obsessively fascinated with Disney Channel; despite not having the holy grail that was Foxtel, I became a fanatical Saturday Disney viewer and would rent out High School Musical nearly every time I was lucky enough to be taken to Video Ezy. But there was one franchise that stood above them all–Hannah Montana. 15 years later, I still find myself reflecting on just how significant an impact the icon that is Hannah Montana had, not only on myself, but on my entire generation. Firstly, Hannah’s outfits were, to put it mildly, outrageous. Animal print, sequins, colourful boots, layers upon layers upon layers. Every outfit screamed confidence, creativity and self-expression. Even if some of the colour and pattern combinations are hideous in retrospect, it’s impossible to deny that in the mid-2000s Hannah Montana was a fashion icon. But perhaps the most iconic aspect of her appearance was the legendary blonde wig. A symbol of power and transformation, the wig became synonymous with her legacy and remains a cultural symbol of the mid-2000s. Beyond the screen, Hannah Montana cemented her place in our hearts and the cultural conversation through the show’s soundtrack. Of course, ‘Best of Both Worlds’ and ‘Nobody’s Perfect’ were smash hits, but Hannah’s discography boasts a multitude of other certified bops and gorgeous ballads that absolutely hold up. Through all these aspects of a superstar persona, not to mention a hit movie and the growing stardom of Miley Cyrus herself, Hannah Montana became the ultimate icon for a generation of kids. Hannah’s iconography was one thing. But her true power was in her double life. What kid didn’t dream of holding the secret power over their bullies that they were a megastar? For a young outcast, experiencing budding queerness, my ultimate dream was to have endless possibilities, universal adoration and be invincible from bullies. Miley Stewart’s alter ego of Hannah Montana represented escapism, creativity and individuality, and she used these virtues to not only wriggle out of sticky situations (dang flabbit!) but also to overpower her bullies (iconic mean girls Amber and Ashley), protect her friends and family, and overcome the self-esteem and identity struggles of adolescence (sweet niblets!). Watching Miley Stewart use her secret power to overcome these universal struggles gave confidence to a generation, emphasizing that by simply leaning into your strengths and being true to your passions, you could be whoever you wanted to be. The power of Hannah’s double life worked in reverse too. In the era of the infamous ‘Britney meltdown’ and peak paparazzi harassment, the possibility of receding into anonymity offstage with the swift removal of a wig was idyllic. At the time, Hannah perhaps epitomized an ideal version of a popstar, one who could stay grounded and not be swept up by the intoxicating perils of fame for which our culture disparaged Britney, Lindsay, Paris and a barrage of others. Miley Stewart had the benefit of an anonymous life to develop a healthy perspective of the world and stand her moral ground against duplicitous executives and industry temptations. This certainly reflected what our generation’s parents wanted our role models to look like–the anti ‘Bimbo Summit’ popstar who could remain grounded, stay in school and preach respect for family, morality and herself. But with the benefit of hindsight, perhaps Hannah really exemplified just how hard fame is and just how poorly the mid-2000s ‘bimbos’ were treated by the media. Miley Cyrus herself became trapped in this culture only a few years later as she shed her squeaky-clean Disney image. After all, Miley Stewart was just a character and the real Miley Cyrus remained famous even without the Hannah wig. The public outcry after her controversial 2013 Video Music Awards performance was ubiquitous and marked the cultural death of Hannah Montana. But the clues were there all along–Hannah embodied a stark contrast to other popstars of the era, demonstrating just how necessary anonymity was for the preservation of identity. In many ways, the series was a sharp criticism of the treatment of young women in the entertainment industry—through a child-friendly lens, it reflected on invasion of privacy and harassment by the paparazzi. On the way Hollywood asks and expects actresses to sacrifice their principles. On the intense burden of stalker fans, among countless other dubious aspects of the entertainment industry. Perhaps part of the reason our generation is so well-equipped to talk about the pitfalls of show business (see: #FreeBritney) is the cultural understanding of fame, industry and integrity Hannah Montana provided us with. Hannah Montana was formative. The series shaped the way I and so many others my age view the world, and the entertainment industry in particular. The impacts of that are still being highlighted 15 years later. It’s time that we culturally enshrine her as one of the 2000s’ most iconic pop stars.
Illustrated by Zoe Eyles
A Review of Women in Fiction and Men in Non-fiction Written by Noa Abrahams I didn’t plan to be reading a classic by Virginia Woolf and a biography of Alexander Hamilton at the same time. Both books had been watching me for a while; I received three of Woolf’s novels for my seventeenth birthday, none of which I had the emotional or intellectual capacity for in my last years of high school. They sat squashed on my bookshelf for three years, and I studied their spines to stop myself from revising for exams as I went to sleep. I once read an article about how it’s beneficial to be surrounded by books that you have yet to read. The comfort of potential, unknown knowledge. Writing for The Guardian, Irish-Canadian author Anakana Schofield describes these literary worlds to be discovered as an antidote to our “frantic, goal-obsessed, myopic time” in which “everything undertaken has to have a purpose, outcome or a destination, or it’s invalid”. It essentially slows time by withholding the future, keeping it just out of reach. Scrolling through the twitter feed of Lin-Manuel Miranda (LMM), whose virtual warmth I find to be the only reason to open the platform, I found a quote that felt like bubbles in champagne, golden joy in an otherwise fluorescent white, empty interface: “No need to sparkle, no need to shine, no need to be anything but one’s self.” A quick search revealed the author, and I turned around to see her name not on my phone, but right there, printed on my bookshelf. Time to join the canon so many have already found. I was initially struck by Woolf’s imagery and language, playing with the idea of fiction and bending reality through ambiguity of tense. She gave the river agency. It “reflected whatever it chose of sky and bridge and burning tree,” viewing water as life, capable of choosing how we interact with it, and what we see within it.
She wrote about how all women live in poverty. I thought about intersectionality. Where would Woolf be today? How would she respond to our world where women still struggle, but not all in the same ways, and with so many other layers of marginalisation? After all, A Room of One’s Own was first published in 1928—after women’s suffrage, but well before later developments in feminism. My edition is very small, A6, and I like to think of it as a feminist manifesto. It’s a soft dark grey, hardback bound, with some sort of geometric pattern in light green panels around the cover. There’s a square grid with lines of different thicknesses, and shark fin or tooth mark or architectural symbols etched into each square. Maybe it’s about letting oneself in; or being sharp, defensive and assertive; or bringing light into the rigidity of life while being careful not to obscure the depths from which our society is built. Maybe it’s just some lines. For its size, it’s very dense. Woolf tells stories as though she’s at a party, with references to ancient and contemporary texts in a scholarly, enraptured, energetic style. She expresses her disbelief that women were forbidden from university, demonstrating that wit and intelligence have no gender. It reminds me to be grateful for the opportunities presented to me almost 100 years on and on the other side of the world. I am simultaneously frustrated by this thought, that my education is a privilege, when really, it shouldn’t be. Imagine a world where learning was a right, for everyone—how far we would collectively be able to move. So I started A Room of One’s Own but I also kept checking on LMM, seeing how his son was doing, watching him dance on an empty subway in New York and kind of wishing I was there, but not really. It’s very nice to be at home.
Illustrated by Zoe Lau
As a long-standing Hamilton fan, I’ve been curious about the biography that inspired his show for some years. Ron Chernow’s biography of Hamilton Hamilton’s begins at the end,with his wife Eliza Hamilton in her final years, caring so deeply for her husband who died almost 50 years prior. Implying the significance of Eliza in Alexander’s life, Chernow’s decision also seems to be an effort to establish Hamilton as a beloved family man. His family’s history, going back to his great-grandparents, is told in great detail. But as his life continues to unfold, it’s hard to maintain an emotional attachment to the prodigious writer, who, for example, detailed lists of the characteristics of his ideal wife such as “wealthy, but not interested in money”. I have never quite understood the argument to be had of ‘other times’ and ‘judging history by today’s standards’. Surely the whole purpose (or at least, a key purpose) of learning history and analysing texts from the past is to learn how challenges were met (or not), and the journey through which they were overcome to give way to the present. Then, ideally, we can continue to move forward, develop, and grow. If we ignore the immorality ingrained in societies built around owning people as slaves, commodifying women, and erasing First Nations narratives, we reach a dangerous juncture in time. By giving a ‘history pass’ to the past, we stumble past healing, and forget the ongoing ramifications of these (in many ways ongoing) systematic and institutionalised forms of injustice.
frameworks for living come from the same institutions that support these ideas? I returned to Woolf. She wrote “dogs will bark; people will interrupt; money must be made; health will break down.” I thought about how the very structure of her sentences are surprising. They’re rhythmic, object-focussed phrases, comprising a world of organised, mechanical business. So we return to Schofield’s slowing down of time through the joy of the unread book. If you look closely, every action must drive us forward, if only incrementally. Perhaps just being present in this moment, carrying the past with us as we move slowly forward, taking in the potential as something we can never fully reach, is in fact the goal. In this way, we may continue challenging dated perspectives and structures, and find comfort and confidence in the lessons of impatient, daring women and people pushing the boundaries of their worlds.
But regardless—Hamilton was complex in nature, fighting for abolition and holding his sister-in-law’s political views in high regard. At what point is one judged for how they interact in a society they are conditioned (or rather, socialised) to take part in? How will we both confront the discriminatory structures of our time and also accept that much of our
Illustrated by Zoe Lau
Fangirls and Fantasies: Why We Love to Hate Twilight Written by Aeva Milos It’s 2008: the era of galaxy-print leggings and Club Penguin. The radio incessantly plays Katy Perry’s ‘I Kissed A Girl’ and ‘Viva La Vida’ by Coldplay. Lounging on your bed after school, you flip through the glossy pages of Seventeen magazine, fanatically poring over the pale, golden-eyed Robert Pattinson and the bashful Kristen Stewart. Adapted from the novel of the same name by Stephanie Meyer, Twilight tells the story of Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart), a teenage girl who moves to the rainy town of Forks and falls in love with the mysterious and brooding vampire Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson). Directed by Catherine Hardwicke, Twilight boasts some stunning cinematography. Hardwicke constructs a visually dynamic film, submerging scenes in a dreamy, grey-blue filter and creating memorable shots, such as one where a pair of owl’s wings are positioned carefully behind Edward to symbolise his status as a ‘fallen angel’. The soundtrack is unironically masterful, featuring songs like ‘Decode’ by Paramore and ‘Roslyn’ by Bon Iver (Twilight-themed karaoke night? Sign me up!). The audience cannot help but fall in love with the eccentric cast of characters, including Edward’s whimsical adoptive sister Alice Cullen (Ashley Greene) and resident DILF Charlie Swan (Billy Burke). Twilight has always been divisive in its reception, and the criticisms against it are valid, especially in relation to its troubling, anti-feminist messages. It is not a technically sublime film, but the obsessive ‘fangirl’ craze it created, and its ability to attract such a long-standing female audience, is perhaps a success in itself. The awkward and restrained acting of the burgeoning Kristen Stewart, which was so shamelessly criticised, is simultaneously the reason why many girls first fell in love with Twilight. Bella represented the jumbling confusion of becoming a young woman, caught in a relatable whirl of divorced parents, moving schools and finding friends. She symbolised the uncomfortable awareness of being an outsider that everyone stumbles upon whilst growing up. She is characterised as so abundantly average, not unrealistically beautiful or smart, allowing young girls to project themselves onto her approachable image. Unfortunately, Bella is not the most shining role model, displaying a chilling subservience to her boyfriend. Her every action and emotion is controlled by Edward. This unsettling power dynamic is only made worse by the unflinching age gap between the infantilised 17-year-old Bella, and the 104-year-old Edward Cullen. The franchise also espouses harmful notions of paedophilia and racism that are often worryingly brushed aside. Like me, many fans were introduced to the film at a young and impressionable age, where one has a bubbling desire to learn absolutely everything about the world, but also lacks significant critical awareness towards what is being learned. Portraying such damaging stereotypes suggests to easily susceptible audiences that these ideas are acceptable. This becomes especially complicated when the fanbase tends to form such close, personal relationships with these fictional characters, and thus cannot disentangle their idolisation with the disingenuous storylines and fallacious ideas being presented. However, much of this criticism was also used to vehemently attack younger girls for their adoration of the franchise. How could you love something so wrong? The real question is: how could we have known any better as children? And yet, there is a continuing
habit to vilify popular art because its fanbase is dominated by girls. The consistent “still a better love story than Twilight’’ phrase that was smacked on every other franchise, from Harry Potter to The Hunger Games, created both a rivalry against, and an air of superiority over, the ‘sparkling vampire’ film. A similar phenomenon was simultaneously taking place against mainstream boy bands like One Direction, where the desire to appear cool in the eyes of men resulted in the “I’m not like other girls” pedagogy. I fell for it, in some ways feeling superior because I listened to ‘Centuries’ by Fall Out Boy and scoffed when ‘Night Changes’ began playing. You can witness this misogynistic dichotomy in the reaction to Transformers, which was released in 2007, not long before Twilight. Featuring the tall, scantily dressed Megan Fox, and showcasing fiery explosions, it catered perfectly to the heterosexual male fantasy. The imaginings of young boys playing with toy cars in their childhood bedrooms had excitedly morphed into reality. Like Twilight, the plot development and writing were subpar. Yet it never received the same degree of vitriolic hatred. Media that caters to women’s desires, and attracts a predominantly female audience, is constantly criticised because it refuses to limit itself to what the patriarchy considers as having artistic value. Twilight is a film that speaks unapologetically to many a teenage girl’s idealistic fantasies, those not based in tangible reality but thrilling to passively dream about nonetheless. After all, would it not be perfect to be charmed and serenaded by an enigmatic 20th-century vampire? I know I wouldn’t complain. It is troubling to realise that women are constantly caught within the crossfire of baseless attacks against essentially harmless obsessions, simply because the patriarchy has decided these interests are frivolous. In a world where young girls are constantly pressured to mature faster than their male counterparts, partaking in such misaligned, juvenile fantasies rebels against the burden of suffocating female responsibility. And carving out a space that outwardly refuses male influence is in some ways a startling reclamation of womanhood. Fans can attest to its jilted plot and storytelling, but perhaps we should just let Twilight be bad, simply to feel good. However, the ‘Twilight Renaissance’ heralded by TikTok last year allowed fans old and new to re-envision the film. Some located queer perspectives in the pairing of characters such as Bella and Alice, or used the opportunity to educate fans on the Native American traditions that had been disregarded in the original text. Even the reawakened successes of Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart, who has since come out as queer, further allowed fans to reject the film’s problematic underpinnings and create more open, discursive and free interpretations. Radically, a decade after its release, liking Twilight isn’t embarrassing anymore. It’s welcomed. My younger self, dressed as a vampire for my primary school’s Halloween disco, with plastic fangs that hung awkwardly across crooked teeth, hoping to brush shoulders with my own Edward Cullen, will forever be grateful to Twilight. For two solid hours of bedazzled vampires, thunderous baseball (the only form of sport I’ll ever watch) and carnivorous babies, it helped me escape my looming fears of growing older. Cinematic masterpiece, indeed.
Illustrated by Alice Tai
Written by Christina Savopoulos There’s no feeling that rivals that of entering a cinema. The intoxicating smell of warm, buttery popcorn overtakes your senses and all you can think of is rushing to the counter to hand over all your money in exchange for that heavenly goodness. Muffled sounds escape the inner walls of the theatre. And that’s only when you’ve walked in! I could go on about the excitement of sitting in your seat and watching previews (and naturally, planning your next visit), not to mention the quiet that collectively overtakes the theatre as the lights dim. Keeping this image and the feeling associated with it in mind, I’d like you to imagine the sensation that arises when you’re sprawled on your couch opening the Netflix app. I can guarantee that it’s nowhere near the same. Now, I’ve spoken generally because I’m assuming anyone reading this has at least attended a cinema once in their life and loved it! If for some reason you haven’t—please go now! Like right when you finish reading this edition of Farrago. During COVID-19, with the closure of cinemas for several months, people naturally turned to streaming services like Netflix for their weekly (or nightly) movie fix. I definitely found myself using them more than usual. While pre-pandemic, cinemas were able to thrive alongside streaming services because they provided those big blockbusters you simply could not enjoy from home, a trip to the cinemas to enjoy these was no longer an option. In mid-January, Netflix shared a trailer previewing all the original films they would release this year. This in itself isn’t strange; Netflix has always advertised their original films. What is strange is the number of A-list actors who will star in them. Actors whose appearances were usually strictly limited to the big screen. Regina King, Ryan Reynolds, Dwyane Johnson and Leonardo DiCaprio are few who have lent their talents to the Netflix overlord. Halle Berry and Lin-Manuel Miranda are also directing their first movies to be released as Netflix originals. It’s quite a jump from Broadway royalty for Miranda. The preview also shared that there would be a new film released every week this year. Netflix has already gained immense popularity and has been unofficially crowned the Queen of streaming services. These upcoming films will allow it to gain further control over much of Hollywood’s well-known talent. There are, of course, thousands of other immensely talented actors who will continue to appear in films intended
for theatrical release. But the absence of these stars from the big screen this year will perhaps mean they’ll struggle to return following this shift. History shows that Netflix tends to be quite possessive of their actors. One example is Millie Bobby Brown, who rose to fame on the sci-fi hit Stranger Things and then continued her career with Netflix by starring in their original film, Enola Holmes. This begs the question of whether these actors will continue their career under Netflix’s masterful control or if they will stage a return to the big screen.
Cinemas Buckle Under the Weight of the Netflix Empire
The pandemic has not only affected actors in the spotlight, but creatives behind the scenes who work tirelessly to create content. Most creatives didn’t have the luxury of turning on their computers, entering a Zoom meeting, and continuing to work. Though thankfully, some have been able to return to work, countless others have been deprived of the opportunity to do what they love. I only hope that with time their careers will flourish, and their art can be showcased for all to see. For studios who are unable to continue production, many small-budget films will be delayed, which means that one of the primary studios employing workers will be Netflix. As the dominant streaming service, Netflix will hold the power to release what they want and ignore smaller budget films where perhaps more heart and passion has been invested. I wonder how everything will unfold when things eventually ‘return to normal’. Australia’s entertainment industry is slowly recovering from the pandemic, but the majority of America is still in lockdown and therefore unable to attend their local cinema. Given this decrease in attendance, Hollywood is likely to continue creating straight-to-streaming films, thus perpetuating this cycle and reducing the number of films made for cinema. Will Hollywood blockbuster-type films continue to use Netflix as their outlet, or will they return to their rightful spot on the big screen? I know that regardless of the outcome, cinemas will continue to operate as long as there is new content—be it a blockbuster or a Sundance indie film. Visiting a cinema is an unmatched experience. People will flock to cinemas, as they’ve done for decades. They’ll go because it’s a place to escape. A place to fall in love with the magic of film—a magic that frankly, Netflix will never possess.
Illustrated by Joy Sha
Illustrated by Katie Zhang
Goodbye, Dragon Inn (Tsai Ming-Liang, 2003) Written by Digby Houghton Flaneur culture emerged during the nascent era of industrialism to denote citizens who could walk the city with a sense of leisure—a recurring, if unintentional trope in Tsai Ming-Liang’s 2003 film Goodbye, Dragon Inn. Cinemas are fragile and delicate spaces, as highlighted throughout Tsai’s film, which portrays a single-theatre cinema in Taipei before its imminent closure. Cinemas provide people with the opportunity to escape and project their own lives onto the fantasies of others, if only for a short period of time. Set purely within the confines of the theatre complex, the audience falls prey to a variety of different characters as they intersect and engage with the cinema, which is playing the 1967 wuxia epic Dragon Inn. These include the slightly paralysed ticket operator played by Chen Shiang-chyi, the projectionist played by long-time Tsai collaborator Lee Kang-sheng and the comically ‘lost’ tourist played by Kiyonobu Mitamura. Tsai’s work is influential around the world and at festivals, not just because he’s an outstanding director, but also due to his efforts in re-energising Taiwanese cinema during the late 80s. Although Malaysian-born, Tsai sought to pursue filmmaking in Taiwan. His early films closely followed narrative tropes and were shaped by an emphasis on dialogue. However, this developed, or regressed, around the turn of millennium as he moved towards a new style of ‘slow cinema’. Long takes, careful direction and minimal dialogue now typify his films and Goodbye, Dragon Inn is part of this shift. In the opening sequence of the film, we watch the ticket operator slowly walk from the foreground into the background. Vibrant and lurid shades of deep blue and red evoke the urban environment and the palatial decay of the theatre is suggested by its sweaty, cracked walls. After an extended length of time, she returns to her ticket booth to heat a dumpling. We follow her again to the projection booth as rain pours from all directions, further emphasising the sense that the cinema is alive, carrying a soul, one which cannot be defeated. Goodbye, Dragon Inn was recently screened at ACMI in partnership with Fireflies Press, as part of a new series
called Decadent, highlighting ten significant movies in world cinema from the first decade of this century. Watching this movie in a theatre like ACMI felt significant, given how much the ‘death’ of cinema and cinema-going was foreshadowed during the height of the pandemic. Tsai’s slow and relentlessly patient shots are given space and time to unravel in a theatre, an experience that is much more difficult to emulate on a domestic or portable device. This felt particularly pertinent during a scene in which the tourist/cinephile walks to a urinal. Viewing the bathroom from a corner, the cubicles on one side and urinals on the other, the character awkwardly begins to urinate. Holding the shot for an extensive period of time, we watch as two separate men take their positions next to the tourist; a man leaves a cubicle with another man waiting inside; and a passer-by picks up his camera from the ledge above the tourist’s head, creating comical pleasure as the audience feels his discomfort. Tsai’s film is explicitly metatextual, demonstrated by the continuous shots of the audience watching the wuxia film in all its grainy and textured celluloid glory, and further heightened by the detail that two of the spectators (Jun Shi and Miao Tien) had starred in it. The meta-quality of the film was particularly heartfelt in one of the closing shots of the epilogue, in which the red-coloured seats of the theatre are framed in a balanced long take. I don’t often think of cinemas as holding human characteristics, perhaps I’m not romantic enough, but I suddenly begin to think of the cinema as falling into a long sleep during the vast amount of time spent without humans inside them. It felt particularly relevant given the horrific events of last year. After the credits rolled, a Q and A was presented between author Nick Pinkerton and Annabel Brady-Brown, the co-editor of Fireflies. Nick explained that the theatre in the film survived because it was a communal facility encompassing market stands and a gym/pool. It was a neighbourhood facility much the same as Greater Union once was. Long live cinema, I thought.
Illustrated by Sally Yuan
One heart was steadfast, and one soul clear-eyed, Cassandra… She saw those evil portents all through Troy conspiring to one end; LOUD RANG HER
CRY! Then cried a scoffing voice an ominous word: “Why doth a raving tongue of evil speech… make thy lips to cry word empty as wind?” (Quintus Smyrnaeus,
The Fall of Troy,
Illustrated by Gen Schiesser
WHAT A SHAME IT IS TO SEE THE WORLD… …AND NEVER ONCE BELIEVED. Illustrated by Gen Schiesser
Ordinary Joys: The Restaurant Institution Written by E.S. Not too long ago, I took my younger sister to Pellegrini’s on Bourke Street. We went because both my boss and family friend had told me earnestly that it is a Melbourne institution. We got a seat at the bar, where my sister made the mistake of asking for a menu. In response, a waiter nonchalantly signalled to a plank of wood, on which ten distinct varieties of pasta were block-printed in gold. To figure out the other menu items, you had to watch what was pulled out next from underneath the bar. Ice cream; watermelon lemonade (two glasses, please); dollops of cream for jam tarts. When we saw no signs of the tiramisu my sister was pining for, I convinced her to go for the chocolate cake. Ten minutes later—and ten minutes too late—a waiter pulled out a huge tin of tiramisu and slammed it on the benchtop with flair. My sister kicked me under the table. We ordered two slices. Pellegrini’s was founded in 1954 by two brothers, Leo and Vildo Pellegrini. It claims to be the first restaurant in Melbourne to use an espresso machine. The history of Pellegrini’s is etched into its walls. The neon sign out the front is heritage-listed. Scattered around the restaurant are photos of its beaming former owner, Sisto Malaspina, who was tragically killed in the Bourke Street stabbings of 2018. Pelligrini’s is an institution because it has been there for so long, unwavering amidst constant change. It is a time capsule to the past. The wood plank menu is the same one which appears in photos from the 1960s. Waiters have divided up tiramisus with sharp lines in this century, and the last. There are institutions like Pellegrini’s dotted across Melbourne, places that have withstood the ebb of time. Florentino, down the road, is Melbourne’s oldest restaurant which opened in 1928. The interior is decadent, with shimmering murals painted on the walls above dark wood furnishings. Florentino was one of the last restaurants in the city to suspend a formal dress code, having formerly asked male diners to rise to the occasion with suit jackets. Stalactites—another Melbourne institution—was opened by the Konstandakopoulos family in 1978. The restaurant is open 24/7, so you can grab a lamb souvlaki at 4am or 4pm The current owner describes her restaurant as a “Greek version of Melbourne”; a localised microcosm of her birthplace. These are Melbourne’s institutions. But each family, each group of friends, and each individual have their own institutions. Smilies on Lygon Street is an institution for intoxicated college students to drown in slabs of oily pizza and fries after a night out. Heart Attack and Vine is an institution for me and my friend, Sihara—where we debrief our weeks, drinking wine and hot chocolate simultaneously. The Black Cat in Fitzroy was an institution for my mum, who dipped into the alternative scene in her youth, clad in all-black attire. An institution is a place that provides continuity and simple joy amidst flux. At a time where many of us are still reeling from intense uncertainty, restaurant institutions bring warmth and stability. And damn good tiramisu.
Illustrated by Mochen Tang
content warning: mentions of racism, domestic violence, sexual assault and harassment
The Craft: Ours is the Power Written by Nishtha Banavalikar Released in 1996, The Craft came out at a pivotal time for the representation of teenage girls in Western media. The 90s were littered with films about ‘popular’ girls (Clueless) and caretakers (The Babysitters Club) but The Craft was remarkable for its focus on the ‘outcast’, bringing to screen unapologetic ‘weirdos’ and ‘freaks’. More than that, they were proud of their differences. The film showed girls who found strength in not fitting in, a refreshing concept for teens everywhere drained by the non-stop pressure of performance and assimilation. This paved the way for many cult-classic feminist horror films that centred ‘odd’ protagonists, like Jawbreaker (1999), proving there was a market for unconventional female characters who could embrace the power of being different. Unfortunately, it’s not the kickass feminist film our rose-coloured nostalgia says it is. The Craft broadcasts confusing narratives about racism, female empowerment and sexual assault that, once contextualised with its male writing room and production crew, make much more sense. Despite this, the film manages to communicate a powerful, though certainly unintentional, underlying message about the corrupting nature of male-modelled power and toxic masculinity. The Craft follows four high school girls and their quest to obtain power using pagan witchcraft. They’re alienated by their peers; Nancy for being ‘white trash’, Rochelle for being the only Black student in their private school and Bonnie for being ‘ugly’ because of the burns and scars covering her body. To seek power in a system where they severely lack it, the girls turn to Wicca as a means of obtaining revenge on the people who have abused them. When new girl Sarah, the daughter of a witch, joins the school and completes their circle, the coven is finally given the power they need to cast its spells. The ‘witch’ trope is one this film successfully spins on its head, both humanising and modernising the ‘crazy old hag’ stereotype. The witch throughout fantasy has always been a symbol of evil, a warning against destructive
female empowerment that the rest of society can’t handle. After all, the sheer audacity of these women to live by themselves and not marry?! To want power and control over their own lives?! Drown them. Witches, traditionally typecast as power-hungry, are instead shown here as complex, beaten-down girls. Girls who, once given power they’ve never had before, do their best to erase the trauma we’ve witnessed in the first half of the film: microaggressions, taunts, social isolation and harassment. Vengeance seems to be the only option for them, and even to the audience it feels well-earned. Each of the girls perform spells to fix their problems. Sarah wishes for jackass popular jock Chris Hooker to like her back; Bonnie wishes to live without her scars; Rochelle wishes for her racist bully to get a taste of her own medicine, and Nancy wishes for money to help her and her mother escape their abusive domestic situation. When these all work, the girls are elated and are each presented with a genuine path back into the social hierarchy they were cast out from. Despite this, to claim that this film is about female empowerment is problematic. The girls only feel confident once their appearance is changed, or they gain money, or a racist bully is removed. Not to say these changes cannot be empowering for individuals, but narratively, there’s no internal conflict resolution—their issues still persist within themselves and the society around them. Ultimately, the source of their power is external to themselves. Furthermore, they are ruled by the deity Manon, whose whims restrict their autonomy. He decides when their power has been corrupted and when it is permissible. The male gender of this deity also seems to affirm that, even in a story about ‘female empowerment’, the only way a woman can attain power is through a man. Instead, the film seems to communicate that power, specifically male power, corrupts. Things start to fall apart when the girls compromise their values to find their footing in the social hierarchy. They hurt people. Using their powers, they assert themselves in the way male
Illustrated by Ailish Hallinan
figures always have and it has disastrous consequences. Bonnie, having had a taste of desirability and in her desperation to become the ultimate female stereotype, catcalls and harasses any boy she takes a liking to, like she’s learned from the boys at school. Nancy becomes so overwhelmed with greed and ambition that she performs a ritual to invoke the spirit—taking Manon ‘into herself’, becoming the man with power. She changes completely, losing her sense of compassion and becoming reckless with her own life and those of her friends. Her descent into antipathy is notably triggered when she encounters her abusers, including her stepfather and the boys at school. Nancy has suffered deeply in the film and never had the strength she’s longed for as a victim. These abusive men became Nancy’s role models, and in invoking what she has been conditioned to believe is the ultimate manifestation of power, she becomes dangerous. When it comes to oppression and discrimination, the film seems to have conflicting views. Rochelle uses her powers to give her bully a taste of her own medicine by ruining her hair. But there is no systematic commentary here about how her teachers and classmates allow the racist to spit horrific vitriol and traumatise Rochelle in class. nstead, when ‘power corrupts’ and the white girl starts losing all her hair, Rochelle is meant to feel guilty for defending herself. Bonnie, on the other hand, wishes her scars away and embraces a newfound level of confidence in being socially attractive that slowly becomes narcissism. On their own, neither of the things Rochelle or Bonnie doimmediately implicate them, but it’s when the power trip gets to their heads and they behave differently that it becomes ‘bad’. Finally, Sarah, who spends the majority of the film head over heels for a boy who publicly slut-shames her, is almost assaulted by him in what the film paints as a consequence of her love spell. Fuelled by rage at this, Nancy attacks and murders Chris using her powers. “The only way you know how to treat women is by treating them like whores! Well, you’re the whore! And this is gonna stop!”
Imbued with determination to stop Nancy, Sarah invokes the spirit herself. Guided somewhat by her mother and the shopkeeper of a local witchcraft store, she succeeds and maintains herself along with the powers of Manon. The coven’s circle is shattered and the girls split ways, left only with an unsatisfying message of ‘power is bad’ or alternatively, ‘don’t try to achieve the unachievable’, xoxo. In a patriarchal society, symbols of power are inherently male-produced and layered with toxic masculinity. It’s no wonder then that when the girls attempt to emulate power, they subconsciously mirror these role models and harm everyone around them. In fact, it’s often the older female figures in this film who provide a guiding, anchoring force against the turbulence. The Craft unintentionally shows the dichotomy between destructive masculine power and positive feminine empowerment. Unlike Nancy, Sarah is successful because she balances her powers from Manon and the stereotypical characteristics of male power: assertiveness and confidence, alongside the qualities of feminine power—compassion and moral strength—that she derives from her mother and the shopkeeper. All this being said, The Craft to me is still a film that attempts to examine feminism but falls flat. The audience is able to watch four young women defy gender stereotypes but at its core it still feels performative. The girls are almost punished by the writers for wanting better for themselves. Both Nancy and Bonnie have it extremely bad, literally suffering at the hands of abusers through misogyny and white supremacy. Yet, the film concludes that in allowing the power of freedom to get to their heads, they are ultimately in the wrong. The Craft leaves us with the quote “ours is the power”, which I interpret as “the power we have within is the true power.” The only ‘success’ of the film, Sarah, retains her abilities in the end, affirming that her powers are stronger and somehow purer. There’s something affirming about this unintentional positioning of intrinsic female power, exemplified throughout the film in terms of empathy, rationality and emotional strength, as stronger than and more stable than its masculine counterpart, which is flimsy, quick to flare and faster to die out. With this reading, the film becomes an unforgettable witchy classic, with characters that fought both against their societal constraints and the film’s attempts to squash their power.
Illustrated by Ailish Hallinan
Slogans & Nonsense Besides getting tenure, being compared to Alain de Botton, or writing columns for The New York Times, getting away with obscure prose is one of the most widely accepted signs of making it as a philosopher. It’s a signal that your time has become so valuable, you can effectively offload the task of writing by jumbling words together and leaving it to the poor undergrads reading your work to decipher the sentences. They call this the ‘obscure turn’. With Nietzsche’s firm grip on the record for youngest full Professor, aspiring philosophers now strive for the record of the earliest obscure turn. Here’s the philosopher John McDowell doing Pittsburgh proud by butchering an explanation of ‘secondary qualities’:
Written by Josh Abbey
A secondary quality is a property the ascription of which to an object is not adequately understood except as true, if it is true, in virtue of the object’s disposition to present a certain sort of perceptual appearance: specifically, an appearance characterizable by using a word for the property itself to say how the object perceptually appears.
In clearer English, a secondary quality is a perception-dependent property which produces a particular sensation, like taste, colour or smell. This is one of McDowell’s clearer and shorter sentences. Not all obscurantism is created equal; like sparkling wine and apologies, it depends where it’s coming from. Socrates, Nietzsche, Kierkegaard, Kevin Rudd, each in their particular style, did not simply advance some thesis but aimed to have their readers discover the truth themselves. On rare occasions, being unintelligible is necessary; former Chairman of the Federal Reserve, Alan Greenspan, was obscure because speaking frankly in his position might have moved the market by ten points. Nothing, however, can justify Hegel’s method of wearing down readers into agreement by verbiage. Understanding Hegel is one of those things people go to the Wizard of Oz for. Yet some still endeavour to defend obscure prose. Some say that obscure prose is subversive. According to Judith Butler, using intelligible language forsakes the “resource of language to rethink the world radically” and does not “make people think critically.” In the summary of one academic, “obfuscatory prose, in short, strikes a blow for the proletariat!” And what a blow it is, somewhere between an ant’s poke and beetle’s biff. Hark, the wall totters! Ours is hardly an age when subversives must employ satire and humour to avoid censorship. If it’s obscure prose style, not content, that makes your writing subversive, then I don’t see your Harvard University Press book ending up on the Vatican’s Index Librorum Prohibitorum. It’s not as if: “Taking as your object of sustenance those who have accumulated a greater proportion of capital, undertake the consumptive process, utilising the mode of mastication and proceed through all the digestive stages,” is more subversive than “Eat the rich!” Others, like Marcuse, claim that radical ideas cannot be expressed in clear language. Radical ideas like “abolish the police.” This conception of clarity carouses in the same dive bar as John McCumber’s notion that the pursuit of clarity is a “misguided effort” to “force us all to remain in ancient and oppressive habits of thought.” Because “All power to the Soviets” was never revolutionary and influential. There’s such a gaping hole in this argument, the Australian Government will probably declare it a mine and make John tax exempt. At the last barricade, some defend obscure prose on the grounds that complex ideas require complex writing. This sounds good but deceives. The critique of obscurity is not a critique of complex writing, but a critique of needlessly complex writing. A genuinely complex idea will necessarily entail a complex explanation, if not, it is not a complex idea. The explanation needn’t be more complex than the idea. The problem with defending obscurity is that comprehending obscure sentences entails parsing the obscure into clear sentences, thereby showing that the obscure could have been clearer all along. I imagine the process as something like this scene from The Thick of It:
Simon Weir: You describe yourself as the human router in government. Can you explain what you meant by that?
Stewart Pearson: I’m a router in the sense that I control the governmental, informational ingestion and egestion process.
Simon Weir: Mr. Pearson, just to clarify, your job is to make sure that the public perception of your government’s programme is a positive one. Is that fair?
Stewart Pearson: It’s not about perception. Yeah. I believe in government as a transceiver.
Simon Weir: Transceiver
Stewart Pearson: Yeah, it’s really important, sure, to give out a strong signal, but to be effective, you’ve got to listen for an echo.
Simon Weir: Could you possibly speak in plain English?
Stewart Pearson: I’m sorry, I thought I was.
Illustrated by Arielle Vlahiotis
content warning: racism, deaths in custody
Race Against the Odds Written by ilundi tinga Living in the Matrix Living as a queer Black woman and an intersectional feminist often feels like being force-fed the ‘red pill of truth’ from The Matrix while most of society seems to be happily swallowing the blue pill of ignorance. In fact, I’ve always wondered why the person destined to defeat the Matrix and essentially save society was a straight white man. Taking the red pill means experiencing oppression created by multidimensional systems like white supremacy. It also involves understanding how even when apparent progress occurs, it is often superficial because oppression has not been addressed or solved but merely altered. In America, this can be seen with racism having moved through stages from slavery to segregation to incarceration and police brutality. Similarly, in Australia, racism and eugenics have not been vanquished, but moved from the stolen generation to mass incarceration and deaths in custody. On the other hand, taking the blue pill leads to the belief that multiculturalism equals post-racism. It creates an illusion in which oppression is onedimensional and easily solvable. Being an intersectional feminist means I understand and interpret social injustices through intersectionality, an analytical framework coined by Black feminists. Intersectionality has specifically been attributed to the work of Kimberlé Crenshaw in 1989. It is about understanding and considering how different aspects of an individual’s social and political identity intersect to create different modes of discrimination and privilege. This was, and still is, important to Black feminists because feminism often revolves around white women, who tend to focus on their marginalised womanhood whilst ignoring their white privilege. However, Black women advocate against white supremacy and patriarchy because their identities are marginalised by both, meaning they understand that these systems intersect. I live my life seeing myself as ilundi, but aspects of my identity are categorised, labelled and separated. Thus, I’m not just ilundi but I’m Black ilundi, I’m queer ilundi, I’m female ilundi and more. Yet, I cannot separate my identity in the way that white feminists or others would like me to. Often when talking about oppression, people tend to focus on one marginalised identity category at a time like sexuality or race. So even in movements like Black Lives Matter (BLM), the focus is placed on race, and more specifically, on Black men, which overlooks the violence Black women experience. In Kimberlé Crenshaw’s amazing TED Talk, ‘The Urgency of Intersectionality,’ she asks the audience to sit down when they hear a name they don’t recognise. She names several Black men who have died due to police brutality and, by the end, most of the audience is still standing. However, after naming just one Black woman, most of the audience sits down because Black women have been overlooked in BLM. Consequently, even within movements and spaces that are created for marginalised identities, there is marginalisation happening. Intersectionality helps us understand the complexity of identities and the way privilege and oppression overlap. Social injustices are often intertwined and have layers within them that are hard to see and distinguish without intersectionality. These systems of oppression are connected, just as sexism is supported by capitalism and capitalism is supported by racism and so on. This connects to a phrase I’ve heard a lot: “I don’t see colour,” where some think that the solution to solving oppression is to completely ignore differences between people. As Crenshaw has said, “if we can’t see a problem, we can’t fix a problem.” Not seeing colour completely misses the problem it attempts to solve because the problem isn’t our differences (like colour). The problem is the way we treat these differences, like not hiring someone because they are Black. On the other hand, some people emphasise sameness and so we hear phrases like “we’re all human”. But this also misses the point because we are diverse, and rights shouldn’t only be given because we have similarities. This creates a standard people must reach and are compared to, which is often cis, straight white men. There shouldn’t be a problem in being different—in fact it’s good. I mean, how boring would the world be if we were all exactly the same?
Illustrated by Kitman Yeung
Essentially, what I am trying to say is that if we want the world to be a better place, then we need to not only acknowledge but also embrace our differences. In this Race Against the Odds, we must not only fight for ourselves but for others as well. So, if you advocate for women’s rights, then advocate for Black people, advocate for queer people, advocate for people living with disabilities, and others. We’ve come to embrace our similarities, but when will we embrace our differences? The only time is now. Puzzle pieces Brown eyes gaze at red melanin roots. Blue eyes gaze at crystal clear skies. One step forward two steps back. Arms torn legs gone hair ripped apart. Classified accordingly. Brown-skinned Queer She her woman. Labelled accordingly. A million pieces of myself jammed into puzzles. Puzzles show picture perfect happiness in symmetry. But puzzle pieces are asymmetrical. Curves, misshaped ends connect to holes. Each piece contains fragments of images bigger than the picture framed on the box for us to see be. Are there missing pieces? Pieces knocked off the table fall to the depths of Hell. Lost, forgotten, replaced. But these bits become mountains of wonder— rising at dawn yet to reach their peak. What lies beyond puzzle borders?
Illustrated by Kitman Yeung
SATIRE-IN-BRIEF Written by The Satire Team
Wayne Carey still not fired Latest reports reveal that, against all odds, Wayne Carey will still get his creepy mug aired on Channel 7. Refusing to follow in the footsteps of 3AW and the Nine Network, Channel 7 has decided to turn a blind eye this Women’s History Month, urging viewers to keep calm and Carey on!
Local woman makes brave decision to switch from almond to oat milk Despite clearly being the best tasting alternative milk, almond milk has recently come under fire for its wildly water-intensive farming process. As oat milk continually increases in popularity, scientists are left pondering what is left on Earth to be milked.
University assignment is super clear and instructions totally make sense University subject coordinator Dr Claire Consignes made the radical decision last week to create an assignment task that avoided deliberately vague and contradictory language in the task instructions. However, Consignes added that she was only experimenting with different approaches to assignment instructions and would likely revert to her old ways.
Teen reeling from The Wiggles’ “Like A Version” insists the only way to reach equilibrium is Tame Impala covering “Fruit Salad” “It was transcendent,” said Marvin of Fitzroy. “But it leaves this huge gap in the whole yin-yang of everything… the balance is like, way off.” Tune in to triple j next week for Play School’s cover of Ariana Grande’s ‘positions’. —Laura Bishop
Public outcry as Federal Government announces return of the “lost” hour
Morrison punishes Ministers by giving them easier jobs
“An hour doesn’t just disappear. Where does it go? What does the government do with it before we get it back? Why is QLD allowed to keep their hour?” asked concerned citizen Roger Biscuit, who called in to 3AW’s breakfast talkback radio show this past Tuesday.
Morrison was also questioned over the suitability of new Attorney-General Michaelia Cash. The PM said that Cash’s previous failure to supply the AFP with a witness statement demonstrated the in-depth legal knowledge required to be a Liberal Attorney-General.
Victorian Liberal Party invites Giuliani to become leader in bid to restore party’s credibility In a surprise move, the Mafia has rescinded its longstanding contract against Giuliani on compassionate grounds. A spokesman for the Mafia said that “Giuliani is clearly doing more damage to himself than we could ever manage”.
Local woman infuriates Tinder match by saying her favourite Bon Iver song is “Exile” “Of course it’s my favourite song—Taylor Swift is in it,” she said to the yellow-beanie-wearing man. “But then he went on a ten-minute hate rant about Taylor and the gentrification of indie music...” The pair are set to have their first date at a bar next week… but you probably haven’t heard of it.
USA charged USD$35 Million for Dance Pole to Hell
Satire coordinators give satire team more than three days to write headlines
Lil Nas X has billed the US Government for the pole he used to spiral down to Hell in his video for ‘MONTERO (Call Me By Your Name)’.
In a remarkable feat of organisational skills and communication, the satire coordinators at Farrago have given their team more than two weeks’ notice to churn out comedy material. The Guinness World Records committee has been in touch.
“I’m charging the government only for the part of the pole that goes into the Earth—just the last 4000 miles,” Lil Nas X said. “The government should consider this a steal.”
*Satire Coordinators’ Note* Okay bucko, listen here. We had a record number of submissions from the satire team this edition. Proof is in the pudding—diamonds (and lots of ‘em) are forged under pressure.
Illustrated by Annanya Musale
Wiggles hint at imminent goth punk album with new single “Wake Jeff Up Inside”
“I just need to complete my degree, and then I’ll be able to enjoy all the spoils of a career in a high-stakes, mentally taxing, physically depleting industry like law and/or politics,” disclosed one young Juris Doctor student (23) between triple-shot long blacks.
The song will feature Lachlan on screamo vocals, Anthony playing a flaming electric guitar, Emma on drums using two sticks of dynamite as drumsticks, and Simon on a bass guitar completely covered in spikes, almost to the point of unplayability.
Arts student considering transferring to commerce after making a $20 profit through Depop
Entirely unimpressive acquaintance says they’re worried they’ll make it into one of your satire headlines
A local uni student is feeling rich after somehow making $20 selling her old clothes from 2007. “They’re vintage now,” she gloated. “I just marketed it as ‘Y2K’ and someone bought it.”
“Oh, you write satire articles? That’s so cool, haha. You better not write one about me!” warned the fairly typical tute comrade.
Her other listings include “vintage ‘normal people scare me’ shirt” and “green button-up jacket, as seen on Bella Swan in Twilight.”
Clearly unaware they’d provided insufficient material for a headline, the oblivious associate carried on with their day. Oh wait...
High maintenance friend needs to get your opinion on something REALLY important as SOON as you see this message, babe “So, you know cinnamon-donut-boy? From the bar last Saturday? Ok. So he liked my photo exactly an hour after I posted it. Why not 59 minutes? Why not 61? He’s trying to give me a hint,” said your friend in the first of 13, one-minute-long voice messages. —Sweeney Preston
Law student promises themselves they’ll be happy once they finish their degree, get a job, retire etc.
Biden-Harris administration reaches 75,000 Fitbit step goal for ninth week in a row White House social media staff have been hard at work ensuring the public is made fully aware of their presidential endeavours by continually posting pictures and slo-mo videos of the pair taking long, healthy strides down the marble corridors. The winner gets a pizza party; the loser has to free one child from a cage at the border. The stakes are high! —Janvi Sikand
“Seven weeks is only 840 20-minute sections until this semester is over,” says student with no real concept of time “Only seven weeks remaining. That means 35 school days, which is the same as eight hours or four slots of only just two hours each.”
Ever Given captain who got ship stuck in Suez Canal revealed to be 18-yearold P-plater named Jayden “Stay off the roads, it’s J-dog time,” Jayden captioned in his most recent Facebook post—a photo of him holding a red P-plate outside VicRoads in Colac.
They were observed with their tongue hanging slightly out of their mouth, in deeper concentration than for any actual assignment thus far.
Jayden was quoted as being “gutted” after losing a staggering 14 million demerit points over the incident. VicRoads has informed Jayden his licence will be suspended for the next 9482 years, but he is free to reapply after that time.
Report just in: Empty feeling in soul not alleviated by most recent online purchase A local compulsive shopper is still feeling the existential void despite making a series of bad shopping decisions. Although it is reported there was an inordinate amount of money spent on material items—everything from bags to homewares—the listlessness remains strong this time. More to follow.
Breaking: Sibling who got a tattoo dethrones cousin with multiple piercings for the title of “Worst Grandkid” This just in: the rankings for ‘Worst Grandkid’—as voted by the Grandparents Guild (G.G.)—have shifted dramatically this week in the wake of a new tattoo. This level of upset hasn’t been seen since the Great Dye Job Incident of ‘17.
Local woman completes one small task, rewards self with four-day break “Alright, finally sent the email. Wow, I’ve really got this whole adulting thing down pat!” The woman was last seen playing Hades on Nintendo Switch for over eight hours straight.
Mass panic as shoppers recognise each other in-store A Melbourne student has started an online petition to ban friendly chat in grocery stores altogether. “I just can’t do it again,” they wrote in an anonymous testimonial. “I’m not strong enough.”
— Charlotte Armstrong
Illustrated by Annanya Musale
TALKING TO THE MOON Written by Christina Savopoulos
Talking To The Moon, hosted by Mary Chen, recently joined Radio Fodder’s 2021 line-up. The show is based on emotions and Mary unpacks a different emotion in each episode, from a personal perspective as well as a scientific approach. By teaching Fodder listeners how to analyse and better understand their emotions, Mary hopes that Talking to the Moon will enable them to connect with themselves on a deeper level and have a better sense of control over who they are. To date, the emotions discussed include love, joy and surprise. Anger, sadness and fear will be analysed in upcoming episodes. “[The show is] about helping people to release anxiety and pressure in their life.” —Mary Chen The idea for the show started when Mary heard about ‘the loneliest whale’. The loneliest whale is a whale in the ocean whose call frequency is different from other whales. This makes it extremely difficult for this whale to communicate with others as no one can respond to it, so it’s left to swim all alone in the ocean. Poor whale! Mary expanded on the story and said that “everyone is like this loneliest whale… we all have this part that no one can really understand” and connect with. “I want [my audience] to feel that they’re being understood… and that they’re talking to their soul [and] reflecting on the emotion I’ve just introduced.” —Mary Chen Mary hopes to collect other people’s experiences and anonymously share them on her show. If you have had a particularly alarming or memorable encounter with an emotion, you are more than welcome to share this experience. Send a message on Instagram @talkingtothemoonshow or on Weibo @TalkingtotheMoon_Radio if you would like your story to be anonymously featured in an episode. Mary also thoroughly researches each emotion so she can share its scientific aspects. Look out for collaborations with wellbeing clubs too! “I don’t want to make [my listeners] feel that they have to learn something from the show. I want things to be easy to understand.” —Mary Chen The show’s incredible artwork is by Tereza Ljubicic, and perfectly encapsulates the idea of floating aimlessly in a pressured society. Mary knows that people tend to be more emotional come nightfall, so she decided to air her show at 8pm to accommodate for this release of emotions. Each episode finishes with a bedtime story—it’s perfect if you want to relax and connect with yourself. You can catch Talking To The Moon and a new emotion each Tuesday at 8pm on Radio Fodder. If you want to catch up on previous episodes and emotions, they are all uploaded on the show’s YouTube channel—Talking To The Moon Radio.
Illustrated by Tereza Ljubicic
WHAT’S ALL THIS? Written by Olivia Ryan
With last year’s COVID-19 lockdowns leaving many people with an unprecedented amount of spare time, it’s not surprising that a lot of us found ourselves looking inwards. For Helen, host of Radio Fodder’s What’s All This? and Master of Music student at the University of Melbourne, Victoria’s lockdowns saw her deep dive into books, videos and films on a quest to answer life’s big questions. “While flicking through YouTube videos, I fell into the motivational and TED Talk video spiral. Randomly, I started to take notes from what I found interesting,” she said. She then delved into books by speakers from the videos, which Helen credits with having begun her “journey into understanding the human psyche and the world we have created for ourselves.” With a wealth of knowledge now at her fingertips, Helen jumped at the chance to share everything that she found most relevant and insightful on Radio Fodder. Each episode of What’s All This? sees her draw quotes and ideas from texts, as well as her own life experiences, to answer questions such as “What’s my purpose?”, “Why compete?” and “What’s clarity?”. “I combine different source types and try to find as many links as I can between them to create episodes that have a narrative,” she said. Helen deals with the existential and the philosophical in a way that is casual and accessible. Her hope is that listeners who are eager to think a little deeper can consider new perspectives that she found useful. “By sharing what I have learned and the curiosity I have for each topic, I hope that listeners of the show might feel similarly, taking even just one thing each week from the show to reflect on,” she said. While it is great to reflect, constantly thinking too deeply about the world can also take its toll. What’s All This? can be that allocated hour in your week to listen to a collection of ideas grounded in the relatable experiences of a student trying her best to make something of the world we live in. Tune into Radio Fodder to catch all of Helen’s wisdom on What’s All This?, airing Wednesdays at 2pm.
Illustrated by Casey Boswell & Chelsea Rozario
Illustrated by Katie Zhang
Photograph by Akash Anil Nair
Photograph by Andi Xu
Photograph by Candy Chu
Photograph by Chistian Theodosiou
Photograph by Carolyn West
Photograph by Mollie Crompton
Photograph by Akash Anil Nair
Photograph by Kashish Sandhu
CREATIVE Photograph by Maddy Cronn
The Metamorphosis Dragon Written by Zoe Keeghan
“To become a dragon, an imugi must prove worthy. Some do so by living for a thousand years. On this day, the transformation will begin, and they will become a true dragon. For others, this metamorphosis is not a matter of patience. If they can lay claim to a yeouiju, they will be bestowed with its gifts. These imugi can become dragons far sooner than their brethren.”
—A History of Dragons: The Truth in Mythology by Ailuv Drah Gonz
Scientific name: Draco mutatis. Origin: Korea. Diet: Omnivorous. May include fish, squid, seaweed and kelp. Life span: Unknown. Estimated to be several thousands of years. Size: Up to one metre wide and ten metres long. Colour: Varies in colour. Often blue or orange. Notable features: Four-fingered claws. Horned upon becoming a dragon. The metamorphosis dragon is one of the longest-living dragon species. Surviving for thousands of years, they live in caves or water, often along the rocky coastlines of North and South Korea. They are large serpents with four legs. Each leg ends in a four-fingered claw that allows them to grasp objects, harvest plants and quickly and painlessly hunt their prey. These dragons begin life as imugi—smaller creatures that are not yet considered full dragons. Imugi have no horns, a visible indication that they are part of this earlier stage. The transformation from imugi to dragon occurs over several weeks, during which the horns grow to their full and final size. These long, swept-back horns mark them as a true dragon. To become a dragon, an imugi must survive for a thousand years, or catch a yeouiju from the sky. A yeouiju is a small glowing orb, fitting perfectly in the claws of a metamorphosis dragon. They are often mistaken for falling stars as they tumble to earth. If an imugi is lucky enough to catch a yeouiju, they will never relinquish it; it is a symbol of their newfound status as a dragon. Little is known about yeouiju, including where they come from and why, and how they accelerate the transformation process. Deulaegon Chingu, now one of the most esteemed dragonologists in the world, has a unique insight into this phenomenon. This is largely due to an encounter he had as a child, one he says inspired him to spend his life studying and protecting dragons.
“My parents always told me not to go swimming near the cove. The waters are faster than they look, they warned. The tides are so strong that they could pull you out to sea. But I was a child, and the more they warned me against it, the more curious I became. So one night, I crept down to the shore. The water was still and glassy, moonlight dancing across its surface. It felt like an invitation.
I waded in, and before I knew it, the water had a hold of me, sweeping me into its depths. I struggled for air, barely able to keep my head above the surface. I’m going to die, I thought.
And then something wrapped around my chest, and the water streamed away. I coughed water from my lungs, and found myself sprawled on the rocky shore that I had left behind. I wiped water and tears from my eyes, unsure what had happened. And there, in the shallows, I saw her. A great imugi watching me with intelligent eyes, blue scales rippling with every movement. I lifted my head, and she nodded her own, assured that I was alive.
And then, a flash sparked across the sky, and a golden star fell to the earth. The imugi looked to the heavens and leapt from the water, catching the star in her claws in much the same way as she had hauled me from the seas.
I cannot presume to know for sure, but could it be that the imugi’s good deed was rewarded? For saving my life, perhaps she was now seen as worthy to become a dragon.”
Researchers have grappled with many challenges in their attempts to prove Chingu’s theory. It has long been deemed unethical to keep dragons in captivity, so imugi must be observed in the wild where it is impossible to control every variable. Scientists have faced further difficulties in trying to quantify ‘worthiness’ and its relationship with a metamorphosis dragon’s transformation. However, Chingu’s theory certainly has merit. For what could be more worthy of reward than saving a child’s life?
Illustrated by Alicia Aliandy
content warning: mental illness, racism, homophobia, d slur
the encounter Written by Laura Habib
As I wait for my tram a woman sits next to me. She cries, moans, curses. Eyes down, hands knotted, I ignore her rather than subject her to a stranger’s prying. But then she screams at two girls holding a lively conversation in their native language. I hate confrontation, but before I can think I react: My voice is weak mild, soft, pathetic but still oil to fire. She springs up, trembling like a cornered, wounded animal. My heart beats frantic and fluttering because she’s tall, eyes wide, hands furious and her skinny arms are corded with scrawny muscle. I consider walking away (I’ve never been in a fight) before I glance back at the girls (and their resigned expressions) and think—this is worth fighting for. (But God, I’m scared.) The woman comes close, black tear tracks of drying mascara on her cheeks. Closer, too close— she could pull out a knife and I would be helpless. “Staunch” is so unexpected a word I can’t help but squint in confusion.
“Speak fucking English!” “Leave them alone.”
“What are you going to fucking do about it?”
“Fucking tough cunt! Look at this staunch bitch!”
Perhaps she mistakes bemusement for contempt and— —wipes my fears clean, I can’t help it… Bisexual and unbothered and more baffled than injured, I laugh. This infuriates her, and she wails, stalks away, and I remember we are on a crowded platform. One person asks if I’m okay, but no one asks the two girls and that woman, so clearly ill, is still alone.
Illustrated by Sally Yuan
“Stupid fucking dyke!”
Seashells Written by Ella McCartney Cold against my cheek they curl around my ears like vines whispering sweetly the soft scales of the seabed resting on my toes blocking, their pressure is calming a limbless seaweed, I am wading along the current, thoughts swept away by the tide unnoticed. The sea is before me, a looking glass into my soul and somewhere in the great expanse of ocean I can still feel it, touching and clinging, anchoring to any life it can see— so I lay dumb, the froth caressing me gently whilst the sea moves me along holding me, pulling me, leading me towards oblivion.
Illustrated by Georgia Huang
______ : The Collector Written by Marija Mrvosevic
There is little we’re allowed to say about ______, but what we can divulge may usurp your mind when least expected. Usually, it’s while you’re dreaming in the dead of night, or the buzz of day, or even when leaning your head on a shoulder, hoping for affection. ______ often finds items hidden in space. No, not the space. ______ finds said items tucked between the pockets of reality. As a collector, ______ is inherently able to reach these places, but you, even after naming yourself a collector, can never locate them. Made of strong emotion, they’re footprints left behind by your soul — whether pulled apart or warmed by the warmest of hearts. You may catch a sparkle, a glimpse of their birth, but once they fully form, you can never see them again. If you asked ______ how many pockets of reality there are, __ would shrug and say, “___’_ ____. ________ _____ _____ .” ______ has disclosed a sample of a list of items found thus far. The ratio of list-item to item-actually-found is 1:2,347. Please be informed they now belong to ___, so if you recognise your emotive states in any item, please understand that finders are absolutely keepers. 1. An _________ thumb with a purple thread around each _____ ____; place: fashion show. 2. The only other _____ in existence; slightly damaged; place: dropped in an old lab. 3. One concealed cumulonimbus the size of a ______ ant’s ____; place: the underside of ____’s car. 4. The glove that only fits those screaming at their ___; place: tree branch. 5. Barely used guttural ______ spun around a yellow feather; place: a distrustful lover’s bed. When you find yourself lost, don’t like being in love, or realise (no) work can upend your life, be kind to ______ as she emerges to collect your soulprints.
Lover Light Written by Hannah Winspear-Schillings Some say love is complacent a street lamp flickering dark gutters, rainswept pavement an old tree withering My lover’s light is nascent turning dark skies dazzling the grass, a soft green crescent the drizzle heralding spring Some say love is self-centred unhealthy, like a weed flowers cloyingly scented desire turned to greed To my lover I surrendered humble in word and deed and like a painting rendered we picnicked beneath the trees The kindly light my lover brings brightens the very soul of things
Illustrated by Rohith Sundaresa Prabhu
The Foggy Shores Written by Charlotte Waters & Lee Perkins
L Do you remember those days, those long nights arm in arm? They’d tied them behind us some slithering soaring in the cold moon chant, it was cold. And tendrils would take us, remember? Curl sway to the back wall of a cave until the first night you grabbed my arm, as we pushed with our legs and flew and flew and flew and flew and flew. See me again, stop the tremors pitching to long nights. Where did you go? But you would still give me the feeling though, wouldn’t you? When the timbers creak salt shuffles underfoot, under moonlight? When your solitude is solidarity with the promise of brine sweat rum? I hope you would, because I sway on these upper lost decks and the Ithoril Sea could still take me as it took you, the shadows. Sceadu Callouses from mast climbing each morning a new island that I can smell and see but not taste—were you cursed before? Are you cursed right now, the lingering as each corner trips you and pulls you back up, the rum bottle blow to the scurvy hammock. There’s a feeling I get, the setting fire pulling me back to the first long night. But this old spirit is chipped for leaving, wishful leaving. Leaving, leaving, leaving. Wishful summer, sand and boat moored. Does your family, that motley crew, come on vacation? I still watch for mine on the Gulf of Lune, my calls, screams whelping sobs plaster and drip against cliffs. They would still call you in the dead of night—nightshade’s under the moon now, where you wanted it, wishful wanting. From righteousness to cut throats to a cabin that I must sway myself, Alone. But you would say it’s all a little whimsical. I see Roke from gangway, Edoras on the inland run. We set away around a Lamp-Post, back of cave drowning in a new light and I’d keep running. And you’d still be lost so I sway again that darker thrum never left, beams seething swaying splinters stuck on railings that I scuff kick and fall—
Illustrated by Rose Gertsakis
of Our Bedrooms C
Are you in there? Are you okay? When you come upon the surface, its membrane chokes you awake—in increments, you drift downward, inward, return to yourself. The lamp casts a long arm of light across your roof, its centre carved out by tangled shadows. Your housemate’s voice, warm and booming, sets the wobbling room steady. Its heat doesn’t quite reach you, but, like light, breaks and scatters outward from a point. You’re so far from land you’ve forgotten the feeling of grass underfoot, of a hand in your hand. A series of knocks aggravates the still air, the shell of your body at rest. And then everything else leaks in—everything that, before, had been softened by the cupped palms, the quiet breath of your sleep. The itch of carpet against your cheek, the voices, the bright moonlight, all bundled together and newly naked. Its violence shifts your inertia. You rise toward the lamp, toward the promise of unbroken sleep—something catches your toe and you grab the nearest— Set in perpetual motion, the shadows wave their many arms. They dance in tattered dresses, made from a fabric somewhere between vapour and liquid. Some wear long strings of beads. You’ve known they were there all along, taking up space as pockets of darkness. They’ve only emerged because you’ve robbed them of something. Wandered, somnambulant, into their fellowship, only to cut a hole in the lattice of their prayers. Come on, I’ve been waiting for so long. Their features are smudged so you can’t match voice to mouth. Laughter ripples through their bodies like wind behind a curtain. You reach out with a single arm. One by one, they follow. Their minds have been chiselled to match yours, long emptied of the promise of sun, of trees, of fruit. A ball of pity rises within your stomach. Their words roll into your throat, mocking, crying out for land, for a hand to hold. Wishful singing. Singing, singing— The sand shifts under your palm, and just as soon, gives way to the coarse grip of carpet. You stumble upon something lined with plastic. Hair hanging and tangled with salt, you lean over. I’m sorry. I’ll be there soon.
Illustrated by Rose Gertsakis
on my way to uni Written by Meredith Tyler
i ride down my street and wind threatens to throw itself through me but i fight it unlike autumn’s husked leaves, which scutter under parked cars like scared cats. perhaps i look like the loneliest creature on the block, but i’m not. i can feel how my wheels touch the street; how thin yellow sunlight pricks my cold cheeks: the way mum stuck needles in pincushions. pumping legs carry me down back roads under a grey sky, same shade as nine thanksgivings ago, when i played in the school’s cold grainy sand, waiting for mum to call me home. i turn onto chapel st—rush hour. i wonder what i look like to drivers weaving past them; watch me navigate tram tracks and parallel parking cars; watch me be what i once could only dream of, my book bag a sheath for butterfly wings: watch me, mum, watch me.
Illustrated by Kitman Yeung
content warning: depression, medicine, allusion to self-harm and suicide
Broken Written by Elmira
It is odd to witness my life Preparing me for this moment All my thoughts and actions and trials and failures and efforts leading me here. Two soap bars, a face towel, a body towel. White stacked on white on a white bed. And i am a muddy, soggy self tucking limbs into this, ugh— unwelcoming neatness Only cuts here are paper cuts Only cords here are hair strands Only medication here is funnelled to you in iotas— Too little to do anything useful for an ideating mind. Same questions over and over. i go be a broken record for the system. i was a broken record before, anyways. Repeating the word “yes” Repeating the words “i love you” Repeating the word “sorry” Repeating the words “please forgive me” Repeating “i can’t do this anymore” They ask me the same questions over and over i am a broken record. They record with their scribbles. My answer is “Saturday and Sunday” My answer is “Restavit” My answer is “i felt ready” “i told you already,” “i felt ready—” “I felt ready to go.”
Illustrated by Micalah McCulloch
Dinnerguests Written by Izma Haider Supper wore a shawl of stars mother, a stole with yellow pansies The posture was superb words gleamed with rightness butterknives shone in their dishes like a well-loved swimming hole gilt on dishes took up the light butterflies shuddering where they lay The shadows became deeper Someone had lit candles it made all the difference Exeunt I surrender to bed appealing to stomach pain too much cream in the bread pudding But the lungs swell with perfume almost burst with mallow, styrax, sweet rush breathing from collarbones and breast-pockets of travellers, performers, men who had once lived in the country, women with only brothers, sailors, sailors! What if we stay? naive asked The wise smiled and smoothed their hair The night had been realised with nothing to be gained, all lost Not too much cream, but fattened on beauty came away from the table murmuring like fraying threads Oh, we like to be anthropomorphic? let’s be anthropomorphic Did you hear me? Too much cream I said —Mother, gauche, anachronistic and peeling off stockings Her moustache the only thing catching the light Too loud, radiating heat, fixing conversation like a bubble in glass The stench drives me to the balcony Her only virtue that endures is through memory An evening, many evenings ago, poured across pushed-together tables like molasses Guests swaying each to each over sweetmeats revise her body at the table as sentiment wrapped in shawls like a burial laudanum head and a red string taut around her middle till finally her head slackened and back retreated, with golden eyes on her hair. Again! Once again, with feeling! which one? So this must be hell where good opinion rests on salt and vapour We forgive inclement weather! Light a fire and dance! Mind you look pleasant, apple-eyed and starry cheek Do we look ruddy in the light, or all the more sallow? Would it be a sin? I think so This must be a special hell A backwards glance or misplaced sigh is branded into pure fury or lust, where someone lighting candles makes all the difference, where neither love nor wrath is earned, and all, invented
Illustrated by Torsten Strokirch
Written by Joel Keith
Three o’clock, maybe, saw Henry today. Friend (?) from highschool. Thought: am so lonely, should try hang out w/ someone, assuage loneliness. Did not work—just spent day observing someone else’s loneliness, remained lonely myself.
Getting ahead of self… Three o’clock, got to Henry’s house. First thing could see inside: HENRY RICH. Well, technically, Henry parents rich. Windows, ocean view, floor-ceiling; marble countertops, massive TV, real leather couches. Other first thing, seen at same time: HENRY LIFE MESS. Rubbish everywhere, weird sour smell, dirty clothes on (real leather) couch. Kind of rich where person forgets life/body processes exist, begins exhibiting symptoms of poverty—would not look out of place in tent under bridge somewhere. Second thing noticed (or, third numerically, second sequentially, as first two simultaneous): Henry drunk. Took moment to notice because his speech not slurred (Henry good fake sober, had to fake lots to parents in highschool, now with parents gone guess he just faking sober to himself, to me, maybe to God). But no, yes, Henry drunk, all signs there: mostempty vodka bottle on (marble) counter; eyes bloodshot; wide-mouth smile at nothing. Smile, really, tell: could always tell Henry drunk because when Henry fake sober pretend he happy, but actually sober Henry always miserable. Chitchat made, v boring: how been, how life, job?, girlfriend?, etc. (Henry fine, okay, no, kind of). Eventually got talking about highschool. Henry like: Remember year 8 camp, fat kid, what name, Jamie, haha, Jamie huffing up hill pushing bike behind group, falling into sand? Haha, what Jamie doing now? (I tell him: GP, married). Or: Remember hot chick, year 11, the, uh, uh—Anna!—how Josh had crush on Anna all year 11, never said anything, just started sweating whenever she nearby, sweated all through shirt, haha, ohmygod man, fucking Josh, man (incidentally—Josh: unemployed, Anna: married to Jamie). By now, we few drinks in (well, I few, he many), sky dark, and Henry suggest, hey, old school just couple blocks away, why not visit?, and so then there we are, clambering over chest-high gate w/ NO TRESPASSING sign, laughing/swearing like teenagers, and I’m all, “what if there are cameras”, but I’m laughing too, I don’t really care. And: Woah, the canteen is way smaller than I remember Oh god, I remember this classroom, Shakespeare quotes on whiteboard And here’s our table near the cold bubbler the one with the stream of water that shot over the balcony if you held all the way We used to shoot each other when they walked by and fill chip bags with water and throw them at the ground below and one time Amy got caught water-chip-bag in hand by Ms Anderson in that beige flowery dress and ran all the way across school and then I guess she ran all the way across the country, haha
We didn’t even make it out the suburb
And I just put my arm around him, we look at the stars, which, weird to see from school.
Illustrated by Maddy Cronn
content warning: allusions to domestic violence, blood, death
Stifling Written by Helena Pantsis Summer dust settled on the indolent, blue and fair, springing ridiculous and shooting through something. The lilies of the valley sang in open letters, petals closing in on us as we drank iced tea, unsweetened, on the dusky rotting porch. It was when I began to collect dirt that I learned of it, between the frantic blue lumps that stopped scarring Mum’s face. I was taught to remember darkness, how it snaked into our bedrooms with all ten fingers held wide and limber. The lorikeet’s whistling song woke us abruptly, with Mum echoing in the kitchen I am afraid. It was autumn, and the music slithered through windows in rings of smoke. From the countryside, Grandma stoked the lawn—her face faded and yellowing after dark soil. A grave woman, she said to keep quiet and we did. Mum’s eyes said child, we are done for, and winter never came. The grasses turned black and tall in the orchid heat somewhere near the year’s end. We came and left by the money which changed hands, red-ripened by the apple harvest on old hills where things used to grow. Grandma’s eyes became milky and fish-like, planting stories in town with turned wrists; we were friends with our neighbours then. On Wednesday, we stayed indoors all day pretending we weren’t there. Shadows ran long down the curtained hallways, and we, goldfish yearning for a shaft of sunlight, climbed, twisted, contorted under windowpanes. I had my father’s hair, and my mother never kissed my head—not even then, hunkered down with my eyes welled with tears. The sun sliced us sideways while we held the air hostage in our chests. Mum said don’t make a sound. The summer returned, and Grandma called Mum hysteric. I played with mounds of worms in welters of dried leaves. The earth festered like congealed blood and bugs filled the gutter of my throat. Mum’s face was painted and gossamer by the door, a rabbit in her ribcage, ticking, pounding, and her jaw clicking. Grandma’s nails kept my jagged elbow in hand, and I pieced the slabs together between Mum’s swollen stance and the car in the driveway. Mum made no sound, and she met the steps stumbling. Grandma yelled at me for acting and making jokes; I was a jester while Mum held court. She would kick me outside, saying she couldn’t bear to look at my face. I liked to stand in the middle of the road and stare down until the street converged in on itself. I’d stand for as long as I could and listen for the rumble, then I’d slap my feet against the bitumen to make a quick escape from the oncoming car. We had too many chairs in our house after Grandma died. I slept through the wake, but I heard my aunts ask where Dad was in the way old prune-mouthed gossips do. Mum held me and cried through the night. We didn’t call that place home anymore, and even though the backyard was dirty and I never saw my friends anymore, I didn’t want to go. I supposed I didn’t have to worry about where I’d play— Grandma always said the dirt followed me where I went anyway. Still, Mum smacked me when I clung to the front door. The motel rooms glowed with neon signs. The seasons stopped changing. We didn’t live anywhere now, we lived everywhere now and Mum was afraid of every new car in the lot.
Illustrated by Michelle Chan
Written by Emma-Grace Clarke
Face of Silver “Five ‘ours it will take, I reckon. I’ll charge you thirty for the service and fifty for the parts.” The magnifying lens made his muddy eyes bulbous, beetle-like and curious. He was enraptured by the watch, glued to the metal with a practised eye, while his gnarled, liver-spotted hands were gentle with the tarnished brass. “Fifty quid seems a bit steep for parts,” I said. The lint in my wallet stared back at me. His head jerked up, “Can’t be ‘elped darl. I ‘aven’t seen a watch like this in a long time, gotta get stuff out of storage to fix this.” His voice was a tumble of rocks, and his bushy eyebrows creased when he held the piece out to me. I didn’t take it. I hadn’t even looked at it for at least five years; it sat in the bottom of the third draw in the kitchen next to the whisk. It was a small thing, its face was blank; only one small golden stripe marked twelve o’clock. The hands were delicate spindles that curled from the middle in golden spirals. “Alright, just…” the sigh snuck from my lips, the little traitor, “give me a moment.” That week was going to be a lentils week according to my miserly bank account. “So ‘oose watch is this?” the man asked, rolling tools out on the wooden benchtop. “It was my grandfather’s,” I said. “Ah,” the man looked up, eyes droopy and his jowls all a-wobble. “Sorry for your loss.” “It was a long time ago. We weren’t very close. I guess I’ll be back in five hours?” I knew my smile was tight. “Yes, yes.” The man was distracted with his tiny tools, which waved half-heartedly, as if bidding me farewell. I turned on my heel and walked through the shop, admiring the sundry remnants of time and its pieces mounted upon rows of shelves—all ticking in harmony with my strides. A whisper of “Slowly slowly catchy monkey” hissed along the air, and I turned to the man who was hunched over the table like a crooked hook, the watch clicking under his ministrations. “What was that?” “Seen this before?” he held the watch out again, his hands shaking. Curiosity got the best of me. I ambled back and looked at the latch he had opened from the dented back. Inside was a tiny photograph, tinged brown and yellow with age, of a young man in uniform. There was a smile hinting at his lips, but he didn’t look at the camera—his gaze focused out of the frame. “I haven’t… may I?” I extended my hand to take the watch, the cool metal smooth against my fingertips. “Pretty rare design here,” he peered down at the watch. “See this engravin’ here… bit clumsy but the words are clear: ‘Never falter, never fall my silver linin’’. Looks like there was someone your grandfather was rather fond of.” “Looks like it.”
Illustrated by Maddy Cronn
Rude Vibes at Club Retro Written by Charlie Joyce Two large men in front of us in the line are greying on the sides of their heads. They are excited. “You know, I’m annoyed I decided against the Hawaiian shirt,” I chirp up, starting a conversation. “I started putting one on, but I just thought with these grey clouds…” “All the more reason to wear one!” exclaims the one on the left with the almost-mullet. He is wearing a garish tiki shirt. “Plus, we’re celebrating.” “Oh?” “Yeah, it’s dads’ night out!” the other one smirks. Matching shirts. His head looks a bit like a rockmelon. “Dads’ night out? At Club Retro?” “You know it. We googled the best clubs for old people, and this was the first result!” A club for old people? We were here for a 21st birthday kick-ons… A bunch of lads strut past our queue. “Oi Jimmy, this is where you should go if you wanna pick up MILFs!” one shouts. They cackle. What is this place? I go and join the rest of our party at the back of the queue. We scan QR codes, wonder whether we’ll be asked to wear masks, grimace and pay the compulsory $20 fee for entry after 8:30pm (trust me, it isn’t worth it). Finally, we heave up the stairs. We’re in—but also completely sober. And no matter how many suspiciously sticky shot glasses of tequila you throw back, an uninebriated first impression of Club Retro is something you never really shake. There’s a strange mixture of characters on the floor at 10:45pm: hens’ parties, divorcees, men with goatee-beards half a dozen inches long, a healthy sprinkling of the sort of people that shout at each other on trams, extras from The Sopranos, that sort of thing. The sound system is so deafening that my ears begin to ring. ‘Come on Eileen’ plays, and then
Illustrated by Alice Jakobus
five minutes later, plays again. I can feel the too-ra-loo-rye-ay in my ribcage. A smoke machine occasionally splutters and coughs into action to remind everyone it’s there and smells weird. It is impossible to shake a sense of impending doom. I try to dance, but half our party’s hearts aren’t in it. Someone bumps me. I turn around—and suddenly my vision is eclipsed by someone’s aunt grinding on Sopranos Extra #7. She seems very enthusiastic. He grunts in appreciation. I turn to my left: two tram-creatures eating each other’s necks. I quickly turn to the right: a woman in her late 50’s starts making eyes at me! She has the aura of a pool lifeguard who would scold you for being on the wrong side of a lane rope. I turn back to my friends. They aren’t dancing so much as rhythmically bending their knees. I need more to drink. Maybe that will help with the Fear this Hieronymus Bosch scene is presenting. I order a drink for my friend and I, and begin my odyssey back to the other side of the dance floor. I duck out of the way as a cyclops monster makes a beeline for the toilet. The music accelerates. Other people’s sweat begins to soak my shirt. I stumble through, tossed about as if caught in a breaking surf wave. I push up for air, gasping a quick breath before being pushed back below the surface again. It engulfs me. Eyes and teeth gleam in the dark, illuminated green by the lasers rhythmically piercing the room. I duck just in time as a bat swoops overhead. It screeches. I think I screech back. My heartbeat is increasing, and my breathing is pained. ‘Sweet Dreams’ by Eurythmics pulses through my arteries. A primary-school-librarian type flounders against me, before streaming back somewhere else. Nearly there. If the ancient Polynesians were able to navigate the vastness of the Pacific Ocean using only the stars, I can find my way through this scrum. Due west, and then a little north with the current. Trust in the techniques. The sea pushes me back to the group, and I stagger out dripping. I hand the drink to my friend, and he thanks me. “No worries.” I turn back to survey the environment. It remains apocalyptic—and it is still filling up. We will never make it out of here alive. This is the way the world ends. This is the way the world ends. This is the way the world ends. Not with a bang—but with Cyndi Lauper.
Illustrated by Alice Jakobus
Missing Noah Written by Jessica Faulkner I have tied a knot around the horizon and am pulling it towards me. My car is on a tightrope road and Noah sits quietly in the back seat. His eyes are fixed upwards as a flock of birds passes by. Grey animals; they etch into the clouds in the half-light. I know Noah can see them. It’s the way he’s moving his eyes, craning his head to look backwards, pressing his nose up against the glass until the insects outside can feel the warmth of his breath. I should have cleaned the car before we left. The passenger seat is littered with a stranger’s crumbs, smudges streak the windows, and the steering wheel needs a wipe. I catch Noah’s eyes in the rear-view mirror and smile at him. “How are we doing back there?” “Good,” he nods as he speaks, taking his nose away from the glass. “Can we stop for raspberries? I’m hungry. When will we be there?” “There’s a sandwich and some crackers in your backpack. Vegemite and cheese with the crusts cut off. It won’t be long.” He perks up a little as he unzips the container. It will keep him distracted as we drive past the raspberry farm—not that he needs distracting. He’s such a compliant child. So easy to love. Although I keep my eyes on the road, I can still see the rich canvas of my home rolling past. The fields are so green—I once heard a man describe them as painful. He told me how he had to shield his eyes from the brightness of the grass and the trees and the wonder. How he had to squint to see the dew sliding down each blade of grass, the mountains dormant in the distance. I pull over, careful not to brake too fast with these bald tyres on the gravel edge of the road. I wrench on the handbrake and swivel in my seat to face Noah. “Okay, buddy, finished that sandwich?” He nods, his mouth full of bread and his cheeks a vegemite finger painting. I pull a tissue out of my pocket and lean over the back of my seat to clean his face. I hear my phone buzz and rummage around in my bag. A message from Noah’s father appears on the screen. I don’t bother reading it. Instead, I get out of the car, walk around it, turn off the phone and throw it into the scrub. Noah looks at me quizzically, but I offer him a chocolate biscuit that we baked together yesterday and soon he seems to forget. “Right, time for our adventure.” I see him smile. I get back in the car and start the engine again. Singing and laughter trickle through the cab as I drive into the city—if you can call it that. Just a big country town, really. We drive through the streets until the silos dwarf the car, arriving at the docks a little after seven. I watch Noah watching the water. Soon, we will be out in the rise and fall of the ocean. I will have to hold him in my arms to stop his mind swimming through the sea, searching for the kraken beneath its depths. I drive up to the booth and roll my window down, squinting at the man inside. “Do you have your ticket?” He sounds disinterested. “Here.” I give him my boarding pass and wait for him to nod his approval. “Drive through onto Deck 5, park your car as directed, and leave your vehicle. You can take a bag each into the cabin. Here’s your room key. It’s number 8012.” I smile and nod, careful not to show my face too directly. As I drive the car onto the boat, I can see Noah’s eyes turn to glass. They are a mirror of the ocean. I quickly point out the men getting ready to tie the cars down. Meltdown averted, I find my parking spot and shut off the engine. I reach into the glovebox and take out the cash-filled envelope. I tuck it into the back of my jeans while keeping my eyes on Noah. If he dived into the sea he would sink down, down into its depths like a lead sinker. I wonder if he would close his eyes or if he would look at the fish and
Illustrated by Nina Hughes
I pick up his backpack and sling it over one shoulder. Gently, I take his little hand in mine and lead him from the car, across the deck and up the stairs.
the seaweed and wait for his feet to hit the sandy bottom.
“Can we explore the ship?” “We need to find our cabin. Here, you help. Look at the first number. It’s an 8. We need to find Deck 8.” “But I want to find the captain and the playroom first.” “No, Noah, we talked about this. It’s straight to the cabin.” “But you said we were going on an adventure, Emmie.” I stop and pick him up to sit on my hip. “And now I say we’re going to the cabin, Noah. No arguing.” My lips brush against his ear as I speak ever so quietly. No doubt he can feel my breath worming into his brain. He wriggles and starts kicking at my shins, tears beginning to stain his cheeks. But his arms are easy to cover with mine. I hold him back as I weave our way through the narrow passages of the ship. It is strange how the closer we get to the sea, the further inland I feel on this travelling island. It is a paradox hotel. People who pass us in the rabbit warren corridors don’t even seem to notice Noah’s distress. They are far too concerned with finding their own rooms to see something as small as a child, whimpering in my arms. We reach cabin 8012 and I manage to wrangle out the room key while still holding onto Noah. I drag him inside and close the door behind us. The water has sprayed up from below and trickles across the porthole. Tears down the cheeks of this great red machine. The grey birds fly across the sky, circling the ship. I will abandon this green land for Noah. I will leave it in the rear-view mirror of a stranger’s car bought with his mother’s money. Noah looks at me with his giant, telescope eyes and sees a girl in the back of a painting as she steps outside its frame. He has no idea what I am doing for him. The sacrifices I am making for him. “Where are we going, Emmie? Where are you taking me?” “To the mainland. Wouldn’t you like that? We can build a life together. Just you and me.” Noah sits silently as his chest heaves with the rocking of the ship. Finally, he calms himself enough to speak. “I-I think I’ll miss my mum, Emmie. If we go on an adventure. I think I’ll miss my mum. Maybe we should go back home.” I scoop him into my lap, clutch him in my arms and rock him gently. “No, don’t worry my love, you won’t miss your mum. Not after tomorrow, or the next day, or the next.” His shoulders move up and down; he wheezes like a balloon with a hole in it. He finds it hard to speak between breaths. “But Mummy will miss me, Emmie. I know she will.” I shake my head and squeeze him tight. “No, Noah. Your mum won’t miss you. I know she won’t.” His hair feels soft between my fingers. His skin peach-sweet like a cherub’s. He is aware of my heart in its bone cage beating against the bars. “She won’t miss you at all, Noah. She won’t even know you’re gone.”
Illustrated by Nina Hughes
content warning: references to miscarriages/stillbirths, child death
The Lake House Written by Hannah Winspear-Schillings Polidori, Clairmont and Byron did not acknowledge her sitting there. Percy at least squeezed her hand, but the gesture had such a negligible effect on her that it might not have occurred at all. No amount of hand squeezing could melt the ice that had pervaded her since her child’s passing, but she squeezed his hand back. That seemed to placate him. They were huddled around the fire that night, in a room composed more of shadows than light. The windows were misty with their breath and rain fell relentlessly outside. In later years, she would only have to close her eyes and remember the sound of countless tiny fingernails tapping on the window panes. Byron was holding forth about the supernatural. Percy adored Byron and was quick on his heels with ripostes. Polidori was a doctor by trade, yet held his end of the conversation amicably. Claire Clairmont said nothing because she had nothing to say. “In medical school we examined foetuses,” Polidori said excitedly. Percy’s interested expression collapsed like a dead flower. He was endlessly fascinated by the theological implications of ruins, of memory, of the dead. Polidori, ever the realist, disagreed. The dead are gone. They cannot be brought back. Undeterred, Polidori chattered on. “Notwithstanding the question of the soul, the process of gestation is quite remarkable. The womb promotes life, and is clearly an embodiment of the life-giving process—” “I myself have carried many corpses,” said Mary. Finally circumspect, Byron looked askance at the Shelleys. Clairmont simply drank her wine and watched. “William will be fine,” Percy said softly, as though his breath might disturb the room. A victim of the mould and the damp and the unceasing rain, their son had lain prone in their room for the last three days. The air was so cold that it was like breathing through gauze. Her own throat felt as though somebody had clenched a fist around it. “Perhaps writing will provide a pleasant diversion from your troubles, madam,” Byron said, his words uncharacteristically thoughtful. She thought that perhaps Byron felt sorry for her, but when he canted his eyes maliciously and grinned at her husband, she knew then that Byron truly did not care. Far more important to him was the opportunity to bait Percy. Even Polidori was grinning now. “A competition? Shall we perhaps expand on our conversation regarding the supernatural?” She ignored them and stared through the window. The lake had thrown forth a blanket of mist, and Geneva slumbered like a watercolour painting beyond the cut glass. If my son dies. She forced herself to think it, even as it caused her nails to stab her palms. That was how she thought of her body lately—a series of disconnected parts on pulleys and levers, a charnel house amalgamation of festering limbs, and organs that did not work as they should. For that had to be the cause, hadn’t it? Why else would all her children succumb to death, if there wasn’t something inside her that was deeply rotten. Deeply wrong.
Illustrated by Rachel Ko
If she could fashion herself a new body and be as buxom and young as the gormless Claire Clairmont, life may have been different. But she was aware that what she lacked in vitality she made up for in intelligence. She also knew that it was this intelligence that doomed her. Percy had often commented thus. She thought too much, she worried too much, she predicted too much. “You are like the witches on the heath,” he had said. “Nothing but gloom and ominous portents.” It was a portent, perhaps, that she glimpsed through the window. The rain cast a muted grey pallor on the darkness, making the figure appear little more than an indistinct black shadow. Only his face gleamed white as he looked up at her. The rain was falling on him, but he ignored it, standing motionless with his arms crossed over his chest. It was William, indisputably older. Even at a distance, her child’s resemblance to her father was uncanny. She ran for the door. The figure darted ahead of her and plunged into the night. The wind lashed the rain against her legs, whistling through every gap it could find in her coat and splattering against her face. She chased the figure through the night until she reached the shore and could see it no more. She did not know how long she stood sobbing. The cold wind hummed pensively, and once again she thought she saw something—a figure slipping through the long grass. “No.” Her voice came as a moan. “You’re not here, you’re not—” At the edge of the lake, she suddenly felt racked with pain. She no longer cared about anything except the empty space inside her that had formed when her children had… Died. She forced herself to think the word, to breathe life into the truth that haunted her. Following that truth was the roiling current of nerves, the anxiety that gripped her heart. She wished then that there was some way to safeguard her children against the world. A hand touched her shoulder. She turned and found herself face-to-face with her husband. He slowly wound his arms around her. His smile was brilliant. “William woke up,” said Percy. “He’ll be alright, Mary.” She looked out across the water. The trees, the rocks, the shoreline and the boats on the lake all wavered through a heavy mist of rain, blurring into the distant blue line where the water met the horizon. Somewhere, far away, some creature howled—its outcry long and plaintive against the black stillness of the night. “I think,” the words tasted strange on her tongue, “I think I might have a story. For the competition.” Percy smiled at her and took her hand. Together, they began the long walk back to the lake house.
Illustrated by Rachel Ko
COLUMN 01 78
‘The Pier Review’ by Torsten Strokirch
content warning: references to sexual misconduct in Parliament
The Size 9 and The Frigid One Written by Marija Mrvosevic There was once a young lass, aged 21, hair in a bun and of lean body—size 9. She searched six continents for a mate handsome as rock stars and smart as philosophers of yore. But all she found was a forgotten pop icon and a posh cunt. With only the seventh land left—a land as frigid as her best friend— our young lass despaired. She plucked her brow, stuffed her bra, and vehemently stayed off carbs. No luck. The frigid one exclaimed, “Fuck me instead!”
Our lass tossed a smile. “Why not?”
And they slept soundly moments after.
Deputy Prime Minister a woman all along Written by Mushu After 12 years of service, Deputy Prime Minister Mulan Hua has revealed that she is, in fact, a woman. She explained, “It all started in the Morrison years. The situation in Canberra simply couldn’t have been any worse for women at the time. I said ‘screw it’.” “Nobody suspected. Which meant no upskirting, no harassment, no daily microaggressions about my competence. Basically I could actually do my fucking job.” She also apologised for any suggestion that women needed to impersonate men for power. She quipped, “It didn’t get me to the bloody top anyway.”
Illustrated by Georgia Huang
For and Against: Vampire Romances For
by Christina Savopoulos
by Katie Ellul
In Favor of Bloodsucking, Brooding, Hundred-year-old Vamps
The vampire romance is in itself vampiric, in that a shiny exterior conceals something that should have died long ago. While many of us have considered it our moral duty to see this trope buried, it can always be counted upon to crawl out of the grave and sell millions of copies.
Vampire romances have indeed dominated pop culture. Maybe it’s the allure of blood, or the hundred-year age gap? Initially, I couldn’t understand the attraction. Who’d want to pursue a relationship where you couldn’t eat garlic?! Surely, that’d be a deal breaker. But, after watching Spike and Angel vie over Buffy, all the crucifixes fell into place. The impossibility of the relationship makes for captivating viewing, and I’m sure everyone on my block could hear me screaming in shock as the plot unfolded. Not only do vampire romances make for exciting viewing, they also allow for heated debates. I’m sure every Buffy fan has their own long-winded theories about whether a vampire can be morally ‘good’, even without a soul. These relationships can be weird, but only if you’re reminded that a centuries-old vamp is dating a high schooler. Otherwise, boy, is it entertaining. Vampire couples may never have a picnic date or an ‘Instagramperfect’ relationship but they’ll most definitely rule at history trivia. So, I’ll happily sit back, eat an overflowing plate of garlic bread and love every minute of them.
This column falls within the aftermath of Stephenie Meyer’s latest excretion, Midnight Sun, which revisits the plot of the first Twilight novel from Edward’s perspective. Once again, Meyer has filled in the blanks of a story template and attempted to pass it off as an original work. In reality, the ready-to-eat (bite) vampire trope has eased her passage to success by requiring almost no writing ability. The allure of vampires, as established by literary canon, and the paradox of immortality are just begging to feed vacuous relationship conflict. Still worse, at the heart of this trope is the fetishisation of unequal power dynamics in hetero relationships. Take away the vampirism and you get 50 Shades of Grey. So, don’t be fooled by the pretty package. At its core, the vampire romance is a patriarchal relic which should be left to biodegrade in literary landfill.
Excluding Twilight, of course–I have some standards.
Illustrated by Tereza Ljubicic
RETRO PLAYLIST Complied by Mark Yin & Joanne Zou
1. Chain of Fools - Aretha Franklin 2. Signed, Sealed, Delivered (I’m Yours) - Stevie Wonder 3. Ain’t No Mountain High Enough - Marvin Gaye, Tammi Terrell 4. Stop! In The Name Of Love - The Supremes 5. I Want You Back - The Jackson 5 6. Got to Be Real - Cheryl Lynn 7. Best of My Love - The Emotions 8. Bad Girls - Donna Summer 9. Big Yellow Taxi - Joni Mitchell 10. Dreams - Fleetwood Mac 11. Take a Chance on Me - ABBA 12. Endless Love - Lionel Ritchie, Diana Ross 13. I’m Every Woman - Chaka Khan 14. Xanadu - Olivia Newton-John 15. Causing a Commotion - Madonna 16. How Will I Know - Whitney Houston 17. New Attitude - Patti LaBelle 18. Open Your Heart - Madonna 19. Got to Be Certain - Kylie Minogue 20. Take on Me - a-ha 21. Girls Just Want to Have Fun - Cyndi Lauper 22. Don’t stop Believin’ - Journey 23. Just Like Heaven - The Cure 24. Just Can’t Get Enough - Depeche Mode 25. Working Class Man - Jimmy Barnes 26. Linger - The Cranberries 27. Faith - George Michael 28. Hold On - Wilson Phillips 29. Girls and Boys - Blur 30. Vision of Love - Mariah Carey
Illustrated by Jasmine Pierce
UMSU and the Media Office are located in the city of Melbourne, on the land of the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nation. We pay our respects to their elders—past, present and emerging—and acknowledge that the land we are on was stolen and sovereignty was never ceded.