issue #04 PARADISE
THE IN BRIEF TEAM HEADS OF COMMITTEE
Britt Myers Jack Kenchington-Evans
EDITORS Brendan Corney Caitlin McGrane Kai Tanter Jessica Testro
ONLINE MANAGER Kai Tanter
Caitlin McGrane (Manager) Jack Beeby
FUNDRAISING MANAGER Jessica Testro
Chris Clarke Jeremiah Thomas Brown Kit Malone Elena Mujkic Jimmy Nuttall Mikaela Oldham Mitch Walder Jemma Wiseman Scott Woodard
SPECIAL THANKS TO OUR GUEST COPY EDITORS: Lois Collins
Victoria Smith Amanda Summons Jacob Thomas
Alan Weedon Alexander Lewis Avril Good Benjamin Smith Brendan Corney Broede Carmody Caitlin Mcgrane Emmet O’Cuana Matthew Gardiner Monica Karpinski Nithya Iyer
CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS:
ISSUE #05: ENTROPY Noun
It’s a lesser known fact that Canberra, our fair capital city, was quite nearly called “Paradise” when its name was being selected in 1913. was meant to be the happy median between Melbourne and Sydney, the two cities contesting the right to be the capital. Unable to please everybody and combine the cities of Australia into some kind of Frankenstein concoction (“Sydmeladperbisho” was another serious submission for the name), we cut the baby in half. Canberra was positioned between the two contenders, yet rivalry between Melbourne and Sydney has persisted for over a century now. Whether the manufacture of the paradisiacal capital city was a success, or if we should have chosen one of the existing metropolises remains in question. This overwhelming subjective element is the most striking thing about arguments surroundto pin down. But it’s time to bring the concept into the light. We at in Brief are here to take those niggly-wiggly concepts and lay their facets bare. We’re here to wring out your brain, pump it full of sophisticated thoughts and images from cerebellum to cerebral cortex and then wrap it back up into its various lobes. We’ve been doing it for over a year now, and in that time in Brief has gained a substantial all corners of the earth into our recent Pozible campaign where we raised enough to print 1000 copies for the next four issues. We cannot express enough thanks to our friends and family for their generosity in helping to keep our little magazine running! This particular issue is a delectable fruit on the literary tree that is in Brief so far. Not only is it classier than ever, but we
a gradual decline into disorder. The tendency towards chaos and the dissolution of forms. 2. A measure of randomness and disarray. Tends to increase over time, so that all matter and energy in the universe drift towards a state Steph Baxter have two feature-length articles that breach the traditional dam of one thousand words and spillover to two thousand! in Brief’s not so brief anymore. And a good thing too, otherwise it would hardly be able to do justice to the intricate discussions surrounding the theme. Paradise eludes not only from the burdensome view that paradise is simply unattainable. One of the most visible political slogans today is Obama’s “Hope”, which is arguably just an acknowledgement that it is the nature of humanity to strive towards perfection but never reach it. Modern pessimism makes it easy to appreciate the threat of dystopia. We’ve escaped the muchhyped apocalypse of 2012. However, it doesn’t seem to be a question of whether the Mayans were right, but how long until they are. The record-breaking heatwave in Australia earlier spell freedom from the climate crisis. With such grim discourse overshadowing the future, the path to utopia seems ever more obscure. However, it is clear that “Paradise” cannot be created merely by slapping the name onto something, and the compulsion to do so
in Brief is funded and organised by a committee who help to edit, design and publish each issue.
This coming issue, writers and artists are invited to delve into chaos and dissolution. Gather your thoughts before they disperse into silence, trace the course of decay, shore fragments against its and celebrate the process of disintegration. Critically analyse societal structures and question whether order is always desirable. Entropy cal. Consider the failure of essential systems – whether social, natural or cybernetic. Let your ideas coalesce into argument, and explain how decline can be slowed or reversed. Which forms of change amount to progress, and which are elements of degradation? Evoke the struggle to search for the forces which tear them apart. Explore the breakdown of meaning, matter and communication. Compose accolades to order, anarchy or emptiness. Erosion, disease, and thermodynamics are all up for discussion. Allow your mind to wander the limits of the theme, cept of entropy provokes. Keep an eye on our website and Facebook for more details. We accept submissions of up to 1000 words. If you need more space, send us a pitch for one of our 2000 word feature article spots. These spots are limited though so get your ideas along to us quickly!
ABOUT IN BRIEF Formed in 2012, in Brief is a free quarterly magazine that publishes thought-provoking writing and artwork. Each issue is themed, encouraging contributors to direct their ideas towards a particular, yet broad area of enquiry. in Brief supports stylistic diversity and the creative presentation of ideas. Our emphasis on brevity challenges contributors to express their ideas with clarity and consideration.
3. Inevitable and steady deterioration of a system or society.
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ISLAND Sam Drummond
FRESH PAINT Nithya Iyer
MANGO SEASON Broede Carmody
DISPIRIT IN UTOPIA
TOAST Alan Weedon
#FILTERMYLIFE Monica Karpinski
TREKKING TO UNDISCOVERED COUNTRIES Emmet O’Cuana
FEATURE ARTIST Liam Dewey
CENTREFOLD Ying Wang
THE ARTIST Benjamin Smith
MAN UP Brendan Corney
REDUCED TO DUST Avril Good
DESIRE IN THE GARDENS OF MILTON AND MARVEL Alexander Lewis
THE MYSTICISM OF THE ‘HONEYMOON PERIOD’ Caitlin McGrane
ROSES Scott Woodard
THE DECADE AUSTRALIA LOST FAITH Louis Dai
THE GIRL IN DARKNESS Scott Woodard
EDEN RAVAGED Derrick Krusche
HOME Benjamin Smith
ISLAND Sam Drummond
There’s a song that laments that “in man’s evolution he crea chance and I’d be taking off my clothes and living in the jungle.”
lion. One in Fiji for the bargain price of $1.3 million. And ered’ until recently. That one was $8 million.
Putting aside the pre-‘misogyny speech’ era lyrics, these were the basis for a harebrained teenage dream that, like the apple
We had learnt to dream big, though. And divided by four, any sum seemed more realistic.
The four of us met very early on in primary school. We were all from very different backgrounds, but status and genealogy are not things you take into account when all you want is to hit a ball up against a wall with the other kids. Such is the beauty of the state school system. Circumstances and family wishes allocated us to four different high schools, but the weekends and holidays were put aside for shenanigans. Shenanigans and more ball games. Every week, we would invent a new skill, scheme or scam. But mostly, it was just a new sham. that in reality needed instruments to the instruments that in reality needed to be banned, any idea was followed through until there was no idea anymore. Then came the ‘Island Fund’. These moments of brilliance cannot and should not be credited to one person alone.
We would make a fund that would eventually get us to our goal, but there would have to be rules set down. These were not rules for saving. No, they were rules for the foregone conclusion for our tropical retirement paradise. We would each have a quarter of the land.
could all get cryogenically frozen. The years have continued without a cryogenics lab in sight. Since the creation of the island fund, we have experienced the unfortunate phenomenon of reality. We have all found our bodacious babes, but it is doubtful they are keen on moving to complete isolation any time soon. the same time for a solitary month. In that month, we were in the same room just once.
What about partners? We all planned to have most bodacious babes at our sides by then. So they would be allowed.
The Island Fund has increased to $461.67, but island real estate is increasing at a greater rate. As are sea levels, which might render any purchase a set for Waterworld II.
Kids? None of us had thought about that, but we knew there was a chance they would exist. In the end, it was decided kids would be considered “visitors” to the island, and would only be given temporary protection visas.
As the years progress, it is not going to become easy to survive from day to day without the modern day luxuries to which we narian currently battling to stay on Restoration Island off the
Laws? We would make it up as we went, but it would all work out. So it was settled. $100. When I say “each”, I mean 3 out of 4. There was one party less than convinced that the attic was the best place to invest his money.
But the dream lives on. We would need to make a lot of money in a short space of time for it to come true, but it’s always in the back of our minds. Many methods of moneymaking have been bandied around, from more traditional investment methods, to public appeals, to pyramid schemes, to putting it all on red.
We went around to parents and neighbours asking for dona-
There is still the youthful possibility that one day we will have that island paradise.
I stumbled upon a website that boasted “Islands For Sale”.
Incredibly, we found people willing to make a contribution.
And we’ll sit in the trees and eat bananas all day.
And it offered just that – ocean-surrounded real estate of various sizes from around the world.
For years, that money sat in that roof, until I eventually convinced the others that we could get this thing called “interest”. I had just seen an early Futurama bank account has $4.3 billion after earning interest on the 93 cents he had 1000 years ago.
Just like an apeman.
But it was me.
They weren’t exactly what a teenager would call “cheap”. My idea of affordable was three dim sims for 80 cents at the local milk bar.
Since the creation of the island fund, we have experienced the unfortunate phenomenon of reality.
FRESH PAINT Nithya Iyer
MANGO SEASON Broede Carmody
back after New Years were treated to fresh walls and paint fumes swimming out through reception and following us back into the cubicles. Everyone is complaining about the smell, waving their hands by their noses and raising eyebrows in communal acknowledgment of how bothersome the odour is. I myself am drawn to the passage. Inhaling and exhaling as I walk until I hit the far corner, where the draught and humidity combine to give me a solid dose. The scent of the eggshell walls perspiring in mid-summer heat blurs my thoughts and makes me forget that I am at work. closer to the sign: “Wet paint”. Maybe, but not wet enough, and I have to lean in close to catch what I’m after- whatever it is that causes me to close my eyes for a few moments and try and suspend the smell in my nostrils so that as it evaporates it transports me to the place I was, where I smelled that smell, and I was feeling so good. In India they paint houses in pastel colours: baby pink and powder blue, pistachio green and light tangerine like sherbet. There is always some new apartment block or villa getting a fresh dollop. The concrete structures, having looked dark and grey for so many months as they were built, suddenly look alive and fresh, like giant desserts rising bulbously upon the street and smiling bashfully after hiding in the shadows all that time. I never understood the insistence on painting them such light colours when the pollution and dirt invariably tainted the coat in just a few short weeks. However, nothing says “I’ve got a beautiful new house” like a beautiful new house in peach parfait. Rama patchai – the green of Lord Rama’s skin. I would wake up to the whistle of the percolator, oily skinned and bleary eyed, in a house full of light. Cheesy voices from sounds of life and labour already warmed to the day outside. One of the biggest perks of going to India as a child was Patti coffee – Grandma percolated coffee ground with chicory that for some reason was deemed okay for me to drink as a 10 year old. My mum grew up drinking coffee and I think she
saw it as some sort of rite of passage. She would cool it for me, pouring it in thin long streams between two metal tumblers, and demonstrate how to drink it by pouring it into her mouth from high above her head without the cup touching her lip. Saliva is akin to poison in a Brahmin household. It was brown-gold. Strong and sweet and better than chocolate.
you walk into my larynx wearing the scent of rain. I clear out the apartment and scribble you notes in the dark. morning air will clench weary knuckles— the mango resting in the curve of your palm peeling back the syntax of our skin.
for Max Denton
When Ambi Periappa, my older and most favourite uncle, was around he would sit with me on the veranda and we would play chess. To this day I don’t know if we really played chess or he just humoured me as I shifted pieces across the board. I just remember we would sit there for hours. His stubbly white whiskers would twitch as he smirked at my master move, navy eyes beaming from a big moon face that was dark like the earth. After lunch the whole street, and in fact the whole town, would submerge into a deep, deep sleep. TVs and radios were shut off and the sound of fans whirred through the house as people slept like statues across porches, sofas and in long heartfelt “moo’s”, the sound perfectly capturing the lethargy of the afternoon lull. Eventually the sounds of metal on stone from nearby construction sites would resume, stirring the street to wake and into their afternoon rituals. Ladies, adorned with jasmine workers returned home and the evening cooled. Like this the days rolled on, beautifully ordinary experiences weaving my holidays into one long exhalation from modern suburban life. It was always a bit sad when we left, but it is only now years later as I linger in this vacant corridor that I understand the value in what we had: a place to feel truly thought. The memory stretches out in my mind like a long sun-scorched walk. It calls to me through this tickle in my nose and whispers like the breath in my chest. And when I close my eyes, I exhale among ice-cream houses and the smell of fresh paint. Laila Aznar
DISPIRIT IN UTOPIA Matthew Gardiner
After an eternity even the most wondrous of earthly joys would soon degenerate into the banality of eating porridge.
To any discerning mind the idea of a perfect society – a society which is free of poverty, war, famine, intolerance, work and inequality, which maximises free time, community, and creativity – is immediately attractive. However, actually to the nature of our mortal existence, presents several problems. Primo Levi, the great Italian chemist who survived the horrors of Auschwitz-Monowitz, writes that: Sooner or later in life everyone discovers that perfect happiness is unrealisable, but there are few who pause to consider the antithesis: that perfect unhappiness is equally unattainable. The obstacles preventing the realisation of both these extreme states are of the same nature: they derive from our human condition which knowledge of the future opposes it: and this is called, in the one instance, hope, and in the other, uncertainty of the following day. The certainty of death opposes it: for it places a limit on every joy, but also on every grief. It is in our nature to distrust and treat with caution our present experiences. Our joys are constantly tempered by the fact that what is now is not forever. If we are uncertain about tomorrow then our present joy only serves to distract from the realities of our mortal existence. Our joy is always corrupted, diminished, less than what is theoretically possible. It follows that even in a perfect society we may never be content because once there we would still be hampered by our own mortality. In a perfect society, then, perfect happiness would nevertheless remain elusive. But wouldn’t a perfect society grant eternal life? Perhaps. But even if we were to attain eternal life, that by some god or science given gift our bodies and minds were able to live on forever, we would nevertheless age. The inner machinations of our consciousness would never cease. We would be eternally young on the outside but eternally old on the inside. We would become terribly bitter and cynical: for the common place, the everyday, the overproduced, breeds indifference.
The lust and glean of love, indeed our ability to love anything, would soon shrivel up, fade and die the death we could only dream of. After an eternity even the most wondrous of earthly joys would soon degenerate into the banality of eating porridge. If in this Utopia we also imagine that work is a thing of the past, what would there be to do other than create entertainment and seek pleasure? What would become of entertainment? There would be no great art because there tragedy and crisis are the mothers of much creative and artistic enterprise. And we have to ask ourselves, as Robert Nozick did, what is the value of unlimited pleasure? Are pleasure, and the various practices, pastimes and customs by which we obtain pleasure all that concern us? Finally, what would happen to knowledge and our experience thereof ? If every possible human experience was recorded, and every law of the universe discovered, tested and proven, our origins completely exposed, how would we react? A library of this magnitude would surely be disastrous: without ignorance, without wonder and incomprehension, without something on which to expend one’s creative energies, we would be crushed and disheartened. There is greatness and purpose to hard-work, to searching, to labouring, and to all of the misery that goes with it, which would no longer exist – to see the fruits of one’s own labour, to change better something, to prove that something is or is not the case, are among the manifestations of life’s purpose. Without this potential, the citizens of Utopia would turn in upon themselves, and the more passionate, the more war-like among them, might soon degenerate into lifeless, inert, deadpan shells, who cannot act, who cannot even see the purpose of Or, by contrast, they may tear down the walls of Utopia, raze its libraries and servers to the ground, deeming heretical everything which explains their origins and behaviour,
and seek to go backwards. Only because it promises to give back to them the potential to assert themselves productively, to see the fruits of their labour and creative energy realised. After that they might create a host of gods which, for the sake of their children, would only vaguely account for the movements of the tides, the changing of the days, the coming of seasons, sin, murder, the existence of the moon and love. The children would learn about the gods from the tongues of their elders. They would be taken to faraway caves, whose tales about warriors and great wars and immense cruelties. The elders would restore to the children a blissful state of ignorance, wonder, fear, and uncertainty of the following day. The latter of which, as Levi informs us, is the mother of hope. And with hope comes purposive action and the chance to lead a meaningful existence. While Utopia promises to eradicate the ills of our current, imperfect society, it at once threatens to pull from beneath our feet the very thing which gives our lives meaning. If we are deprived of having something on which to leave our imprint then we will only ever see ourselves as epigones.
Monica Karpinski Amanda Summons
When you think about it, eating toast is a lot like masturbation. You covet it only lonely nights. You think about it while watching TV. Your expectations are always too high.
daily lives sparkle! No longer will my breakfast function solely forced to conform to their drab colour schemes! With over 100 million registered users, Instagram is a photo tweaking and sharing application that allows you to take pho-
you yearn for that plush dough lathered across your mouth. Toast is one of the few things you’re willing to wait for.
appealing effects before sharing them with a digital posse.
You let it warm up. You push, prod, and spread it just the way you want it.
These new, shiny images are talismans of a world with better lighting and more lurid colouring than our own. In this world, our own lives appear as something better than they
The end product soon awaits you. It’s time to go.
world, O pilgrims, is paradise. It doesn’t matter that we know these images aren’t strictly “real”. The fact that we know they’ve been enhanced does nothing to detract from the allure of our invented wonderlands.
It’s all over. You lie there in regret. Too many carbohydrates. Too late at night. The Catholic guilt is all too palpable.
Once Instagram’s particular mode of representation is collectively recognised (and, gasp, normalised), it becomes a shared point of reference. And once this knowledge is shared, it becomes an accepted means of documenting, organising, sharing and attaching meaning to both your own life, and
There was no need. It was too simple. You pushed yourself into this. You capitulated. You wallow in your own despair. You can’t keep eating alone. Now you have to clean up. TV distracts for a while, but you face up to reality.
of paradise. There is no such thing as a value-free aesthetic. Everything you see, is invariably gauged in relation to knowledge you already have. A photo of my amber ale may be tinted pink, but is still recognised as a beer and considered in relation to existing knowledge of beers: what they look like, and situations in which they might be enjoyed. New knowledge of this extra-bright beer against an over-exposed, impossibly sunny background then joins a backlog of associated meaning and voilà, the exaggerated scene is legitimised.
You pick up the plate. Wipe it all up. It’s done. You retreat to your bed like nothing happened. Only to stave off the urges until the next week. And then it starts all over again.
has to be of something that is physically present at the time. Whilst the photo has been tampered with, we know that what is depicted in the scene really did happen. It’s an authentic Jack Beeby
our participation in a particular moment of our lives.
As these moments are given their makeovers, we become instant artists. Whilst their aesthetic might be universally accessible (to those with smart phones) and generically recognisable, the subjects of the photos themselves are ours. We physically made them, and so we feel pulls of creative meanings, virtually no additional work needs to be done in attaching labels like “beautiful” to these glittering artifacts of our lives. Herein lies Instagram’s brilliance: give people the opportunity to represent their lives in appealing, technicolour glory, and then make the aesthetic widely accessible in order to vindicate it. With just the right ratio of autonomy and the joy our paradises into existence. Sure, degrees of creativity and individuality are at play in ever is snapped must creatively conform to their visual constraints. The poached eggs inhabiting the paradise of someone incredibly creative with astounding artistic skill shares a But after all, what’s the harm in transforming the things you do into visual candy? Fun, creative expression and technological prowess are all understanding of said representation creates a new set of meaning we use to navigate through the world. Instagram is a tool that lets us pretend, and offers us a comprehensive simulation of the pretence. We’re offered the chance to document our lives via a series of appealing photos whose larger-than-life value in turn constructs a larger-thanlife meaning. It doesn’t matter that we know images aren’t ‘real’ in a strict sense. They are a simulation of a paradise that above all provides us with an experience, however imagined, of that paradise. Simulators give us an experience of a false reality, but the experience provided is real. A land of epic toast stacks and lurid balcony views may collectively exist only in our minds, but it is still collectively experienced. Who is to say it is any less real?
TREKKING TO UNDISCOVERED COUNTRIES Emmet O’Cuana
“We come in peace, shoot to kill, shoot to kill, shoot to kill” The Firm, ‘Star Trekkin’ “As he told us of many things that were amiss in those new-discovered countries, so he reckoned up not a few things, from which patterns might be taken for correcting the errors of these nations among whom we live.”
Thomas More, Utopia join their hierarchical Federation. Roddenberry had enough nous to mix his metaphorical lectures on equality for all with thrills and adventures. The result was a devoted fanbase that Thomas More’s Utopia was published in his native language posthumously in 1551. Previously the text had been available in Latin to readers on the Continent – the suggestion is that More did not wish to upset the good folk of the English court with any hints of sedition in his writing. Utopia is also couched in similes and asides as to his true meaning. The text opens with fulsome praise towards the king, which is followed by a dialogue highly critical of France and its neighbours with a strange young man who has visited the eponymous land. Could it be that the English state was the main target of these barbed comments? This acquaintance of More’s who Utopia is named Raphael Hythloday. The surname is a joke of the author’s, meaning speaker of nonsense in Ancient Greek. Raphael tells his listener that Utopia is so abundant in gold, slaves’ chains are made from it and children learn to treat jewellery as toys, which they discard when they grow up. While the Utopians do not possess property, their slave caste is composed of criminals. By the close of the tale More is suitably impressed, but remains concerned at Hythloday’s refusal to engage with European statesmanship, preferring to sing the praises of mythical far off lands.
Utopia unintentionally inspired a wave of fantasy literature based on the idea of the perfect state. The likes of Francis Bacon’s New Atlantis, as well as Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels, were more in keeping with More’s critical perspective on society. By 1966 though, centuries of enthusiasm for popular tales involving hidden kingdoms, alien worlds and buff heroes teaching beautiful princesses the “meaning of love” had paved the way for Gene Roddenberry’s utopian science Star Trek.
in the years afterwards, kept the cult alive. Much like devotees of J.R.R. Tolkien’s Middle Earth, or James Cameron’s Pandora, these fans wanted to live in Roddenberry’s perfect and egalitarian future – as well as shoot aliens with lasers, or defeat a lizard-man with a frankly implausible homemade cannon (Arena
Star Trek was the great futurist fantasy. In less than three centuries mankind had made contact with alien species, perfected space travel and eliminated all inequality on Earth. The crew of the Starship Enterprise prominently featured men and women of different races and creeds working together. The show’s introductory narration by William Shatner’s Captain Kirk, a cowboy running a starship, says it all: “…to seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no man has gone before.”
were getting on a bit. Hence the very telling use of ‘generation’ in the title. This was a show with a reinvigorated cast, aimed squarely at the young viewers of the original series now grown into homeowners with families of their own. However, the revamped Trek was quite a different creature. The cowboy in the captain’s chair was long gone, replaced
Whereas Raphael Hythloday travelled back from Utopia with stories of the perfect society – a literal paradise on Earth – Kirk and crew were missionaries, seeking to convince aliens to
In 1987 the show returned with a second franchise, Star Trek: The Next Generation, following the success of a series
during an interview at the Edinburgh Film Festival in 2010 that Roddenberry took inspiration for the character JeanLuc Picard from C.S. Forester’s Horatio Hornblower, and in keeping with that literary source, the show’s hero was a show was forced and stuffy, the storylines more contrived.
With the fans having maintained the legacy of the original show down through the years, such was Roddenberry’s control over the property that his insistence on a perfect future became suffocating. Anyone looking for an especially aggressive critique of Roddenberry’s utopian fantasy should read John Zerzan’s Why I Hate Star Trek. A neo-primitivist who rejects modern living for its use of technology – not to mention most of civunsurprisingly livid at the popular acclaim enjoyed by the show: Always at home in a sterile container in which they represent society, the crew could not be more cut off from the natural world. In fact, as the highest development in the mastery and manipulation of nature, Star Trek is really saying that nature no longer exists. Zerzan also notes that while The Next Generation is popular in politically correct households, the show is mandatory viewing on psych wards. He leaves the reader to discern the common thread. Following the passing of Gene Roddenberry, the tone of Star Trek and its ever increasing spin-offs changed. New writers, including Ron Moore who would go on to revamp Battlestar Galactica as a gritty epic about humanity being driven to extinction by a race of machines, injected life into the bland
proceedings of Trek. We discovered the Federation was not
onslaught, only halted by the humble bacillus. Like Star Trek,
even incompetent. Patrick Stewart’s natural effervescence began to seep into his performances as the straitlaced Captain Picard, running a gamut of emotions that extended beyond A to B. Aggression, passion, loss– the stuff of engaging drama– re-entered the frame. In 2009 J.J. Abrams revamped the original Star Trek, introducing yet another cast of new faces to play the old crew. Thanks to some convenient time-travel plot contrivances, the certainties of Roddenberry’s show were
development will raise up the human species, even leading to the stars themselves, whereas Welles hinted at cosmic insig-
Cod-philosophy was out. Instead Abrams’ Trek a marquee action movie event. frankly be a bit boring. H.G. Welles’ The War of the Worlds is because of its inspired metaphor for the suffering of indigenous peoples around the world thanks to the expansion of the British Empire. The genteel setting of the book’s opening is quickly reduced to a landscape of slag and Martian red weed following the invasion of the technologically superior race. However, tery is assured despite his acerbic pessimism, the writer of a little-known American sequel to The War of the Worlds is practically unknown. Anticipating the benevolence of Roddenberry’s Federation by almost seventy years. Edison’s Conquest of Mars portrays a post-invasion Earth unifying its Kaiser Wilhelm II and Emperor Mutsuhito joining forces to defeat the Martians. Thomas Edison himself, here porattack and invents a weapon even more devastating than the Martians’ heat-ray that evaporated the Thames in Welles’ book. Unfortunately for author and astronomer Garrett P. Serviss this triumphalist riposte to the critique of Empirebuilding in The War of the Worlds has remained a footnote in the publishing history of magazine The Boston Post. In a 1947 edition of Edison’s Conquest of Mars, A. Langley Sears quotes a dedication written by Serviss as follows:
because, like Jules Verne, he believes that the World of Mind as the World of Fact. The reasons behind this science enthusiast’s unlikely entry The War of the Worlds, while serving as a metaphor for the author’s concerns, had committed the crime of showing humanity’s capacity for invention to be worthless in the face of Martian
due for rediscovery by the Steampunk set– pin their hopes of Whereas, of course, Thomas More himself hints in Utopia that the ideal state is the result of uncontested tyranny. The counterpoint to all these stargazing futurists is the curing nuclear holocausts or zombie plagues, which address the fears of its audience while at the same time entertaining them due to the scale of the drama. 2012’s Dredd, directed by Pete Travis, is a recent example perfectly capturing the hellish future of the 2000 AD technology is employed to manufacture new drugs used by ganglords to control territory, as well as weapons capable of gruesome ultraviolence, instead of travelling into space. The humans living in this clapped-out future may be watched “keenly and closely by intelligences greater than man’s” but they’re too busy killing each other in droves to notice. unironic fascist of the blackest hue. The nightmarish setting of Mega-City One makes it clear that its denizens are even Dredd fun, a relentless assault of cartoonish slaughter and a far cry from Star Trek. obliviousness to acts of violence and cruelty. Which oddly enough, is more in keeping with the thrust of More’s original work, a contrast of extremes intended to shine a light on inequality. The risk of a perfect future is that, as with Hythloday, it distracts us from improving our present.
Appendix Star Trek – referred to by fans as ‘The Original Series’ or ‘TOS’ episodes of note. The Cage, original pilot for the show starring Jeffrey Hunter as ‘Captain Pike’, not aired until 1989. Scenes from the pilot would later be recycled for The Menagerie a two-part storyline broadcast in November 17 and November 24, 1966. Captain Pike would yet again appear, some forty-three years later, played by Bruce Greenwood in J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek. Where No Man Has Gone Before, the second and successful pilot broadcast on September 22, 1966, introduces William and George Takei as Sulu and promotes the alien Spock to his second-in-command. The Naked Time, aired September 29, 1966, later to have a sequel of sorts in the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode The Naked Now, October 5, 1987. Both stories feature the respecthat makes them behave drunk. George Takei often speaks fondly of the original show, which had him running around with a fencing sabre half naked.
Early Star Trek: The Next Generation episodes of note. Encounter At Farpoint, the live-action franchise returned to the airwaves on September 28, 1987, with a script by Gene who decides to judge humanity for its crimes as a species. in a brief cameo. The Big Goodbye, January 11, 1988 an entertaining parody of Skin of Evil, April 25, 1988, subverting the popular trend of ‘red shirts’ unnamed extras travelling with away teams from the Enterprise not having a high survival rate, this episode features a member of the main cast dying. Conspiracy, May 9, 1988, an attempted coup from within the Federation is revealed to be the result of brain-controlling alien parasites. Roddenberry is credited with introducing the idea of aliens being responsible, as opposed to humans. The Measure of a Man, February 13, 1989, an episode from the
great episodes of the show.
between Kirk and the alien Gorn – a lizard man. Later to be parodied on Fox’s cartoon comedy show Family Guy in an episode titled The Kiss Seen Around the World.
The Bonding, October 23, 1989, the story is centred around a bereaved young boy whose mother died on an away mission.
Space Seed Noonien Singh (Ricardo Montalban) the villain of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (1982). The City on the Edge of Forever, April 6, 1967, largely credited as one of the best episodes of the original series and the subject of a dispute between writer Harlan Ellison and the show over authorship. Amok Time ond season of Star Trek. Written by classic sf author Theodore Sturgeon (More Than Human between Kirk and Spock. Mirror, Mirror, October 6, 1967, introduces the concept of a ‘Mirror Universe’ an alternate dimension featuring evil versions of the Enterprise crew, later to be liberally drawn upon by Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. The Trouble With Tribbles comedy episode. Tribbles, cute aliens that resemble balls of fur, have appeared since in almost every iteration of the show.
- feature artist -
I am a 19 year old camera-obsessed nomad with a love for creative experimentation in everything I do. As an urban dweller for most of my life, disconnected from nature, I have sought to begin a relationship with the Australian bush through my photography. I am interested in analogue because it allows the photographer more control over light, contrast and detail. To point a digital camera at something and let its sensor decide how much light comes in misses out on the excitement that is light-capturing. In light and tone, this is the magic I see in photography. This collection of photos was taken at Spring Creek in Beechworth Victoria. Amidst these gums, mountains and creeks, the mythology of Ned Kelly was born, and gold was found in abundance, allowing much of Victoria’s early economic growth. I’d been there with some friends, camping out for three days, and on that third day, I could feel myself becoming connected to the land. Semi-naked, I found myself very comfortable amidst the steady descending waterfall, sun bathing and drinking from the pools of fresh water. Over a few hours, I took a series of photographs, including two self portraits using the self-timer function on my camera, centered around the glowing quartz and dreamy shadows cast by midday sun.
machines. I therefore match the era of my camera, a mid19th century folding medium-format, with a similar period’s trast, and allows sun to burn easily through the single layer I have been captivated by photography for now a year, and have come to idolize a genre of photography that is now well man to capture the Antarctic in moving image, and Harold Cazneaux, a Sydneysider who idolized light over content. In the next year, I would like to continue to develop my skills by embarking on a journey around Australia with my cameras and fellow light-capturers. Further in the future, I would like to apply my analogue skills to document and bring exposure to vivid stories from far off places.
In light and tone, colour and composition we perceive emotion and meaning;
... this is the magic I see in photography.
THE ARTIST Benjamin Smith
There was a young man who painted. He lived alone in an inner-city studio apartment. He was not wealthy but he came from wealth and survived on a stipend afforded him by his father, who lived in another city, which was the city the artist grew up in. It was a generous allowance but his father was strict – he would not send any extra, under any circumstances. This was his way of teaching his son the importance of money. When the young man turned thirty the payments would stop, and he would have to support himself. But until then he had nothing to do but paint. He thought it was the best situation of all possible situations. He had been living there two years. The apartment was neither beautiful nor large, but was kept tidy by a maid who visited daily. A huge window overlooked the bustling streets. The majority of the space was taken up by the man’s painting supplies: his easel, pots of brushes, palettes torn from cardboard boxes, jars, cans and tubes of paint canvases were stacked up in one corner: the one at the front pieces sat propped up around the room. His paintings looked like hands exploding. Lots of red and bits everywhere. He called them non-representational. There were a few nice things in the room. A ring he got for his eighteenth birthday. Some small sculptures he’d bought at exhibitions around town. The furniture was old polished rosewood, shipped over when he moved. A sketchbook lay open on his bed. A collection of similar sketchbooks were in a box in a corner. These were the sketches he had made since starting to draw a few years ago. He brought them with him, intending to turn the pictures into paintings, but still hadn’t taken them from the box he packed them in. He wasn’t actually at the apartment just then. He was down the street a few blocks, in an illegal casino in the basement of a building, in the middle of a winding labyrinth of narrow service lanes. The beginning of a piece was on his easel. The paint had been dry for some time. The young man staggered out of the casino later that evening. Someone had hit him around the head and both his eyes were bruised. There was a big lump on his forehead and that was bruised, too. His bottom lip was split in two places and his top lip split in one. He wove through the lanes, some-
about it. Without really thinking about anything. When he got home he dropped into bed. Before falling asleep, he wept. What had happened was this: he got to the city and couldn’t paint. That’s the short of it. The long of it is that he got to the city and painted for almost a week, pretty much every day. Then he went out drinking a couple of nights and didn’t get out of bed the days after. This was okay, he thought. Lots of artists drank. But artists painted too, and he just drank. Every now and then he’d throw some paint on a canvas. Maybe once a month he’d really spend some time on it, actually get something done. But it wasn’t enough and he knew it. The paintings knew it too. They just sat there. Sometimes he would look at them and wonder what was wrong. But he didn’t know how to help them. He convinced himself he had passion for art because of the lengths he was going to to create it. He knew nobody in the city and spent all of his time alone. He was suffering for his art. Obviously he didn’t go back to the casino. But one day, when the blue around his eyes had faded to yellow and was nearly gone completely, someone knocked on his door. The young man was lying on his bed, staring at the light coming in man from the casino. The man was short and bald with a round head and a moustache. He walked in without being asked. His face looked like plasticine someone had squashed together into the middle. His belly stuck out over his belt. A man the size and shape of a refrigerator stood just outside the door, staring in. “Okay,” the short man said. “You’re an artist, right?” The young man nodded.
one day. I’ve got a lot to learn.” He paused. “What’s wrong?” He moved over, clapped the young man on the shoulder, smiled. His teeth had the colour and sheen of white paint straight out the tube. “It’s okay.” He released the young man’s shoulder and walked over to the window. He might have been looking out the window, or he might have been looking at the canvas. The young man was still by the door. “I’ve got a proposition,” the older man said. “It’s pretty simple. I’ll wipe your debt if I can have everything you’ve ever painted. And
all your sketches. And any notes or journals you’ve kept.” There was a moment’s silence. “I can’t do that,” the young man said. “I thought you’d say that.” man realised it was hot in the room, but didn’t move. “I understand. You’re an artist, your work means everything to you. What about this. I walk around the room, and I take anything I want. If that object, in your estimation, is of lesser value than your art, I take another object. If those objects combined, in your estimation, are of lesser value than your art, I take another. And so on.” The young man appeared to think about this. “Okay.” So the man stepped carefully around the room. He’d pick up an object – the young man’s ring, a pillow, his ivory-handled razor, a silk jacket – and hold it up, waiting for a response. The young man nodded every time. Eventually the older man had more than he could carry. He pointed at the bed. The young man nodded. The older man dumped the things on the bed and continued his acquisition. Eventually he had piled everything in the room onto the bed, except for the wardrobe, upon which he had marked a chalk “K”, presumdirectly related to the creation of art. All the young man’s clothes were on the bed – he stood naked. “I’ll get someone to come by and pick this stuff up later,” Karl or Keith or Kevin said, leaving. Alone now, the young man took the few steps to the window. He sighed. A moment later he gathered all his art and art supplies. The dozen canvases he’d painted in the last two started. He threw them onto the bed. In truth, it came to no more or less than the other objects piled there. Then he took a shirt and a pair of jeans from the pile and went downstairs, into the lobby. He asked to use their phone and called his father, telling him he’d be coming home that night.
MAN UP Brendan Corney
The French Minister for Women’s Rights, Najat VallaudBelkacem, recently opined that “Feminism is about equal rights, not about one gender dominating the other”. Her statement came after Carla Bruni’s unfortunate comment (later retracted) that feminism wasn’t needed in the twenworsening pay disparity, and these can be addressed under the banner of feminism. However, I believe that a broadening of public discourse to discussing gender equality in general, rather than solely the oppression of women by men, would lead to a more far-reaching social movement, one that would try to address the root causes of gender inequity today. The fear that feminists desire to dominate men is a straw tainly does not entail domination. Half a century after the nascence of second-wave feminism, I have met few men who believe that altering the status quo is relevant to them. In order to address the perception that issues of gender equality should be tackled solely by women, I believe that all its supsions of each gender, and the root common to them. i.e. rigid social roles ascribed to each gender. Men who are viscerally antagonistic towards the goals of feminism should analyse the causes of dissatisfaction in their own lives, and see equalhave over men in this respect is their ability to criticise gender roles. A century long movement stretching from the suffragettes to Lady Gaga has enabled women to at least discuss their societal roles in public discourse, without being attacked as ‘whingers’. Of course, there are many people who still believe in traditional, domestic roles for women. However these views are not widespread in published media, and their promulgators at least check to see that their audience is sympathetic. This privilege of questioning societal expectations is not granted to men, and any man who challenges his set role in the world threatens to be mauled from all sides: his sexuality attacked by the insecure, his masculinity critiqued by the gender normative popular women’s magazines bemoaning a lack of ‘real men’, and, most upsettingly, his concern dismissed as whinging by some feminists who see challenging gender as a zero-sum game.
oppressed than men. However, oppression shouldn’t be ranked, with injustice against one group having to be compared to the plight of another. Otherwise we risk men being able to shout at women demanding equal pay: “Well in Saudi Arabia, women can’t even drive! Stop complaining!”. This ‘my oppression is more oppressive than yours’ line of argument threatens to deteriorate ad absurdum, until the only person left who is allowed to complain is a malnourished orphan with no limbs. Rather than ranking the slights against our respective genders, we should be angry that they exist at all. We can observe the traditional examples of sexism masquerading as chivalry, such as the exclusion of women from the military draft, or the counting of female deaths in war to be females: men’s lives are seen to be more expendable, while women are seen to be defenceless and in need of protection. Similarly, men being expected to hold doors open, carry shopping, pull out a chair at dinner etc. creates an expectation of men as servantile and women as being unable to fend for themselves. It is insulting to both parties. There are more insidious examples, where the gain of women in the past decades make the current situation of men seem anachronistic. The excellent, and ongoing, campaign against the trivialisation of sexual assault and violence against women is unmatched in men, with prison rape jokes remaining completely acceptable, and men expected to walk alone at night, or else be dismissed as weak, despite the fact that assault in Melbourne is at its highest point in a decade, according to Victoria Police. Furthermore, the hard-won ability of women to challenge appearance standards has not translated to men. In my opinion, a male wearing feminine clothing, or even hinting at a feminine appearance, will be mocked far more than a woman displaying male characteristics. Thanks to many feminist writers and thinkers (eg. Jezebel.com), men like me have a window into female internalised sexism. However, where are the voices in the media calmly explaining the parallels in men? Most of the sources I have encountered in print media and online seem unable to bring up these issues withthat men are directly taught that crossing your legs in the wrong way is bad, or that wearing colourful clothes will be met with screams from cars to ‘man up’?
Rather than ranking the slights against our respective genders, we should be angry that they exist at all.
These taboos could be cited as being created by men, but the argument is specious: in a patriarchy, society is controlled by men. Therefore all restrictions on behaviour in some way come from men. This doesn’t mean that an individual man has power over this repression, in the same way that the existence of sexist women does not invalidate feminism. Feminism should be making in-roads with movements such as “Men’s Sheds”, which seek to address the isolation and emotional repression of male Australian culture, and broaden its goals to emancipation of all genders from unwanted social expectations. An opinion piece published in the Age last month brings these expectations into sharp relief. Writer Ben Hart, a father working in public affairs, writes about the low expectations that Australian society has for new fathers. He describes a culture where men are congratulated for babysitting their own children, and made fun of for attending parenting classes when they would “rather be playing footy”. In my own life, these anecdotes ring true, and although they are parents. Mothers are expected to shoulder the burden of child rearing, with plenty of criticism and nary a thank-you, while fathers feel disengaged and lost with regards to their to changing an entrenched culture which is detrimental to females, if such a movement were to gain traction. Feminist friends of mine have raised the objection that feminism already addresses the plight of men in a patriarchy. So why should the movement change? From a branding perspective, the word ‘feminism’ may, rightly or wrongly, not be appropriate for these broader goals. That is not to say that feminism is no longer necessary, or that women as a group full legal (as opposed to social) equality, these problems are going to be more amorphous than they were before female suffrage and property rights. Attacking all inequality under the banner of ‘feminism’ seems to me like addressing discrimination against all LGBT people by asking for ‘transrights’. Although the causes are related, I believe a broader title is necessary not to alienate or dissuade men from the goals of feminism.
are addressed in academia, mostly by feminist researchers There is no genre of article discussing potential progress to be made regarding how men see themselves or their role in the world, as exists now for what it means to be a woman. If we look at examples such as contraception access, workplace participation, sexual harassment and property rights, it is only through widespread dissemination of ideas in mainstream sources that feminism has over decades made admirable improvements in the lives of women. This same critical examination should be placed on masculinity and the society behaviour are problematic, then it is only through more discussion that they will change. It’s not productive or useful in any way to dismiss the raising of feelings of male victimhood with ‘boo-fucking-who’, as to men online “who feel discriminated against, ignored, and blamed”. Maybe the gripes of these men are completely wrong, and maybe, as West thinks, it’s just a taste of what women have dealt with since time immemorial. This is good! There is the possibility for dialogue if both parties feel injustice, and you might even convince a few men that the system is letting everyone down. The way this won’t happen, however, is by proclaiming that only women “have the right to complain because we’ve fucking earned it”, to quote West. Such derision should be reserved for misogyny like the Fox News “War on Men” article, or the Bristol University Christian Union ban on women speaking at their meetings, not as a blanket dismissal of the possibility that men, even are unjust. In the end, can’t we all just be oppressed together?
REDUCED TO DUST Avril Good
The gutters stank. Black bags of rubbish had burst open into the streets and rain was turning the pavements into rivers of mud. Most of the houses were boarded up, particularly in this part of the city, which had once been rife with pleasure gardens and murals that enveloped whole streets. Gideon hoisted the bag he was carrying further up his back boots were already soaked through from three days of trudging around the city, but at least by now he was growing accustomed to the smell. He hadn’t expected to journey this far south. The last he’d heard, Jasper had been living in one of the glassier buildings towards the top of the city, venturing down only when necessity demanded. He’d known things were getting bad. As vague as her letters had been, Jasper had still inferred that the city was on a downward slope. But until he’d arrived, see if he could just get in, he hadn’t known just how terrible things truly were. Empyrean, designed to be the greatest city ever built, had
a woman called Jasper. She used to be head of Sustainable
“No,” said a rasping voice from under the raincoat. “They’re all gone.” “Not all of them,” said Gideon. “I’ve met a couple of people.” “People? Those aren’t people. They’re animals.” “And you?” “I’m an animal too.” The man shook off the head of his raincoat and bared his yellow teeth at Gideon. “The greatest city ever built, reduced to dust.”
As the feeble light began to dim he found the city exits. The huge pipes that carried the city waste out of the town boundaries had once ended on the other side of the glass dome. But the dome was broken now, letting in the weather and the scavengers and the rats. Gideon stepped carefully over what glass remained, and gazed for a minute on the piles of bodies that were heaped on the mud.
access to records or something? In case she relocated.” “No one relocated. It wasn’t permitted.” “But when the dome came down, she might have got out.” “Might have. Unlikely. Listen, we’d love to stay and chat, but we’ve got a lot of work to do. This city’s gotta be shut down.” “You’re closing Empyrean?” “You’ve seen it. It’s unlivable. It’s a threat to the rest of the population.”
Wearily, he began lifting down the ones on top, systematically searching for Jasper’s face. The corpses, what was left of them, had been there awhile. A lot of the bodies were naked, having been stripped of anything valuable long ago. Others had deteriorated beyond human recognition, their
“Waste of government resources, if you ask me,” chimed in the older man.
fell with the rain. He didn’t see Jasper.
But Gideon had already turned back to the piles of bodies.
As night came, he knew it was pointless to keep looking. Too
“Funny name for a girl.”
he crawled on top of the closest concrete pipe and made a
“More like mud.” “Mud,” the man agreed. “So you haven’t seen her?”
and addicts. The population – once the most intelligent, the most creative, the richest, the most powerful – had been reduced to rummaging through rubbish bins and brawling in the streets.
“She’s a funny sort of girl.”
He’d always told Jasper she shouldn’t go, told her that she was needed outside, not in some gilded cage. But she’d believed so
“She’s not,” said Gideon.
for, that he couldn’t stop her. He was going to follow, when they relaxed the permit laws. But it had taken him three years to realise he was never going to get approval. Three years during which time he’d wondered whether it was worth it at all. If Jasper loved him, she ought to have left. But now that
Gideon nodded and wondered if he ought to give the man something for his information, but money held no value in Empyrean, and he couldn’t spare any food.
“Excuse me,” Gideon called to a man seated on a low bench, a raincoat pulled over his head. “Excuse me, I’m looking for
He recognised various landmarks from postcards and documentaries. They weren’t the same now, of course. Even the famous green “Empyrean” sign hadn’t escaped the devastation.
There was silence for a moment. Gideon began to walk away. “If she’s not with the living– ” “I’d try the dead. The city exits. The viaducts. Follow the smell. That’s where the bodies go.”
He said a brief thank you and turned back to the street. The rain, ever persistent, was slowing to a drizzle, and further up the road he could see a few windows thrown open, and buckets being emptied onto the concrete below.
Jasper: the Jasper that he remembered, and the Jasper he was He was woken at dawn by the sound of a vehicle. Two men in blue uniforms had jumped from a large truck and were consulting a clipboard. They seemed surprised to see someone alive. “I’m looking for a woman,” said Gideon, giving his usual greeting. “Here?” asked the younger of the two men. “Her name’s Jasper. She was head of Sustainable Architecture. “Can’t help you, mate.”
“You want a ride somewhere?” asked the older man, glancing at the wasteland behind him.
DESIRE IN THE GARDENS OF MILTON AND MARVELL Alexander Lewis Ying Wang
Because paradise is one of those things “which passeth all understanding”, most theologies maintain that there isn’t much point trying to imagine what it would be like. John Calvin wrote that proof of humanity’s total depravity is its inability to conceive of heaven (by which I suppose he meant a heaven which wasn’t so boring that it shortly became hell). Nevertheless, all major religions have given us hints about what to expect after either our own bodily demise, or at the end of time in general. Often, these accounts differ such that we can delineate sharp differences between various conceptions of paradise.
Andrew Marvell (1621-1678). In Milton’s epic Paradise Lost, and Marvell’s short lyric, ‘The Garden’, the two poets gave the richest literary depictions ever attempted of paradise, and
In The Varieties of Religious Experience, William James located in all the major religions “a common nucleus to which they bear their testimony unanimously.” This is, according to James, “an uneasiness, which, reduced to its simplest terms, is a sense that there is something wrong about us as we naturally stand.” Unlike other species, humanity does not quite seem Sermon on Job, “God would have to create new worlds if He wished to satisfy us”. The problem that Paradise solves is the radical mismatch between what we desire and what is available on earth. I will put forward an ad-hoc hypothesis: that in religious and
depiction of paradise, especially in religious art, is how to present paradise as a place where people would actually like to spend an eternity. After all, the human desire for novelty and action is such that after a short period of time, paradise would become no paradise at all. Milton solves this problem by creating a paradise which develops and exercises every human faculty, and which, if humans are not careful, they risk losing.
that would not be possible on Earth, or acetic, where human need is supernaturally reduced or altered so that it no longer bothers us. On the extreme acetic side is Buddhism’s Nirvana, which to many seems indistinguishable from death – except that while death leads to reincarnation, Nirvana is permanent non-being. On the side of abundance might lie the sensual Jannah of Islam, in which everything prohibited or scarce on earth – wine, women, water – is in endless supwhich Mormon Mitt Romney is said to believe awaits him after death. Renaissance English literary culture produced a number of extraordinary depictions of paradise, by turns religious, political, aesthetic, or technological. Thomas More’s Utopia is the compared with the paradises found in the writings of William Shakespeare, Francis Bacon, John Milton (1608-1674), and
that I’ve outlined.
“To their sweetness no satiety”: Milton’s Hyper-Abundant Eden The centerpiece of Paradise Lost, Milton’s great epic on the creation and fall of mankind, is the Garden of Eden, where
Life in Eden is envisaged as a perpetual “siege of contraries”: active human involvement and governance, Paradise tends towards increasing motion and complexity rather than static perfection. A typical Puritan in this regard, Milton distrusted idleness, seeing it as the precondition for sin and perversity. Thus, Adam and Eve spend the day gardening, shaping and improving creation through mental and physical exertion. Their day’s work leaves them exhausted, and thus better able to enjoy their food and rest at night. Milton’s famously dense syntax and extended periods, never more characteristic than in the lengthy descriptions of Eden in Book IV, make the readers themselves labour over the garden just as Adam and Eve do. Perpetual work allows Adam and Eve to better understand the animals and plants of the garden that Adam realizes that he is still searching for a human companion, and not simply wanted still”. He and Eve are constantly being stimulated by intellectual and moral challenges. The famous debate about
astronomy in Book VIII (where Adam and an Angel discuss not only a science class but a lesson in proper humility and patience in intellectual matters. In another famous scene in Book IV, Eve, before she meets Adam, is almost seduced by umphs over this tempting narcissism. The temptation to eat the forbidden fruit from the tree of knowledge is a perpetual challenge – if they wished, Adam and Eve could eat from the tree and leave the garden (which, tragically, is what they do). Eve asks rhetorically at one point. In this sense, Eden is never something that can be taken for granted, but requires its inhabitants to constantly ask themselves, “do I really want to be here?”.
sizes the physical nature of bliss in Eden, and even intellectual delights are described in the vocabulary of physical enjoyment. Milton is at his most heterodox when he breaks with Christian tradition by emphasizing the role of erotic love in Paradise (St. Augustine had held that they could have had sex without sin had they liked, but would have chosen not to). Sex is an integral part of Eden, but never engaged in without such tension-building courtship as Eve’s “sweet reluctant amorous delay” before Adam’s advances. By positing an endless ladder of improvement for Adam and Eve to ascend, Milton solves the problem of boredom in paradise. Adam and Eve are told that “time may come
or in heavenly paradises dwell…” But there is no sense that the activities we characterize as ‘bodily’ are ever outgrown in
Tempting, stirred in them sudden appetite…”: desire is contarily. Adam praises the pleasures of conversation as being sweetness no satiety”. Sweetness without satiety is the best description of Milton’s Paradise, where ‘satiety’ means static satisfaction, rather than endless growth.
‘Garlands of Repose’: Moving on, we come to Andrew Marvell’s seventy-two line lyric, ‘The Garden’, one of the most unusual productions in English literature. The poem begins by extolling the virtues of the speaker’s garden, and then modulates into erotic praise for the condition of vegetative matter in general: “No white ends by identifying Marvell’s garden with Eden itself. But room to express themselves, in Marvell’s garden, happiness consists in their being extinguished. Competition, sexuality, and thought all come to an end in Marvell’s ‘happy garden-state’. Other than being immensely learned depictions, the contrast between the two visions of paradise is total. silvery elegance and smoothness, compared with Milton’s difult and elaborate constructions: How vainly men themselves amaze To win the palm, the oak, or bays, And their uncessant labours see Crown’d from some single herb or tree, Whose short and narrow verged shade Does prudently their toils upbraid; To weave the garlands of repose.
angels eat “with keen dispatch of real hunger” when food is offered to them. Furthermore, when Adam inquires as to whether Angels copulate as humans do, he receives a coy, but
Milton’s Eden functions like a universal laboratory, where humanity’s moral, social, and intellectual faculties are explored to the fullest extent. Marvell’s garden is a paradise precisely because it detaches us from the complexities and
THE MYSTICISM OF THE ‘HONEYMOON PERIOD’. struggles of human existence. Seeing the peacefulness of plant life, the speaker realizes the vanity of social pursuits. win the palm, the oak, or bays”, Marvell writes, asking why men struggle and compete to be crowned with laurels when they could more easily sit beneath trees.
And after this, the poet imagines transcending the physical and the intellectual altogether:
‘The Garden’ reminds us, no doubt intentionally, of the etymology of ‘paradise’ itself. The word enters the European vocabulary from Ancient Greek, but is thought to ultimately derive from Old Iranian’s term for ‘garden’ (‘pairidaeza’ in
The Garden’ is fascinating for the contrast it makes with Marvell’s own life. Why does Marvell – famous for his drinking, debating, and politicking – write this ode to the asocial
Persian), which when further broken down derives from ‘pairi’ (‘built’) and ‘diz’ (‘around’): ‘a walled place’, where existence is perfectly managed and contained, rather than something to be struggled with. Marvell humorously upbraids heartsick young men for dis-
Cut in these trees their mistress’ name; Little, alas, they know or heed How far these beauties hers exceed! happier in Eden before the arrival of Eve (and the subsethere walked without a mate”. Indeed, says Marvell’s poem, retreat”: the garden is a place where sexual life and procreation come to a halt. Milton’s Eden provides endless opportunity for intellectual growth through investigating nature, and essential to it is “sweet discourse” on a variety of intellectual matters. The famous sixth stanza of ‘The Garden’ is the most poetically powerful account of stupor ever attempted: Meanwhile the mind, from pleasure less, Withdraws into its happiness… Annihilating all that’s made To a green thought in a green shade. The mind withdraws even from simple pleasure and cognition, all thought reduced to a vegetative state, “a green thought in a green shade”.
Casting the body’s vest aside, My soul into the boughs does glide; There like a bird it sits and sings, Then whets, and combs its silver wings…
heartfelt? Is his poem some kind of riposte to Milton’s Eden? Like in Mitt Romney’s Mormon heaven, in Milton’s paradise ries of an abundance that cannot be exhausted. Marvell’s garden is verdant, Renaissance Nirvana, where all complexity and desire– and therefore suffering– comes to an end. Contemplating current conceptions of paradise, one starts to see in them the same dichotomy as played out in Milton and Marvell. At one pole, we have the Oxford philosopher Nick Bostrom (1973-), who advocates the genetic and cybernetic enhancement of the human condition. His ideal post-humans read oddly like Milton’s Adam and Eve: “beings who faculties than any current human being– and perhaps entirely cho-primitivist John Zerzan (1943-), who writes books with names like Future Primitive and The Failure of Symbolic Thought, argues for the reduction of the human population to under a million (without specifying exactly how) and a return to a Paleolithic hunter-gatherer lifestyle. Zerzan describes the primitive lifestyle as “largely one of leisure, intimacy with nature, sensual wisdom… This was our human nature, for a couple of million years, prior to enslavement by priests, kings, and bosses”. He sounds like a much more earnest and less ironic Marvell. Both Bostrom and Zerzan– earnest visionaries– unknowingly literalise the fables of the poets.
I shall preface this by saying that my track record with relationships is not stellar. I have been both the dumper and the dumpee, as it were. I have found myself both heartbroken and nonchalant at the end of relationships. a relationship? Flushed with lust and starry-eyed with conviction that this person, this person, is amazing. You’ve never met anyone like them before, and can’t stand to believe that you will ever have to be apart. That is until you realise that this person may just in fact, be human. They have interests that may be the antithesis of your own, friends that you cannot abide, political views that make your teeth grind, or foibles that make you wish you could punch them in the face. The beginning of a relationship causes quite a few of us to go slightly mental. We are subjected to a series of socially few months. As my spiritual guru Bernard Black says, “On no ARSE OF YOURSELF.” Innumerable articles exist about what particular idiosyncrasies we have when we meet someone new. I for one am all in favour of putting myself out there as I am, warts and all. But when you have met someone and you are starting to “see each other”, that’s when things get really tricky.
Modern romance is vastly different to the courting rituals that spill forth from the pages of my favourite novelists such as Austen (the classic), Waugh, and Fitzgerald. Social media makes it all the more harrowing. When is it appropriate to alter your Facebook relationship status? I believe we will still be debating that particular issue when we are senile. The us to present ourselves in the best possible light, the person we would be if we didn’t have all those hang-ups and issues.
My trouble is that I love this phase too much. In a world changing faster than I can be bothered to care, there’s a brief calming stability about meeting a person who is interested in what you have to say for more than a comment thread’s worth of time. A person who would like to see you face-toface over coffee or a drink. Beyond that, however, my interest runs out. Perhaps it is a symptom of being “Gen Y”, whereby I want whatever I feel will make me happy at the present moment. Or maybe it’s an indication of being in my twenties, and unwilling to commit in case something newer, shinier, or better comes along. I don’t know, because I can’t reach any grand conclusions about love. But what I do know is that I love falling in love, and despite all its malarkey, it is mostly fantastic fun. Happily though, even when it isn’t, I will always keep trying.
THE DECADE AUSTRALIA LOST FAITH
ROSES Scott Woodard Amy Freund
I took her hand and we walked into the street. watched thoughts ripple and break across her forehead. She will remember holding my hand at the market, the air raid siren howling like a woken baby, each thudding footstep tripping and stumbling over the darkness through the rose thing is smeared in a teary snot-clogged paste that catches in her throat. She will remember the political banners watching from the windows along the Bautzner Straße as the thoughts will live in the house we broke into. She will memorise the dust patterns on the stairs to the wine cellar and draw vineyards on the blood red bottles. She will remember my weak scream as the bomb broke through the roof and the light shining off the splintered glass like rain. When the doctors saw that her eyes were irreparable they sought to discharge her immediately, but I convinced them to let her stay one night. Each hour she awoke and each hour I told her was the morning of a new day. I began to believe myself. It was strange to see the darkness turn to grey, then to know that the sun could rise after the world has ended. In the morning I led her between the rows of camp beds that lined the old warehouse. We stood outside so she could feel the February sun. “Where are my roses?” she said. “I’m sorry. I dropped them. But we can pick more.” She was silent. Her head pointed at her shoes. “A letter arrived from daddy while you were asleep,” I said. “Really? What did he say?” “He said we pushed the Soviets out of Budapest. He says the Soviets are falling back like they have always done.” She began to cry. She cried until blood appeared in her bandage. I placed my arms around her shoulders and held her head to my chest. “I want daddy home,” she said. “Ok.”
“What do you see?” she said. “I see the Bautzner Straße. I see the beer hall and it is open. There are men drinking and laughing in the street and wavheard about our victory in Budapest. They know the Führer won’t abandon us, and our will and capabilities will see us prevail. The sweet shop is closed, but there are children playing hopscotch in the street. They are using debris as stones. Some houses were hit with bombs, but there are kids from the Youth repairing them.” “Really?” “I’m your brother. I wouldn’t lie.” “Tell me more.” “And the rose gardens. The roses have bloomed. They are turning their heads to watch the sun.” wait until there was no one around and take daddy’s scissors from her coat. She would spend hours arranging the roses into the vase on her window sill. But she didn’t ask to stop. She just smiled. “Tell me more.”
Louis Dai The 1950s was a good, if not great, decade for the Catholic Church in Australia. All measurable units of religious life – church membership, number of new congregations, church income, enrolments in theological colleges and seminaries – were on the rise. The sixties would be a decade to consolidate and expand. But the sixties turned out to be a decade of tumultuous social and cultural upheaval that denied the Church’s ambitions of growth and would, in fact, lead to Australia’s eventual rejection of the Papal authority. Two events in particular stand out as precipitating factors in the Anovlar birth control pill which appeared in Australian bedrooms in 1961. In giving women unprecedented control over their fertility, the pill divorced sex from reproduction, transformed women’s sexual relationships, and had a lasting impact on gender relations that still resounds today. The pill’s release came at a time when the Church itself was modernise, as it sought to integrate humanist elements with Catholic principles. The efforts were such that at one point, The Age even ran a series on the Roman Catholic Church in Australia called ‘A Church in Ferment’, while The Australian ran another called ‘The Catholic Revolution’. The pill’s arrival, however, put a grinding halt to this modernisation, setting in motion a self-serving re-radicalisation. Although reformist factions within the Church were, in private sessions, encouraging married couples to use the pill (in the face of the indisputable realities of modern married life), a dominant contingent of traditionalists saw scant difference between the pill and previous forms of contraception. tional strife had left the Pope mute on the issue. A “consultative” commission set up in 1963 recommended the pill in certain contexts, such as within marriage, but in 1968 the Pope, much to the disbelief of the commission and the public, dismissed the recommendations and sided with a small group of ultra-conservatives. The pill was sin. institute a change in traditional Catholic doctrine towards contraception began to either depart or reject the Church’s teachings altogether. In 1970, according to one public opinion poll, 58% of Catholics disagreed with the Church’s stance
while 29% agreed. Financial support and recruitments plummeted and Church attendances fell to below 20%. Waves of resignations within the Church followed, with an estimated The other major incident to divide public opinion on the Church was the government’s conscription of Australian ists within the Church criticising not only our intervention in a sovereign nation’s internal dispute, but also the morality behind conscription. Large swathes of the public shared the showing up at public moratoriums. Unfortunately, those within the Church who supported the peace movement were few and far between, with conservative members drawing a strong correlation between faith and obedience. Traditional elements of the clergy were robust supporters of the armed intervention, dismissing the reformists’ understanding of the Vietnam War almost as blasphemy. Of course, the Church appealed for peace and restraint, but the prevailing view was that America and its allies had the right to arm themselves and to use those arms, in particular against the Communist crusade that threatened to overrun rates for either encouraging men to forgo National Service or coordinating and attending moratoriums. Much of this happened as disillusionment towards the War reached a critical state. Civilian casualties were spiralling out of control, and the televised images of the collateral damage incurred stained the moral conscience of those who had at Growing numbers of Church followers found it hard to reconcile their individual conscience with a faith that continued on such an intense scale. Christians in Australia has continued to fall, from 88% to 61%, with an increasing number showing up on the Census as non-religious. The Christian Church still has a role in Australian life, being the largest non-government provider of health and education services, but its holistic grip over Australian households is a thing of the past.
THE GIRL IN DARKNESS Scott Woodard
I will confess that physical attraction drew me to her. But lust is a natural benefactor of love and love is a meaningless word used by fools. What we have is more than that. I don’t know her name so I call her Juliet. I have seen her only once. It was enough to notice that long blonde hair which can be summarised only in the vagueness of perfection. I watched it fall over one eye to be impulsively has condensed the mundaneness of awaking and thinking and consuming and feeling and hating and living and forgetHer strides were so delicate. Her screams silenced the birds. She was not afraid to let me see her cry. She had enchanting breasts. complex on Sixth Street that is so unbecoming of her. I wait in the street below and paint pictures onto the black depths of her window. She never comes out. But humans are weak – she will need to eat something soon. I need to eat too. I think about nothing else. I am such a simof her wrist as I take her as my own. A love bite. I will bite her where I was bitten, like two sentimental children sharing blood. It seems I am starving myself for her. If only she could see what she is doing to me. I am disappearing, rotting, fermenting in the sun that watches me forever but is forever out of reach. I am making myself ugly for you, Juliet. Only ever for you.
place of business). It teaches her about impressionist art and romantic poetry. It hears stories of her childhood under the folds of a blanket of Minneapolis snow. And every time I look at her I am amazed by her beauty. Beauty is so rare since the outbreak. I know she is smart too – the way she snuck home in the dead of night so no one could see her beauty. No one but me. What a brain she must have encased in that skull. Sometimes I worry that she won’t love me back. I worry that I would be taking her against her will. If only she knew the agony she causes me every day just by living. That is the most agonising abuse of all. She is so beautiful. Tonight I am watching her window and imagining her waving to me. Her waves are slow and rhythmic and completely erotic. She doesn’t blow me kisses like a cheap whore. Just a gentle smile as she plays with her hair until suddenly there is
cially poor. She screams. Oh that beautiful voice, like a siren song it paralyses me and suddenly she is running across the street. Her footsteps tread where once my own had been, waiting. And I can’t do anything but watch as she morphs once more into darkness. My love has just gone out for a little while. She will return. This is her house after all and she has nowhere else to go. The lobby is not as I imagined. It is carpeted and soulless and are strewn like seaweed around a yellowing mattress on the I remember her beauty. And that hair, forever falling, waiting to be caught. It crosses my mind that maybe I am only in love with her beauty, that once I have her I will lose interest. I don’t care. I will do anything to stop feeling this way. So I sit on her mattress and wait for her to come home.
fourth. I hurry across the empty street. I have rehearsed this so many times. I have seen her open the door and fall into my outstretched arms. I stand behind the door and listen to her untangle the chains on the other side. All that keeps us apart is six inches of dead wood. I listen to the short shallow drags of her breath and scream the door opens an inch, then another inch and I can then her breasts appear and her hair and her smooth round skull encasing that perfect brain. It is even more perfect for its
I walk around the building. I push at the fat cedar doors and rattle the bars across the windows like a prisoner trying to break in. My mind slips under the door. It knows the inkblot
perfect hair, because it is right in front of me.
six hundred and thirty six stairs to her door. It laughs on her sofa and lies on her bed (What a bed! Plain. Shameless. A
“Brains,” I say.
She turns. She sees me. What does she see? I can see the blood pulsing over her temples. I need to say something. Jack Beeby
EDEN RAVAGED Derrick Krusche
When I think of revolutions, I also think of paradise. Not the cold snow of Soviet Russia or the long marches of Mao Zedong, but the latitudes where the weather is balmy. Revolutionary rhetoric pertains to the idea of gaining a certain political paradise, while the stereotypical aesthetics of some revolutions are innately tropical: palm trees, adobe whitewashed houses, Kalashnikovs, Cuban cigars – the list goes on. The reason political rhetoric centres on gaining a new paradise is self-evident. Revolutions are started by groups unhappy with their current situation. Therefore, it is logical to evoke an attainable but, as yet, unachieved paradise in order to attract support. However, the reason why the imagery of romantic revolution is also linked to paradise is more subjective. Is it the hot weather which causes the dissatisfaction of the rebellious to boil over more so than in temperate regions? Is it because much of the colonial world was sited in the tropChe Guevara or Simón Bolívar actually agitated in a verdant paradise? There is a plethora of possible reasons. One thing is for sure: while a certain form of paradise is always the goal of revolution, paradise is not always the outcome. Take for instance French Haiti in the 1790s, one of the most lucrative colonies worldwide. A Frenchman’s paradise was a slave’s hell. Groups of runaway slaves banded together and entrenched themselves in Haiti’s thick jungles and attacked Europeans mercilessly. Their violence symbolised the rage of an oppressed people and the standard they carried was a pike with an impaled white baby. However, they lacked organisation and their effort was quickly quashed. It took the storming of the Bastille and subsequent revolution in France to start the ball rolling. A world away from Paris, it was in Haiti where the principles of Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité, ou la Mort were truly tested. Revealingly, the French were not at all enthusiastic to extend these new civic rights to Haitian slaves. Eventually, a slave nation defeated a European superpower in the only successful slave revolution. One would think that naturally, political paradise would follow, and black Haitians
would be free to govern themselves with dignity. But this was far from the case. Haiti was forced by France to pay massive reparations as an “independence debt” further ingraining impoverishment. Paradise seemed so close, yet political independence did not guarantee economic independence. To pay off the debt Haitians had no choice but to keep producing sugar and coffee for dwindling returns because their economy had already been rigidly structured. Black Haiti’s revolution did not grant the people the hoped for paradise they had taken from the French. Political near-paradise can also be snatched away once reached. This happened in 1951 in Guatemala. At last a progressive politician, Jacobo Arbenz, had been democratically elected but the United Fruit Company (UFC) wasn’t impressed. The UFC, a large American corporation which considered itself effectively in control of the state, owned large tracts of land, the railway, and telephone system. Fruit began to lobby America for an intervention. In 1954 the capital Guatemala City. The Guatemalan army forced Arbenz to resign, fearing a U.S. invasion. Falling far short of utopia, the coup installed one of the most brutal military regimes in Latin America, arguably an anti-paradise. Gabriel Garcia Marquez immortalised United Fruit as “The Banana Company” in his seminal text One Hundred Years of Solitude, encapsulating just how futile the struggle for political nirvana can be. “The Banana Company” buys out the town of massacres its striking workers. In the end it prompts protagowe’ve got ourselves into just because we invited a gringo to eat some bananas.” A recurring trend emerges: living in a physical paradise does not ensure a socioeconomic paradise. It is not just foreign players who block the attainment of this either, but local governments too. Take India for instance. Most know poverty is
rife and the caste system permeates society. Yet most don’t know there are guerrillas in the jungle seeking to change this. Active since the 1960s, the Naxalites are Maoist insurgents numbering around 15,000 soldiers and controlling around ernment by 2050 and install a Maoist state – an ideal paradise for communists – being thought out in the visual arcadia of India’s forests. The Naxalites seek to give a voice to India’s oppressed who are bypassed by the electoral process and are being denied a share in the country’s tiger economy. A silent civil war rages and yet the West hardly notices. Maybe this is because India is regarded as a tourist curiosity and it is not considered possible that serious war could occur in a place so between physical and ideological paradise. In the forgotten and ignored revolutions described here, many souls have been lost and the goal of paradise remains unattained. Western historiography is, of course, both selection themselves) simply could not accept defeat by slaves, and so consigned Haiti’s revolution to obscurity and turned their lost paradise into a dependent entity. Perhaps the Americans (also heirs to revolution) simply could not admit that a private company could wield more power than a small country. So in India, the hope for paradise and the struggle for revoluattention for now but, if history repeats itself, will ultimately face external resistance and sequestration. And where can any sort of physical or spiritual paradise exist while tropical Edens are ravaged by violence, exploited and destroyed?
Is it the hot weather which causes the dissatisfaction of the rebellious to boil over more so than in temperate regions?
HOME Benjamin Smith The night air is gentle, warm, a caress, and carried on it is step onto the street and start walking. The sky is empty: a sheet of thin cloud. It lightens in patches, and I am at a loss as to whether this is from the seeping light of the moon or the city’s constant glow. Miles away, the horns and moans of cars on the highway are like a Coltrane solo, disjointed in the quiet suburbs. Most houses’ lights are off – the ones that aren’t seem to suggest that they have been left on accidentally, that their owners are absent. The streetlights shine for everybody to use, but it’s just me out here, so at the moment, in a very real way, they have been left on for me alone. And I feel like I should be able to tell someone that it’s okay, I’ll just walk by the light of the moon leaking through the cracks in the cloud, and they could turn the lights off. The streets are in the vague territory between strange and familiar, new and old. I know them too well to be surprised by them, even curious, but at the same time they aren’t fresh with the smell of the ocean, where we used to live. What’s more, they don’t have years of memory irreversibly imprinted over them. And for the time being I can’t see them ever being imprinted over, not like that. But the feeling of the night is familiar, from hundreds of miles and several years away. How long can I walk before coming across another person? café wouldn’t count, someone walking on the other side of the street would. A helicopter passing overhead wouldn’t count, somebody riding a bike would – even several blocks away. I don’t know whereabouts cars fall, or their drivers, but so far I haven’t had to consider it. I walk. Ten minutes and nobody. I kick a crunched-up can down the footpath, its rattle hollow in the near-silence of the street, and I think about you, and whether you still live in a small house split down the middle. Then I remember that I know where you live now, that I saw the place more than once, that maybe we even had sex there, when it was your mother’s house and she grew tomatoes and pumpkins and cucumbers in the back yard. I smile to myself, half with fond reminiscence and half in the bitter recognisance of irony. I have always daydreamed that there is an entity somewhere with the ability not to see but to predict with perfect accuracy the remaining events of my life. Something almost
omniscient, which understood my psychology and could derive my future choices from that, and which knew my past and the impossibly complex interlocking of external events coinciding with the choices dictated by my temperament and inclination. I have always believed that this is a less than entirely silly daydream because regardless of our ability to comprehend it there is such a system operating. And we see it every day in the time we leave the house to what we eat for lunch. Or how we change where we are. So it’s not ridiculous to think there is a code to our lives, just that somebody could crack it. I see that daydream as belonging to an order of silliness lesser than that of believing someone who can see our futures and simultaneously allow us to choose them for ourselves. And to know, truly know, even just for half a second, that my my own, and I could blame someone else. Given the width to which it has expanded it seems strange, that there are no cars rushing by. I can hear the evidence of what I assume to be cars, like I said before: somewhere else, on the highway. One time in the burning heat of a parking lot in summer, I pointed to a car with one of those “All valuables removed from vehicle” signs the police were giving out then, and said how I thought they were stupid, or ridiculous, or that I hated them. And you questioned me on it and asked me why I would say that and I said that it contributes to a culture of fear. And you seemed convinced by that, conceding your point and agreeing with me, and I felt at once validated and grateful for your response. Because you didn’t know it but that phrase “culture of fear” was my imperfect summation of how the last ten years of my developing worldview directed nally developed a framework of complex shorthand. And I wasn’t sure it stood up anymore, that I could verbalise it, put it down into understandable terms. But you got what I meant, and that moment stood as proof for me that my internal framework was capable of being reworked into a verbal one and that even if I couldn’t verbalise it all the time, maybe it had some validity to it. I think that despite the things that happened I will always be grateful for that.
The night was peaceful before but it has since become too still. The high branches of trees are buffeted in the breeze, I imagine the cables strung up through the leaves, rocking. Light from the streetlamps skids across the asphalt. I am standing in the middle of the road and without running move towards a side-street, slipping into it and leaving the main off the tram tracks. Again I am comforted by the feeling of shadows around me, of a tightness lessening. I woke up in her bed when the room was still dark. Blood ran from my nose. It does that every year, around summer time. It’s not summer yet, but I rolled onto my back so the blood wouldn’t spill and lay there trying to fall asleep again, in the distended light of the streetlamp through the window. Sleep never came. So instead I got dressed without turning on the light and started walking. my face. There is the smell of salt in the air, but I can’t see how I could have walked all the way to the sea. I still haven’t seen anyone, any evidence of human life beyond the things people have made and the electricity that is continually crossed, but I turn too late, and by the time I look the street is as empty as I left it. I keep walking, down towards where it sounds like the land gives out to the ocean. Somehow when I remember you I think only of the heat of summer nights, walking through the suburbs dressed in white, fat fruit hanging ripe over fences. Oranges, lemons, all kinds of citrus. I remember us doing more but I cannot remember what those things were. Summer will be here soon, and I wonder if the few we shared were enough to convince me to expect you every year, which is why I’m thinking of you now, as if in anticipation. You would take the fruit that hung over the footpath and for the next few days drop slices of it into glasses of water. Our last summer together we spent hours digging claw-like bulbs out of the ground so you berries and watermelon, sweet things that grew fat on the vine. You watered your plants at night, and I wonder now what you thought of out there in the dark, nurturing the tiny cucumbers and tomato blossoms. Whether you had to pull yourself together before you startled me by banging on the window, grinning, hands rotting with mud, face like a ghost in the night. Remembering that makes me wonder if you had
doubts like I did, and whether those doubts are now distant and insubstantial, only the vine-fat strawberries remaining. like leather. For half a second their bodies and blurred wings There were no bats in the city we lived in. The street rises gradually. And as I reach its crest and look down at the ocean which rocks and sways, breaking and reconstituting the pinprick lights that glimmer on it, I wonder if I didn’t fall back to sleep after my nose started bleeding. I could still be lying in her bed. But that would be denying my senses, which are telling me with brutal clarity and consistency that I am, in fact, awake. The unlikelihood of the whole thing, the complete absence of people in a city this size, the impossible location of the sea, can’t refute the verisimilitude of what I’m seeing and feeling. Even more unlikely, though, and therefore more unsettling, is the tugging reminiscence, the past blurred into a collection of summer-fond afternoons – memories no less powerful with the knowledge that I walked out of your bedroom one night for a reason. The heart lies about the past, but I have the facts. Even so, just as I am incapable of changing the absurd location of the ocean I am incapable of remembering my life any It is the sense that the best is gathering behind me. Unlikely we could ever have been as good as I remember, but if we were then this right now could not be anything more than a my sleep as we lie together naked on the sweat-soaked sheets of your double bed. Street- and moonlight in your big room, the concrete outside still warm from the sun and the reassuring pressure of your head on my chest, dark hair slicked against your forehead, listening to me sleep. Because I would not have walked out. I sit in the middle of the street and look out at the ocean. I decide to wait for dawn. It’s the only thing that could come as proof, and I roll a few cigarettes and hope I’m not still here when the light cracks over the water, that instead I have vanished back to the place I came from, gone home.
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Published on Mar 22, 2013