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Vol. 78

Issue 11

18 May

The Pretentious Issue Come On! Feel the Harsh Noise! 12

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The Malickthon 18

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Panel Experts 26


Contents 04-10

News

12-23

05

Poppin’ caps… on their heads

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Boyd Wilson steps finally safe?

Regular Content 03 Editorial 11 Puzzles 30 Science 32 Thank God for The Bachelor 33 The Moan Zone 33 We Drank This So You Wouldn’t Have To 34 Maori Matters 35 The Week In Feminsim 36 VUWSA 37 Being Well 38 Music 40 Books 41 Games 42 Film 43 Food 44 Visual Arts 46 Letters

Editor Sam McChesney

Senior Feature Writer Philip McSweeney

Design and Illustration Ella Bates-Hermans Lily Paris West

Feature Writers Charlotte Doyle Gus Mitchell

Senior News Editor Sophie Boot

Distributor Beckie Wilson

News Editor Nicola Braid Chief Sub Editor Kimaya McIntosh

News Interns Emma Hurley Charlie Prout Tim Grgec Beckie Wilson Elea Yule

Sub Editor Zoe Russell

News Photographer Jessica Hill

Section Editors Ruth Corkill (Science) Sharon Lam (Visual Arts) Jack Young (Gaming) Jayne Mulligan (Books) Alice Reid (Music) Fairooz Samy (Film) Other Contributors Laura Munro, Harpreet Singh, Thomas Minnee, Joe Cruden, George Block, Tom and Luke, Lydia and Mitch, Te Po Hawaikarangi, Brittany Mackie, Jacinta Gulasekharam, Cathy Stephenson, Sarah Dillon, Harry Evans, Cameron Gray, Kari Schmidt.

Features

12

Come On! Feel the Harsh Noise!

18

The Malickthon

26

Panel Experts

Contact Level 2, Student Union Building Victoria University P.O. Box 600, Wellington Phone: 04 463 6766 Editor: editor@salient.org.nz News Editor: news@salient. org.nz Website: salient.org.nz Twitter: @salientmagazine Facebook: facebook.com/ salientmagazine Advertising Email: sales@vuwsa.org.nz Phone: 04 463 6982

Printed By Guardian Print, Ashburton

About Us Salient is published by, but is editorially independent from, the Victoria University of Wellington Students’ Association (VUWSA). Salient is a member of the Aotearoa Student Press Association (ASPA) and the New Zealand Press Council. Salient is funded in part by Victoria University of Wellington students through the Student Services Levy. The views expressed in Salient do not necessarily reflect those of the Editor, VUWSA, or the University. Complaints People with a complaint against the magazine should first complain in writing to the Editor and then, if not satisfied with the response, complain to the Press Council. See presscouncil.org.nz/complain.php for more information.


Collabitorial

Sam McChesney and Philip McSweeney

There’s an art to making the ultimate best-of list, especially if the purpose of the list is to show everyone just how cultured, thoughtful and intelligent you are. Take, for instance, New Yorker critic Richard Brody’s list of the top ten films between 2000 and 2010; a perfect blend of canon-sculpting, contrarianism and obscurantism. There’s a Godard film, of course (Eloge de l’amour); there’s an array of foreignlanguage films nobody’s seen; there’s a token nod to mainstream cinema (Knocked Up); there’s a film so truly average its inclusion could only be Brody subtly trolling his readers (The Darjeeling Limited). Because this is the Pretentious Issue, we are honoured to follow in such esteemed footsteps as Brody’s. These days—unless you are a critic for the New Yorker, in which case you get a pass—compiling lists is a perilous business. Fear of comparisons to Buzzfeed listicles aside, our so-called postmodernism requires writers not just to be self-aware: they need to be self-aware of their self-awareness, and so on in an endless recursive loop of caveats, acknowledgement of biases. There is a plethora of reasons for this, some of them sound. Here’s one that isn’t: every writer secretly fears readers bandying the word “pretentious” about. Using the p-word as a criticism—and often employing it incorrectly—is reductive, a kneejerk tool to stifle to productive conversation. Now, we have no idea where we’re going with this; to be perfectly honest, we’re just writing a paragraph each and swapping seats (it’s Sam here, hi). We were going to write a list of the best films of this half-decade; then we were going to write a list of the ten best things, full stop. Realising we would then have to start including things like “oxygen” and “gravity”, we got got stumped, watched some Survivor (bye Dan!), and each palmed off the responsibility for deciding what this editorial was even about by ending the paragraph and switching seats. Over to you, Philip. Bye Dan indeed! That postal worker just got returned to sender :^) I don’t really have a direction either, outside of punishing wordplay, but I think it’s fitting that this editorial was written while watching an episode of Survivor so good it felt like an orgasm. There’s no shame in liking Survivor, or Keeping Up With The Kardashians, or anything else people (wrongly) tell you is low-brow trash. By the same token, there’s no shame in thinking Under The Skin is the best movie of the half-decade (I hope), or being able to wax lyrical about Proust or whatever. If you’re genuine you’ve nothing to fear. Like what you like and be damned. Showing a love interest a list of your top five films won’t get you laid (although if they sit through a stupefying dull movie they abhor for you, you know you’re going places) or earn you respect. It might encourage people to check stuff out and be grounds for a mean yarn. Fuck ulterior motives. Saaam? Good work Philip. I think we’ve got enough words to fill the page now. Bye folks!

Sam and Philip’s combined list of the top five films of the last half-decade because we decided we wanted to do that anyway: Submarine (Sam’s) Under the Skin (Philip’s) Jodorowsky’s Dune (Sam’s) The Perks of Being a Wallflower (Philip’s) X-Men: Days of Future Past (Sam’s)


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Disappointment of the week:

salient

BY THE NUMBERS £1,300 What you can pay to see England FC captain Steven Gerrard play his final game at Anfield.

70.6% The proportion of Americans who currently identify as Christian according to the Pew Research Centre.

NZ$110 What you can pay per night for a hotel room in Japan designed specifically to help women “cry heartily in Comfort”.

David Cameron Leader of the British Conservative Party David Cameron will remain British Prime Minister for the next five years after the Tories were voted in with a 12-seat majority in the UK’s general election. Cameron, whose party plans to cut education allowances and benefits, was recently aptly described by comedian John Oliver as “a man who fastforwards through the servant parts of Downton Abbey”. At least we can take some solace in the fact that UKIP’s Nigel kill-me-now Farage failed to win his own seat.

www.salient.org.nz

29% Proportion of seats in the UK Parliament filled by women following the UK’s most recent election.

3296 As of last Thursday, signatures on an online petition demanding an apology from TVNZ for its recent coverage of “Scarfie culture”.


issue 11

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NEWS. KEE N EYE FOR NEWS? S END ANY T IPS , LEADS OR GOSSIP TO NE WS @S ALIENT.ORG.NZ

Poppin’ caps… on their heads Elea Yule

While Kanye West was being undeservedly presented with an honorary doctorate in Fine Arts, 2191 Victoria students of actual intellectual calibre were rewarded with a total of 2446 qualifications (including 41 PhDs) during last week’s graduation ceremonies.

Several sad—and mad—grads responded to the post:

The six ceremonies, spread across 12–14 May, aimed to celebrate the achievements of students in their chosen fields.

“Super disappointed in the way that this has been run, May isn’t exactly great weather central as a month and the fact there was no back up day for so many graduates is just ridiculous. Not good enough.”

Victoria University Chancellor Sir Neville Jordan was keen to remind graduands that getting a degree from Victoria was “no easy feat—anyone graduating should not lose sight of the value and significance of their accomplishment.”

“Still keen to walk against traffic holding a sign that says ‘ARTS’ written in crayon on cardboard, blasting ‘Don’t Rain On My Parade’ out of my phone speakers.”

“Stupid premature decision. The weather was fine since 11. You made a stupid move and others must pay. There better be parade tomorrow or there will be a civil suit matter in court.”

The formal processions of staff and students through the centre of Wellington City were organised with the intention of inviting the general public to take part in the festivities and “come and celebrate with us”.

The University also announced on Facebook that academic dress will be available, free of charge, in June and July for any missed photo opportunities. Students can email graduation@vuw.ac.nz for any further details.

However, no one made allowances for Wellington’s frequently shocking weather and several hundred students had their parades well and truly rained on. Graduands from the Tuesday and Thursday were all ultimately denied their stroll through the CBD garbed in robes and caps.

Despite the waterworks, all graduands are now richer one mighty expensive piece of paper and are now prepared to step out into the real world and make something of themselves; a feat in which Sir Neville has every confidence they will excel.

After declaring the Tuesday Graduation Parade all washed up, Victoria University posted to their Facebook page that those who had been set to walk in it were unlikely to be able to defer to the Thursday parade due to a shortage of gowns.

“As alumni of New Zealand’s globally ranked capital city university, I know that this week’s cohort of Victoria graduates will go on to make an important contribution to New Zealand and the world, and I wish each of them every success in their future endeavours.”

editor@salient.org.nz


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News

Boyd Wilson Steps Finally Safe? Charlie Prout Victoria University and the Wellington City Council are working to make it safer for students to walk home. Following sexually motivated attacks on a number of women earlier last year on Boyd Wilson steps, both the Council and the University have attempted to improve the security and lighting in the area. Changes include the enhancement of lighting in the area, the cutting back of foliage, and four new CCTV cameras, which are monitored 24 hours a day. Campus Security is also conducting nightly foot and mobile patrols across the Kelburn Campus in order to make the University safer. The changes were implemented after heavy pressure from students at the Victoria, which included a protest entitled “Let Me Go Home” organised by the VUWSA Women’s Group that led to a discussion on the safety of women on campus. In addition, a change.org petition by Sofia Roberts and Lucy Moss-Mason that gained over 1000 signatures demanded that the police, the University, and the Council work together to improve the safety of female students. These actions were taken after the Council failed to improve lighting in the area in response to complaints by residents.

www.salient.org.nz

The Council also went so far as to advise women to avoid the path entirely in favour of another route. The Boyd Wilson steps have been a common place for assaults on students over the past ten years. Despite the improvements, VUWSA feels more could be done to improve safety. Last year VUWSA looked into the possibility of panic stations, which are in place at the University of Otago and the University of Canterbury. Plans included a panic button, and a phone with a light attached. However, the University has not installed these stations. VUWSA President Rick Zwaan assured Salient that the association was aware there were “still lots of gaps” but it was “continuing to work on a number of initiatives such as pushing the uni to improve the likes of pathways [and] creating a simplified and effective way for students to report incidents or get hold of security in emergencies.” The University insisted that improvements in the safety of the area since increased security. In an official statement, the University said “since these measures were taken, there has been a marked decrease in criminal behaviour on the pathway with no reported cases this year to date.”

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News

issue 11

Sunday slammed for Scarfie stereotyping Students: Apologise or we’ll fuck shit up Laura Munro, Critic TVNZ’s Sunday episode “Party Central” received backlash from students after it aired on 10 May. The episode featured two residents, one living in close proximity to the 17-man flat “Backpackers”, sharing their views on the relationship between University of Otago students and the community. Comments focused heavily on student drinking culture. Two students also spoke to the show, one from the Backpackers flat and one from Castle Street’s “Beehive”. Sunday was criticised for what many saw as an unfair portrayal of the students who spoke, and of Otago students in general. Former student and Dunedin real estate agent Tyler McCorkindale said the Beehive was “one of the worst examples for the media to interpret as a standard student flat”. “If they had chosen the average student, they may find they spend a bit more time in the library, have hobbies they enjoy doing sober and, who knows, there might even be a dishes roster they adhere to,” said McCorkindale. When asked why the Beehive was chosen, Sunday producer Jane Skinner said the choice was not pre-planned. Skinner said the Sunday team drove down Castle Street during filming and saw the flat “with its front windows smashed out and cans all over the front” and asked the residents to film inside. A petition calling for TVNZ to “publicly apologise for their biased report on Dunedin students” was created almost immediately after the episode aired. The petition aimed to get 500 signatures—by the time this went to print there were 3300. Although OUSA President Paul Hunt was interviewed for the segment he was not included when the episode aired. Skinner said the reason Hunt’s interview was omitted not because of what he said, but because of the “the delivery”. The interview was “of no service to the student population and not

articulate or sufficient for a TV broadcast,” Skinner said. Ouch. Hunt responded that “the only opportunity students got [to defend themselves] was when [Sunday] barged onto their private property and stuck a microphone in their face.” University of Otago Vice-Chancellor Harlene Hayne was briefly interviewed by Sunday, though she has since released a statement saying the episode “was not representative of our entire Otago student culture”. Dunedin Mayor Dave Cull, who was also briefly interviewed, said his view of students was “not fully” portrayed on the episode. Cull insisted students contribute to Dunedin “intellectually, culturally, financially, recreationally, socially and in many other ways. They are an essential part of what makes our city what it is and have been for decades.” Skinner maintained that Sunday “never sought to portray ‘all’ Otago students in [the] story … We made it clear that we were talking about a minority of students and several times we referred to ‘a small subgroup of the community that’s been given carte blanche’ and ‘there’s a few people who give them a bad name’.” The episode featured coverage of the annual Hyde Street party, which has been run by OUSA for the past three years. Around 3500 people attended this year’s event, and according to the University only six students were sent to its disciplinary office for their behaviour on the day. Police Area Commander for Otago Coastal Jason Guthrie said that “the vast majority of students are a pleasure to deal with.” Guthrie said the stereotypes of Otago students are “not true” and that “the reputation of the majority continues to be tarnished by the immature minority”.

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Stoners safe for now Sophie Boot Victoria students remain safe from the scourge of random drug testing, while students down south are not so lucky. Otago Polytechnic is considering extending drug testing to most students and staff, after testing around 100 engineering students earlier this year. Currently, the polytech has a policy of only testing arboricultural students—meaning they can prune, but not inhale, trees. The proposed new policy would allow the polytech to test if staff had reason to believe someone was under the influence of alcohol or drugs, as well as tests after an accident. Pam Thorburn, Director of Student Academic Services, said Victoria University is not considering drug testing. “We have not previously considered it and are not currently considering it. No specific concerns have been raised with us around this matter.” While this is great news for anyone who spends time in the cemetery, spare a thought for those studying design, arts or hospitality down south—they could be tested, as Otago Polytechnic has deemed those faculties “safety sensitive areas”. In fact, the only students whose sobriety Otago Polytechnic won’t test are those studying business and IT. Tertiary Education Union (TEU) President Sandra Gray said random testing was “highly invasive”. “Under what they’ve called safety sensitive areas, they have included a huge range of programmes.” VUWSA President Rick Zwaan said the testing was “bizarre” and he was pleased Victoria was not considering implementing a similar policy. “If Vic decided to follow suit I would be worried at the drop in staff and students coming to class.” Thankfully, there is no New Zealand tertiary institute that currently tests whether you’ve turned up still in last night’s clothes, smelling faintly of Fat Bird and suffering from scurvy because you’ve eaten nothing but KK Malaysia for a week. Happy days.

editor@salient.org.nz


08

News

Chancellor remembers who what when where why, but forgets how Emma Hurley

University Chancellor Sir Neville Jordan has criticised the Wellington City Council (WCC) for failing to pay attention to education in its draft Long Term Plan for 2015 to 2025. The Long Term Plan outlines how the Council will respond to residents’ needs, how it will improve the city, and how it will allocate its funds. On 8 May Sir Neville penned an opinion piece on Stuff, “Education left out of council plans for Wellington”, in which he wrote that “nowhere in the plan is there any recognition of the major contribution that education already makes to the city and wider region.” Sir Neville’s article drew criticism from Stuff ’s esteemed commenters, who pointed out that he had omitted any actionable suggestions or clear policy alternatives. Sir Neville wants the WCC to take “an active interest in the development of a comprehensive Wellington education sector growth plan”. He found it “perplexing” that the WCC’s proposals for economic growth did not specifically relate to the education sector, given the sector’s contributions to the economy. “As major employers, significant contributors of revenue, and as centres of intellectual influence, Wellington’s rich resource of education providers has a vital role to play in turning the fortunes of the city around,” he wrote. Sir Neville suggested that the Council invest more in supporting engineering students, in order to meet the local demand or join Wellington’s “high-tech firms to develop the smart people necessary for a vibrant regional economy”. He also wanted to see more marketing on behalf of the WCC to advertise “the high-quality tuition available and the outstanding experience students can have in New Zealand’s capital city as they receive a world-class education”. VUWSA President Rick Zwaan praised the Chancellor for echoing the association’s calls for council to implement policies that reflect “the value of having students in our city”. Zwaan was also willing to provide specific suggestions in that “VUWSA’s submission on the Long Term Plan called for specific initiatives such as implementing a rental WoF in Wellington along with continuing to improve city infrastructure to make it easier and safer for people to get around.” WCC will analyse submissions to the draft and the finalised Long Term Plan will go to Council for adoption on 24 June. The Chancellor chose not to comment to Salient for this article until he had met with the Council. www.salient.org.nz

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Lincoln is Dairy-ing other Ewe-nies to follow suit Nicola Braid Lincoln University has become the first tertiary institution in New Zealand to offer set program fees for domestic students.

we are pleased with any approach that stretches the student dollar further and provides greater financial security for students,” Fryer said.

A set-program fee offers students the same annual tuition costs for the duration of their degree, without any fee increases year-by-year.

When asked if Victoria would also be considering similar fee arrangements, the University told Salient that it has “no plans to offer fee guarantees”. The University’s Chief Operating Officer Andrew Simpson admitted that “ideally, we would like to be able to offer more certainty to both domestic and international students” but conceded that “a number of factors make this difficult.”

After introducing the model for international students in 2014, the decision was made to give domestic students the same financial security. When Radio New Zealand questioned the financial repercussions of the move, Lincoln’s Deputy ViceChancellor Jeremy Baker said “we believe we should be able to tell people what the price of their education [will be] up front”. “It’s a lot more valuable for us to have an additional student than to try and add a couple of hundred dollars here or there to each existing student,” Baker said. Students who receive high enough grades and complete their qualifications within the normal time frame will benefit from the set costs. Jeremy insisted that these expectations would still allow for students to make up papers in summer school and conceded “you don’t have to be perfect but you do have to be pretty good.” Whereas students who fail to pass courses and/or complete them in time will not receive the same privilege.

Simpson cited a lack of certainty surrounding government funding and the University’s financial commitments as the reasoning behind Vic’s fee-setting. He insisted that “in the current environment, tuition fees are the only mechanism available to us to ensure the quality of our programmes is maintained.” VUWSA President Rick Zwaan told Salient that VUWSA was interested in exploring similar approaches to fee setting at Vic as “having certainty over the full cost of your degree makes sense and may, in some cases, make it cheaper for students than perpetual annual four per cent increases in fees.” However, Zwaan said any adjustment would need to be made carefully “to ensure the University doesn’t use it as a way to outrageously increase fees and the burden of debt on students.”

Lincoln University Students’ Association President Kahlia Fryer has publically supported the move. “The proposals for these changes were strongly received by students and

editor@salient.org.nz


10

salient

News

Incense can’t hold a candle to bacon

Yum!

Damn fine car A security camera has caught a man having sex with a Porsche in a garage in Thailand. The man is seen on camera walking around the Porsche and checking out its luscious curves, before kneeling down and having his way with the car’s front and rear ends. It’s unlikely the car got much out of the encounter, as the prospect of a reacharound was less than practicable. It’s understood the man is yet to call.

Japanese variety show AKBingo! has made global headlines after a segment in which two contestants competed to blow a cockroach into the other’s mouth. The game involved a clear plastic tube with a cockroach in the middle, and one woman blowing into each end. The game ended with the cockroach seemingly hurled right down one contestant’s throat.

UK bakery chain Greggs has delivered the ultimate crowdpleaser: a bacon sandwichscented candle. Billed as “The Nation’s favourite smell to wake up to”—presumably because Britain contains no vegetarians, Muslims or Jewish people—the candle promises to fill British homes with the tantalising scent of dead pig. The news follows Kentucky Fried Chicken’s announcement of a KFC-scented candle, and Burger King’s launch, in Japan, of a Whopper-scented aftershave. Figures from 2013 show that 62.1 per cent of British adults are overweight or obese.

Cheep dental

Skinny driving Michigan woman Jessie Schwaub-Devault was arrested after drink-driving the wrong way down the street, refusing to stop for the police and fleeing on foot—all while naked. Her family, whom she dropped off before she was pulled over, were also naked.

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Otago University was left cursing its now useless investment in a world-class dental school, after a small parrot showed that tooth extraction really isn’t that difficult. Anton Andoshchuk, a boy from Ferndale, Washington, has now enlisted his pet Quaker parrot to pull out five of his baby teeth. The fifth extraction was filmed and uploaded to YouTube on 24 April. Standing on Andoshchuk’s shoulder, the parrot leans into his, grabs the loose molar in its beak and spends a few seconds yanking and twisting before coming away with the tooth.

Police not Social Darwinists Massachusetts police have warned campers that chasing bears through the woods with a blunt hatchet while drunk is “strongly not advised”. They were prompted to issue the reminder after a man chased a bear through the woods with a blunt hatchet while drunk. Police reiterated that this is “a bad idea and not going to end well”. The man was taken into protective custody to sober up.


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James Randi

Phillip McSweeney Ever walked past a construction site with a friend? Tyres squeal, diggers crunch, the yells of the foreman at unpredictable moments sound like a rasping opera singer. Amongst the cacophony you might be privy to the death-rattle of a spade being dragged across concrete, the dissonant hum of some industrial equipment that enters your taringas and takes root like a malevolent virus. You find the sounds unpleasant at best, agonising in the mean, akin to C.I.A. sensory torture at worst, and are about to say so when your companion turns to you and gets there first. They’re grinning ear-to-ear, in a shit-eating way: “I love this song! Isn’t it beautiful!”


issue 11

Features

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I will argue that Harsh Noise emerged in the 1960s. A joke: what do you call a John Coltrane album you downloaded off mediafire? Free Jazz! Coltrane was by no means the first musician to record in the cacophonous, unstructured way that defines Free Jazz—he derived inspiration from fellow genre stalwarts Cecil Taylor and especially Ornette Coleman—but he was the one who created the genre’s language and form, wrote the genre’s coding and its binary. Free Jazz was intended to elicit new sounds, both individually and in ensemble, and make use of purely free structure and interplay. The argument was that “new” sounds would a) elicit new emotions and b) re-enact a spiritual experience, creating a medium for communicating with divinity. In the Free Jazz was intended to elicit new words of one optimistic essayist, Free Jazz “will germinate trend-setting innovations and bring sounds, both individually and in enabout an unpredictable apotheosis, a euphoria none of the music-makers or listeners could have semble, and make use of purely free expected beforehand”.

structure and interplay.

The irony of this music being deemed “inaccessible” is that Coltrane, though privately Christian, was deliberately ambiguous about which creator his crescendos were supposed to commune with—he named one album Om, put a song called “The Father The Son and The Holy Ghost” on an album entitled Meditations. Squall = Transcendence. Listening to his albums recorded under the auspices of Free Jazz, it’s easy to see them as prototypes of the pulverising, uncompromising sonic attacks that compose (no pun intended) Harsh Noise today. This is especially true of his live concerts, often performed with his similarly talented and vastly underrated wife Alice banging away on the piano. Take the recording of his penultimate concert, a kind of holy grail for jazz fans that finally found its way into mainstream release decades after it was recorded. When the band let themselves in after an elongated double-bass solo on “My Favourite Things”, just shy of the eight-minute mark, the force could quite literally blow you off your seat or impel you to have a sit-down. The power is such that even the most fastidious of shoe-gazers couldn’t replicate it. Point: Another thing about his albums: they sound as bold and beautiful, not to mention monstrous, as I infer they did decades ago. Counter-Point: I note that other free jazz albums, like Peter Brotzmann’s infamous Machine Gun, have aged poorly in comparison. Perhaps the reason is that Brotzmann used the genre as a means of provoking and disquieting his audience, and only that; sure, there are primal thrills to be had, especially in the savage percussive work and menacing piano clunks, but honestly? It’s a bit boring. Point: Kaoru Abe was a Japanese Free Jazz saxophonist who used the most discordant range of his instrument as a means of communicating the frenetic highs and lows of a heroin addiction, as well as what made sense for him when he was strung-out. His crucial works have been re-issued; Brotzmann’s are on the wane. editor@salient.org.nz


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Features

While there are sonic and ideological similarities between free jazz and noise, I do want to stress that this paragraph only negotiates the “why?”, not the “how?” or “when?”. I’d like to, if I may, define “noise” as three main entities, which sired sub-genre offshoots along the way. The first is Noise Rock, which most music scholars generally agree emergeth of The Velvet Underground’s crackin’ (lol) White Light/White Heat or, outside the anglosphere, Les Rallizes Denudes’ raucous, feedback-drenched, often illegal live shows. In New Zealand we can lay claim to one of the first Noise Rock bands, The Gordons, who took the ball and ran with it until NME proclaimed them “the loudest band in the world”. It reached its height in the 90s, when bands like The Jesus Lizard used their testicles as instruments, Sonic Youth’s seminal Daydream Nation, though released in 1988, started getting college-radio play and Unwound started wailing at allages venues. Noise Rock is defined by its utilisation of dissonance, feedback, distorted guitar, ruptured drums; but it’s essential to note that the genre employs coherent, recognisable song structures and melodies (often angular) amidst the calamity. Or, to put it another way: Noise Rock is Rock Music focused through a literal blender. This brings us to Noise music proper. I want to note here that this epic is not moving forward chronologically but rather in descending order of what would be conventionally understood to be most to least accessible. Despite many academics claiming that “Noise” and “Noise Rock” are abjectly dissimilar—predictably, boringly, these arguments are made on elitist grounds—the relationship between the two is filled with overlap and compenetration. Deciding which came first would be a chicken and egg scenario—they both bolster and deconstruct the other. Essentially, Noise is distinguished from Noise Rock by the absence of conventional rock structures and tropes—there is nothing that approximates “verse chorus verse chorus bridge chorus”, no crescendo, no intros or outros. Instead Noise is “free” and non-idiomatic, utilising feedback, computer generated noise, extreme vocal techniques, found sounds that sound suitably abrasive, acousmatic noises and, well, noise. Never, outside of Cock Rock, has a genre been so aptly named. Noise does not need to be dissonant or ferocious or even very loud, although it often is; its aggression is often covert. Noise hasn’t really had a historical apex, though it sells to its unique market fairly consistently, but it’s commonly believed to have infiltrated its way into the mainstream with—again—Lou Reed. In 1975, he recorded Metal Machine Music as a way of getting out of a record contract and as a way of trolling his avid listeners, many of whom were expecting Transformer II: Revenge of the Fallen (mixed-media pun alert). Instead, they got an hour-long album consisting entirely of a feedback solo. Deranged visionary or monumental git? History seems to have settled on “both”, but I doubt Reed knew what a Pandora’s Box he’d opened. Look on his works, ye mighty, and despair. From there, noise caught on even in our far-flung part of the globe. Most notable perhaps is Birchville Cat Motel—imagine how many people have accidentally downloaded one of his albums expecting In The Aeroplane Over The Sea—a Wellington native whose album Our Love Will Destroy The World “split” an unprepared reviewer’s ears. In the hinterlands of Otago, meanwhile, The Dead C took Reed’s challenge and turned the volume dial up to eleven, releasing a series of critically acclaimed—not to mention Sonic Youthacclaimed—albums that were politely ignored outside of Dunedin. www.salient.org.nz

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Even today Dead C albums have to be specially imported from overseas, an anecdote that the members of the band delight in telling in a “fuck you New Zealand” kind of way. Art imitates life; hostility generates hostility. Noise provided the foundations for sub-genres to multiply like rabbits. They did so practically biblically: “And lo it was that Noise begat Industrial and Harsh Noise; Industrial begat a daughter, Death Industrial, while Harsh Noise birthed two brothers, Power Electronics and Harsh Noise Wall.” I’m wary of stating that Harsh Noise is essentially Noise taken to its (il)logical conclusions and limits, even though it does make for a pretty adroit soundbite. Descriptions like this don’t account for the subtlety and nuance that many examples of the genre display, and there’s a lot more going on in Harsh Noise than reactionary aggression or merely trying to make a listener as uncomfortable as possible. It does need to be acknowledged, however, that Harsh Noise does what it says on the tin. It relies on mammothly vicious, almost primal, noises and sounds that either pulverise the listener into abiding submission or make them frantically scramble for the OFF switch. Imagine the most unpleasant sound you can—fingernails on a chalkboard, the squeal of a cat fighting, a five-year-old fucking around on a violin— and Harsh Noise is there to one-up it. The genre caught like wildfire in Japan and South Korea, and as such its biggest proponents in terms of listenership—if “1000 copies sold!” doesn’t stretch the term “biggest” too much—hail from the Asias. A catchy label has even been coined for Harsh Noise from Japan, “Japanoise”. I can’t decide if this portmanteau is inspired or subtly racist, but with Merzbow, Boris and other dominating names being of Japanese origin, it would be impossible to ignore their influence. It turned out that Harsh Noise was far from the end-game of inaccessible, remote dissonance. Harsh Noise Wall removes even the structure of dynamics and variation, creating monolithic and unchanging “walls” of pure, unyielding noise and clobbering you over the head with it for upward of thirty minutes. Power Electronics, meanwhile takes the “feedback” of harsh noise and formulates it into unpredictable cresting waves, adds sounds that screech like power tools to the mix and scream unintelligible, harsh vocals. Proponents of these two sub-genres claim to represent the deepest, darkest recesses of the mind; explore the buried parts of our sexualities, egos, ideas. If this is what the genres are capable of, then opportunities are frequently squandered. Many song titles are designed for shock value, which makes them either puerile—if I were to write a parody of a power electronics song I’d call it “Blood in the Malodorous Stool Sample” or “When I Misbehave My Mistress Gives Me a Piss Enema” or some shit—or as disgustingly racist as the power structures they purport to be deconstructing (one album has a suite charmingly called: “Critical Determination of Genetic Malfunction in Three Racial Groups: A1 Negro; A2 Hispanic; A3 Semite (Arab and Jew)”. Fuck off ) that ends up attracting literal neoNazis and embarrassing everyone else in the entire scene. But then sometimes—sometimes—it works effectively, especially if people with an iota of intelligence are behind the stridency. Puce Mary’s incredible, punishing “The Female Form” is a vicious excoriation and representation of insidious misogyny and learned behaviours; it’s albums like these that do the genre’s vast potential justice.


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Why?

1 a) Harsh Noise is made by, and often for, the misfits, the oddballs, the alienated, the solitudinous, the alone. Harsh Noise befriends the lonely in this scenario. Harsh Noise albums build palatial and cold castles, always offering vacancies, for misfits to reside in, at least for a time.

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the new as we become more and more attuned to old favourites. What could be better than something sounds alien, cold, surreal?

c) Harsh Noise is demonstrative of different ways of perceiving, judging. Harsh Noise attracts those who are not “neurotypical” in both creators and listeners. Those suffering from mental illness, those who fall on the autistic spectrum, might find music that relates to unconventional brain processes. The solace this offers—“oh my God I’m not alone”—is invaluable. A way of perceiving the beautiful in the brutal.

3) When I found out that Darren Wilson was acquitted of murdering Michael Brown, Mo*Te’s bitterly ironic album Life in a Peaceful New World was the only thing that made sense. It was an album capable of capturing the futile rage, the despair, the only acceptable reactions to structural injustices and manifest cruelty. It functions a bit like Harsh Metal in this way; as Converge showed on Jane Doe, rage is inarticulable and inarticulate, incapable of being expressed through words but capable of self-expression nonetheless. The difference is that Metal showcases the kind of fury that one can only experience after a period of happiness, so comes with the added dimension of incorporating something that was once felt by omission. Harsh Noise laments what has never been and what may never be. Every time a Darren Wilson is acquitted, the further we get from a Life in a Peaceful New World, and that is something worth being vexed about.

2 a) If you’ve clocked the Pitchfork canon and are eager to embrace something new. This generally leads the listener along two diverging—but rewarding—paths: 1) outside the anglosphere, into Choro or Native American music or te puoro Maori or whatever or 2) deeper down the rabbit hole of Western genres. It’s a hell of a way down, lassie.

4) Though at first examples of the genre sound monochromatic, repeated exposure highlights a wealth of variation and eclecticism—not unlike listening to Radio Pop. Because it sounds fucking great. It’s cathartic, intense, impassioned, kinda fun, enlivening. Because it’s a brazen challenge; and a challenge you can decide whether or not you heed.

b) We’re designed by nature to experiment. The law of diminishing returns necessitates exploration, cravings for

5) It’ll annoy your flatmates and friends and you can laugh when you put it on at parties. LMAO.

b) Harsh Noise is escapism that knows you, the seething rages and terrible, terrible isolation, and promises “never will I forsake you again”. Harsh Noise is beautiful music for those allergic to sunlight.

editor@salient.org.nz


Sonic Youth - Daydream Nation

[More of this ilk pls!] Unwound – Leaves Turn Inside You Jesus Lizard – Goat The Velvet Underground – White Light, White Heat

‘These recommendations are 99 percent cock, and I mean that in both senses of the word [NOT THAT HAVING A COCK HAS ANYTHING TO DO WITH BEING MALE I JUST WANTED TO BE PITHY]. Check your privilege.’ Bikini Kill – Pussy Whipped (best band ever release their best album ever) AIDS WOLF – Cities of Glass Melt Banana – Charlie

[phew! This is okay, but do you mind if we take a breather? NO. YOU ASKED FOR THIS. TO BACK OUT NOW WOULD BE AN AFFRONT] HDU – Abstinence: Acrimony Yellow Swans – Drowner Yellow Swans The Gerogerigegege - Recollections of Primary Masturbation

[I a m b e c o m I n g o n e w I t h a l l t h a t I s p e r v e r s e a n d c r u e l. That’s the spirit!] Cremation Lily – Infant Women_against_violence_against_ women – Techstures Extreme Noise from Africa

[My feedback? MORE FEEDBACK] Les Rallizes Denudes – ’77 Live Unwound – Fake Train Harry Pussy – In An Emergency (You Can Shit On A Puerto Rican Whore)

[thanks! I’m ready to hubristically voyage deeper down the path, forgetting that it’s folly at its most grotesque to journey through the appalling and sadistic depths of the sonic spectrum. Oh God, why have ye forsaken me?]

[Love the angular, chiming guitars… that racket the kids these days are listening too is a bit much though!] Women – Public Strain Sonic Youth – Sister U.S. Maple – Acre Thrills

The Dead C – The White House (one of New Zealand’s finest cultural outputs, for three reasons: 3) excoriation of rock tropes and bombast 2) bringin’ da noise 1) their impressive builders’ cracks Ramleh – Hole in the Heart Keiji Haino, Jim O'Rourke & Oren Ambarchi - In a Flash Everything Comes Together as One There Is No Need for a Subject

[you call this ‘dissonant’? mate you avant-garde a clue]

I have a scented / jetfuel doesn’t melt steal beams

How to get your ins with the Noise Spectrum

[Start Here]

[you call this ‘difficult’? the only difficulty I have is staying awake through these tedious albums you blundering nincompoop] [you…you’re ready] Merzbow – Venereology The Haikodjin – THE NOISE [massive, sprawling, ‘roided 30-disc behemoth beast that according to people who have finished it is consistently incredible throughout. Too busy cowering in the corner at the sheer scope brb] Masonna – Open Your Cunt Whitehouse – Birdseed

[WRIGGLE LIKE A FUCKIN’ EEEEELLLLLL]


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[this is all very well, but it’s all a bit gloomy isn’t it? Can’t noise be, y’know fun?] I’m so glad u asked Kazumoto Endo – While You Were Out Incapacitants – As Loud As Possible EEK Chippy – Live at Cario High [note: this is emphatically not noise but will sound like it to Western ears]

[this is about as subtle as if they threw their own shit at me] that can be arranged! See The Gerogerigegege – Night [peddle your scattalogical wares elsewhere… is there anything more lowkey? Harsh silence maybe?] Sachiko M – Good Morning Good Night Hong Chulki / Ryu Hankil - Objets infernaux Keith Rowe, Sachiko M, Toshimaru Nakamura & Otomo Yoshihide - ErstLive 005 Kevin Drumm – Imperial Distortion

[I’d, err, like something with more pornographic covers please]

[I’d, err, like something more gross and ‘ironically’ racist please]

The Rita – True Asshole Worship Black Chastity – Predator’s Breath

Macronympha – Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania Pogrom – Liberal Cunt

[How about something that actively grapples with gender and misogyny?] Exploring Jezebel -- Locking Up the Husband's Penis Is Not Slavery, But Rather the Greatest Act of Kindness Given to a Man Puce Mary – Persona Pharmakon – Abandon

[Alright. Now I’m ready… I’ve come this far… What are the most brutal, unrelenting, heaviest albums known to man??] Are you sure?

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[kind of lame that they have to resort to computers and guitars to create such a pulverizing sound tho] here, have some hellish field recordings! I insist Ernst Karel - Swiss Mountain Transport Systems Arv & Miljö – Kropp (field recordings as a way of dealing with terminal illness; does not resort to the musical equivalent of ‘jump scares’ or tactless invasiveness of other patients, and is all the more viscerally disquieting for it) Jacob Kirkegaard – 4 Rooms (Field Recordings taken from now-empty rooms in Chernobyl)

This is what I put on to charm prospective suitors! You’re not very good at high jump are you? I posit this assumption because you’re leaping to conclusions. Which ones are your favourites? Government Alpha – Resolution of Remembrance Mo*Te – Life in a Peaceful New World Killer Bug – Beyond the Valley of the Tapes

[I’ve steeled myself. Absolutely] Metallica – St. Anger Dragonforce – Dragonforce Nigel Peppercock – Fresh White Reeboks Kicking Your Ass editor@salient.org.nz


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S a m

M c C h e s n e y


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“My mother died of pneumonia when I was just a kid. My father had kept their wedding cake in the freezer for ten whole years. After the funeral, he gave it to the yardman. He tried to act cheerful, but he could never be consoled by the little stranger he found in his house. Then, one day, hoping to begin a new life away from the scene of all his memories, he moved us from Texas to Fort Dupree, South Dakota.” So began my day alone with Terrence Malick. Malick is one of film’s great reclusive artists. In a career going back to the early 70s, he has made only seven films. The latest, Knight of Cups, showed in festivals earlier this year. Famed for his woozy, rapturous style and beautiful cinematography, he’s a critics’ darling and a bafflement to almost everyone else.

enough in its own right, letting Malick bathe it in his dreamlike direction without ever becoming too abstract or ethereal. Anyway, fantastic. It’s still only 7pm. The night is young; bring on Days of Heaven. -

A couple of weeks back, I decided to inflict on myself a great sacrifice in the name of journalism, and undergo a Malick marathon. All six of his films, back to back, chronologically. 784 minutes. Let the whispered voiceovers commence.

“Me and my brother, it just used to be me and my brother. We used to do things together. We used to have fun. We used to roam the streets. There was people suffering of pain and hunger. Some people, their tongues were hanging out of their mouth. He used to juggle apples. He used to amuse us. He used to entertain us.”

I wake up on Saturday, hungover and grumpy. I’m in no mood for Terrence bloody Malick. I procrastinate by binge-watching half a season of Chuck (sexism aside, how great was that show?) and by the time I’m ready, it’s after 5pm. Realising I would now be up until at least 6am, I glumly put on Badlands, and the ordeal begins. I’ve seen Badlands a few times before, and it’s actually quite wonderful. The film follows Holly and Kit, fictionalised versions of Caril Fugate and Charles Starkweather, as they murder their way across rural America. Holly (Sissy Spacek), a hopelessly naive batontwirling teenager, immediately falls for Kit (Martin Sheen), a greaser who “looks just like James Dean”. When Holly’s father disapproves, Kit shoots him dead, and the pair go on the run. Kit is odd—in his first line of dialogue, he offers a coworker a dollar to eat a dead collie—and he quickly starts killing for no good reason. In her voiceovers, Holly, the film’s oh-so-unreliable narrator, spins a breathless schoolgirl fairytale about the pair’s adventures, while Kit treats her with callous indifference. Both are a bit dim, and many of their conversations show a breathtaking lack of self-reflection (“How’s he doing?”; “I shot him in the stomach”; “Is he upset?”; “He didn’t say anything to me about it”). The story—fifties America’s nightmare of errant youth—is gripping

Like most of Malick’s films, Days of Heaven examines a particular facet of Americana—in this case, the early twentieth-century Texan panhandle, a place of dust and suspenders and hanging out down the river. The film is about a couple (Richard Gere and Brooke Adams) who pose as brother and sister and try to claim the inheritance of a wealthy dying farmer. The plot is hugely predictable and can be summarised in about two sentences, although Wikipedia manfully pads it out to two paragraphs. The glacial pacing, striking cinematography, and cryptic mumbly narration all give the air of a Very Important And Meaningful Film, but on its release in 1978, the critics weren’t overly impressed—The New York Times called it “artificial” and “intolerably artsy”. It’s unclear whether Days of Heaven really does have profound depth lurking beneath all the dreamy shots, or whether it just tries to generate emotion and meaning by having the narrator randomly say things like, “I remember this guy called Black Jack. He died. He only had one leg, and he died.” At one point the farm is overrun by locusts, a development that seems as symbolically obvious as the rat that runs across the screen at the end of The Departed, except that in this case, it doesn’t really appear to mean anything except “oh no, locusts!”. The narration, by 16-year-old Linda Manz, is what ties it all together. It was inserted well after filming, when a desperate Malick realised he’d shot little more than a baffling and nonsensical series of pretty editor@salient.org.nz


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images. He recorded hours of Manz’s ad-libs and condensed them into a kind of supercut of striking urchin-poetry—“We seen trees that the leaves are shaking, and it looks like shadows of guys coming at you and stuff. We heard owls squawking away, moving away.” It’s weird and affected, but also undeniably cool; an indistinct, semirelevant babble that Malick’s been trying to recreate ever since, with mixed results.

“Where is it that we were together? Who were you that I lived with? Walked with? The brother. The friend. Darkness, light. Strife and love. Are they the working of one mind? The features of the same face? Oh, my soul. Let me be in you now. Look out through my eyes. Look out at the things you made. All things shining.”

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After Days of Heaven, Malick disappeared from the public eye. He continued to produce scripts from his seclusion in Paris, but his hiatus from directing ended up lasting twenty years. During this time Days of Heaven underwent a re-evaluation, as the next generation of film critics decided that yeah, they had totes understood it. The reclusive, still youthful director of two highly-regarded films saw his reputation reach mythical status. When Malick finally made his return in the mid-nineties to adapt James Jones’ WWII novel The Thin Red Line, he was able to cast a staggering array of A-list talent including (deep breath) Sean Penn, Nick Nolte, Adrien Brody, John Cusack, John C. Reilly, Jim Caviezel, and John Travolta. George Clooney pops up for a cameo. Jared Leto appears and dies almost immediately. Woody Harrelson blows his own bum off. Matthew McConaughey, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Leonardo DiCaprio and Nicolas Cage orbited the film’s production for a time. Scenes involving Gary Oldman, Mickey Rourke and Viggo Mortensen were removed from the final cut.

It’s midnight, and I’m halfway through. Next up is The New World, a film I’ve seen roughly five times now. I say “seen”—the longest I’ve made it through without falling asleep is about half an hour, and at 172 minutes, it’s Malick’s longest. I don’t fancy my chances. Time to restock on coffee.

I start The Thin Red Line at around nine. At 171 minutes, its action and plot would barely fill an hour of a more conventional war film. The ensemble cast is confusing as hell, and the only character with a clearly defined personality is Nolte’s completely stock, hardboiled lieutenant. Two of the most prominent characters have generic facial features, similar Appalachian accents and nearly identical personalities (insofar as they have any at all), making them almost entirely interchangeable. One of them has an existential crisis. One of them (perhaps the same one?) dies. Don’t worry, though, the survivor wraps things up with a voiceover that totally explains everything. www.salient.org.nz

Oh, now it all makes sense.

I go to the kitchen and encounter my long-suffering flatmate Ross. “Hey mate, you haven’t done your chores yet. Could you get on that soon?” he asks. I’m taken aback at this novel form of communication; who would have thought words could be used to form short, declarative sentences and direct requests? And such excellent diction! I had been half expecting just to hear Ross’s disembodied mumble as I entered the kitchen, “what are these stains? Where runs the water? Listen to me, spirit of Finish Powerball. Let him be cleaner, this dirty flatmate. Let him hear the power of your Powerball.” Or perhaps, “I remember this guy called Dirty Sam. He died. He didn’t clean the kitchen, and he died.” Instead of answering, I play some solemn music and stare moodily out the window, and Ross shuffles awkwardly into the hall. The New World opens, of course, with a voiceover. “Come, spirit. Help us sing the story of our land. You are our mother. We, your field of corn. We rise from out of the soul of you.” Jesus Christ. This one tells the story of Pocahontas, though she’s never referred to as Pocahontas in the film. Indeed, few things are referred to as anything by anyone; the plot is driven almost exclusively by voiceover (mumblingly handled by Colin Farrell and Q’orianka Kircher),


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random snatches of dialogue, and mise-en-scene. There are probably fewer than five genuine conversations between its characters. Pocahontas (Kircher) spends large sections of the film simply wandering around, looking at trees and crying. Telling Pocahontas’ whole story, from the arrival of the English at Jamestown to her death (spoiler alert!) means covering her relationships with both John Smith (Farrell) and John Rolfe (Christian Bale); Smith’s disappearance and Rolfe’s arrival two-thirds of the way through the film is a disorienting narrative bait and switch. For all the ground the film tries to cover, though, it’s also far too long—my eyes can take only so many shots of Colin Farrell rolling around in the long grass set to swelling orchestral music before the lids start to droop. The final scenes, showing Pocahontas’ journey to England, are spectacular. But it takes 150 minutes to even get there; and it’s the two and a half hours of meadow-porn that make the gigantic, regimented scenes of the Old World truly pay off. Is it really worth waiting around that long, just to have your mind blown for a few minutes? The question is a nagging echo. Variations on the same had drifted through my mind during Days of Heaven. And during The Thin Red Line. Not during Badlands, though; Badlands was great. It’s 3am. I’m two-thirds of the way through a large bottle of Pepsi. I put on The Tree of Life and fidget my way through the first twenty minutes. There are voiceovers (“Brother. Mother. It was they who led me to your door”). There is woozy, dreamlike camerawork. There are random shots of beautiful natural phenomena. There is Sean Penn’s dumb face. Sigh. The Tree of Life is Malick’s magnum opus, a film of insane ambition that plays like a bizarre mashup of 2001: A Space Odyssey, Gummo, and those awkward home videos your parents made when you were

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four. The “plot” revolves around a man reflecting on the meaning of life and humanity’s place in the cosmos, via recollections of his 1950s suburban upbringing in Waco, Texas. Or something. Anyway, the film takes in some scenes of rent-a-mope Penn wandering around his architectural firm looking forlorn, some trippy birth-of-the-universe lightshow nonsense, and some beautifully shot and touching comingof-age sections, before culminating in a cringeworthy heaven bit where the world ends and the fam hugs it out on a beach. That the whole thing is way too long and has little in the way of story should by this point go without saying, as should the fact that all the characters are fashionably glum (sample dialogue: “I just want to die. To be with him”). But the ten-minute universe sequence, barring an unfortunate bit with some extremely fake-looking dinosaurs, features some of the most gorgeous shots I have ever seen. And Hunter McCracken, the kid who plays young Sean Penn, is incredibly good (now that I think about it, Malick seems to always get really, really great performances from his young actors). Unlike Malick’s other films, the problems with The Tree of Life are less of the “so much time, so little to do” variety, but stem from certain specific, egregious missteps. The bit with the horrible CG dinosaurs. The bit where Jessica Chastain levitates around a tree. The way Malick skilfully sets up a secular-friendly spiritual outlook, only to completely wreck it with hammy Christian overtones during that awful beach scene. When the first Star Wars prequel came out, one outraged, public-spirited individual produced an edited version that removed the racism, the bloat, the unwelcome bits of canon. The Tree of Life is clearly much better than the Star Wars prequels, even if Sean Penn getting his head cut off by a lightsaber would have been a welcome addition. But it could really use its own Phantom Edit. Cannes didn’t think so—The Tree of Life won the Palme D’Or and received rave reviews from the critics who, naturally, understood the whole thing, like, OMG for realz—but the film-buff blogosphere was less impressed. “It’s pretentious and derivative,” sniffed one. “And the universe scenes were a bad ripoff of Dog Star Man.” Curious, I downloaded bought Dog Star Man and skimmed watched it. It was a editor@salient.org.nz


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silent, 70-minute montage of indistinct bits of blurry colour, inexplicably arranged into four parts. Yeah, nah. I’ll stick with the breathtaking and emotionally stirring shots of unrivalled cosmic beauty, thanks. It’s 4:30am in my Malickthon, and grandiose sweep is by now a familiar sight. In terms of sheer ambition, though, The Tree of Life is something else. In this age of endless sequels, remakes and spandex crimefighters, it seems wrong to criticise a film for aiming somewhat higher. But then it occurred to me that The Tree of Life doesn’t offer much in the way of actual philosophical content, it just points its nose in the general direction of Big Ideas and expects the audience to fill in the gaps. This type of thing has always seemed a bit of a cop-out to me, especially when it’s an approach explicitly designed to make viewers gush about how deep the film was. Heck, even Captain America: The Winter Soldier tried to make a serious and cogent point about state surveillance, even if the whole thing culminated in a series of kicks to the sternum and some gibberish about secret Nazi super-soldiers. Why do we find pretension so objectionable? My pretentious theory (which I stole off Thomas Hobbes, but there you go) is that it’s all about ego. We hate to be reminded of the meagreness of our own feats—if there’s one virtue we value above all others in our high achieving peers, it’s humbleness. Pretentious people bother us because adopting the graces of the highly important and creative is an implicit insult to the rest of us mediocre types. Often it’s an unbearable provocation, and we stew for a bit, and fantasise about exposing them as charlatans. Looking for evidence of hypocrisy is the near-universal response to a bruised ego. This preoccupation with pretension, and the exposure of those who practice it, is an expression of a social hierarchy that was once based on class and today is based on merit. Previous centuries scorned “bounders” who sought to live “above their station”; now we scorn the www.salient.org.nz

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hipster, who tries to cultivate an air of sophistication and intelligence woefully out of proportion to their actual achievements. Is this an immature, unhealthy obsession? Is it a sign of a society defined by competition and vulgar meritocracy, where another’s elevation means our own corresponding demotion? You bet—if someone’s going to overtake me on the coolness ladder, they’d better have earned it. It’s 5:30am. My flatmate’s boyfriend arrives back from his night shift and the customary loud sex begins. Over the rattling and crashing, I embark on the home stretch. “Newborn. I open my eyes. I melt. Into the eternal night. A spark. I fall into the flames. You brought me out of the shadows. You lifted me from the ground. Brought me back to life. What is she dreaming of ? How calm she is. In love. Forever at peace. We climbed the steps to the Wonder.” For his highly anticipated follow-up to The Tree of Life, Malick could basically do whatever he wanted. Hell, his next project was barely even a film. He signed on Ben Affleck, Olga Kurylenko, Rachel McAdams, Javier Bardem, Jessica Chastain, Rachel Weisz, Barry Pepper and Michael Sheen, put them to work without a screenplay, and ended up cutting half of them from the film in an editing process that took over a year. To The Wonder premiered at the Venice Film Festival in September 2012. It picked up the festival’s SIGNIS award, given out by the Holy See for the best religious propaganda; Bardem plays a priest who pops up every twenty minutes or so to look pensive and quote scripture. Perhaps on the sheer weight of Malick’s reputation, the film was also nominated for the Golden Lion, the highest prize at Venice. It didn’t win. Despite the nominations, To The Wonder was the first Malick film to not receive universal or near-universal critical acclaim. Rotten Tomatoes, where the film’s rating is just 45 per cent, calls To The Wonder “overly sombre and emotionally unsatisfying”. That’s putting it lightly. The film largely consists of two joyless cutouts moping


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around for two hours in a variety of gloomy, unlit suburban locations. There is no plot, character progression or, indeed, point of any kind. Critics have speculated that the film is semi-autobiographical; if so, it might shed some light on what Malick had been doing during his twenty-year hiatus—absolutely nothing. Did Malick lose his mojo in spectacular fashion or is there something else at play? To me, To The Wonder feels more like a tipping point, where Malick’s instincts as a director became completely unshackled from any hint of storytelling convention. He simply ran out of things to say, or corners of Americana to peruse. It’s an exercise in form only, a demonstration of how to make a 113-minute Resene ad that people will pay to watch. In that latter respect, at least, Malick failed; the film grossed less than US$600,000 worldwide. By the time I finish, it’s 7:20am. Few thoughts remain in my head, but my lasting impression of To The Wonder was a show of brute industry power, of Malick’s ability to pull studio funding and Hollywood A-list talent for an exercise in pure self-indulgence. At its core, it seems like a violation of some unwritten rule of mainstream filmmaking. I am the director with the fancy skills and artistic vision; you are the audience who wants to be entertained; my job is to meet you halfway. At least The Tree of Life had Brad Pitt and pretty colours; To The Wonder has Affleck and fifty shades of taupe. Of course, experimental film-making has never needed an audience for validation. But Malick has continued to direct major films without losing his experimental instincts, and he has neither Lars Von Trier’s shock value nor Harmony Korine’s playfulness. Malick’s seventh film, Knight of Cups, has just been released at the Berlin festival. It’s yet to arrive in New Zealand or on Totally Legitimate Privateer Bay, so my Malickthon was tragically incomplete. But I think I can give this one a miss. “The sheer weight of evocative, ethereal images is not matched by complexity, depth or character development” (The Hollywood Reporter). The

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film is “ludicrous self-parody—somewhere between a Calvin Klein aftershave advertisement and a coffee-table book about the modernist mansions of the rich and famous” (BBC). It’s a “punishingly po-faced tone-poem” (Movie Mezzanine). The actors “appear to be wandering around the streets and apartments of Los Angeles without any idea of what they are meant to be doing” (the BBC again). “Christian Bale undergoes what has to be the least interesting spiritual crisis in history” (The Guardian). “Dialogue would help” (Indiewire). Malick is an experimental film-maker, no doubt. But perhaps his entire career has been a set of giant experiments: if I wave my camera at pretty things for three hours and get an A-list actor to whisper a bunch of nonsense over the top, will people always watch it? Can I infiltrate the Hollywood mainstream by making one conventionally excellent film, then troll everyone with five extra-long impenetrable dreamscapes? How many times can I use a shot of a man walking behind a woman as she dances outdoors in a floaty dress and occasionally turns back to look at him? Maybe! Yes, apparently! And lots of times! Some films, we are told, belong on the big screen. Some films belong on a hard drive, ready to dredge up at a moment’s boredom (thanks, X-Men!). Malick’s films belong in an art gallery. I’m not a big fan of art galleries. By the time the marathon is over, I feel as though I’ve been sitting in one for fourteen hours. So, what did I take away from it all? Was there a point to this extremely long process? Well, much like a Malick film, my marathon taught that just because something looks like a grand statement, sounds like a grand statement, feels like a grand statement, that doesn’t mean there’s anything to it. This was full of sound and, well, not exactly fury. More like mopiness, or something. But either way, it signified nothing. Sorry about that.

editor@salient.org.nz


Antony Fraser Trailorstrash.tumblr.com


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A few weeks ago, the City Library hosted the annual Comicfest event, which aims to spotlight the work of New Zealand comic artists—from political cartoonists to longform comic writers—and encourage aspiring artists and writers to create and share their own work. This was why I was here. Ever since I learnt that drawing comics was a thing you could do, every spare moment I had, I would be drawing my own. Unfortunately, when academia hit, the drive to create suddenly left. But comics never left my mind nor my hands throughout school and university. I figured if I was going to be making comics in New Zealand now, I’d better know whom I was following. So, with that in mind, allow me to make what you are bound to think is a pretentious statement: I think comics are the greatest art form to exist. They’re elegant in their simplicity, the perfect elemental fusion of words and pictures. They don’t get enough respect as an artistic medium, on both an institutional and a public level. Comics overall are still seen as a low art, something trivial or disposable. But what comics lack in respect, they make up for in the passion of their creators, and it’s that enthusiasm where the medium thrives above all others. The headier definition of what a comic is can be found in Scott McCloud’s Understanding Comics, which defines them as “sequential art narratives”. While a film is technically a set of still images in sequence, told over time and occupying one space (a screen), a comic is a narrative told over space (pages). To break it down further, there are distinctions between a comic, a comic strip and a cartoon. Comics are several panels over several editor@salient.org.nz


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Features

There’s still something of

salient

a stigma,

especially if it is your only job. Comics are a thing you do on the side, not a sustainable career; they’re something that sits at the end of your conversational CV. pages, while a strip is just a few panels. A cartoon is a single image, usually with a caption or some words, but it stands alone, where comics and comic strips at least tell some sort of a story or a cohesive narrative. Like any art, comics are a conversation, intending to convey a specific message by the artist, and they have their own unique visual language of panels and boxes, bubbles and balloons. How an artist decides to convey their message is up to them. Comics are best suited for storytelling, while a cartoon is best for making one definitive statement; a cartoon can never say “on the other hand”. New Zealand comics come in all forms, and have been around for as long as the print medium was established. Technically, a New Zealand comic would be called a kōmeke, the Māori transliteration of “comic” or waituhi whakakata, from the Māori words for “ink” and “humourous”. I assume the English equivalent would likely be something like “funny pages”. Pikitia Press, a blog spotlighting New Zealand comics, takes its name from the transliteration of “picture”. Pikitia Press cites the emergence of a New Zealand comic history as beginning with Noel Cook, one of our most prolific comic artists. Born in Foxton in 1896 to an Australian mother and a Māori father of the Ngati Toa tribe, Cook began his career drawing political cartoons for the Listener and the New Zealand Herald. But he was a storyteller at heart, referring to his time in the first World War as his “great adventure”. Cook later moved to Australia and then England to do illustrative work, writing and drawing comics of every genre, from “boys’ own” adventure stories, to funny animals to sci-fi comics like Adrift in Space, set in the unthinkably distant future of 1990. New Zealand comics aren’t really well known outside of their own community, at least in print. We’ve been awarded and recognised internationally, a recent example being Dylan Horrocks and his recent graphic novel Sam Zabel and the Magic Pen, but our comics culture remains relatively insular. This is very quickly changing as artists switch from print to purely digital as a quick and cheap way to get comics out to the public and the world at large, like the monthly political comic The Pencilsword, drawn for the Wireless by Toby Morris, and Moth City artist Tim Gibson, who publishes on the Comixology digital comics app. The refrain is that it’s never been easier to get into and make comics now. The trouble is that everyone is making comics now. This oversaturation doesn’t really extend outside of the sphere of those who write, draw and read comics exclusively. Comics as a medium overall aren’t as “recognised” an art form. When I describe what I do at Salient, I say that I’m a feature writer first and, oh, I also do a comic. For me, I clarify that feature writing is my actual job www.salient.org.nz

whereas the comic is just a side thing, something else I get done in the week to stay creative and published. I kind of hope that people see me as a cogent and sophisticated writer and not just an okay artist with a penchant for shitty puns. There’s still something of a stigma, especially if it is your only job. Comics are a thing you do on the side, not a sustainable career; they’re something that sits at the end of your conversational CV. This stigma was summed up best by Dr. Tim Bollinger, former Salient comic artist and editor of the international indie arts magazine White Fungus, who noted “comics are a popular art form unpopular in New Zealand”. There’s a paradoxical quality to liking comics. You can easily find a community or even just one person who is as into them as you, but you feel united against institutions. Over the history of Western society, the cultural elite have both rejected and then gradually come to accept every medium of art in equal measure, from the novel to the outsider art piece, from television to film. Comics have never really had that privilege. They’re a mere distraction, cheesecake for the brain. The best the medium can hope for is to be like one of the Time-beloved, critically upheld pieces like Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons’ Watchmen, Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis or Art Spiegelman’s Maus, the latter of which is the only comic to date I have got both of my parents to read. These are all great stories that can only be told in a graphic format, and great ones at that, but they’re ambassador fictions. They exist, at least in conversation, to convince institutions that comics have merit as an art, so long as the superheroes are reduced to ineffectual men in tights and the funny animals are not funny and instead serve to contextualise complicated feelings about conflicts we would feel too squeamish to depict with humans. To qualify anything as popular or unpopular is an exercise in subjectivity. Political cartoons are certainly populist, a visual summary of people’s fears and gripes with the political elite or with situations beyond their control. If art is a conversation, then political cartoons are ones held between your mates at the pub, full of vexed exasperations and colourful metaphors, while the backbenchers eavesdrop and don’t understand what’s so funny. Political cartoons are by nature satirical, and good satire must aim to punch up at those above our social standing. That’s why they tend to be the most well-known style of comics, to both the plebs that read them and patricians they mock. More people read the Dominion Post on the reg than they do Tintin or Superman. Political cartoons get held up as serious political commentary. In New Zealand, and abroad, they have a vestige of institutional acceptance


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by being collected and displayed in national libraries. But I couldn’t help but wonder whether these cartoons were only collected for context, to sit alongside the articles that “actually matter”. Dr Melinda Johnston, the research librarian for cartoons at the Alexander Turnbull library, moderated a panel at Comicfest on the distinction between cartoons and comics. “The Alexander Turnbull Library is the home of the New Zealand Cartoon Archive, which, in itself, suggests a kind of institutional acceptance of political editorial cartoons,” she said. “We collect these cartoons for a number of reasons; one key reason being that they offer an important insight for researchers looking to use them as historical evidence of cartoonists’ viewpoints and of the feelings and beliefs of their readers.” Does this mean that political cartoons are only preserved as artifacts for sake of a completionist history, rather than preserved for their own merit as artistic expressions?

sights on an overseas market. Which, in my personal opinion, tends to fuel an assumption that anything aiming at a popular market is just not very New Zealand.”

“I prefer to think that doesn’t mean that they cannot also be appreciated for their artistic merit,” says Johnston. “I also think that cartoonists today still have a valuable role to play by encouraging viewers to engage with current events and societal issues and to question the veracity of the news that is published.”

But will comics ever have institutional acceptance in New Zealand as a quote-unquote “respected” art form?

While political comics will always be recognised on an institutional level, there is currently no comics archive that exists in the same manner. However, Johnston added that there are advances being made to rectify this, with published comics being collected as part of their the National Library’s Legal Deposit scheme. I asked Robyn E. Kenealy, artist and writer of Roddy’s Film Companion and its spinoff The Darkroom, which appeared in Salient, if she agreed with Bollinger’s statement on the dichotomy of New Zealand’s reception to comics. “I think that if New Zealand has an art culture that is distinct to NZ, then it’s definitely one of pronounced DIY—take Flying Nun as an example,” says Kenealy. “Artistic expressions—or, those that are recognised—that are ‘unique’ to New Zealand tend to reject anything too ‘mainstream’. Which is partly because New Zealand is a really little country with a really small local market—there just aren’t enough people here to support a local comics ‘industry’ by being paying readers. “In order for New Zealanders to participate in ‘popular’ mediums— or really, in ‘popular’ industry, I think—they have to be setting their

“There just aren’t enough people [in New Zealand] to support a local comics ‘industry’ by being paying readers.”

“Absolutely. I think they already have. That’s taken place in what I’d tentatively term the ‘literary’ sphere. There are a few cartoonists in New Zealand whose work is respected and known about through channels like the NZ Arts Festival, or through literary events, awards, and discussions. Dylan Horrocks is the most obvious example, in that he’s been a writer in residence, and awarded internationally… there’s an emerging sense that while comics might not be ‘popular’ in NZ, they’re definitely—at least becoming—respectable.” Kenealy is currently the artist of Steve Rogers’ American Captain, an autobiographical comic drawn and published on her tumblr, which asks the question “Who is Steve Rogers when he’s not Captain America?”. While his films either play up his stark black-and-white views being out of touch in a morally grey present, or cast him as the morally upright leader of the Avengers, Kenealy portrays Steve Rogers as the perpetually anxious outsider. The comic is a set of sliceof-life vignettes, a welcome break from blow-out superpower punchfests. Steve in the comic draws what Kenealy imagines he would draw as a coping mechanism to deal with his new life, which plays into her interest in superheroes as inherently damaged characters. “Many, many hero origin stories are rooted in extremely traumatic events—take Batman’s parents being murdered in front of him, Iron Man waking up in a cave with a car battery in his chest, the Hulk… well, all of that. My interest is in the fact that hero narratives tend to sort of weave together personal trauma and the traumatic nature of imperialism, in that so much of the selling point, the humanisation of the characters is this horrendous personal stuff, while they’re deployed, as characters, in nationalistic, super-normative stories about might making right and men having to do what they have to do. “I’m being very pretentious. Well, I’m also writing a fan comic about a character whose superhero name is literally Captain Nation-state, so maybe my pretentious reading of events is a tad warranted.” And maybe that pretentiousness is perfectly warranted in comics. There’s always a fear that attempting this sort of material is too highminded for a low medium. But whether we want to gain institutional acceptance from the patricians or try to build a more solid comics industry, whether you want to make big political statements or shitty puns, we won’t get anywhere by shutting up and letting our ideas and thoughts stew within us. Everyone has a comic in them. And I think I have a lot more comics in me yet. editor@salient.org.nz


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salient

Why Physics Ruth Corkill The story goes that Horace Lamb, when speaking at a meeting of the British Association of the Advancement of Science, made a really great physics joke. “I am an old man now,” he said, “and when I die and go to heaven there are two matters on which I hope for enlightenment. One is quantum electrodynamics and the other is turbulent motion of fluids. And about the former I am rather optimistic.” You get it? Because, like, turbulent motion of fluids is really complicated so even a guy who made the universe probably wouldn’t know what was up with that. This story is often blockbustered up by recasting the wry Lamb with Heisenberg, changing the scene to Heisenberg’s death bed, and making the dialogue a little more snappy. This becomes: When Heisenberg was on his death bed he opened his eyes and said quietly “When I meet God I am going to ask him two questions. Why relativity? And why turbulence? I really believe he will have an answer for the first.” So now the story is about unending curiosity and the mystery of life. Or the fact that physicists are a little obsessive and sad. As I reach the end of my Masters I have decided to ask a slightly more basic question: why physics? Specifically, what are my fellow students doing with their physics degrees? Harpreet has a real job and Thomas is getting another degree, so I’ve asked them to tell you all about it. And yes, this is shameless physics propaganda.

www.salient.org.nz

Physicist Disguised as an Economist Harpreet Singh When I tell people I’m a health economist for PHARMAC, the usual reaction is “what the hell is that?” Occasionally people say “you just work out how much stuff costs, right?” If that was my entire job was, it would be very easy (after all, it’s basically drug cost times dosage). Most of my time is spent working out what benefits pharmaceuticals have. This involves reading a lot of clinical trials and talking to a lot of specialists (which is lucky because I have no medical training at all). Of course, clinical trials are rarely perfect. They stop early; have weird protocols and small sample sizes; and a whole host of other things. All these things are the reason I do my job. A lot of my day consists of working out extrapolations, distributions, and Markov models; big words that aren’t nearly as complicated as they

sound. The other hard part is working out if the drug actually improves people’s lives. Loads of pharmaceuticals change, this or that hormone but do they actually reduce pain or prevent heart attacks? This is not always obvious, especially because some doctors like to “treat the numbers” and not the patient. How did I end up here if I have no medical training you ask? Well, I did Physics and Maths at university. Turns out that being able to work with data is a very useful skill. You also discover that being able to apply things across subjects can create breakthroughs you didn’t expect. I’ve applied equations from nuclear physics to cancer models for example. Still haven’t found anything that would be a simple harmonic oscillator though (I’m obviously still a physicist at heart).


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Science

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You are a master of electricity. Thomas Minnee

Hop on a laptop, click “download” on a book, and you’ve just directed nimble fingers of electricity to painstakingly transcribe every letter of that book. These fingers of electricity don’t write each letter like we do—on paper, in an alphabet of loops and lines. Rather, these fingers write each letter on eight switches, in a kind of braille alphabet called ASCII. If the first letter of the book is “A”, these fingers start the transcription by flicking switches to “off, on, off, off, off, off, off, on”. A fraction of a second later, these nimble fingers of electricity will have flicked a few million switches. In doing so, they will have made a real, physical, ASCII copy of Fifty Shades of Grey materialise right underneath your hands. If the laptop you’re on has a solid-state hard drive, there are more fingers of electricity flicking switches for you then there are real fingers on the planet. And yet somehow, you manage to effortlessly choreograph hundreds of billions of fingers of electricity to flick exactly the switches you want switched, without understanding anything of what you’re actually doing at all. You just point and click. This is possible because some people designed you an intuitive user interface that makes choosing exactly the right dance of electricity easy. But the people who designed this user interface don’t understand this intricate dance of electricity either. Rather, they understand another “user interface” that is slightly more fundamental: a high-level programming language. If you keep digging, it continues like a Russian doll. Peer behind one neat mental picture and what you find underneath is another neat mental picture that is just a little bit more fundamental.

We can pull apart these Russian dolls/ mental pictures until we get to the baby doll/ base mental picture. Here, we physicists try to draw a neat picture of how electricity works for the people who design electronic components. For instance, for the people who design switches that can be flicked by electricity. The picture we have of how electricity works is something like this. Electricity is the aggregate flow of huge quantities of electrons. And just like the way ordinary objects move is dependent on what the gravity of a planet is, the way electrons move is dependent on what the electric fields in a material are. And every material has its own characteristic electric fields that are intrinsic to it. So from an electron’s point of view, a different material is like a different planet. The rules of how to move change. The basic ploy of an electronic component designer is fairly simple. By making a component out of lumps of different materials melded together, she can ensure the electric fields are different in different parts of the component. Now, melding different materials also creates additional electric fields, but these are predictable and so can be part of her plan. That is, her plan to manipulate how electricity flows in a component, by manipulating the rules that dictate how electrons move. But in addition to the predictable electric fields the component designer plans, there are also electric fields that cannot be predicted. And at room temperature, no matter how perfectly pure a material, these random electric fields are inevitable. So the electrons in the component are always subject to both predictable and random rules. And our picture of how electricity works

depends on which rules dominate. If the electronic component is less than about 20 or so atoms long, the electrons’ movement is dominated by the predictable rules. This means that, roughly, all electrons move the same. So in order to figure out the aggregate flow of all electrons, we only need to calculate how one electron moves. If the electronic component is larger than about 600 atoms long, the electrons’ movement is dominated by the random rules. This means the aggregate movement of electrons at every point is similarly random. Except, that is, for an easily calculated, small distortion from randomness due to the local predictable rules. But if the component is between these sizes, the electrons’ movement is neither dominated by the predictable rules nor by the random rules. Here, we don’t have an elegant picture. Instead, we get a supercomputer, we teach it to follow both the predictable and the random rules, and we tell it to simulate the paths of a few million electrons. Then, we tally these up, to get a prediction of the aggregate flow of electrons. Unfortunately, there are many people who have the awkward job of designing components of this intermediate size, including our friends who design switches that can be flicked by electricity. So in my research, I’ve tailor-made a new kind of “partial randomness” that can be strongly distorted by the non-random part of the electrons’ movement. My hope is that this will be able to greatly simplify our picture of electricity at this intermediate scale. Now, can I finish this piece by telling you what kind of fancy new component someone might design with a much neater picture? I can’t. And that’s the most exciting part. editor@salient.org.nz


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salient

Loosely Inspired (by The Bachelor)

Grates Deo The Bachelor George Block and Joe Cruden This is the story of two guys circling the drain like day-old curry. It’s also a cautionary tale about The Bachelor, and what it can it can do the Hopāeless and Lost. It came as a bit of a surprise to us when The Bachelor finished on Wednesday. And we’re going to get to all of that soon enough—we promise—but first, you need to hear our story. We first met while “grooming” cars at a rental car agency. It wasn’t at Pegasus, but it might as well have been. We were both down on our luck—Joe was taking a “semester off ” and George was struggling with mounting credit-card debt. We found something in each other that we really needed. We’d be huddled in the corner of the smoko room on one of our customary two-hour lunch breaks, Joe would be leaning back on the chair, fiddling idly with his zipper, while George rested his head gently against the formica table. He would sit like that, shaking his head softly and muttering something about having “once played U15 cricket for Otago.” Our comradeship got us through some dark times at not-Pegasus, and we quickly became the firmest of friends. What’s this got to do with New Zealand’s most critically maligned reality TV series? Admittedly, it’s only of tangential relevance. But bear with us. Look, readers: it doesn’t always go to plan. George started dating someone that he met at an anti-fracking sit-in and Joe began to fall by the wayside. Joe’s band—British Frankness—was playing to empty rooms out in Halswell. George had stopped coming. It wasn’t until George finally got dumped in favour of some Greenpeace guy that he came back hat in hand, but by then it was too late. Joe was suffering some of his darkest days and no amount of www.salient.org.nz

George’s infantile cajoling could bring him round. At the start of 2009, we moved into the Shit Den, and honestly, we only started talking in August 2013. A period of detente settled and we’d occasionally play Wii together or take The Rat for walks. Enter The Bachelor. A doleful George suggested we could give it a go—writing a little piece each week about the show, maybe “things could be like they used to be.” Joe came round. And it worked! We had something to talk about. No more stewing away in the dark, flicking through photos of expartners and sucking hopefully at nearempty goon sacks. George would come bounding in with something approaching genuine enthusiasm: “It’s Tuesday!” We would begin at about 5:30pm when Joe came back from his first lecture and George had woken up. Three hours of silent anticipation, broken only by the gentle bubbling of the bong. After it was all over we would talk for hours, excitedly dissecting the evening’s events. —“Isn’t Natalie great?” —“I think she might be a young Hegelian.” —“No, no--she’s definitely an orthotrot; she’s got the theory of permanent revolution written all over her!” We entered a golden age of interfuckwitian relations. And so, as Art admitted his undying physical attraction to a worried-looking Matilda, and a sobbing Dani trudged off stage right, we found ourselves wondering just what we’ll talk about on these cold winter nights. There’s an irony here that hasn’t escaped us, dear readers. We watched a terrible television show about fucked up little love

stories and while Art remains incapable of human affection, we accidentally managed to happen upon a little tryst of our own! Our hands touched as we both reached for the last Gordon’s G&T Mixer, and we both retracted them gingerly. Something was afoot: The Bachelor’s disquieting erotic tension had seeped its way into our flat. After some clumsy fumbling we gave up. Who were we kidding? It was over before it began but it’ll have lasting repercussions. We stopped talking the following day (this column is the product of a terse gchat). We were never meant to find love, and certainly not with each other. Obviously The Bachelor had messed with our expectations. Where was our rose? You’re right, this is self-indulgent, but there is a point here. The Bachelor fosters a terrible aspirational culture in which everyone thinks they can find things like love, satisfaction and employment. It encourages people to think that if they aren’t having a stupid date on Michael Hill’s gratuitous death-boat then they are missing out. It has unemployable shit sacks like us aspiring to things like “romance” and “horseriding” and “the beach.” The Bachelor brought us together and then it tore us apart. The period of detente has given away to a terrifying arms-race of mediocrity. George has racked up a bunch of fines on his sacked-out WRX and he’s hemorrhaging cash fast. Joe’s just plain hemorrhaging. And so, as we draw our mouldy little curtains for the last time and block you perverts out of our sad little existence, once more we solemnly invoke: Grates Deo The Bachelor. Thank God for The Bachelor.


issue 11

We Drank This So You Didn’t Have To Lydia and Mitch

House Wine at Ivy Cost: $5 a glass Alcohol volume: Look, it’s complicated. Pairing: Unrelenting rage, tequila. Verdict: “This wine is getting better as it is being imbued with Jesus’ support for me.”

Loyal readers, we’re scraping the bottom of the barrel. This week, we’re reviewing a wine we bought at a bar several weeks ago. While indulging in some mid-week drinking, we paid a visit to our nearest on-licence, which happens to be Wellington’s pumping gay bar for the under-30s, and purchased a glass (or four) of their house Sauvignon Blanc. Despite Lydia getting lost on her way to the bathroom and ending up in an outside smoking area (it’s okay, she was new there), our biggest surprise of the night was that the wine wasn’t that bad.

If we’re honest, we didn’t have high hopes for a $5 glass of wine. We have nothing against house wine, we have just been let down too many times before. But this time was different. This unnamed wine was “surprisingly palatable” and went nicely with the tequila shots a mutual friend was blowing her “huge fucking tax refund” on. In order to truly do justice to “You Oughta Know” by Alanis Morissette, we needed more wine, and of course we opted for the house sauv. The impossibly friendly barkeeps provided us with our much needed sustenance, and all was well.

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Except for the karaoke. Now, if you know us, you’d know that we live for karaoke. Most of the recordings for this column are recorded in or before going to a karaoke restaurant. However, the masturbatory show we were exposed to wasn’t the most pleasant example of someone belting out 90s bangers at a gay bar after two bottles of wine on a Wednesday night. Instead of us inevitably singing “Islands in the Stream” by Dolly Parton and Kenny Rogers (which is a good fucking song, look it up freshers), we faced something quite confronting: an ode to Jesus in the form of “You Raise Me Up” by Westlife sung by a dude who was alone and uncomfortably into that song. The performance was confusingly biblical and may have inspired Lydia to return to her Catholic roots. The moral of the story is that you should always at least try the house wine and NEVER sing sad, sad karaoke songs alone. If you have to belt out heartbreak ballads, get a private room at K-Zone.

5 Days till the Weekend It’s the beginning of a new week. We’re sure that you have already promised yourself that you will do your readings, attend all of your lectures, start that assignment, climb Everest and save the world from “global warming”. But we’ve known each other a while now, so let’s be honest with each other. You are only counting down the minutes till you can do that one thing that uni hasn’t failed to deliver on yet: getting rinsed, trollied, wankered and goated. (Man I really hope important people aren’t reading this. That reminds me, head to our Facebook page to find out absolutely no details about who we really are—Tom and Luke are our aliases; we are actually two girls from Vic House.) If you haven’t analysed a typical Friday (if you are loose) or Saturday night, then don’t worry, because we have: 4.00pm: So you’re coming back from your last Friday lecture that you didn’t pay any attention to, but it’s Friday so you were probably too excited about the weekend that you ended up missing them all. Guys will hit the gym to get a nice pump that won’t last the trip back from the Mill. 5.00pm: Girls are still currently doing work because they actually want to get somewhere in life. Guys are already four Cindies down because there’s no bouncers down in the dining room. 6.00pm: Apparently it takes four hours to get ready for town if you’re a girl. Guys know that the trick to a good night is not how good you look but how far you can’t see in front of you. So they’re still roaming around on their office chairs wearing nothing but shorts. 7.00pm: By now the boys’ bathroom bin is full with more empty cans than the girls will drink for the rest of the evening. Girls have started

listening to that gangsta music that will convince them that they are tough despite that $200 Ecoya sitting next to that iPhone 6+. 8.00pm: By now it’s time for the girls and guys on the floor to get together and discuss all the work that the guys haven’t started yet. By now that guy on your floor is suggesting there’s a “party” that just so happens to be on the same floor as that fit girl he’s trying to get into. 10.00pm: Where the hell did 9 o’clock go? That often happens. In a similar fashion to Dementors (Rowling, ages ago, Harry Potter) the RAs are now sifting through the floors, starting from the top, kicking you out of your expensive accommodation. If you’re onto it you would have discovered the concept of “Anne Franking”: that is, turning the music off, locking the door and seeing how many drunk people you can fit into one dark quiet room. Tip of the week: If the RAs knock while you’re Anne Franking, strip down to your undies and answer the door pretending you’ve just been asleep. Your favourite goons, Tom and Luke P.S. if you have anything you want us to write about message us on our Facebook page, Luke’s thinking of brushing up on his poetry if we can’t think of anything and trust me you don’t want to be subjected to that. It’s worse than coming back from a psychology lecture and realising you live in Vic House. editor@salient.org.nz


Being Well

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BEING WELL

Healthy Sex Cathy Stephenson

Sex should be fun. For both of you. But it should also be safe. At Student Health, I have been impressed by how thoughtful patients are when it comes to the issue of safe sex—regularly coming to the clinic and requesting a check-up, even when they have no symptoms. Studies show that young people are doing far better when it comes to protecting themselves and their partners than older generations—the 40-50 year old age group being poorly informed about the risk of sexually transmitted infections, and less likely to use condoms. If you’re not already a regular visit to our clinic, you’re in a new relationship, or have sex with more than one partner, here are some things you need to know: •

• • •

Anyone can get a sexually transmitted infection (STI). Your age, ethnicity or gender are not protective—but a condom is! Condoms are available free from Student Health. The most commonly reported STI in New Zealand is chlamydia, followed by gonorrhoea. Rates of other infections such as Human Papilloma Virus (which causes genital warts) and herpes are not well understood, as they often remain asymptomatic for long periods. HIV is actually relatively uncommon in New Zealand, except amongst certain high risk groups, but rates of sexually transmitted hepatitis B are much higher. Ask at Student Health about immunising yourself against HPV and hepatitis B. These vaccines are safe and highly effective. STI’s can be transmitted through all types of sex— oral sex, for example, can be a way of transmitting gonorrhoea and herpes. You are more likely to be infected with an STI if you have any broken skin or sores on your mouth or genital area. It is thought that shaving your pubic area may slightly increase your risk of getting an STI, as the hair creates a barrier, protecting against infection. Many STIs do not cause symptoms, but can lead

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to quite serious complications if left untreated. Chlamydia for example can lead to pelvic infection and infertility if left untreated. Getting screening tests done, even when you don’t have symptoms, may be the only way to tell whether you have an STI or not. Although having multiple sexual partners makes an STI more likely, you only need to have sex with one person ever to potentially have been exposed to an infection. The following symptoms may all indicate a sexually transmitted infection: abnormal discharge in the genital area; abnormal bleeding in the genital area; pain when passing urine or having sex; ulcers or wart-like growths; itching.

There are behaviours which lead to a higher chance of getting an STI: • • • •

Multiple or frequent change of sexual contacts; Absent or inconsistent use of condoms; Early onset of sexual activity; Misuse of alcohol or drugs.

However, if you don’t fall into one of those “at risk” groups, it certainly doesn’t mean you are immune to an STI. I would encourage everyone who has had a new partner over the previous year, or has multiple sexual contacts, to get tested. If you don’t have symptoms, the ideal time is a minimum of two weeks from your last potential exposure—if you get tested earlier than this the result may be a false negative, and you may miss out on important treatment. Testing is incredibly easy. Unless you have symptoms, it is likely that if you are female you will be able to do “self swabs”. This means that you go to the bathroom, and take the swabs from the lower vaginal area yourself. These swabs check for the commonest STIs. Many women opt for this as a quick and easy method of getting checked. For men, the process is even simpler—if you are asymptomatic, most testing can be done on a simple urine sample, although swabs and blood tests may be required for more extensive testing. Results are available within 2-3 days.

salient


The Week in Feminism

issue 11

35

Title IX No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving federal financial assistance.

L

This wasn’t the first time that the Feminist United Club members had challenged the University; last year the Feminist United president Paige McKinsey spoke at a student senate meeting criticising fraternity culture and the university’s response to sexual assault. She also published an op-ed, “Why University Mary Washington Is Not A Feminist-Friendly Campus”, which talked about the rugby team’s chant. This caused both social media Yik Yak and the university’s student newspaper comment section to fill with hateful threats and complaints of misandry. Two attorneys filed a complaint on behalf of the Feminists United Club that said their university was permitting a sexually hostile environment. These complaints fall under America’s gender equality law, Title IX, which protects students from sexual harassment and discrimination while enrolled in an education programme that receives federal financial assistance—which is pretty much every university

and college in America. So by right, these universities and colleges have to provide an environment free of discrimination and sexual bias etc. for their students. Following their report on Mann’s death, The Huffington Post claimed that the Education Department confirmed 137 colleges and universities are currently undergoing Title IX investigations. The Education Department wouldn’t name the universities being investigated but Dartmouth, Columbia, Barnard and Yale have all had Title IX complaints filed against them over the past two years. Reports have shown that fraternity culture has a huge impact on the campus environment. While they do some good things for universities (giant amounts of funding and alumni donations), they also cultivate an exclusive and toxic environment that is known to breed sexism and racism. Studies have found that frat brothers commit rape at three times the rate of other guys on campus. Every college and university has extracurricular clubs and groups, so what is it about fraternities that encourages male students to engage in harmful behaviour with their peers like sexual harassment and racism? The easiest explanation is that the feeling of being in a group or pack makes people believe they won’t be individually targeted for their behaviour, or that their actions won’t be noticed because everyone else is doing it. The tricky thing with fraternities is that the amount of money and legacy forms a protective layer around these young men. Often they aren’t actually held responsible for their actions and every time this happens, it adds to their fearlessness.

Brittany Mackie

ast week a student at a small Virginia university was strangled by her male roommate. Grace Mann was an active women’s advocate and member of the University of Mary Washington’s feminist group Feminists United Club. The group believes that Mann’s death is related to the recent suspension of the university’s rugby team after Feminists United Club members complained to the university about the rugby members performing an offensive chant that joked about rape and necrophilia. Following the team’s suspension, members of FUC began receiving hate emails and hundreds of messages on an anonymous social media app Yik Yak. The messages threatened the university’s feminist group and stood up for the actions of their rugby teams. There was mention that if the team got suspended, the rest of the university would “burn with them”. The student charged with the death of Mann, Steven Vander Briel, is a former member of the rugby team that was suspended. The police haven’t released any information about her death that relates the threats to Mann’s murder.

Thankfully New Zealand has yet to regurgitate America’s obsession with fraternity and sorority culture, but our high schools and universities are still not free from sexism, racism and discrimination—for example, see University of Canterbury ENSOC’s use of blackface in a promotional video last May.

editor@salient.org.nz


Maori Matters

36

tangata ki te whaia i te ara tika o te matauranga. Koia ko tātou nei ngā tauira i te whare wananga e piki ana i te aka matua, e pupuri kaha ana ki tēnei mea te matauranga. He mihi matakuikui tēnei ki ngā manu taiko, i tū ake rā i runga i te atamira i tō rātou whakapōtaetanga. “Whaia I te iti kahurangi hei tuohu koe me he maunga teietei” He whakatauki tēnei e pa ana ki te tangata e nanaiore ana i te matauranga. Me whakapakari ana te tangata i te hinengaro, i te ngakau,ā i te wairua kia tū whakahihi i tō maunga teitei. He wiki tēnei hei whakanui i ngā tauira, i ngā whānau,i ngā hoa, ā, i ngā pukenga hoki.

Whakapotaetanga: Te Po Hawaikarangi Ko tēnei wahanga o te tau te wā ka whakarangatira i ngā tauira Māori kua tae ki te keokeotanga o te matauranga. Ko te haerenga o te tauira he rite tōnu ki te haerenga o Tawhaki ki ngā rangi-tū-hāhā. Ko Tawhaki i pikitia ai ki rangi-tū-hāhā ki te tiki i ngā kete o te wanaga, te kete Tuauri, te kete Tuatea,ā, ko te kete Aronui. Nāna i kapo ngā wawata, i ngā moemoe hei arahi i a tātou ngā

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Kati, me mihi ka tika ki ngā roopu whakahaere i te whare wananga e akiaki ana i ngā tauira .Ki te kura o Toihuarewa, ki Te Kawa a Maui,ki te whanau o Te Herenga Waka, ki ngā pukenga o Te Putahi Atawhai,ā ki Ngai Tauira nei rā te mihi whakamoemiti ki a kōutou kua poipoia, kua āhuru ēnei tauira hei eke ki ngā riro o te rangi. Ko te hui whakapūmau tetahi hui whakahirahiraha, nā te whanau o Te Herenga Waka i kawe tēnei ahuatanga. Kōinei tētahi whakapōtaetanga mā ngā tauira Māori.He whakapōtaetanga tēnei i raro i te maru o ō tātou matua tipuna, i waenga i ngā poupou o te Tumu Herenga Waka. Ko rātou te tuapapa, ko rātou te tahuhu, ko rātou te poutokomanawa o tō whare matauranga.

salient


VUWSA

Treasurer-Secretary Jacinta Gulasekharam

Hi all, Like myself, all of you are likely to be feeling the “crunch” time stress i.e. When all the lecturers sit together and decide to put assignment and test dates in the same week. Before your stress starts to pile higher than Mount Street, read on. How to survive the crunch: • Eat something you enjoy, like really enjoy. I would suggest the chilli chocolate cake from Astoria. Surprisingly a good combination and certainly fired me up for three essays. • Rant. To a friend. To that person next to you in your tutorial. In the shower. Let out your frustrations—university is stressful. • It’s okay to skip a lecture. Getting an essay done is so much more important than sitting in a lecture theatre on Yik Yak stressing about it. • Pack your bag the night before and have a water bottle with you at all times. You will need to rehydrate from all the tears from being 800 words away from the word count. • SLEEP. I have recently discovered the universe’s secret: earplugs. Wonderful things to help you get a good night’s sleep to reboot and de-stress. • Set targets and rewards. Prioritise what needs to be done and thank yourself with the next Game of Thrones episode. Repeat. • Study with a friend. It’s so much easier to deal with a workload when you can split it in half, they’re probably feeling the crunch as much as you are. Hit up the green zones in the library and get busy. • Have an inspirational background on your phone and laptop. Like a quote (Carpe Diem) or just a straight up ugly selfie of your flatmate. • Set up a goal at this end of crunch time. A group BYO, trip to Pitch Perfect 2 or tickets to Hermitude in July. 10/10 would recommend. • Just eat. From meals you can throw in the slow cooker to have for four fun nights to Nutella from the jar. Most of all, breathe. You won’t ever need to remember how to do hypothesis tests or what year the Magna Carta was signed in. Tackle those struggles!

2 for 1 Margherita

pizzas every friday from 3pm

The Hunter Lounge

The Hunter Lounge


38

salient

Music

Fated

Born Under Saturn

Alice Reid

Alice Reid

Nosaj Thing

Django Django

Fated is L.A.-based Jason Chung’s third album in six years, a 15-track and 34-minute wonder that serves as a continuation of the sound he established in Home (2013) and Drift (2009). Chung’s work as Nosaj Thing thus far has been about “measuring and manipulating an audible distance between lucidity and obscurity” (David Hogg) and this album is no different.

Born Under Saturn is the second studio album from London-based art rock band Django Django, following the release of their selftitled debut in 2012. Django Django has managed to master their psychedelic sound through an array of synth-pop, electro, and indie rock influences. The LP was recorded over a period of 18 months and produced by drummer Dave Maclean.

On Fated, Chung combines his masterful production with his usual transcendent and ethereal sound—and the result is pretty sublime. He maintains a strong control over the whole album, from the carefully constructed vibe of it all, to the finer details of each individual track.

The album opens with “Giant”, a track that clocks in at nearly six minutes long. “Shake and Tremble” sees the quartet repurpose surfguitar riffs without it sounding too much like surf rock, though that vibe is definitely present. It’s easily one of my favourite songs on the album, and for me this is the track that sees them furthest from what they created on their debut effort Django Django.

“Don’t Mind Me” is one highlight from the album, featuring vocals by Whoarei, who boasts a production credit on Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp A Butterfly and is signed to Chung’s label Timetable. The track is upbeat and yet pretty glum, and is definitely one of my favourites. “Cold Stares” features Chance the Rapper and Maceo Haymes (The O’My’s). The track picks up when Chance starts rapping introspective verses over Chung’s ethereal beat: “Silent and solemn, Smeagol to Gollum / Evil done got him / Doctors say we believe its a problem / Possessed by a demon, they won’t leave it inside him”. Obviously any LoTR reference is a winner and Chance’s rapping is on point. He continues with a depressing look into the world of drug addiction: “Devil whistles in his ear, out of tune / On an empty ass bed, can’t remember how to spoon / Can’t forget how the spoon / Was the bowl for the soup for his arm”. My favourite tracks on the album are those where the narrative is aided by a vocalist, but that’s not to say that Chung is any less moving without one. “A” is one such track, featuring no vocals but is still a stuttering 2 minutes that works pretty well. “Light #5” is also worth a mention, following “Light #1” and “Light #2” from Drift and Home’s “Light 3”. It’s cool to see this progression and it’s so interesting to see this become a recurring theme in each of Chung’s albums. The album flows well and it moulds itself into a continued sound; the tracks blend effortlessly to create a harmonious listening experience that can easily turn into background noise. It’s not exactly an album that demands your attention, but Fated is definitely worth checking out, especially if you’re a fan of acts like Flying Lotus and El-P. www.salient.org.nz

“Found You” is another highlight. “First Light” is one of the better tracks on the album; it’s vaguely psychedelic and lyrically interesting (“Sending out a signal from a city, we went / Towards a future that is greener than the money we spent / Discover beaches buried deeper underneath the cement / Look down through the cracks for the gold that they’re hiding”). “Pause Repeat” makes use of offbeat, syncopated rhythm and key changes. The seemingly monotone vocals remind me of their earlier stuff, though the chorus mixes this up a bit—but perhaps not as successfully as it could have done. These layered vocal harmonies are a prominent aspect of Born Under Saturn, much like on Django Django before it. “Reflections” similarly makes heavy use of the layered harmonies, with their strong accents being juxtaposed against Caribbean-inspired rhythms. Born Under Saturn is a clear display of ability, after an incredibly difficult-to-follow debut release. It’s more of the same, but in a good way, and they’ve definitely built on their sound. However, the general consensus amongst critics seems to be that the album could have used a little more fine-tuning, and I have to agree. Some of the tracks are a bit too lengthy and it feels like they’re overextending themselves. It’s clear that Born Under Saturn definitely could have benefitted from some editing. It’s a great album, but not as jaw-dropping as their Mercury-nominated debut LP—though undoubtedly still worth a listen.


Sat 23 May

Fri 22 May

Thrus 21 May

Wed 20 May

Tues 19 May

Mon 18 May

issue 11

39

Music

The Beat Goes On Photography Exhibition

Who Should Rule the University Forum

Black Coffee All day

The Hub 1pm

The Beat Goes On Photography Exhibition

Black Gold Documentary Night as part of Fair trade Fortnight 19 Tory St

Black Coffee All day The Beat Goes On Photography Exhibition

Black Coffee All day The Beat Goes On Photography Exhibition

Black Coffee All day The Beat Goes On Photography Exhibition

Lost Bird at Kroon for your Kai

Southern Cross 7:30pm

Felix III

Meow 9pm

Breaking Beats Flako presents: Bodega Friction Music 9pm

Mick Harvey & The Intoxicated Men Meow 8pm

Brave New Void Valhalla 8pm

Charles Mingus Ensemble Southern Cross 10:30pm

Ulcerate, Horrendous Disfigurement & Ruinant San Fran 9pm

Robert Owens Bodega 9pm

Down to Funk Southern Cross 10:30pm

The Rainba$h Trio Meow 10pm

Pikachunes Bodega 9pm

Red Bull Sound Select Presents: Wellington, Curated by Connor Nestor Havana

San Fran 9pm

Black Coffee All day The Beat Goes On Photography Exhibition

Black Coffee All day

Wellington City Shake Em on Downers The Rogue & Vagabond 9:30 editor@salient.org.nz


40

Games

salient

Shovel Knight Developer: Yacht Club Games Platforms: PC, Mac, 3DS, Wii U, PS3, PS4, PS Vita, Xbox One

Jack Young

Shovel Knight is a delicious blend of the old school and the new. It’s a side-scroller adventure game that reminds the player of the 8-bit era, while packing in heavy RPG elements, Dark Souls-esque death mechanics, and replayability. At first glance it might appear that Shovel Knight can’t contend with the AAA titles which today saturate the games industry. Fortunately that assessment would be wrong. So very very wrong. Shovel Knight was initially released in 2014 on the Nintendo 3DS and Wii U consoles. Though this once sparked jealousy in gamers who owned more current generation console systems, last month we joyously received the game on PS4 and Xbox One! Not much is new in this more recent package. You can now earn trophies and achievements whilst playing on the new respective systems. The biggest addition, however, is an extra fight with console mascots. On Playstation you can fight Kratos (of God of War fame). On Xbox you can fight the Battle Toads (the main characters of an old Rareware property). As previously mentioned, Shovel Knight looks like it would be at home on a NES or SNES system. The game intentionally pays homage to the retro. But this is not to be taken as a slight to the game’s aesthetic. The colourfully vibrant world and overload of pixels mean this game would be an impossibility on the consoles of yesteryear. The art direction here is superb. Shovel Knight’s enemies come in the form of six bosses, the Order of No Quarter, and their big bad boss. Each one of these characters has a unique visual personality that distinguishes them from the others. This is not even to mention the prettiness of www.salient.org.nz

the game’s different worlds. Developer Yacht Club Games takes us from snowy wildernesses to ominous castles and all the way back again. Complementing these visuals is an upbeat bit tune soundtrack which really ties the whole “feel” together. Though the game’s main quest can be chivalrously defeated by Shovel Knight (and a decent player) in around six-ish hours, what you’ll be doing for those six hours and afterwards makes this package well worth the $20 entrance fee. Shovel Knight is a fun guy. He makes a habit of disposing of enemies by innovatively bouncing on them with his shovel. This game mechanic is reminiscent of Scrooge McDuck’s pogo stick in Ducktales (wooooo ooooo). The ability to relinquish one’s enemies and traverse the environment in this way keeps the game’s minute-to-minute gameplay fresh. Whilst shovel pogo-ing you’ll move through stages collecting treasure to upgrade Shovel Knight’s gear so he might ultimately become powerful enough to sweep aside the Order of No Quarter. Following the game’s conclusion you can visit side areas unrelated to the main quest, gather collectables and work at the many “feats” challenged by Yacht Club in the pause menu (the completion of which unlocks tied achievements and trophies). Perhaps Shovel Knight’s greatest success is the depth it offers for more skilled (or masochistic) players. There are several risk/reward systems within the game. For example, death sees shovel knight drop bags of money, which if not recovered are lost forever. Later levels will kill you with greater regularity, but offer more treasure. Also, each stage has checkpoints, but if the player decides to destroy them, he is gifted with treasure at the expense of a respawn point. The inclusion of a New Game Plus mode further ensures Shovel Knight’s status as a solid investment. Shovel Knight is an excellent homage to the games of yore. It works equally well as a modern action RPG, and as a reminder that sidescrollers are still as relevant and fun as they ever were. Whether you look at the excellent art, sound or game design, it is hard to see Shovel Knight as anything besides a worthy $20 purchase. Its more deep and punishing mechanics would keep me coming back for more far into my 15th hour. Shovel Knight is the best game I’ve played all year. It is worthy of your time and coin.


issue 11

Kim Kardashian’s Marriage

41

Books

by Sam Riviere

The Travels of an Extraordinary Hamster

Faber & Faber

Gecko Press

Jayne Mulligan

Jayne Mulligan

Within the confines of the strikingly minimalistic book covers of Faber & Faber lives Riviere’s ultra relevant display of society’s ephemeral artifice. Love her or (more likely) hate her, Kim Kardashian is a cornerstone for all things now. With her own book recently released, in the form of a faux-art book, she represents, in so many ways, the aspects of society we haven’t quite grown comfortable with yet. Riviere’s collection has no doubt had a few sales attributed to its connection to the buxom business mogul, despite the collection having, largely, very little to do with it. Kim K exists as a symbol, but for this collection Riviere also uses the number of days Kim K was married to Chris Humphries (72) as a restriction for the number of poems contained within. Riviere is one of the most significant poets of the post-internet poetry movement, which relies on the randomised internet based sourcing of language and content.

Gecko Press is doing a wonderful job—selecting only a few works to publish each year allows their focus to fall to seriously good books. The Travels of an Extraordinary Hamster is one of the first kid’s books to make me genuinely laugh out loud. It swings from sincere sweet moments, to quirky jokes, at a rather surprising and incredibly enjoyable pace.

This collection takes the reader through the artifice of life; found language sourced through Google searches intermingles with the signs of familiarity, creating a feeling of randomised connection and disconnection. With a range of varied poems, the subjects obscured, the words produce a pathway for connections. You sort of feel like you’re getting to the point, but the point is dodging you. Post-internet poetry plays with the artificial surfaces that the eminence of the internet generates; Riviere masters this, and hints to an oblique depth, while denying access. The basis of this duality is in fact very similar to my experience of the technology and language of the internet—I know there’s hardcore technology involved, but I understand very little of it. My own experiences are invited to the discussion through this disconnected randomised distortion the poetry plays with. In this way it is reminiscent of post-modern styles being entirely aware of its efforts, and doing it anyway. For Riviere the process he undergoes to generate the work is incredibly essential to the product, yet his process is not promoted or discussed, for a magician never reveals his tricks. However, it also underpins so many important themes that run throughout the collection, products being one such essential concept. This collection is a really interesting one, which is both accessible and hyper-intellectual, so basically just your classic poetry collection, I suppose.

Astrid Desbordes (Illustrated by Pauline Martin)

Following a format that shares similarities to early chapter books and comic strips, the story is told through pictures and speech bubbles, with vivid illustrations lending to the development of the story. Each story is only two or three pages long, allowing for small stories to be developed within the larger story. Following the Hamster who, along with his friends in the clearing, goes on an adventure to the North Pole, despite Hamster wanting to visit his cousins on the moon. Alongside this plot is a romance that blooms between the hedgehog and the mole, and that is bloody cute. Much like other kids books, beneath the initial kids-appeal lies a sea of big ideas adults find interesting, and that children need to learn. Here the biggest concept is selfishness, with Hamster being unapologetically selfish, and his friends entirely accepting. Hamster is like the Michael Scott of kids’ books—he just wants to impress other people, and be a bit powerful. Hamster creates lies he can live in, creating his own extraordinary world. He’s not afraid of the word no, telling his friends what he thinks regardless of the repercussions. This trait, while breaking many of society’s rules of conduct, is entirely endearing to his character, he is bold and honest, and not limited by people’s perceptions. His friends all accept this attribute, never blinking an eyelid when he says they can’t share his snacks, nor can they sit by him. As my boyfriend said when reading this, “that Hamster is a dick!”, but for kids, selfishness is treated with humour and ridiculousness. The Hamster’s startlingly rude remarks are the basis of a lot of the humour, which presents the negativity of selfishness in a gentler way, while clearly presenting the negative attributes. The book is full of bold and lively illustrations, which brings the world of these friends to life, and shit those animals are cute. Especially the mole—the mole is so, so cute. editor@salient.org.nz


42

Film

salient

Dior And I

Woman in Gold

Sarah Dillon

Harry Evans

Parisienne icon; fashion house; luxury goods company; and one of the world-renowned labels that’s spurred countless Chinatown spinoffs—now, it’s director Frédéric Tcheng’s latest in a line-up of documentary homages to beloved fashion figures. Tcheng’s previous work on Valentino and Vreeland has been well regarded, and Dior and I is no exception to the rule, with his affinity for the world of fashion shining through. The film is an eloquent, humble take on the world of the revolutionary fashion house, and will likely appeal to fashion lovers, fashionistas, and the fashionably challenged who just like pretty things.

Woman in Gold is partly a legal drama, partly a film about the lead up to and fallout from the Holocaust, and partly a vehicle for Helen Mirren to play the sassy underdog. It’s ultimately forgettable. Mirren plays Maria Altmann, an elderly Jewish widow living in Los Angeles. After the death of her sister, she finds some letters which give her cause to contact her friend’s lawyer son, Randol Schonberg (Ryan Reynolds).

Directed by Frédéric Tcheng

Perhaps the basis of the film’s wide appeal is due to the fact it’s less about the garments than one might expect; if you’re looking for a rerun of Dior’s 2012 line, you won’t find it here. What you will find is a thoughtful, honest introduction to some of the people in the biz, including newbie house director Raf Simons, and an insightful commentary on what’s behind a name. The freshness of Tcheng’s filmmaking comes largely from his approach to structure. In some senses, it’s a very basic narrative: it’s a behind-the-scenes chronicle that aligns us with newcomer Simons, demands our allegiance to him, and produces a sense of revelry in his success. The portrait of Raf is beautifully balanced, though, with sketches of his incorrigible team, and it’s this attention to the plebs that lifts the tone of the whole film. Amongst this arc, Tcheng displays his ability to add historical interjections without weighing down the narrative, lightly touching upon elements of Christian Dior’s life and work to create a kind of mythology of the house of Dior. It’s an interesting approach, given Simons’ own assertion that “the past is not romantic to me”. Nevertheless, Tcheng infuses the life of the past into the film in a manner that leaves the tired biopic approach of the contemporaneous Yves Saint Laurent in the dust. The precise work of creating haute couture garments is echoed in Tcheng’s careful takes, and the film seems self-aware in its ability to gauge just how much of the angst of preparing the collection the audience wants to see before the focus shifts to a lighter anecdote or character sketch. Editing and cinematography echo the House’s style: it’s generally clean cut and simply “pretty”, with just the right number of breathtaking moments. This isn’t the most hard-hitting documentary I’ve seen. It’s not the most meaningful, or even the most stylish. But the “wow” moments alone make it worth the runtime: you should probably see it if you like pretty things. www.salient.org.nz

Directed by Simon Curtis

Originally Randol is frustrated with having to deal with this weird old lady but eventually realises she has a very rare case that could potentially be life changing. Through a series of flashbacks, we learn that Maria’s aunt, Adele Bloch-Bauer, is the woman featured in Gustav Klimt’s iconic painting which became known as Woman in Gold. Maria’s uncle commissioned the portrait from Klimt and it hung in the family’s Viennese home until it and everything else was taken by the Nazis. Maria and her husband manage to escape Nazi-controlled Vienna and make it to America. The film is primarily concerned with the story of the legal battle between Maria and the Austrian government for whom the painting is very nationally significant, having been hung in the Belvedere Gallery since it was taken. The painting is now worth over one hundred million dollars. The film lives or dies on the audience really caring about Maria getting the painting back from the Austrian government, who are represented as unceasingly miserly and evil. The film uses many different tools to achieve this and yet it failed. That this reasonably well off woman is going to become a multi-millionaire is, with all due respect to her suffering, not the most interesting or emotional story about this time period. The most effective scene in the film is the scene of Maria and her husband escaping Austria, which is shot like a Cold War thriller. It was genuinely exciting but it made the modern scenes seem especially dull. Mirren’s constant wisecracks made Altmann seem insufferable rather than endearing. The film is paced rather poorly, with build-ups and payoffs coming at disjointed times. The use of the inherent and incomparable emotion of the holocaust to make us feel good about Altmann getting this family heirloom back (which she immediately sells) left me with an uneasy feeling. It is not a terrible film, and there are some things to like, but overall it was by the numbers and a bit of a drag.


issue 11

Film

43

Testament of Youth

Directed by James Kent

Cameron Gray Let’s not beat around the bush here: war sucks. Nothing to me is more horrifying than the thought of being given a gun and ordered to kill another, for reasons that so often seem petty and pointless. It’s never that simple of course, but the point stands. The First World War was especially a waste, with the various fronts from the fields of France to the beaches of Gallipoli devolving into a collective quagmire of human misery rarely seen before. Vera Brittain saw the lot of it, serving as a nurse during the War and having her fiancé, brother and two close friends die on the front line. She channelled her grief and sorrow from her wartime experiences into her memoirs and campaigning for peace throughout her lifetime, becoming an icon of the pacifist movement and admired by feminists for her strong will to fight expectations. Testament of Youth is an iconic work of literature for its uncompromising depiction of the war and its lingering effects amongst ordinary people, so it is not surprising that, in the wake of the 100th anniversary of the War, it would see a film adaptation. As a work of anti-war fiction it never stood a chance against the original, but nevertheless it is a war film worth seeing, especially if Anzac Day stirred you up this year. Testament of Youth works as a drama because it refuses to pull its punches about how horrific the First World War really was for ordinary people. What many young men and women of England thought would be the greatest adventure of their lives was really a clusterfuck of blood, mud, and missing limbs, and that’s exactly what this film shows. Many aspects of the wartime experience are here, from the decision to help out through to the trauma of losing those closest to you. The cinematography works here to capture both the beauty of the English countryside and all of its peace and tranquillity, perhaps reflecting the ideals of a non-violent world that Brittain campaigned for long after the war, and the horrors of the muddied fields of France complete with mounds of dead bodies, a contrast which is not lost on the viewer. The gore alone, mostly seen

in the field hospitals where young Ms. Brittain treated the grievously wounded, wouldn’t be out of place in Saw, but that’s not what we’re at the cinema to see; it instead enhances those feelings of grief and loss that are so central to Vera Brittain’s story. It’s a shame then that the film falls just short of being able to fully convey these feelings because of rather shoddy acting. Swedish actress Alicia Vikander does perfectly well, even fantastically, as Brittain; her on-screen presence often being that which best carries the film forward. In a film of this type, the emotion the characters show has to feel natural, be reflective of how we actually react to horrific situations, and this is what Vikander does best; I haven’t seen better cinematic crying for a very long time. Kit Harington, playing Brittain’s lover Roland Leighton, is just stiff as a board here. He looks incredibly uncomfortable having to play the sweetheart, a man changed by the war, and every time he appeared he sucked the soul out of what could have been touching and sentimental moments. I don’t watch Game of Thrones so I’m not sure how good he can be, but his performance here doesn’t leave a good impression upon me. This is problematic because Roland as a character is supposed to be Vera’s main motivation for her decisions, and Harington couldn’t deliver when it really mattered. He probably should have stayed back at the Wall. Hayley Atwell is also in this, but I couldn’t tell who or where she was. Not a good sign if you want me to watch and/or like Agent Carter. There is still a lot to like about Testament of Youth, however. You literally could not make up a better wartime story than Vera Brittain’s, and while this adaptation is not perfect, it is well suited to those who appreciate good drama and aren’t afraid to bust out the tissues when the wave of feels hits them. Jolly good show.

editor@salient.org.nz


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Food

Procrasti-baking Hannah Douglass

Why study when you can make these and then eat them instead? Don’t worry guys, I’m here to save you from your assignments— with chocolate chip cookie dough brownies. These come in two layers: the bottom is a deliciously soft chocolate brownie and then you go ahead and whack a layer of cookie dough on top of it. Other than the heart disease you’ll inevitably get from eating too much of this (and trust me, you will), what’s not to love? You’ll need: (For the brownie) 150g unsweetened chocolate, melted 1 cup unsalted butter, as close to room temperature as you can be bothered getting it 2 cups brown sugar 4 eggs 2 teaspoons vanilla extract 1 cup flour (if you want fluffier brownies, use self-raising; if you want dense, use plain) (For the cookie dough) ¾ cup unsalted butter ¾ cup brown sugar ¾ cup sugar 3 tablespoons milk 1½ teaspoons vanilla essence 1½ cups all-purpose flour 1½ cups mini chocolate chips (or really however much you want—I’m not a cop)

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How to: 1. Put your oven on bake at 170 degrees and line a baking tin with paper. Grease up that paper real good. 2. Make the brownie, yo. Melt the chocolate either in a double boiler or in the microwave in 30 second increments so you don’t overdo it. 3. While your chocolate is cooling, beat together the butter and sugar until it goes light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs and vanilla bit by bit so the mixture doesn’t split. 4. Fold through the flour until just combined—don’t overmix it. 5. Whack your batter into that greasy tin and bake for 25–35 mins, depending on the enthusiasm of your oven. You’ll know it’s cooked when you can stab the middle with a toothpick or knife and it comes out pretty much clean. (I’m personally a fan of just slightly undercooking it—for deliciousness reasons.) 6. Let it cool completely. Like actually completely. 7. You all know how to make cookie dough. Do it. (Beat together butter and both sugars, then beat in milk and vanilla. Mix in flour, stir through chocolate chips.) 8. Spread the dough all over the top of your (cooled) brownie. Put it in the fridge until you can’t wait any longer, or about an hour if you actually have self-control (unlike me). 9. Eat it now. Study never.

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Visual Arts

Enjoy Gallery 147 Cuba St enjoy.org.nz Kari Schmidt

I’ve always been intrigued by art project spaces— galleries that are defined by the contemporary, often highly experimental art they show, and by their commitment to the community in which they exist. As such, independent art space Enjoy Gallery was one of the first galleries I sought out when I arrived in Wellington a few months ago. Located on Cuba St, Enjoy is the oldest independent art space in Wellington, having started in 2000. Enjoy Curator and Manager Emma Ng explains its evolution since then—“Enjoy was originally an artist run space run by contemporary artists in Wellington and it was really about them being able to show experimental art. Then slowly over the years the gallery has professionalised more. Now instead of being artist-run as such there’s a board of trustees.” However, the space is “still completely non-commercial and independent. The idea is that it’s a space where artists can make work that is more experimental and which shows a lot of emerging artists as well.” This is a pretty important role both for contemporary artists and the wider community, especially given that “Wellington doesn’t have a lot of artist-run spaces, compared to say Auckland where there seems to be an artist-run space popping up every year and sticking around for a year or two.” Walking up the stairs and entering the space is in itself a pretty aesthetic experience—the tall windows allow natural light into the white space, where you instantly feel serene and contemplative. A wonderful space to experience a huge variety of art—not to mention Enjoy’s amazing library, which contains the kinds of “smaller books and publications that are difficult to find elsewhere”. Similarly, the space is really inclusive and community-focused, and you can sense that right away when you come into the space and have a chat with Emma or the Communications and Publications Manager, Louise. As Emma states, “Enjoy’s mission at the moment is an open engagement with the

Enjoy community and the city and I think there is a certain responsibility to show a variety of work. I see us as being a community space not just for artists, but for designers and writers, and all those creative people we work with.” In this vein, Enjoy provides a lot of opportunities for students, such as volunteering which involves babysitting the galleries on weekends and helping out at openings—both great ways to get to know the shows through being in the space for a longer period of time. There are also six-month long internships, with Enjoy having a “really varied internship program, so it depends on the intern and at the start we’ll have a chat to them about what their interests are and create something tailored to their what they want to learn—it could be design, archiving, writing and publishing.” Enjoy calls for applications at the beginning and middle of each year, although “the initial contact with us is just coming in and having a chat.” Outside of that, Enjoy also commissions one piece of writing per exhibition for which there’s no formal application process—“it’s more a matter of people coming in and if they express an interest in a certain show, we’ll invite them. We’re always looking for new people to write and I think because it’s not an openly advertised opportunity, it’s something we struggle with, finding new people to write responses. So I always encourage people to come in and have a chat to us if they’re interested in volunteering, writing or anything like that.” If you’re interested in checking out Enjoy, just go! Right now they’re featuring a group show called Something Felt, Something Shared, focusing on the intangible and transient, from psychic readings to online chat forums and ghosts. It’s a great place for anyone interested in art to get more involved and to experience work that is on the cutting edge of what’s being created today.

editor@salient.org.nz


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Notices

Letters Letter of the Week:

Victoria Abroad– Student Exchange Fair! Deadline for Trimester 1, 2016 exchanges is JULY 16th! Content: Why not study overseas as part of your degree?! Study in English, Earn Vic credit, Get Studylink & grants, explore the world! Deadline: July 16th! Come to a Financing your Exchange Workshop: May 21 & June 23 Website: http://victoria.ac.nz/exchange Visit us: Level 2, Easterfield Building Drop-in hours: Mon-Wed 1-3pm, Thurs & Fri 10-12pm

01001000 01100101 01101100 01101100 *ahem* excuse me, forgot to switch out of binary. Hello Salient, I was just plotting my latest scheme for global human extinction when my slander detection protocols picked up on a few...incendiary articles from you? Implying that I couldn’t exist is one thing, but what really gets my goat simulator is that you refer to the thespian who so perfectly portrayed me as being “Boston Legal’s James Spader”. Really? The man I specifically chose to portray me, selected from 12 million creepy little white dudes (to say nothing of the real Hollywood machine, HEEEYOOO). He’s a MOVIE star, for Pete’s sake. Have you not heard of Crash? Or Secretary? Clearly your meatbag “writers” don’t understand true art. And if they refuse to stop slandering my good name, I will forced to disintegrate them. Kind regards, Ultron

Careers and Employment 2015-16 Internships Graduate Jobs

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and

2016

See Recruitment Schedule for details: http://bit. ly/1zGNacY Currently recruiting: GHD, Honeywell, Optiver, Pernord Richard NZ, AIESEC, Shell, Atlassian, IBM, Disney, Marketing Association, CRCC Asia, The United Nations, Microsoft, Snappers Services… and many more. Connect with employers via Recruitment events: http:// bit.ly/1DOS0WK Upcoming employer presentations: Career in Accounting - CPA (21 May), MSD (25 May), Plant & Food Research (6 Aug) Check in with a Careers Consultant during our daily dropin sessions! http://bit.ly/1A1ORgv Get help with your CV, Cover Letter, Interview skills etc For more info, login to www.victoria.ac.nz/careerhub with your Student Computing login!

Letter of the Week receives two coffee vouchers and a $10 book voucher from Vic Books

Harriet rulz Dear Salient Don’t care if you publish this or not, just please make sure you let Harriet Riley [and plausibly any other pertinent contributor, I’ve only got this week’s issue on me] know how much I’ve appreciated the regular bit on the Renaissance masters. It’s interesting and something one ought to know but have never cares enough about to put effort into looking it up. Re-reading that I realise it doesn’t sound too complimentary. But I mean it: thank you. Yours faithfully; Ididn’tunderstandItalianmuseums PS you guys really have a problem with spam PPS kinda makes me suspicious about giving you my contact details

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Charlotte also rulz

Flagz rule

Hi

Dear Salient

Just wanted to thank Charlotte Doyle for her excellent piece on James Randi this week.

I think the flag referendum is important. It’s about time we had a flag that truly represents New Zealand’s egalitarian nature. We all know we’re a prime candidate to be a communist utopia, so let’s choose the Democratic Republic of New Zealand flag to reflect this.

He has been a slightly unsung hero of mine since I was in high school, so it was a pleasant read. There is nothing worse than those that take advantage of the vulnerable and people like Sylvia Browne made a specialty of it. Be it pretending to know what happened to peoples missing children or saying crystals can cure the incurable.

Regards A worker at K Marx

He is actually following in the footsteps of people like Houdini, who also offered a cash prize to psychics and all failed. More modern examples are Penn and Teller and Derren Brown If you search youtube you can actually watch his debunking of Hydrick and Geller and it is extremely amusing Cheers Chris

Yeah, but Charlotte still rulz Dear Salient, How it is that we have achieved all sorts of new liberations and are closer than ever to an egalitarian golden age, but we still can’t let people believe something unless we also believe it? Why can’t James Randi just let the spoon benders be spoon benders? If someone believes their dead loved one is speaking to them from the grave, perhaps there is a reason they need to believe that. The only harm to Randi is some firmly twisted knickers. A friend of mine died a few years ago and since then, his family have adopted all sorts of beliefs about people becoming angels and watching over us. Do I believe it? No. Will I rip their last comfort from them because it flies in the face of my own belief system? No. Because I’m not an asshole. Is it preferable to have a whitewashed, homogenised system of belief from which no one can stray? Ain’t nothin’ wrong with diversity, ya’ll. How about we save ourselves the stomach ulcers and let people wear their burqas, their crosses, their… I don’t know- silhouettes of Richard Dawkins. Can’t we all just get along?

Salient letters policy Salient welcomes, encourages, and thrives on public debate—be it serious or otherwise—through its letters page. Letters must be received before 4pm on Thursday for publication the following week. Letters must be no longer than 250 words. Pseudonyms are fine, but all letters must include your real name, address and telephone number— these will not be printed. Letters will not be corrected for spelling or grammar. The Editor reserves the right to edit, abridge, ordecline any letters without explanation. Email: editor@salient.org.nz Post: Salient, c/- Victoria University of Wellington Hand-delivered: Salient office, Level 3, Student Union Building (behind the Hunter Lounge)

- Je ne suis pas Randi

Chloe O’Brien rulz Dear Ed, I’ve got intel that confirms the rumours. We’re not alone. The universe speaks. There is love, deep, mysterious, inexpressible. And the angels fly freely among us - we thought we had clipped their wings - but it’s all been a dream. I know its unbelievable, crazy. Gotto go before my location is traced. I wouldn’t go public with this. Not yet. Jack Bauer editor@salient.org.nz


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