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Death of a Scenester

ANIMAL

Issue 4

Death of a Scenester

Issue #4 Animal

Featuring fiction, non-fiction, poetry, comics, art, and crosswords.

Spring 2011

Death of a Scenester Issue #4 – Animal Spring 2011

Words and art

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First published in 2011 by Death of a Scenester, an imprint of Tuesday Press Š Death of a Scenester and Tuesday Press This zournal is copyright. All rights reserved. Except as permitted under the Australian Copyright Act 1968 (for example, a fair dealing for the purposes of study, research, criticism or review), no part of this zournal may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, communicated or transmitted in any form or by any means without prior written permission. All inquiries should be made to the publisher at deathofascenester@gmail.com. Disclaimer The material in this publication is of the nature of general comment only. Some pieces may contain material only suitable for adults. Cover art by George Garbutt Layout and design by Ali Edmonds

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‘The reason the beasts give among themselves is that Man is the weakest and most defenseless of all living things, and it is unsportsmanlike to touch him.’ –Rudyard Kipling, The Jungle Book Animal is our fourth issue and it feels like we’ve come full circle since Issue 1 Covers, in early 2010. We have learnt a lot about reciprocity and creativity since then – from our writers, artists, festival organisers, and from the supportive (and justly decisive) Melbourne arts and music community. It has been such a blessing to be able to create something without a ball-and-chain profit margin. As you most of you would know, the money Death of a Scenester makes goes back into printing and as of late, subsidising trips to art festivals (we were represented at This Is Not Art festival for the first time this year). Such festivals have been crucial for us, not so much to compare and contrast, but to appreciate the context within which we sit as a publication, and of course, to widen our net for potential contributors. The work that publications like Death of a Scenester encourage are forever thoughtful, provocative and downright hilarious. From where we are standing, it has been a real pleasure to be able to be the uncensored, no-holds-barred platform for such talent. It’s our fourth issue and the theme Animal, was chosen with the intention of getting the best and most colourful from our writers and artists. And we did. We tried a few different things with this issue: we pushed for more non-fiction, political pieces, to stay true to our mission of representing a balance. We got what we asked for: there are some really great snarky, left-field pieces for you to ponder on. A lot of the writing in this issue highlights how animals are involved in our political, social, environmental and personal worlds. It makes you marvel at the human race’s contradictory affinity with animals and how, ultimately, animals really know how to live! The launch format has also taken a turn. Larger-than-life warehouse parties have been great fun, but we’ve taken a step back and attempted to bring the focus back to the publication and contributors. This time, we are featuring a variety of salacious performers and speakers, to represent and salute the contributors we have come to know and love. Thanks to the bands that played at the last launch – it was great fun – and keep your eyes and ears peeled for some new and exciting changes for Death of a Scenester in 2012. Ali, Shal, Meg & Katie DOAS October 2011

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Contributors

(cover) George Garbutt

George is a mechanical engineer from Adelaide, but currently lives and works in Copenhagen, Denmark. He has contributed to each issue of Death of a Scenester with his long time friend Jo Sandow and feels very fortunate to be able to contribute the cover of this issue. p.8 Anthony Graham

Anthony can be reached at anthonylgraham@gmail.com. p.12 Anthony Moore

Anthony Moore is unhealthily obsessed with music. It’s in his head 24 hours a day. He’s totally addicted. Live music is his biggest high. He has his own blog http:// somethingsweettothrowaway.blogspot.com/, writes for veri.live, UK’s Cock no.7 and The 59th Sound amongst others. p.16 Alice Body

Alice Body is a young, usually penniless freelance writer getting by in Melbourne. She’s a regular contributor to Inpress magazine, a volunteer at climate solutions think-tank Beyond Zero Emissions, and a maker of eccentric things when she should really be doing her day job in retail. p.22 Sean Gleeson

When Sean Gleeson was eight years old, his favourite thing in the world was his pet chicken, Premium Unleaded. He perched it on his shoulder and pretended to be a pirate, and didn’t even care when his shoulder got covered in chicken scratches and his shirt got covered in chicken shit. One day the dog got to it and when Sean came home from school there was nought but a pile of guts strewn over the lawn. He fell down on his knees and cried to the heavens: ‘Why, Premium Unleaded, why?!’ The neighbours were very confused. p.28 Giuliano Ferla

Giuliano Ferla is a Melbourne playwright, musician and performer.

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p34 Nina Gibb

Nina Gibb writes for and facilitates Typeset, an online zine about literature and creative endeavors that hopes to break the wall between high and low brow and generally aims to have a good time. You can read it at http://typesetgroup.wordpress. com. In her spare time she works behind the counter selling books, is unnaturally fascinated by eruptions of the Id into everyday life and the permeability of boundaries, and makes a great deal of ‘stuff’ that doesn’t quite add up to an arts practice. p.40 Alain Marciano

Alain Marciano is French and loves to write in English. For years, writing essays have been a kind of substitute to writing fiction, but he decided to switch to nonfiction last year. He has already published two stories – You Should Never Open the Cellar Door (www.scifishortstory.com/), and Therapy (http://animalfarmnyc.com/ page/therapy-1). Alain Marciano also draws (see pogobooks.de/content/marciano. html and andistillmissyou.com/archives.php #17). p.48 Tyler Burton

Tyler Burton is a fiction writer who can be found blogging at More People Like Us (http://morepeoplelikeus.tumblr.com). He enjoys strong, peaty scotch, kissing his girlfriend, and eating his vegetables. He is originally from Cincinnati, Ohio but lives now in Oakland, CA. p.56 Embolalia

like. MILK. before. <radio silence>. http://embolalia.wordpress.com. p.59 Ali E

Ali E is a musician and independent publisher. p.60 Thomas Blatchford

Thomas Blatchford is a writer and visual artist from Melbourne. He studied Critical Fine Art Practice in the UK and during that time was featured in exhibitions such as Unbelievable Crimewave! in Brighton and For Those Killed In Ambush in London. He currently works for zine defenders Sticky Institute and edits the zine-based podcast Fahrenheit C3100. He is a regular contributor to Playground Magazine and Melbourne culture website Three Thousand.

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p.64 Dan Christie

Dan Christie was dishonrouably discharged from the British Imperial Army for an unspecified misdemenour and has since been tutoring private sessions on Byron at an elite college for young gentleman. Applications to view his unique library of tastefully artistic daguerreotypes are to be made in person only. p.70 Sam Wallman

Sam Wallman lives in Preston, where he draws everyday. He also draws in food courts, casinos and beats. His work can be seen at samwallman.blogspot.com, and a new book of his work, Bein’ Born is Going Blind will be out early December. p.71 K Scott

K. Scott is a musician and keen amateur photographer of the analogue persuasion. These days stories and poems are the scant jam between two biscuits. No butter. Lean times call for lean pieces. p.72 Jess Shulman

Jess Shulman writes words in-between uttering profanities. Most of the written words end up as profanities too. If it weren’t deemed grammatically (dramatically) incorrect (and kind of offensive) she’d write everything in capital letters (using loads of parentheses). It’s all stream-of-consciousness-word-vomit with very little editing, and she’s oft accused of being uncouth and unsophisticated, for writing publicly about things like her Charles Manson obsession and how many wanks she has before breakfast (but it’s probably mostly to do with the aforementioned profanities.) (And over-use of parentheses.) (Did you notice that not one profanity was uttered in this bio?) It’s all lies, then (except for the bit about parentheses). p.76 Claire Marshall

Claire is a 24-year-old law student cum bar-keep with a penchant for sequinned jumpers, strong tea, vegetable patches and cheap scotch. She’s currently working with up-and-comers on a new project called the Archaeopteryx Appreciation Society with a group of like-minded navel gazers. p.84 Shane Jesse Christmass

Shane Jesse Christmass is a Perth-born, Melbourne-based writer. He edits the journal Queen Vic Knives. He’s also a member of the band Mattress Grave. He firmly belives that the future of the word, the novel, will be in synthetic telepathy. Most of his writing is archived at http://luparapublishing.blogspot.com/. 6

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p.89 Nicola Hardy

Nicola Hardy is a visual artist and writer who lives in Spain, pretending to be Ernest Hemingway. Look at her website – www.drawingdiscipline.blogspot.com. p.90 Conal Thwaite

Conal Thwaite is a member of the Melbourne Anarchist Club, a group based in Northcote (62 St Georges Rd open Sundays 10–4pm, mac.anarchobase.com). Last year he completed an honours thesis in history called Anarcho-Syndicalism in Melbourne and Sydney (available online), prior to that he studied Arts and Commerce at the University of Melbourne. He also has a day job. p.95 Ben John Smith

Ben John Smith is a full time creep. He runs Horror Sleaze Trash and if he had one wish it would be to share beers with Elvis and to maybe even kiss him, closed mouth. p.97 Ann Witherall

Last time I wrote one of these I said I didn’t care about being rejected by publishers. That was total bullshit. If anyone knows how to get a punk novel about a sometimes suicidal runaway published, let me know – annwitherall@gmail.com p.102 Luke McQ

I was raised by dogs before founding the Western Sydney civilisation of Penrith. The best way to experience my work is to read it aloud in a South African accent. You can find more of my stuff on the website duderocket.com and on canetoadwarrior. blogspot.com. p.104 Daniel Gloag

Daniel Gloag is a dirty stinking no-good, lower-than-low writer. He allegedly maintains a blog at www.bench-press.blogspot.com, which contains further various disreputable examples of his so-called writing. p.108 Thomahawk Merryweather

Thomahawk Merryweather is a regular contributor to Death of a Scenester. A poet with a keen ear for the lyrical. Resides in Sydney. Fond of cranes. p.110 Nick Livingston

Nick Livingston does the corssword. He likens himself to non-stick living, wearing conniving kilts and drinking at the Viking’s Colt Inn. 7

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Life Between Drinks By Anthony Graham

picture by Frank Lovece

‘My heart’s in the strangest place and that’s how it started’ – The Walkmen, In the New Year

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he cutest girl I’ve met in four and half years is about to order wine for her and her disapproving friend. She moves towards the bar, towards me. She is all smooth skin, lean limbs and wild hair, a eucalypt in the wind. She says my name and I say hers. I wonder why she wears her hair that way, why men have chosen short hair and women, long. She laughs about something. I try to picture the people in her life, if they make her laugh, if she’s happy. I know very little about her and can’t imagine that changing or that process ever fully happening again: whatever we are is what we have chosen to be. But we can’t truly be that because the option is always available to be something else. Outside, the rain falters and three inches of white paint separate the living from the dead.

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Around us the race to separate from consciousness, to escape ourselves, goes on. Like a drunk, existence stumbles from one moment to another, appearing from nowhere and heading nowhere. Everything seems so trivial. Everyone seems so ridiculous, chasing the smallest pleasures. It could all be so different. The years disappear as quickly as a dream. Everything rushes past so rapidly yet change is so slow as to be unnoticeable. History counts by its complicity. So much has already passed, so many things already gone. The older you get the further away you get from formative experience until you’re far enough away to see that there won’t be any more. It will all disappear and you will wonder what it was all for, how much easier it should have been, how much easier you could have made it. It will slide away slowly at first, frailty, senility, form losing function and then it will pass instantly, painlessly. Consciousness will no longer be around to feel, to know, to register that anything was ever any different. This is coming for all of us, the pinnacle of time, the climax of existence, the transition from being to nothingness. She takes her drink and moves away. The mirror behind the bar sends back a smudged facsimile, a weathered shell that no longer resembles the one in my head. The problem with beauty is that it’s always irreplaceable. Unable to think of another option, I continue to polish my heart with gin and cigarettes. Disappearing into the flesh seems the thing to do. To give up my soul as best I can. If not to forget, then at least to be so present as to be unaware; if not for acceptance, then for the familiarity that comes when there’s nothing left to protect; if not in the hope of love, then for something that can temporarily resemble love. I will fuck my way out of this. Once you figure out how the trick works, however, you’re left with a series of rehearsed conventions and mechanical performance; the hideous buttons and levers of a flesh that is decomposing day by day, sliding us surely towards death. Halfway between arousal and aversion, the only thing that vanishes is the magic itself. I can’t speak. There is so much pretence, so much naivety, that I have no idea what anything really is. Dignity seems counter to humanity. I wonder why the heart beats at all.

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The night is still and the sky settles on a colour I’ve never seen before. Fallen leaves cover the footprints that are now behind me, mapped in my head, and the asphalt, painted by rain, courses relentlessly through the city like a river. The smell of a lemon tree triggers a memory and the mind casts back to some other time, something more complete. But that place doesn’t exist anymore and discipline must be maintained. As someone I don’t quite know put it, ‘the only thing that matters is now and now and now and now. Every moment now. That way the sadness can't catch you.’ Ten years is a long time to give to someone; 27 are far too few. In the end, each life is irreducible to anything other than itself. In the darkness, powerlines follow me home and dual-lane bypasses politely arrange themselves out of my way. I am reminded again that we are majestically alone. On my side of the bed, I patiently wait for consciousness to give over to the passenger side. I think about oceans and their unimaginable creatures, of the elegant perfection of the metric system, about the impossibility of space and its cold, absent stars sending us their long extinguished light. I think about the people I have lost, about the people I will lose and the countdown we all face in this life that is given to us for nothing. Sleep comes and I am finally able to rest my quiet heart, so full it is ready to burst at the seams.

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Animal Tales Anthony Moore

T

he room turned black. Soft strums kicked in to shouts of ‘Yeah’ as Nutshell started. Spotlights from behind them lit up Layne and Jerry’s silhouettes onto a white sheet covering the stage. We were finally at Alice In Chains!

Vocals so personal soothed our souls. Gentle strums set the sway throughout the crowd. I closed my eyes and fell in. The reality of where I was so easily forgotten as it took me away. ‘And yet I fight this battle all alone.’ The sheet dropped as the thumping bass of the heroin induced ‘Junkhead’ took over. Layne writhing in and out of a rope net. The change in intensity swung out off the stage like an angry fist and the mosh sucked it in. Already compact, steam rising, we started to cram in tighter, rotate in slowmotion. The sound moving us round like

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Layne’s ‘drug of choice’, falling down and out of our head’s. Heavy eyelids rolled back as we hit the floor. The whirlpool caved in on itself. I don’t really remember how long I spent on the bottom of the mosh. I could feel the hard floor on one side of me and sweaty bodies lying all over the top. It was still loud as hell and arms were going everywhere. I don’t know how big the collapse was and most people probably didn’t even realise it had happened. All I could do was cover my head and save it from being pounded by Doc’s all around me and yell ‘FUUUCK!’ Hands eventually grabbed and pulled me up. I didn’t really think about it again until after the gig. Why? It took me about three seconds to get back to where I wanted to be, back in the zone. After all, I was seeing Alice In Chains live! HELL YEAH!!!! Live music is like nothing else. It’s an addiction and once you’ve experienced it at its peak, you need another hit. Whether you’re a musician or a fan, it’s such a high when everything aligns and you’re in that zone! Raul Sanchez, Magic Dirt and River Of Snakes guitarist, puts being up on stage so perfectly: ‘You know you’re doing well when you basically disappear, you are no longer there, the music, the lights and the intensity take you away and you become irrelevant. There is no ego anymore; just energy and the music. There are no conscious decisions, just impulse and instinct.’ There’s so much passion involved. Peoples emotions are amplified and – like in nature – the human animal instinct can turn on a dime. A tornado of highs and lows, love and anger, excitement and shock, can all come to a head and explode! When everyone in one room is buzzing off their heads from that high of the music … anything can happen! It’s this unpredictable nature of going to see a live band that makes it exciting. Is it a band you know and like? Will they have a good night? There are so many aspects that can be an influence. You sometimes truly don’t know what to expect. Sure, if you’re seeing some chilled out acoustic set you wouldn’t dream you’d be kicked in the head. Maybe if you’re seeing Faith No More at the Uni Bar in Canberra in 1992 you wouldn’t either, just as I did. After I walked back from the bar I ran into my mate Nik who had the biggest most excited smile on his face I have ever seen … ‘I just got kicked in the head by Mike Patton!’

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It must be hard at times for performers to thrust themselves into the limelight. Some have rituals; some just get up there; some need to get into the right frame of mind. UK artist, musician and performer Angel Ito uses a mantra before each performance that he initially wrote for stage fright, ‘I am the lion. I am the eagle. I am the worm. I am the prey and the hunter, the survivor and the fallen. We are all one and I only express our common aim, so let the fear wash over and fall into the pack; dance and sing for your life.’ Put yourself in the place you want to be. Escape into your alter ego. You can see it happen sometimes on stage. The very instant someone connects to the moment and like lightning … BANG! They’re taken away. ‘I unleash all the aggression that builds up in me from life past and present,’ describes Mammoth Mammoth front man Mikey Tucker about his world on stage. Mikey’s live side has no boundaries. There is no edge to the stage. It usually doesn’t take long for him to be out and amongst the punters. At the start of a set at one of Melbourne’s legendary pub’s, The Tote, the tornado took over. ‘I hate it when bands are fucking working their asses off and people are outside talking and smoking.’ It took him one song to jump on the seat at the window yelling the lyrics at those outside. The goat in him took over and he headbutted the window and went right through it! Why? ‘To grab their attention and scare the fuck out of them.’ It worked. It’s the job of the band to get your attention and keep it, musically, as well as visually. It definitely helps to create a complete experience. Whether it be guitarist, drummer or as in the case of Mammoth Mammoth, the lead singer. ‘Have you ever seen an animal debilitated say after being hit by a car or from rabies?’ asks Fred. ‘I watch from the drum stool at what those brothers do ... foaming at the mouth ... rolling around the floor in what looks like agony!’ He’s speaking of Geoffro and Gentle Ben – brothers in blood and brothers in arms as the singers of SixFtHick. Notoriously known for their massive stage presence where they pick up rock’n’roll and smash it against a wall and they sometimes literally cut themselves with it in the process! A blatant disregard for sober behaviour all in the name of putting on the best show they can.

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‘I had a Greyhound I rescued from the pound. One day I took it to the beach, it was very excited. I let it off the leash and it just took off. I thought that I would never see that dog again but it made a big left turn then ran back past me, did another big left turn …’. Fred describes the SixFtHick experience: ‘It had just taken a run around the track … now was ready for a feed and a lie down. I think that is what a show is kind of like, except there is more blood, drool, spit and sweat! The smell is similar to dog though.’ At some gigs you can chat to mates against the back wall, but it’s always more fun to get in amongst it if you can. Sometimes the band brings it into the crowd like Link Meanie (pictured). Meanies gigs are always high energy and full of passion. Link is always thrashing about and throwing himself through the air, sometimes on stage and usually after a song or two out on the crowd! Chainsaw Hookers guitarist Jonathan Russo thought he should do the same … bring it to the people! I saw him leap off the stage recently, swing round mid strum, get his leg caught in a bar stool and fall on his arse, and … he never missed a note! And sometimes the crowd takes it to the band. ‘Suki’s had to shoulder and bass bash old drunk men trying to get to her mic.’ UK riot grrl’s Grim Dylan takes no prisoners if the uninvited are not up on stage for the right reasons. ‘Some random guy came in drunk and strolled up to take her mic. He had no idea what was going on. He wasn’t there for the music. I’m not sure if he even knew where he was!’ Then there’s sharing your drink with your new found punter friends. Well, there’s sharing and then there’s Grim guitarist Vicky’s version of sharing: ‘You know when you have a beer for a while and it gets kind of warm, so you down the last bit of it and start on the new beer which is all cold and fizzy ... leaning down to put it on the floor it just kind of came out and ended up on a guys legs n feet … he was cool about it though.’ It’s a gig! It’s going to happen sometime, before, during, after … When alcohol gets mixed into the crazy, who knows where it will end up. Like a mate of mine, Al, who’d been hitting it hard at an Abdoujaparov gig. He was upstairs at the venue and went outside for a smoke. He ‘climbed over the handrail to sit on the ground floor roof to have a quiet durry. Next thing I know it’s 10am the next morning and fucking hot! Door was locked so I had to climb down the fire escape.’ Smooth Al, really smooth, you must have been smashed! 15

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As well as brain cells, loads of other useful things get broken … ‘It’s fucking great fun; unbelievable ... Its aggression aimed at an object, everyone should smash something once in their lives, you let go and become a brainless monkey.’ Raul has a penchant for breaking guitars … ‘I actually love the noises that come out when you’re abusing them that way, it’s fucked up, it’s monstrous and you can’t get that any other way.’ allanCampbell garnered ‘the reputation of being a bit “animal”. A no rules, go nuts attitude.’ At The Barwon Club, in Geelong, drummer Mark and singer/guitarist Damo were allegedly ‘sprung before the gig knocking back mushrooms’ by their manager. After a slight direction change in the set, Mark (somehow) remembers ‘the last song peaked with Damo smashing his guitar into pieces on the stage. I saw the opening, threw my sticks and kicked myself through the drums. I looked for something to throw hard, something to satisfy my urge to “destroy”! The best and closest thing I could find was a “prop” TV we had brought along which was sitting on stage with a snow effect. I grabbed it, held it above my head (with a collective gasp from the audience) and brought it down as hard as I could onto the stage!! It shattered into a thousand pieces!’ It’s all good, everyone loves that shit! It’s rock’n’roll! ‘The audience wasn’t sure how to react!! The venue owner’s face had just dropped out of shock! The sound guy reminded us we’d have to pay for any broken mics and stands ... with a ‘but that rocked!’ kind of tone. And our manager kicked our arse.’ When Ironweed guitarist Mike Vitali’s former band Ajna Chakra were around in the early 1990’s, they had become known for their ‘intensity both on and off the stage.’ While studying at the illustrious Berklee College they ‘befriended an unnamed woman from Vermont and she had a closet stuffed with 20lbs of magic mushrooms.’ This was before a show and it had been agreed upon ‘to not touch the stash prior to the gig.’ Mike was convinced that before ‘the show that just one healthy sized cap wouldn’t hurt or be noticeable to anyone else.’ The visual intensity that night must have been extreme! ‘After the show, after I’d mentioned that my guitar cables were actually snakes, “didn’t you see them slithering?!” I was no longer to be in charge of the stash.’ ‘Fuck. I wouldn’t know where to begin.’ That pretty much sums up the previous paragraph and is the start to a great reply sent through to me and one of my favourites … thanks to Pinky Beecroft of The White Russians and Machine Gun Fellatio fame. 16

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While chatting with those mentioned through e-mail and alike I found it hard to cut down what I was sent back. There were some pretty crazy and funny stories that I had to simply leave out or that just made no sense to begin with! This final one however, I couldn’t edit, didn’t want to edit and there is so much in it in such a short space, but I just love it exactly how it is ... this is courtesy of Pinky. ‘I played a gig once in an animal park somewhere in Western Australia, and there were supposedly crocodiles and stuff, but I couldn’t figure out exactly where, and the stage collapsed so one of the people in the band climbed a stack of speakers and got tangled in an industrial ceiling fan and got half his head chopped off, and bled everywhere. It was the same weekend I walked into a glass door at a service station and shattered it, apparently without noticing. I was looking for a milk-based drink at the time. I get pretty focused when I’m looking for milk-based drinks.’

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The Premier’s Horses and the Chairman’s Paper Tigers Sean Gleeson

L

ong before I was born, they used to call my alumnus the Clayton Soviet. It was either an epithet or a term of endearment, depending where you stood on certain things. Monash University took its first students in 1961, four short years after being commissioned by the federal government under a plan to radically increase access to higher education for what Prime Minister Menzies had earlier christened ‘the forgotten people’, Australia’s aspirational suburban middle-classes. Menzies’ government believed that anyone with the academic ability to pursue further education should do so, unconstrained by the tyranny of distance or the cloistered elitism of the establishment universities. The Menzies government wanted the university constructed on the site of the Caulfield Racecourse. The area was well serviced by public transport and would allow students living outside the southeastern suburbs of Melbourne easy access to what would eventually become the largest campus by enrolment in the country. Combating the economic status quo and granting Australia’s suburbs the opportunity for upward mobility was a noble ideal, if fraught in practice. The Caulfield site was eventually vetoed by Henry Bolte, the last Victorian Premier to come from farming stock. Bolte’s main hobby was horse racing. As an outsider, perpetually insecure about

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his status among Melbourne’s gentry, it gave him an opportunity to rub shoulders with the city’s business and social elite in an informal setting. As a country man, it gave him the opportunity to indulge his country habits – then, as now, the spring racing season is very much the pinnacle of the social calendar for rural Victoria’s farming families. Whether or not Bolte believed in the aims of his federal counterparts, on his whim the Caulfield Racecourse remains a regular fixture in Melbourne’s Spring Racing Carnival to this day. When Monash opened its doors for the first time it was still bordered by cow paddocks. It’s still a real motherfucker to get to if you don’t have a car. Each time a new state government is elected, there are discussions about extending the train line to the university. These plans have come no closer to fruition since they were first mooted fifty years ago. *** That Monash – Clayton campus – came to have the most radical student population in the country by the end of the sixties seems an unlikely fluke, given its isolation. At the time there were few buildings and fewer places to congregate. Its proximity to the bay makes its outdoor spaces blisteringly cold and perpetually windswept in Melbourne’s winter. The pub has always been the social nexus of student life, but back then Clayton was a dry suburb. The nearest place to drink was the Notting Hill Hotel, twenty minutes by foot from the Campus Centre. For people of my age, it is impossible to imagine the event that galvanised the youth of Monash in the 1960s. Imagine waking up at the meek age of 19, eating breakfast around the family table. Imagine hearing a knock at the door. Imagine being greeted by a Commonwealth official who informs you that because a ping-pong ball with your birthday written on it has been drawn out of a barrel in the National Service office, you’re off to languish and maybe die a painful death in the jungles of southeast Asia. This sort of existential threat has a way of bringing people together. One of the leading opponents of the Vietnam War in Melbourne was Albert Langer, a Monash student and an avowed supporter of the Chinese Communist Party. Langer and his brethren sincerely believed that students had the power to upend Australia’s subservience to America’s imperial aims, and were utterly committed to opposing the war by any means necessary.

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In 1961 the Communist Party of Australia had split, mirroring the growing hostility between the Chinese leadership under Chairman Mao and the Soviet Politburo. For those in this country who abhorred the horrors of the Soviet Union under Stalin but remained committed to Marxist principles, China and not Russia was the shining beacon on the path to Australia’s socialist future. Chairman Mao once described the nature of American power in a manner that later became a clarion call for Langer and other students opposed to the Vietnam War: ‘in appearance it is very powerful but in reality it is nothing to be afraid of. Outwardly a tiger, it is made of paper, unable to withstand the wind and the rain.’ Langer took the message to heart, and busied himself in exploits that seem so alien to the modern student’s experience that they defy belief. He was famously thrown out of Monash in 1966 for helping to raise money to arm the North Vietnamese Army, before a student strike forced the university to relent and readmit him. Langer and his cohort helped to coordinate the Draft Resister’s Union for people fleeing the prison terms handed down to those that shirked conscription. In an incident almost forgotten by the passage of time, the Monash Maoists led a march to the American consulate in Melbourne on July 4th – Independence Day – in 1969. When they arrived they threw Molotov cocktails at the windows of the building. The mounted police units called in to disperse the protest were thrown from their horses when students cast toy marbles under their hooves. *** In the decade before the election of the current Labour government, public expenditure on tertiary education in Australia declined seven percent in real terms. By way of comparison, in other developed countries during the same period, government spending on universities rose by 50 percent on average. For me, the starkest evidence of this decline came when I was a lowly undergrad, meandering through an Arts degree at Clayton. The eleven storey Menzies Building, located in the geographical centre of the campus, is reminiscent of the Housing Commission high-rises that went up in Melbourne’s inner-city around the same time: barren, concrete, bland, privileging function to the utter neglect of any aesthetic concerns. There were reasons apart from a bygone era of student politics as to why it was called the Clayton Soviet. In a barren, concrete, windy campus that already

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recalls the ugly functionalism of the Eastern Bloc countries at their most stagnant, it’s also the only thing that bears casting your eyes upon. In the second half of 2006, when I started at Monash, large chunks of concrete began peeling off the eastern wing of this grand old edifice, landing on the pedestrian footpath below. The university did not have enough money in its capital works budget to repair the building, which was never intended to be in use for fifty years in any case. Instead, they fenced off the grounds around the eastern wing for the rest of the semester. Students and staff laboured away in the building as normal, notwithstanding the slight detour. The Labor Party made much of the Coalition’s under-investment in tertiary education in the lead-up to the 2007 election. Soon after coming to office, then-education minister Julia Gillard commissioned a review into higher education. After a year of deliberations, the review committee came back with a weighty tome that contained recommendations to deregulate the allocation of student places at universities. To its supporters in government and policy circles, this vision would lead to more efficient allocation of government funding, allowing more resources to be directed to popular courses which were suffering from large student-teacher ratios. To its detractors, largely composed of student politicians and assorted student activist groups, the deregulation of student places would lead to the shutting down of niche subjects, the eventual closure of regional universities and massive hikes in student debts, as Australia’s more prestigious sandstone campuses jacked up prices to trade on the benefits of their name recognition and employer preference. In March 2009, about a month after the review was released, Julia Gillard used the occasion of her address to Universities Australia to announce that the government would support the recommendations in full, with the deregulation of student places to commence at the beginning of 2012. 24 hours after her speech, I was standing on a street in Werribee. I’d been asked, in my capacity as editor of Monash University’s student rag, to cover a snap protest against the review’s recommendations outside of Gillard’s electorate office. For those of you that haven’t had the pleasure, Werribee is on the southwestern fringes of Melbourne, about 45 minutes by train from Flinders Street. In recent decades, the relaxation of the state government’s planning laws has seen the construction of

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cheap estates by the usual gaggle of spiv developers. Helping to keep costs down is the nearby Melbourne Water facility, fifteen kilometres to the south, which treats 60 percent of the city’s sewerage. When the sky is overcast and the wind blows in from the bay, as it was on this day, the faint smell of shit hangs on the breeze. The suburb has some of the lowest educational attainments and one of the highest rates of unemployment in the city. These are the people that Menzies’ successors forgot. There were fifteen people out the front of the office when I arrived. Six were police officers, who had been diligently informed of the protest the evening before and who were on-hand to prevent things getting out of control. No doubt nine spotty, anemic student politicians, barely into adulthood, were formidable opponents for the local constabulary. Two of the protestors held makeshift pieces of cardboard adorned with ‘Honk if you support education’, or something equally inane, up to the passing traffic – evidently, no-one did. Perhaps the only thing that would have redeemed the long voyage out there at such an ungodly hour of the morning would have been a vocal confrontation between the protestors and the minister herself. Alas, parliament was in session in Canberra, and in any case her ministerial duties had kept her away from her office for at least the last month. Her staff was also notified about the protest and used it as an excuse to take the morning off, leaving the windows of her office shuttered and dark. What a grand tradition we had inherited. The whole shitty spectacle looked and felt about as appealing as Werribee smelled. *** It’s customary in literature, when reflecting on the past and bemoaning the present, to reflect on what the souls of the dead may think about their legacy. For Albert Langer, there’s no need to speak on his behalf. He’s still alive and kicking. Invoking The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, he changed his name to Arthur Dent, presumably to reflect the Odyssean ideological journey of his life. In his later years, he became one of the most strident opponents of environmental activism and an outspoken supporter of the Bush Administration, arguing in whatever forum would have him and long after it ceased being fashionable about the need to overthrow Saddam Hussein.

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It was common for some of my friends, when the last economic crisis hit, to cross their fingers and yearn for the recession to hit with unrelenting force and wash away the crass, self-absorbed excesses of a society whose political discourse is dominated by interest rates and petrol prices. Perhaps, in an age where the archetypal student experience is one of profound alienation, it’s similarly crass to yearn for a longforgotten war, for some galvanising event to force an expansion of consciousness, for an unpleasant confrontation with life’s iniquities, whether they’re in Werribee or whether they’re half a world away. The souls of two million dead Vietnamese, if we can presume to speak for them, would be at pains to point out that Mao’s paper tiger still had teeth. Perhaps, like Langer, age and entropy make conservatives of us all. Time certainly took its toll on Monash. Its crumbling architecture and institutional amnesia bears no outward sign of its heady youth, of the formative years coloured by fond dreams of revolution and undeterred by its isolation from the rest of the city. People always think the battles have been won. People forget about all the wars that still rage with no progress and no end, whether they’re fought on the plains of Kandahar or around the committee tables that slowly transformed our universities into docile, decaying degree factories. One day there will be no-one left to mourn the paper tigers of Monash, Clayton, and the winter winds that swept them away.

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Ouroboros at the Zoo Giuliano Ferla

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young boy, let’s say he was twelve, got lost in a zoo. He was pretty worried about the fact he lost his parents, I assume, so he was looking for help wherever he could find it. He shot dramatically plaintive looks at groups of passing strangers who all seemed to ignore him. But this soon got tedious. So, after a while of looking and trying not to cry and feeling quite bored and listless and sad with his current state of aloneness, his eyes too stinging and too sore from not crying and wanting to live up to/keep up the appearance of manliness (a battle that continues beyond the threshold of puberty, or so I have found), to keep himself from really crying real tears the lost boy looked up and around at the ‘Fucking ugly things’, he says to himself. Most of Our Boy’s disgust was directed at the baboons. He’d always harboured a real disgust for baboons (as have I, incidentally). He hadn’t realised, and would never realise, that this had come about because of one time, as a four-yearold, while watching The Wizard of Oz, an elder sibling had snuck up behind him and burst a blown up paper bag right in his ear during the particularly tense and scary scene where Dorothy is abducted by the flying monkeys in the forest, which gave him such a god-awful fright that he had defecated, right then and there, in his little pants. Having an insistent mother then wipe and change him at this delicate age had given him some Autonomy v. Doubt issues, and we won’t go into what his militarial 28

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father did when he got home. Anyway, the latent, subconscious blame rested entirely on flying monkeys and their various wingless brothers. But of course he didn’t know any of this, he was only twelve after all. That kind of repressed associative memory stuff takes about two years of psychotherapy and a real commitment to self-honesty to scratch the surface of. Or so I am told. So anyway, in lieu of intense self-scrutiny, Our Boy adopts a sullen countenance and pushes himself up against the hurricane fence that separates the walkway from the baboon enclosure. He pushes himself flush up against it, puts his nose through a diamond shaped hole and squints and spits. He can smell the sharp-sourness of the steel and he broods over it. It all adds to the overall feeling of unpleasantness that he’s trying to cultivate. Erik Erikson would say he’s between the childhood and adolescent stages of psychosocial development and this is evident in his primary concerns: firstly, that he’s lost his parents and he’s afraid; secondly, that he’s ashamed of this fear and afraid of the implications of this shame; thirdly, that he keeps thinking of the pornographic picture his friend showed him the other day and how the breasts were hot and he didn’t mind the breasts, but that the vagina both scared and intimidated him; fourthly, that he’s also ashamed of this fear and afraid of the implications of this shame (he’s petrified that he’s already a closet homo, and worried that this petrification means that he’s a homophobic, and is scared that he should be a selfhating fag and even then how come it’s even, like, a problem at all, for Christ’s sake, he didn’t choose it. Such loop-de-looping always leads him to intense 12-year-old selfdebate on whether natural inclination could ever be inherently sinful.); and finally, crushingly, Our Boy is still a skinner, i.e. pubeless. The accumulated weight of these concerns all causes him quite a bit of the old personal angst. But he’s only 12 years old, after all. Back to the zoo. There he is, Our Boy, brooding, sulky, staring at the baboons and their ugly pink-calloused arses (ischial callosities they’re called), but he is relaxed at least. He lets his body press against the fence as it moves with the wind in slow, rhythmic undulations. He closes his eyes. For a moment he thinks of nothing. Somewhere in his cerebral cortex, out of the deep-blue pubescent unknown, a message is sparked, which travels down through his spinal chord to the lumbosacral plexus at the base. This message triggers the release of nitric oxide, which acts as a 29

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vasodilator, allowing blood to be pumped more freely into the corpora spongiosum/ cavernosa of the penis. Our boy is about to experience his first spontaneous stiffy, but at the moment all he notices is how the movements of the hurricane fence feel nice against his crotch. In rhythm with the breezy sway of the fence his heart begins to pump blood into his penis. A niggling thought of enjoyment and stimulation flashes through his conscious mind, a thought that he is alone and his enjoyment is purely his, and private, and silent. And there’s the breasts again. At first slowly, and with quiet inevitability, but with a pace that is beginning to make itself aware to Our Boy, he is getting an erection that is not to be stopped. He can hear laughter both adult and juvenile. It’s dawning on him that it is still growing, that he is not alone, that there are children here, that this is not private, that stiffies are hard to hide, that it is still growing, that this is weird, that he can feel his cheeks going red, that he should start trying to get it down get it down GET IT DOWN, that it is crazy out of control, that this is the biggest stiffy that he’s ever had, that it is growing quicker and quicker, that his face feels so hot that even his eyelids are burning, that he is really worried, that he feels really shit, that he is a total perv and a weirdo sicko freako. He opens his eyes and, finding himself staring in fear at the hideous, raw-pink callosity of one presenting female baboon, he achieves full tumescence. I had a wet-dream one time when I was staying in a youth-hostel in Jerusalem. In the dream I was making out with a woman. She was really fat. She wore an Adidas tracksuit and she had enormous breasts. Her teeth were all mangled and her mascara was deep black like rubber tyres. She was the kind of girl who’d hold a cigarette between her teeth and who wouldn’t remove it from her mouth after taking a drag. It’d just hang there, bitten between her teeth, while she inhaled and exhaled. There was something so unrefined and indicative about that, I remember, but in what way I have no idea. We were making out and I was rubbing her nipples, as you do, and as I did her breasts began to grow larger and larger and it wasn’t weird at all, in fact I was incredibly turned on by her swelling, mammoth breasts and her mangled teeth and slimy tongue. And then I came and woke up and was too worried and ashamed about the other backpackers in my room discovering what had happened so I just went back to sleep in my mess. Age has taught me not to feel shame for things that are completely out of my control. 30

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Our Boy grips the fence tightly, swelling with erectoid shame, rigid and still against it, hard as a rock, face red, chest sinking and heavy with total embarrassment, so much he’s having trouble breathing, a little grimace on his face from the weight. It’s smallness is what it is. Our Boy has never felt so small and powerless, like his dick is swallowing him up, and, seriously, can this be happening, and why won’t it go down when he wants it to so bad? And he’s trying so damn hard to get it down, trying to will it down, imagining it loose and floppy and shrunk but it’s like the stiffy can read his mind and smell his fear and all this effort that he’s pumping into trying to get rid of it is only making it stronger, and he got it while looking at the baboons, I mean, does that mean he’s some kind of sicko perv who comes to the zoo for some kind of weirdo pleasure? It’s such a perv thing to do. And how’s he going to explain it if someone notices? They’ll never believe he just got a stiffy for, like, NO REASON AT ALL, and that actually he’s just a normal kid who doesn’t jack-off to baboons and has never even kissed a girl even though he told all his friends he had and even made up a name and told them she went to school out in the country so they’d probably never meet her and even then he only said that to them ’cause he really wants to kiss a girl and isn’t that, like, proof that he’s actually into girls and not into baboons? And why won’t this fucking thing go down and at least he lost his Mum and Dad and at least they’re not here right now ’cause that’d be, like, the pits and he can see his Mum’s face, crying ‘cause it turns out that all this time she was raising this weirdo sex freak who goes to zoos and gets stiff looking at baboons and how the fact it’s public means that it’s probably a fetish thing and his Dad’s just silent and for some reason that’s just so much worse, like the shock is just too much for Dad and all he wants to do right now is to just run and that maybe he should’ve if he’d only thought of it earlier. But it’s too late, because it’s now that he hears it. It must’ve been going on for a little while but he was just too caught up in his own thoughts to realise. He can hear his Dad calling his name and he sounds mighty pissed off so he must’ve been calling for a while. And his dick is still hard. And his Dad’s pissed off. And his Dad’s bad when he’s pissed off. And now he’s sweating. And now panic sets in. He turns to look at his Dad. His Dad is red with anger. When his Dad gets angry he develops this huge vein in his forehead that visibly expands and contracts with his heartbeat. From about ten metres away Our Boy can see his Dad’s vein expanding

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and contracting. His Dad is Mighty Pissed Off. The only reason Dad’s not screaming right now is probably because they’re in a public place, but Our Boy can feel dark waves of wrath radiating all over him. And the snake in his pants is still throbbing, weirdly in time with the vein on Dad’s head. And Our Boy stands, white-knuckled holding the fence, like some impotent Priapus, pinned between two places, brain beginning to crack under the immense psychological pressure of the moment, in dire need of a little assurance, and he wished he could only fall forward thirteen years into an adulthood of rationality and lofty language and perspective. Pinioned, Our Boy tries to stretch himself out in both directions. But he can’t move.

ve mu fea edi mu art 7”

iss VIN The Bro

SN Ton

FLO Llu Mid

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Dreaming my Philosophy: Animism, Vomit, Foxes and Very Peculiar Roadside Companions Nina Gibb

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t might happen as the rhythm of light through the trees and the waterâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s persistent murmuring suggests a voice whispering from the creek. Or perhaps as figures coalesce from the places where the sheets of rain fall against one another in a summer storm. In a world where streams are few and far between, I can imagine it in an encounter with the spooky-euphoric quality of sunlight under rain-clouds, the feeling of surprise that there are men who actually look attractive sporting postironic moustaches or even in a sudden awareness of the ubiquity of the splash of vomit on the midnight tram.

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Animism is the belief that the spirit-of-the-world is developed over time by the things-of-the-world; things that are therefore acknowledged in worship. A tree, the overarching archetype of an animal or even a common sensation are deified as distinct spirits or aspects of spirits. Foxes are holy. Certain mountains. The sound of adzuki beans being washed. Animism is not totemism, which is similar (in that it attributes holiness to animals, plants and natural phenomena) because in totemism, these phenomena are like manifestations of a pre-existing spiritual force, while in animism the focus isn’t on a ‘primary source’ of spiritual energy that makes the world, but on an ongoing and collective kind of spiritual conversation between all the things of the world and the world as a whole. In totemism the spiritual energy is ‘other’ but the animism world and it’s many parts is holy and strange in itself: The story goes as follows: Long ago, a Samurai was walking at night down the road to Kyoto, when he heard someone calling out for him to wait. ‘Who’s there?!’ he asked nervously, only to turn around and find a man stripping off his clothes and pointing his bare buttocks at the flabbergasted traveller. A huge glittering eye then opened up where the strange man’s anus should have been.* The existence of an entity that feeds on nightmares or articulates the watched feeling you can get from walls with many holes in them kind of makes sense, but what could a man with an eye in his anus possibly mean? What phenomena or collective experience might the figure articulate? Jung (and Campbell and countless others) have suggested that the mythos of a people is something close to a collective dream life, and as in any dream life (or any product of the unconscious) things get displaced and conflated out of all rational meaning. They continue to signify, to speak to us, which is evident in the fascination these stories have for the culture that ‘tells’ them, but just what they are saying is almost beside the point. The point is they’re still being told, spoken; their service to us is fully expressed in our need to hear them. In Japan, Shinto recognises so many ‘demons’ that they’re uncountable. Some are legendary; Noppera-bo is a human-like creature with a perfectly blank, featureless space where the face should be and the capacity to shape-shift, so that if you fish in a sacred lake your ‘wife’ might plead with you not to go and rebuke you on your return by wiping her face right off. There is a demon called Azukiarai that makes the sound 36

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of adzuki beans being washed who has an adzuki-bean-washing-sound malevolent cousin called Azukibabaa in the form of a teeth-gnashing hag who will devour you. I should say about now that these examples may be met by people who know their Japanese mythology with the same scoffing that I feel when I encounter a poorly told ‘version’ of a favourite fairy tale, which I can counter only by invoking my semiotics tutorials and insisting that there is no such thing as a ‘core’ myth or spirit and that mythic stories only exist in the telling. There’s something about animism that defies a simple answer. It’s not worship. Or not just worship. The beings of animism are parallel with humanity. They have blindspots, desires and weaknesses just like any human and the relationships between the things of animism and human life are intimate – daily and familiar. In Europe there were spirits that moaned on hilltops when a member of the family was due to die and houses were built with corners missing or the front and back doors aligned down a straight corridor so that the spirits of the landscape wouldn’t make a racket or even do structural damage as they marched along fairy roads that ignored the human habitat. It’s not that the elementals that make up the pantheon are simple parts-of-a-whole, – it’s something almost structural; a link between reality and the part of the human mind that speaks. There is an idea in psychology that the capacity to function (from performing simple tasks right up to personality) is linked to language and narrative; that the quiet mind is no mind at all and we literally tell the world around us into being. To illustrate this entanglement of language and myth here is a beautiful story: A farmer longed for the woman of his heart. One night he met her on the moors. They were married. At the same time as their first child was born the farmer’s dog had puppies. The dog became more and more antagonistic to the woman until it attacked her and in fear she resumed her true shape – flying away over the moors in the form of a fox. The farmer was devastated. He called after her that even though she was a fox she was the mother of his children and he loved her. That she would always be welcome. So every night the fox stole back into his arms in her human shape.

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Animism believes that a thunderstorm, a spring or a striking looking tree are all equally sacred. That our narrative connection to reality – the part of us that sees human expression in animal eyes or feels comfort in the feeling of pushing our hands into a pail of cool grain – is a spiritual connection. That the world is made of these small exchanges, and made fuller by mindful attention to them. Of course, there are rituals dedicated to this mindfulness. In Shinto (Japanese animism) every human life is a contribution to the larger spiritual soup and room is made in the home (in the form of a shrine called the Kamidana) for the Kami which is kind of the personal aspect of the local pantheon. The Kamidana has a set form and many levels of complexity in how it might be arranged – but it’s elements read the same as rituals of spiritual welcome all over the world; a sacred space clearly delineated from the secular and honoured with ritually prepared offerings of fresh local produce: milk, alcohol, salt, bread, rice. In the Europe that still observed the pre-Roman relationship with the landscape, it might have been the hearth or under a significant tree. In Japan it’s on a designated shelf on a north facing internal wall with all sorts of very particular accoutrements. Modern Animism is famously flexible with whatever space it has to include. Buddhist or Confucian traditions are incorporated with great good grace. Think of the Journey to the West; Monkey, Sandy and Pigsy are essentially remnant animist demons, while Tripitaka is a Buddhist Priest. Tripitaka wants to teach the disciples that meditation can transcend the mischiefs done to them by the world in the form of fellow demons (who want to hamper their progress) but the disciple demons ARE the world and just want to drink, fight and fuck their way through to holiness. Once you begin to think in terms of animism it’s easy to get swept into the fold. It has room for poetry and personal interaction. The things of daily life that are somehow numinous (that seem to signify more than their basic existence) are acknowledged by being given bodies and spheres of influence. Modernity might spawn the ghost who waits on late night trams and vomits while nobody is looking or perhaps a demon in the form of a small, restless monkey that inhabits the space between the message you sent to your new lover and it’s reply. Because while adherence to an ethical practice and focused, meditative worship stimulate whatever it is we experience as ‘soulful’, don’t let anyone try to tell you there’s not something holy about drinking and fucking. Ritual is ritual. 38

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Perhaps if we paid more attention we would see that the things of the world are holy as they are. *Thankyou, as always, Wikipedia.

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Memories, forever Alain Marciano

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t is one of those glorious Sundays that spring sometimes offers. An impossibly blue sky and a sweetly salted breeze coming from the sea that cools down the temperature in the city. A perfect moment. A gift. Everyone enjoys it because it will not last for long. Even Dan is going to relax, very soon, in a few minutes. ‘Dan, are you with us?’ asks Barbara, his second wife. They married two months ago. ‘Yes, I’m coming’, Dan answers. Installed in a chaise longue, he gazes at his wife and her children and grand-children playing in the swimming pool. ‘Just checking the meetings planned next week’, as he opens his leather-bound datebook and, ahead of him in the coming week, there it was, written in red ink, the only non-professional event mentioned among many business appointments: next Wednesday – the cat’s day. II. Dan does not need any datebook to remind him of the damned Saturday evening, about seven years ago. He remembers the whole incident. He remembers that he was back home after a tennis game that he had won (winning, even an inconsequential game against an old friend, always filled him with confidence, satisfaction and the feeling that he had a firm grasp on his life and also that he had got over one more obstacle, that he had reached for another bar on the ladder of life). He remembers the beatitude he was feeling on entering their apartment this very day, welcomed by darkness (the lights were off) and silence (just a slight undisturbing noise, the gurgling of the central heater probably). He remembers how the anticipation of 40

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a drink, alone, seated in his favorite armchair had almost made him shiver. He remembers how, in an instant, he felt better than ever. He also remembers how it disappeared. Instantaneously. From the living room, he heard the voice of Margot, his wife (shit, she is there, why is she not ... elsewhere) saying something that he did not understand. Dan patiently removed his shoes and put them away in the closet, went to the bathroom and looked at his face in the mirror and then started to cautiously wash his hands. Most of the time, he did not pay attention to what his wife said. Nothing pre-meditated, nothing personal. He was only careful and conscientious about what he was doing. And that Saturday evening, focusing on the clear water rushing out of the faucet and the soap foam covering his hands, he also wondered why she was sitting in the dark. Another of her whims. Not exactly. Margot had prepared a surprise for her husband and, knowing that he would not like it, she wanted him to discover it at the very last moment. She was shouting now, ‘I said, darling, do you listen? I told you that I did not expect him that early. Do you hear me? Did you win?’ ‘Yes, I won’, Dan cried back, deciding not to hurry, ‘Easily, it was against ...’, and stopped. The gurgling noise was more precise, clearer and it no longer seemed likely that it was the heater. He ran to the living room. ‘What’s that? Did I hear a ... an animal?’ A flash of panic in his voice. He hated animals of all sizes, forms, breeds or species (actually, he hated the small ones and feared the bigger ones but did not admit it) and he could not imagine, not even for a split second that there was one in his apartment. His wife laughed, ‘Yes, darling, absolutely, it’s a cat.’ He turned the lights in the living room on and there they were. Dan remembers the shiver that ran down his spine at this precise moment. She was seated in the armchair he had planned to sit on, and this should have irritated him. Any other day, he would have asked a litany of questions — why does it have to happen this way? Is there any necessity for you to behave like this? Are you malicious? Stupid? Both? Why do you always make the wrong decisions and choose what I dislike the most and what hurts me? Like being seated in my armchair. But his eyes were attracted to the strange animal she was holding in her arms. Was it a cat? The normal shape of a cat, yes, but

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with leopard-like dots, a big round head and sharp teeth and piercing green eyes. A cat? A louder than usual growl. A cat? Dan looked at it without comprehension, then back at her and down at the animal again. A cat? ‘Wow, it’s a panther or a lynx or something like that.’ ‘No, darling, more a leopard than anything else, actually, but it’s an Ashera, if you must know. It looks like a leopard, maybe, but it’s much, much smaller. Same size as a house cat. It’s just an expensive house cat, but a house cat all the same.’ ‘And what is this thing doing in my apartment?’ A flash, as the words came out of his mouth, a sequence of images and sounds that come from his brain, throughout his tensed nerves to his mind and consciousness, the doorbell was ringing and he opened the door and there was, benevolently smiling, a neighbor, ‘thank you for having taken care of the cat’ he thought, it was very kind and everything was going to be over and he was going to have a drink and sit in his armchair. But nothing had materialised, and instead his wife said, ‘Darling, this is our cat’, and then to the ... cat, ‘Say hello to your new daddy.’ Am I hearing that? Daddy? My God, what is it? ‘Say hello to our cat, darling.’ And then she spoke to the cat again, ‘Say hello, Freddy.’ ‘Freddy?’ Dan almost felt sorry for the poor animal, what a ridiculous name. ‘Our cat?’ He asked looking at her like she was crazy. ‘Don’t tell me you bought a cat, please, no ...’, he hesitated, my God, please, tell me it’s not happening, he thought. ‘Funny reaction, darling. Are you just thinking about the money involved?’ And, after a long pause, she looked at him accusingly. ‘This is not just a cat, darling. This is a living being.’ And then, smiling again, radiant and purring just like the … cat (she was like a human being mimicking an animal), and she turned back and patted its head, saying ‘My little baby, baby, baby, baby.’ ‘Are you insane?’ Dan shouted. ‘Are-you-insane? Yes, you are insane. This is not a baby. This is not a human being. You and I already have two children. Are they not sufficient?’ You have a husband too, he planned to add but carefully avoided any mention to their marriage. ‘We do have children. Two, yes. I am perfectly aware of that’, her voice was calm, indifferent and she did not mention him either, ‘How would I forget our children? I love them and I sacrificed everything I had to to raise them. You remember, I quit

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my job because you told me that I would need time and you were right. You were not much help ... and ... and ... don’t you understand that I need someone to spend time with, someone who is not complicated, who does what I want, who ... No, you do not understand.’ She’s just a kid, a grown up kid with a plastic doll and she believes this cat is a human being. ‘Oh, yes, I perfectly understand. Look at it, this is not a house cat, this is a leopard, a fucking beast, a savage creature and I can’t believe you did this to me.’ His voice had risen to a ridiculous piercing falsetto, almost hysterical. ‘But this is a cat, darling and, yes, he is ours, I adopted him.’ She was not lying. This is what the people at the local animal shelter officially call the procedure. Adoption or not, living being or not, leopard or not, the price was substantial. A five-digit figure shocking to any man or woman, and even to those who do not care what an Ashera is or whether they exist or not. III. Moments later, in the middle of the night — 3:17am – another precise memory and, fists and teeth clenched in fear, he would not have been ashamed to admit, Dan was trying to fight sleep away. He knew the danger to have a so-called cat in his home from when he was a kid. He easily imagined the animal jumping on the bed in a freakish fit and gouge his eyes away with its sword-like claws and then eating them ignoring his terrible cries of pain. Impossible, keep calm, it won’t happen. His wife had eventually accepted to chain it at the other end of the apartment. Thank God. But convincing her had not been easy. She had refused to lock it outside, where it belonged, ‘On the balcony?’ She said, ‘Don’t even think of it.’ He had insisted. Calmly and then, no longer able to control himself, he had threatened her and warned her that he would not hesitate to throw the animal out the window or drown it or burn it — he cautiously avoided looking at the cat while uttering his threats, of course, but felt its small and clear eyes set upon him and he did not like that, at all. And he did not like hearing this loud growling-purring noise either. Especially now, is it not louder? No, it’s closer. I am sure that it has freed itself from the leash. What is this happening? Why? Do I deserve that? At this moment he caught from the corner of his eye a dark shape against the false darkness of the urban night. Its eyes, small

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golden slits, set on him. He turned very slowly, cautiously his head. Oh my ... For some reason, maybe to break the spell, Dan thought that he should say something. ‘What do you want?’, he asked in the direction of the animal, and added, ‘Go away, I want to sleep.’ ‘Hi man, nice to see you again’, replied the cat with a soft and gentle voice. Dan almost choked with fear. Is it talking? I must be dreaming, of course, I am dreaming, breathe, breathe, breathe ... but the cat was speaking, saying: ‘No, you’re not dreaming, it’s me, don’t you see it’s me.’ Wow, what a dangerous game to play and you’d better not step in it; it will drive you mad. The cat, again, ‘After all this time, quite normal if you do not recognise me.’ And it chuckled. It was unbearable and Dan almost shouted when he said ‘I-do-not-know-you, got it, cats don’t talk so don’t bullshit me and go away.’ ‘Oh, okay, I confess, it was not me, maybe a great-great-great uncle or a friend or even the friend of a friend, but I know them and this makes us buddies.’ Dan was trying to get a grip again on the situation and he pretended it was not happening but it did not work. The cat was going on to make a point, as if it was here on purpose. ‘And it was a long time ago, I agree, and you were young, granted too, and who can blame a young guy for throwing animals from the third floor, for pushing fireworks in a poor youngling’s asshole and ... worse, did you do something worse? I can’t remember.’ Yes, it was a long time ago and yes, he did make mistakes and no, he had not forgotten anything — like these acts contributed to develop a capacity to memorise more precisely more details than any normal man. But he was another man, he did not doubt that. And he did not doubt either that no judgment could fall down on him in the middle of a night through a cat. The messenger of some God? Of the Devil? It does not work like that. He hesitated. Should he wake up his wife? She would laugh at him and then would probably get angry at his stupidity. Without tuning his head, he whispered ‘Go away, leave me alone, Go away’, but the cat was no longer there to listen to him and his wife was snoring beside him and everything was quietly normal again. Oh my ... Bloody tricky bastard, gone as swiftly and silently as it had arrived and no one would believe me that the cat was talking. He would have to be cautious, now, on his guard and attentive like he was a stranger in his own apartment, among his family. 44

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It was not new. But on this very night, the feeling that their life had been calamitous since the first day after their marriage overcame him and was in his mind when he woke up and the green figures on the alarm clock by the bed indicated 9.58 am. To him, who had always got up around 5:00am because he did not sleep well, this was just an additional disturbing sign. As was the loud music and the fragments of a conversation – the voice of his wife and the laughs of his children – coming from the kitchen. She was probably recounting their quarrel but he did not understand what she was saying. He felt lonely and depressed. The irritating growling had ceased but it did not soothe him, and he could not believe that the cat had gone after their discussion and it had just been a bad dream. Indeed, the imaginary cat was there, lying, half-sleeping in the kitchen. He had seen it as soon as he had entered the room. V. For a few days Dan decided that the cat was imaginary. There was no cat. The strategy failed. The quasi-continuous growls and purrs and the noise of the paws on the floor were impossible to ignore and they continued to make Dan nervous. He was always looking around to find out where the cat was, always listening to any noises in case it would be the cat. He would get startled for no reason and he was afraid to eat in its presence, for he was certain that it would jump at him and hurt him. And he did not like that the cat sometimes slept on their bed or sat down in his favorite armchair. So, what next? Not so many alternatives were available. He told Margot and the children that they had to get rid of the animal. She replied with a warm laugh but the warmth was swept away by the inelegant bitterness of the tone with which she said, ‘No way. I will keep it for me and for the kids and you’d better accept it.’ It was the last sentence she exchanged with him. The children, God knows where they sleep, had disappeared after this last incident. And the cat ... each and every time their paths crossed, Dan tried to kick it but, most of the time, he missed it. Once he had even tried the worn-out belt that his father used to punish him with that left red painful marks on his legs and thighs and with which he had also punished his kids when they were young. After all, if it was good for me and them, why would it not be good for an animal? He felt an extreme and insane joy and lowered his guard. It was just another mistake. There were other awful nights. He would lie down, fists and teeth clenched, afraid of both the cat and the darkness. The same fear that overwhelmed the kid he was, 45

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years ago, during those endless nights, when he was lying in the darkness of his bedroom and his parents refused to leave a small lamp on in his room. It was like going to bed in the dark just for the sake of going to bed in the dark. He always got up very tired and very sad and unsure about what to do. Unsure about why it was all happening. And it was all happening again. Why? Is there a reason? One morning, he was exhausted when he got up. But he had made a decision. It was definitive: he had no other choice but to kill the cat. A first-class, one-way ride to where it belongs. It took Dan a few days to sort out an effective solution. It was easy, he thought, after all it was just an animal and not a human being. The only way that had appeared possible was to poison it – simple, neutral, as detached as possible. Then, a few more days to polish the plan, which poison to use (rat poison had seemed imperative, a form of irony that pleased him), where to buy it (a supermarket would do), and how to force the cat to eat it (not a problem, once in a while his wife left it at home and he would manage it quite easily). And that was it – bye-bye, Freddy – who died with evident pain. The silvery foam at the corners of the mouth, the painful stiffness of the limbs and the immense void in the eyes had struck him as pathetic but not particularly remarkable. He had done what he had to do, Dan had thought to himself as he went to bed the night after he had killed the cat. He had slept like a three-year-old baby. VI. ‘Dan, are you with us?’ asks Barbara. They married two months ago after his long, interminable divorce procedure with Margot. ‘I’m coming.’ His ex-wife did not bear the death of the leopard very well and the children had seemed affected, depressed too. ‘Just checking the meetings planned next week.’ Wednesday, the seventh anniversary of the day he had poisoned the animal — not a human being, not even a house cat — and it’s written, in red ink, the only non-professional event mentioned among many business appointments in his leather-bound datebook. But no, he has not forgotten and does not need any help to remind him of the incident.

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China’s Black Sheep, or, Crossing the Thick Red Line Tyler Burton

I didn’t care about jasmine at first, but people who are scared by jasmine sent out information about how harmful jasmine is often, which makes me realize that jasmine is what scares them the most. What a jasmine! – Twitter from Ai Weiwei 23 February 2011

O

n 3 April 2011 the Chinese artist and political activist, Ai Weiwei, was arrested at Beijing’s main airport as he waited to board a plane to Hong Kong. For forty-three days he was held without official acknowledgement of his incarceration. In the days following his arrest, Ai’s studio was searched, the roads surrounding the warehouse cordoned off and several laptops and hard drives removed. Still, no official statement as to his whereabouts was issued. Only on 16 May was Ai’s wife allowed to visit him in jail. Through his lawyer and personal friend, Liu Xiaoyuan, the international community learned that Ai was being held in an undisclosed location but that his health was good, and that he was receiving treatment for his diabetes and hypertension. Ai was not to be freed for another thirty-seven days, and once he did emerge the internationally acclaimed artist shrunk from questions, telling reporters that he was not allowed to disclose the terms of his release, except to say that he had been told to ‘restrict his use of social media.’

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As the lucky members of so-called ‘Free-thinking Liberal Western Democracies’, we are allowed to be outraged. Indeed, that’s about all we are allowed to do. The rule of national sovereignty and the expedience of the global economy prevent us, or our governments, from doing much else. We are allowed to be outraged, so long as this doesn’t affect our balance of trade, or the large surplus of debt that China holds on both the European Union and the United States. We are allowed to make signs and hold sit-in’s and generally kick up dust in the form of strongly worded official sounding letters, so long as we let China do whatever China wants. And why shouldn’t that be the case? As one Chinese person, let’s call her Xin, told me, ‘The US might not treat their own citizens in this way anymore, but they do not behave the same with the rest of the world.’ Xin likened China to the opposite, a country that treats its own citizens poorly, but respects the right of other nations to pick their own destiny. Indeed, as George W Bush once said, in the moments preceding the 2003 invasion of Iraq, when millions of protestors streamed into the streets of over six hundred major cities in the free world: ‘I don’t listen to focus groups.’ Neither, it seems, does China. The thick red line ‘Ai Weiwei likes to do something “others dare not do”. He has been close to the red line of Chinese law. Objectively speaking, Chinese society does not have much experience in dealing with such persons. However, as long as Ai Weiwei continuously marches forward, he will inevitably touch the red line one day.’ –’Law Will Not Concede Before Maverick’, Chinese Global Times, 6 April 2011

As an outsider and a Westerner, it is the Chinese government’s Orwellian love-hate relationship with Ai Wei-Wei that makes this story so intriguing. A little over four years ago, Ai Weiwei was tapped by the ruling Communist Party to serve as art director for its signature architectural statement at the 2006 Beijing Olympics. The famed ‘Bird’s Nest’ stadium was the end result. But even before the Olympics was underway, Ai began tweeting that the Olympics was an embarrassment and a whitewash of China’s human rights record to focus the world’s attention on

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this tableaux (‘China’s fake smile’1) while allowing so much corruption and abuse to go on unreported behind the scenes. At the time, with the international media eye full on Beijing, the Party wasn’t interested in stirring up the pot so it let the issue lie. Ai’s criticism emerged again in the aftermath of the deadly quake in Szechuan in 2008, where the high death toll was blamed by many on the shoddy construction of several government buildings. When officials refused to look into the matter, Ai and another artist compiled and then published on the internet the names of 5385 students who had died in the quake. It became one of the most popular sites on the Chinese internet, which all but guaranteed that it would soon be shut down by the Chinese authorities – and it was. Then again, in 2009, after Ai managed to rally a number of prominent figures to attend the trial of earthquake investigator, Tan Zuoren, Ai was visited the night before in the local Chongdu hotel and beaten severely by local police. A month later, while at an art exhibition in Munich, he was diagnosed with internal brain hemorrhaging. He had been complaining for weeks of constant headaches. Immediate surgery was perhaps the one thing that saved his life. Add to this the demolition of his government subsidised studio, to which Ai responded by staging a tea party which he broadcasted live to his blog on the day the demolition was to take place, subsequently calling it his ‘greatest artwork yet’; and, finally, three days before his arrest on 3 April 2011, Ai was visited by officials of the Party and was offered the ‘chance’ to join the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference. The artist’s response was characteristic. He published a picture of himself, naked with only a porcelain horse covering his genitals. The caption to this self-portrait read: ‘Grass mud horse covering the middle’, which, in Chinese, sounds rather loosely like ‘Fuck your mother, the Communist Party Central Committee.’ To many Chinese, Ai’s repeated recalcitrance in the face of government intimidation has offered them a figure behind which to rally, a voice for the voiceless. In an interview published on the US Public Broadcasting System’s Frontline, 29 March 2011, and recorded previously, Ai is asked by the reporter, Alison Klayman: Klayman: ‘Do you ever examine yourself to think why is it that you are so fearless compared to other people?’ 1 http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/ai-wei-wei/etc/transcript.html

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Ai Weiwei: ‘I’m so fearful! That’s not fearless. I’m more fearful than other people, maybe. Then I act more brave because I know the danger is really there. If you don’t act, the dangers become stronger.’2 The Chinese government must sense that bringing this man under its control would score for them a major coup in the public relations department, yet what it doesn’t seem to understand is that each and every time it offers to bring him into the fold the artist continues to upend that invitation, bringing himself a small increase in fame and appreciation and bringing the government only more headaches and shame. Why obsess, then, over a man who will not be controlled? The spin doctors in the West would best advise to ignore him. To ignore, marginalise, and oftentimes to blacklist. But that would be giving in. China, in the midst of the greatest cultural upheaval since the Cultural Revolution of the 1970s, is no doubt struggling not only to shape the opinions of its citizens, but also just for basic control. Many people are growing wealthier, but it is not wealth and comfort that breeds revolution, it is hunger and class stratification. In the 1970s, according to Xin, whether you were a surgeon or a steel worker you garnered largely the same wage. Class stratification was a non-issue. With the capitalisation of the Chinese economy, however, this is no more. The underclass grows restless while the upper class couldn’t care less. ‘The Red Line’ is a phrase that comes up often in the discussion of Ai Weiwei. China does not believe a balanced society can exist with ‘mavericks’ at its fringes. Indeed, the whole underlying ethos of the Communist ideal is built on this notion; and neither does Chinese culture (from my limited experience) place the same sacred value on the individual that so ‘plagues’ the West and causes cosmetic imbalances of power, like the labeling of Sarah Palin as a ‘maverick’ just to garner votes. Yet, digging deeper down, it’s interesting to note that the punishment for crossing ‘The Red Line’ is largely the same in Western society as it is in the East; or, at least, the notion of what one now seeks to control has transformed similarly over the years, and in doing so it has gone from publicly shaming the body to instead rehabilitating the soul. 2 http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/ai-wei-wei/etc/transcript.html

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This was noted by the French philosopher Michel Foucault in his work ‘Discipline and Punish’, as he lays out the transition from public torture (executions, headseverings, etc.) to the private punishment of prisoners we uphold today as the legal gold standard of rehabilitative democracy. Foucault states, ‘If the penalty in its most severe forms no longer addresses the body, on what does it lay hold? ... It seems to be constrained in the question itself: since it is no longer the body, it must be the soul.’ Indeed, as he later writes, ‘[The question] is no longer simply “Who committed [the crime]?” But: “What would be the most appropriate measures to take? How do we see the future development of the offender? What would be the best way of rehabilitating him?” A whole set of assessing, diagnostic, prognostic, normative judgements concerning the criminal have become lodged in the framework of penal judgement.’ The Chinese government is after nothing more or less than control, plain and simple, over its vast population, and the recent threats of revolution blowing Eastward from the Mediterranean have done nothing to ease its concerns. Taking its form here as the ‘Jasmine’ revolution, this term has since been added to its list of those that are non-indexable by Google inside of China. Once he discovered this, Ai Weiwei issued the tweet which began this article. The (not-so) inadvertent activist But how is it that Ai Weiwei’s actions have not provoked a more extreme response? In a society that values conformity over all else, how is it that this man has just not been marginalised, or worse? In speaking with Xin, an artist herself who splits her time between the United States and the Chinese mainland, she mentioned that perhaps it had to do simply with his father’s notoriety. We spoke of Ai’s scathing criticism of Chinese society. Only a few days before, he had just published a piece in Newsweek on Beijing, entitled, ‘Ai Weiwei on Beijing’s Nightmare City’ and subtitled, ‘Ai Weiwei finds China’s capital is a prison where people go mad.’3

3 http://www.thedailybeast.com/newsweek/2011/08/28/ai-weiwei-on-beijing-s-nightmare-city.html

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She asked me if I knew Ai’s father, Ai Qing. I told her that I knew his father had been a famous poet, but that I knew little else beyond that (he was exiled during the Cultural Revolution, along with many others). But it also seems that one very highranking member of the current ruling party is a huge fan of Ai Qing. So, perhaps, it’s not just his international acclaim that keeps the authorities at bay, but rather simply one very influential party member’s love of poetry. I had initially planned to entitle this piece ‘To Catch a Tiger’, but perhaps Ai is merely something of an elite black sheep, which is not to say that what he has accomplished is invalid. Indeed, just the fact that he’s been able to continue doing so signals a fissure in what the state would like to believe is one clean uniform line. Xin also told me that she feels each person is born into this world to accomplish a task and while she does not share the same bitter critique of Beijing that Ai does, perhaps, she muses, ‘It is his purpose in life to play the critic. Some are born to criticise and some are born to enjoy a better life,’ she says. Some questions then: Does Ai gain international fame every time he tweets something divisive? Yes. Does Ai do so not only out of a love for truth, justice and the International Way, but also out of a capricious need to fuck with those who fuck with those who can’t fight back? Probably. .. yes. Does this mean, in any way, that he’s less of an artist, or an activist? What do you think? The final charge Ai’s official crime was that he didn’t pay his taxes, but according to Xin, ‘That’s funny. Because no one pays their taxes in China.’ ‘Kind of like the speed limit over here, huh?’ I asked. ‘Exactly.’

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Jasmine in the air One particularly unrelated, but fascinating, tidbit I came across while doing research for this article was the fact that the US Ambassador to China, John Huntman Jr’s, Chinese name has also been censored online by the regime, after he supposedly made an appearance at a commercial square in Wangfujing where the extra-national organisers of China’s Jasmine revolution had encouraged other sympathisers to pass during that day to show their support. The party was outraged and they called the White House. Huntsman’s official response? That it was strictly a coincidence that he was there.4 Little things gnaw away at the great dam. The earth erodes even the strongest steel and concrete. Similarly, this shall pass.

4 http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/nervous-about-unrest-chinese-authorities-block-web-site-searchterms/2011/02/25/ABPdw5I_story.html

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The Rats

by Embolalia

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The reccuring dream about sharks Ali E

I

have a reccuring dream about sharks. The shark, or sharks, in my dreams always attack my friends and family, but never me. Even though I should be attacked. The closest I came to being attacked was when a shark came up to the shore line, right up close to me, and started nibbling on my hand, saying ‘You can’t beat that!’ But weirder still was that this shark had the face of Hanibal Lecter. Some dreams come and some dream go, but I’ll never forget that one. True story.

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Eating something with a face Thomas Blatchford drawing by Kimberly Tillyer Strudwick

H

ave you ever heard someone say, without a mere hint of irony, that a meatfree diet can’t be a completely good thing because Hitler was a vegetarian? I have, and it’s infuriating, not least because there’s serious doubt as to whether it’s actually true. North American Vegetarian Society historical advisor Rynn Berry reckons it’s a misapprehension of Hitler’s meat-reduced diet (rather than a meat-free one), while author Robert Payne asserts that the image of the Fuhrer as monogamous, non-drinking and non-carnivorous was a fiction devised by Goebbels to make Hitler appear in control of his animalistic urges. But regardless of whether he had this restraint or not, the incredible feat of pretzel logic constantly applied to vegetarianism because of this – largely by pro-meat parties – is both astounding and concerning. It’s the same twisted reasoning that suggests, because Hitler had ridiculous facial hair, that Craig David must be an anti-Semite and Brad Pitt’s only had one testicle for the last two years. Becoming vegetarian does not make you suddenly evil, and nor does it instantly make you not a prick.

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I was reminded of this bizarre argument by a recent news story about Mark Zuckerberg. Every year the Facebook founder sets himself a goal to achieve during the next twelve months – be it as big as learning Mandarin or as small as wearing a tie to work every day – and this year’s aim is to only eat animals personally slaughtered by his own hand. Now, I have no strong opinions on Zuckerberg, as most of the information I have regarding his personality stems from The Social Network (which – and it’s a shame some people need reminding of this – is not a documentary). But the vehemence with which certain corners of the press have opposed and derided this new goal – pointing at it as proof of murderous and psychopathic intent – means I’m inclined to announce myself as an empirical fan of the guy just so I’m definitely not agreeing with them. The Social Network has given the media a useful narrative to continue on from, emphasising Zuckerberg’s supposed jerkdom at every turn, but I disagree that this is the ground for vilification some outlets seemed to report it as. Yahoo News, for instance, headlined their article with ‘Zuckerberg “Likes” To Slaughter The Animals He Eats’ – a subtle Facebook-based pun that sneakily implies the exercise as being about perverse enjoyment, rather than understanding the source of his dinner a little better. Their report also ended with this bizarre line: “People might want to think again before creating a Facebook profile for their pets.’ The inference being, then, that Zuckerberg will suddenly start using his creation to hunt down, kill and eat the domesticated animals of complete strangers? I am in no way a militant vegetarian. I resent the constant questioning from meat eaters about my own dietary decisions, yes, but I would never judge them harshly for their own carnivorous choices. If I was popular enough to throw dinner parties I would cook meat for any guests who wanted it and, unlike a relative of mine used to do, I wouldn’t walk around shouting ‘enjoy your carcasses!’ at friends’ barbeques. There are many convincing arguments for eating meat and, indeed, meat can be pretty delicious. But ultimately one day I decided that the enjoyment I got from even the tastiest of animal flesh no longer outweighed the guilt I felt about a life having to be taken for it. This was a consideration that seemed to arise in the news story about Zuckerberg, because he found the emotional difficulties that troubled him during his first kill (a lobster) practically evaporated as he started to eat it, feeling reward in the nourishment and flavour of the meal. And that’s fine. It isn’t something I’d expand to justify other areas of human activity – I wouldn’t consider someone murdering their neighbours as acceptable if it gave the perpetrator a big enough buzz – but in terms of eating an animal, I think that’s fair enough. 61

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My problem, you see, is with the hypocrisy inherent in the disparaging accounts of this story. Undoubtedly many of the reporters wanting to paint Zuckerberg as a heartless executioner are meat eaters themselves and, by doing so in an age where we can live healthily without meat, are condoning the slaughter of animals for human gratification whether they like it or not. Zuckerberg is simply undertaking the task that meat consumers are assigning to butchers and slaughterhouse workers anyway, perhaps so that they don’t have to consider where the food comes from and how it got onto their plate in the first place. Of course, that’s not to say that I have all the facts regarding the difficulties of the journey my food has taken, far from it in fact. I’m not proud that I don’t know how horrific the working conditions might be in the plantation where the tea I drink comes from, or whether I can really trust my supermarket when it says the muesli I eat is Fair Trade. But surely Zuckerberg’s detractors have remembered that meat actually comes about directly from the killing of animals, right? The more that consumers try to erase the idea that pork chops were once part of a live pig, and the more they distance themselves from the way in which that pig was farmed, the more intensive and cruel those methods will become. There is, however, one aspect of Zuckerberg’s new goal that is especially concerning. Laurel Miller in The Huffington Post pointed out that Zuckerberg’s challenge was limited to just killing the animal, and not bothering to learn the arguably more important process of butchering the corpse and preparing the meat fully before eating it. Miller states that this is the procedure that truly lets the slaughterer understand the workings of the animal and respect the source of the food, which I don’t doubt. But for me, another worry is that Zuckerberg will over the course of the year get so used to slaying animals that the emotional connection he endeavoured to find will gradually fade away entirely. Is there not a risk that, in order to cope with the emotional pressure of killing more and more creatures, Zuckerberg will develop a way of blocking part of his brain that registers remorse for it? Without doing any of the butchering from the skinning onwards, will it not just be the case that Zuckerberg feels less in touch with the animal than before the challenge even began? If Zuckerberg really only wants to do the throat-slitting aspect of the job, then I have a suggestion to help him avoid losing the impact of the animal’s suffering: take up Yahoo News’ suggestion and start eating some pets. It won’t help with his

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image, granted, but getting to know an animal in a domestic environment before snuffing out their candle and gobbling them up is certainly another way of getting ‘in touch’ with lunch. Indeed, selective omnivorism based entirely on an allocation of sentimentality towards certain species for arbitrary reasons is an aspect of meateating that I find particularly ridiculous. My unwillingness to eat a lamb because I’m concerned of the way it was treated in life has, in the past, been mocked by certain people I’ve dined with; yet, if I served up these very same diners a plate of roast cat – not even their cat – they would be up in arms. Why should their fondness for cats be respected, yet my fondness for lambs be disregarded? In his hit book Eating Animals, Jonathan Safran Foer points out that millions of dogs are euthanized annually, and that millions of pounds of edible flesh are just thrown away because of an easily reversible social taboo. Granted, I don’t think it’s beyond the realms of possibility that humans started domesticating certain animals, rather than scoffing them straight down, because it turns out they weren’t as yummy as the fatter and easier to catch ones. But there’s such a huge variance in dog breeds that it’s statistically likely for a few of them to go down nicely with sautéed potatoes, steamed cabbage and a nice Merlot, surely? Miller worried in her article that Zuckerberg’s actions would provoke copycat attacks on animals by wellmeaning people with less experience, but think of the further-reaching influence for good that his meat challenge could create instead. By eating animals for centuries kept as companions by humanity, Zuckerberg might well encourage more people to consume meat they were just going to bury in a shoebox in the garden or flush down the toilet anyway. Hunger problems would lessen across the world. Supermarkets stocking hamster curry and goldfish pizza, using pets at the end of their natural lifespan, would become a lot more environmentally friendly. And maybe, just maybe, the demand for intensive, cruelly farmed meat would significantly diminish. Not only that, it would provide a much better test for whether vegetarianism is actually the right thing for you. If supper is so delicious that you don’t mind it being Tiddles in the casserole, you can tuck in safe with the knowledge that you’ve truly connected with your meal.

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Jesus â&#x20AC;&#x201C; portrait of an inner-city cat An interview by Dan Christie

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he itinerant, ramshackle lifestyle of city share-house living provides a challenge for a domestic cat owner. Landlords often donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t want cats on their property. Owners must respond to this by searching for creative ways to conceal them. Intrigued about the nature and lifestyle of this particular type of moggy, I interviewed devoted urban cat-owner David Haworth in the presence of his canny feline, Jesus. 64

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During the interview, David generously answered the questions put to him. But with Jesus present, I acknowledged a hint of unease in the room, a sense that David’s answers were being subjected to the most intense scrutiny. As my interview progressed, the powerful force of Jesus’s presence came to dictate the very questions I asked, as I moved from wanting to know about David’s relationship with his cat, to forming an intense desire to get inside the mind of Jesus himself. David and I take our place on the couch in his small, bright and comfortable Brunswick lounge room to conduct the interview. A half bottle of champagne sits on the coffee table, ready for a post-interview toast. I pull out my notebook and poise my pen. Jesus the Cat hides elsewhere, so I start with a simple query for his owner... Dan: David, how long have you owned Jesus and where did you first live together? David: I’ve owned Jesus since his birth in 1999 – I was 17 and was living in my first share house in Perth. We’ve been together ever since. He’s my familiar, like a witches cat. Jesus enters the room. A languid, white cat in his dotage. His ears have been removed, and he walks with an air that suggests a complete entitlement to the very best of everything. Moving in my direction, he glares at me. Unsettled, I turn to David for my next question... Dan: Which share house has been the most cat friendly? David: My current place. I’ve finally trained Jesus to become an indoors cat. It took about 2 weeks of him whining in the house before he adapted. He’s always loved rolling around outdoors – that’s how he lost his ears, skin cancer, the sun is bad for white cats, so it’s good that he’s now used to being inside. The ‘familiar’ slips past my legs, demanding my attention. I look down. His gaze is aggressive, passionate. It implores, ‘Yes, I love it outside. There was a time where I went anywhere, with anyone. I was one with the open road – fighting, flirting, leaping from gate to gate. This house-bound existence is a final and inadequate concession. I am contained, with only a kitchen window view to remind me of everything I have lost.’ To spare Jesus further bitter reflections, I switch topic... Dan: Who do you believe Jesus would prefer, Yoko Ono or Laurie Anderson?

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David: Laurie Anderson. I always had the feeling that Jesus never really liked Yoko Ono. Dan: Fair enough. On a more domestic note. Have there been any close calls during house inspections? David: I was in this one share house where we had two other cats apart from Jesus as well as a dog. During one house inspection, the landlord turned up early so we didn’t have time to lock the animals away. The first thing that happened when the landlord opened the front door, was that the dog leapt directly at her and Jesus and the other cats ran out onto the front lawn and started fighting each other. We failed that inspection. I catch a cheeky grin of recollection glimmering on Jesus’s face as David relates this memory. The cat’s disdain toward a landlord common enough to question his place in the house is clear. I am intrigued, but Jesus gives nothing more away, distracted, I remind myself I am conducting an interview and ask the first question that pops into my head... Dan: Wesley Anne or The Retreat? David: The Retreat. He is a Brunswick cat. Dan: I see. What is the biggest perk of living here with Jesus? David: His unconditional love. I know that’s a cliché. He’s forgiving. I can have a fight with him and five minutes later it’s all fine again. Jesus circles the coffee table as if considering a retort that suggests otherwise, but apparently loses interest and returns to the foot of the couch, out of sight. I pause for a moment – is this cat’s love truly unconditional? I look downward to where Jesus is hiding and catch him staring at David in cold appraisal. I find myself questioning his fidelity. What truth am I about to reveal? For David’s sake, I change direction. Dan: If Jesus were to go on holiday, would he choose Istanbul or Hamburg? David: Istanbul, cats are worshipped and adored there. Dan: What about the advent of social networking media?

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David: Jesus would consider it a waste of time. He would accept it, but greet it with a sense of resignation. He prefers direct contact. Dan: Jesus is a city cat, will he always be one? David: Jesus is very adaptable. I could see him quite happily moving to the country. I think he loves the perks of the city though. In one terrace house I lived in Carlton North, he leapt up on our roof to explore. I had to climb up to bring him down! It was like something out of Mary Poppins. Ultimately though, as a city cat, there is a whole part of his life spent exploring outside the house I don’t know about. It’s a mystery. Yes, mystery. Jesus seems more enigmatic with each question, proffering a blank stare in the direction of my notepad before flicking his head away from me dismissively. Frustrating. Inconclusive. What exactly has he seen in those city streets and what has he done out there? I can’t know. That is my answer. I decide on a more tailored and specific approach, I ask David about Jesus’s position on... Dan: The current state of political debate in Australia? David: Jesus would lament the current state of debate. He would definitely reject the crass populism so often seen these days. Jesus jumps on the couch in approval. He appears to agree with these conclusions – an assertive NO to crass populism. He is a cat of strong opinions, indignant at the hint of a shallow remark. I’m encouraged, and believe that the shorter I phrase my questions, the more I will get to the bottom of what makes this sly city cat tick. I ask... Dan: Matt Smith or David Tennant? David: I think David Tennant. He doesn’t like change. Unimpressed, Jesus turns his head to the door, clearly disinterested in this trivial question. Desperate to maintain his attention, I panic and jump in with something more erudite. Dan: Where would Jesus’s literary preferences lie on a scale of Stendhal to Kerouac? David: I would choose Stendhal, but I think Jesus would prefer Kerouac. Kerouac. Jesus’s nose twitches in approval. Like Kerouac, maybe Jesus is prone to recounting his memories on the road. That night in the alleyway with a few ragged 67

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ferals in North Carlton when ... or running through the winding backstreets of Brunswick the time that ... but the cat has had enough. He leaps from the couch and starts in the direction of the door, too tired now to listen to our chatter any longer. I stand up from the couch, and move to grab the cat, desperate for more answers. But before I get near him, Jesus turns to me with a sudden, ruthless glare that directly communicates – ‘Do not touch me. Ask no more questions.’ I wouldn’t dare. I thank David as he pours a glass of champagne.

M

4 N

The interview has finished. I look down for a final clue from Jesus, but he looks away and slinks across the room and through the door without turning around. Jesus has gone. I sip my champagne and wonder what will become of him. Will he abandon his owner for the outdoors? Will he make that one last trip on the open road? Perhaps he may run for Prime Minister? Either way, I know that Jesus will never betray his plans to me. Perhaps, not even, to David.

P

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MELBOURNE 459 High St Northcote

Tattoos by Dan Aranda

Ph: 9024 6842 ANIMAL doas issue 4.indd 69

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In the end, animals do exact excellent revenge Sam Wallman

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Heavy Beast by K Scott

From the basement of the bowels of the earth, emerging Moonbeam slabs for feet that drag like anvils, heaving-ho Pale and silvered features, exhaling atomised mercury Blood like liquid lead, pulsing as pinballs through graphite veins Heavy beast. Dressed in a skin. Human outside. Ghostly within. Only companion â&#x20AC;&#x201C; a goose-rooster â&#x20AC;&#x201C; the sickly swan of death Creaking snails at its wing joints, sticking limb to body One red cinnabar eye fixed on forward motion Heeling-to in cosmic devotion, blackened talons tapping along Beast and beast. Neither deceased, Neither alive, Neither at peace. The earth is no plain for this ghost and his charge They wander when all are asleep is their barns In their beds, with the sheets pulled up tight with their hands And dreaming the world exists only for man. 71

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The animal that therefore I am Jess Shulman

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n what realm am I human and in what realm am I beast? Why do the two realms, once interchangeable, appear to extend further and further apart as time moves on? I’m a proper human girl. But I’m a right crazy bitch. I do a lot of mad, unexplainable shit. This essay is my attempt to explain that shit (not legitimise it, but understand it). We were borne of the beast. Even as a semi-practising Jew, I believe in evolutionary theory, as opposed to religious explanations for the existence of man, such as creationism. Every thing I am, all the intricacies both tangible and allegorical that make up my human form – these are not divine attributes cast upon me unwittingly. They are conditioned, developed, and deep-rooted in my warm-blooded evolutionary beginnings. I have history. I did not just ‘appear’ – as the story of Adam and Eve would have it. *Waits for God to smite me with lighting bolt* I have to believe this, or I could never begin to understand some of my actions. Actions which are in no way – nor can they be considered to be on any intellectual level – human.

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Most of the time, I want to believe that I am animal. I am primordial. I am bestial. Most of all, I’m pretty lewd: I want to believe that I can remain uninhibited by many social constraints of humanity. Less consequential, more irrational. Carrying out my life with immediacy and urgency. And necessity. I want to shoot down the myth – or the social more – that humans are, at this point in evolution, the farthest removed from animals that we could possibly be. It’s also worth thinking about whether or not such a myth (assuming it is truth, for the moment) constitutes some sort of turning point in humanity, a return to whence we came. Giorgio Agamben in his essay ‘The Open Man and Animal’, mentions coming across a Hebrew bible from the thirteenth century where the last page holds an interesting depiction of the messianic banquet of the righteous on the last day of earth: the conclusion of humanity. The righteous are represented by three primeval animal heads: the bird Ziz (in the form of a winged griffin), the ox Behemoth, and the great fish Leviathan, immersed in the sea and coiled upon itself. Why are the representatives of concluded humanity depicted with animals? (Apart from the fact that they’re probably like, 100 percent more pious than us.) Agamben suggests the implication is that on the last day, the relations between animals and men will take on a new form, and that man himself will be reconciled with his animal nature. Ashes to ashes, dust to dust and all that. Some might consider that fatalism. For me, it seems quite utopian – signifying the freedom of man from his ideological and self-imagined constraints. Without all our human sovereignty, self-consciousness and emotional baggage, the natural world remains. Hegelian French philosopher, Alexandre Kojève’s thoughts on this blow my mind. He suggests that the disappearance of philosophy means that since man no longer changes himself essentially, there is no longer any reason to change the true principles which are at the basis of his knowledge of the world and of himself. But all the rest can be preserved indefinitely: basic instinct, ecstasy, love, play, etc. In short, he’d argue, everything that makes man happy. Art would continue, but take on a new form – our works of art would be nature: the nests we build, the webs we weave. Animal praxis.

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Fuck. Yeah. Let’s not think or philosophise, let’s instead just spend our days sexing and eating and occasionally make some pretty shit that’s also useful shit. I mean, the thought of all this post-apocalyptic animorph stuff is enough to send anyone into a spiral of legit madness. But the point I’m trying to make is that the struggle between our inner humanity and inner animality is a struggle with what is ‘natural’ versus what is ‘acceptable’. Being the loud, obnoxious, stubborn, opinionated, spontaneous, volatile person that I am – I’d exist far more comfortably in a society that more readily accepted carnal behaviour. The caesura between humanism and our inner beasts is not as vast as we’d imagine – or some might hope it to be. Rather, it’s a singular paradigm. There’s something of a counter-argument to be seen in Heidegger’s ‘world versus earth’ paradigm, which distinctly separates world (man) from earth (animal) by discounting evolutionary theory with – from what I can gather at least – a sort of anthromorphic stance that basically reads: humans are better. Ha. (Apologies for the overly-critical over-simplification of one of our greatest philosophers.) In our culture, man has always been thought of as the articulation and conjunction of a body and a soul and a mind, man is the animal that must recognise itself as human to be human. So basically, I have to choose to be human in order to be human. All that this says to me, though, is that conversely, I have the choice (that comes with the self-awareness of being human) to reject the self-imposed identity of humanity, and rather, to tune in to something more embryonic within myself. And what I’m thinking, furthermore, is that sometimes that rejection isn’t even a conscious choice. It’s something more akin to the transformation of the Incredible Hulk – totally visceral and barely conscionable. An over-indulgence or complete surrender to our ‘animal’ side, however, presents its own set of problems (as sage gurus such as The Hulk and Wolverine teach us – treading a fine line between retaining their humanity whilst channelling their inner beasts). I’m going to briefly – very briefly and tentatively – use the recent London riots of August as an example here. I’ve written so much on this subject already that I’m not going to delve into any of the actual politics behind any of it because everyone

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will yell at me (read my blog whatcompels.tumblr.com if that’s what you’re after – shameless plug) BUT it’s nice to consider it from totally different angle. I’m pretty sure that, at any given point, we, as humans, are hanging in suspended animation between ‘human’ and ‘inhuman’, and we could swing either way. One minute I’m level-headed, rational, together – next I’m going all Godzilla on everyone’s asses. What I witnessed throughout the streets of London on the evening of August 8 was a violent (and passionate) swing over to the animalistic side of the spectrum. All hell – quite fucking literally – broke loose. And human inhibitions were abandoned in favour of a primordial urge to wreak havoc. What’s more, it was anarchy without any fear of consequence. A severely understaffed police force had not a hope in Hades of effectively manning the 18+ boroughs on fire (numbers are disputed), let alone the thousands upon thousands of petty thefts (looters) covering the entire city. People were running riot without fear of reprimand, which only further encouraged a sense of ‘unleash the wild’. You know what I immediately thought of, wandering the streets of London during the rioting? Lord of the Flies. Abandoning the rules and structures of civilisation and society, the boys on the island in Lord of the Flies descended into savagery. They splintered into factions – similarly to how the chaos splintered out into each borough – with some behaving peacefully and working together to maintain order and achieve common goals (humane), while others rebelled and sought only anarchy and violence (animalistic). This pivotal story of our time represents the fundamental human struggle between the civilising instinct – the impulse to obey rules, behave morally, and act lawfully; and the savage instinct – the impulse to seek brute power, scorn moral rules, and indulge in violence. Yes, this is just a story – but knowing the history of its author, William Golding, and the supposed ties between the narrative and his real-life experience of the human brutality and abandon he witnessed as naval soldier in WWII, only strengthens my belief that our humanity can be the very thing that tips us over the edge into animosity. Or is there even an edge separating the two?

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The Balm Claire Marshall

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dmund lived thirty kilometres from any neighbours, in a house with a roof that leaked even when it wasn’t raining, with his arthritic German Shepherd Chelsea. Chelsea was a slow dog, with breath that smelled like fish about to turn bad. Edmund had mean in him, and would beat the poor bitch with his slippers if she tried to sleep at the end of his bed. The house was large and poorly insulated, and Edmund was a frugal man. In winter he would use a tiny oil heater only if the pond in his back garden iced over, and Chelsea’s nose would gather icicles. She would creep into his room when she heard her master’s breath slow to sleeping, and curl behind the iron bars, her snout facing the warmth. Unfortunately for Chelsea, the melting ice made her sneeze in her sleep, and Edmund always woke and boxed her face with his house-shoes, only to have to do it again later in the night. Edmund had never married, but this was never a source of regret – he didn’t like people, much less women. Before he retired he worked in a bank, compiling algorithms in a cubicle hidden from the sun. For forty-two years he tapped in fluorescent light, drinking endless cups of black coffee and avoiding staff luncheons. He took a cigar break every hour, and although his colleagues and secretaries complained about

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the acrid smell when he returned to the office, his superiors never chastised him. Edmund was terrifying in an argument, and his work was flawless and his experience considered invaluable. He kept his job, and was never promoted or evaluated. His department had the highest staff turnover in the company, and he once went through 16 secretaries in a year. When Edmund was 65-years-old the president of the company gifted him a gold watch engraved with a thanks, and sent him into retirement without the awkward pomp of a party. That night, he drank two enormous pitchers of scotch alone at a grotty bar without eating dinner, and awoke with a gnarling pain in his neck. Although he never exercised and persisted almost entirely on cornflakes, cheese sandwiches and rump steak, Edmund was and had always been in excellent health. He’d never suffered so much as a toothache, so the pain in his neck frightened him. At the chemist he bought a box of aspirin, something he’d never taken before. The soapy medicine made him nauseated and didn’t abate the pain. He bought a bottle of whisky and drunk himself to sleep, another thing he’d never done before. The next morning the pain was worse, albeit foggier from a crippling hangover. Edmund went to the doctor. He was promptly sent to hospital and was diagnosed with laryngeal cancer, and surgeons performed a tracheotomy. While recovering in the ward, his doctor recommended a speech therapist, and gave Edmund a pad of paper and a pencil to discuss the possibility. He wrote: THERE IS NO ONE WORTH TALKING TO. The doctor asked if he’d like to be visited by a nurse to assist him at home while he recovered. The hospital could organise daily visits, and there were organisations that could deliver groceries and clean his home. He wrote: I’VE NEVER HAD A VISITOR I ENJOYED, MUCH LESS ONE THAT CAME EVERYDAY. The doctor told him that he’d be able to go home tomorrow and asked if anyone would be picking him up. He wrote: THAT’S ENTIRELY NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS. YOUR SHIRT IS CRUMPLED AROUND THE COLLAR. PERHAPS I COULD ORGANISE SOMEONE TO VISIT YOUR WIFE AT HOME TO TEACH HER HOW TO IRON. 77

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The doctor got up and walked out of the door, but not quickly enough to avoid being splashed by the bedpan Edmund threw at him. Edmund did not seek help from anyone. He very deliberately left the healing hole in his throat uncovered, frightening children by prodding it with his fingers on the tram. In a week he had sold his apartment, packed his things and moved to the countryside. On the way there he passed a sign outside a dilapidated old farmhouse that read: ‘PUPIES FOR SALE. GERMAN SHEPHERDS. NOT DESEXXED’. He went in and stood, unmoved, as four excited puppies cavorted around his aging legs. The farmer, a third-generation cow breeder with one eye that looked perpetually skyward, described the dogs to him. ‘Dunno how the bitch got pregnant. Maybe the dog nex’ door, though it might’ve been a stray. She’s a Shepherd, an’ they look like her, so I reckon it wasn’t that shitzu of me neighbours, though the wife says the mother’s genes are the ones that are stronger. Half of ‘em died at birth, those ones were runts, lucky any lived at all when she’s so old. Look at ’er.’ The puppies were pulling at their mothers withered teats as she lay expressionless during what must have been an uncomfortable experience. ‘You want any of ‘em?’ asked the cattle farmer. A small, grubby child with a finger in her mouth clutched to his knee, staring at Edmund’s tracheotomy. The house smelled of mildew and bread baking. One of the puppies was trying to fight past its siblings for milk, but kept getting knocked back by their bigger hind legs. It limped a little and its left ear had grown strangely into a tiny bud. ‘That one’s deformed, if no one wants her, we’ll just put her to sleep. Can’t have a cripple dog in the farm, s’not worth what we’d feed her.’ Edmund looked at the child, waiting for her to flinch. She stared at the hole in his throat, unblinking. The lame dog limped towards Edmund’s feet and stared up at him with hopeful eyes. He nudged her with his boot and she nuzzled it, spilling drool on the leather, her crooked tail wagging. He felt a strange surge of something in his stomach. Edmund got out his pen and wrote: I’LL TAKE IT. HOW MUCH? I EXPECT A REDUCED PRICE FOR A DISABLED DOG. Eleven years on and Chelsea had begun to drag her lame leg behind her when she walked. Edmund had begun to tire easily after waking, but now he was tired all the time. The food came in from the nearest town on Wednesdays and they would both

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sit patiently in the living room with the blinds closed until the delivery man gave up knocking on the door and left the groceries on the doorstep. With careful attention to the routines of the rare folk who visited the house, Edmund had managed to go without seeing another human being for six years. There were no mirrors in his house and his notepad had disappeared somewhere, dog years ago. One frigid morning in the first week of August, Edmund sat at his kitchen table with a bowl of cornflakes while Chelsea stalked at his feet for strays. There was a knock at the door. He froze, running through the list of deliveries in his head. Mondays was the post, a man came to inspect the gas and electricity meters on the third Thursday of every month and Wednesday was groceries. It was Thursday. Chelsea’s ears pricked, and together they panted as they waited for whoever it was to give up and leave. As they both started to relax, the door rattled with another thump. Chelsea yelped, and Edmund spilled milk on the ground. Their breath hung in the air, musty with the dust of the winter. Outside, the sun had begun its tepid shine into the lawlessness of the garden. Out there, clumps of petunias interweaved with Patterson’s Curse, and the gumtrees dripped with spiderwebs. Somewhere in the overgrown lawn there was a pickaxe, and Edmund wished that he had not thrown it there in some long-forgotten rage years ago. The doorbell howled, to their shock – Edmund had forgotten there was one, the regular delivery men had never rung it. It moaned again, and Chelsea clambered between Edmund’s legs, whining gently. Edmund lay a hand on her dirty coat, steadying her and himself, feeling the shudder of her tendons beneath his skin. The bell rang again, followed by more thumping. Edmund stood slowly, and crept as best as he could toward the door. His old joints refused to cooperate with stealth, and his heels cracked the floorboards with every step. He peered through the eyehole, just in time to see a truck driven by a tall figure in a Sunday suit disappear down the driveway. There was a package at the door. Chelsea had forgotten the terror of the unknown visitor and leapt excitedly around it, smelling it and barking. It was a brown box, sealed neatly with tape. Edmund groaned as he lowered himself to pick it up and sat it on the kitchen table.

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It stayed there for the rest of the day. Edmund performed his usual chores, stopping every few minutes to look at the box. He was no fool, despite his age and had read all about anthrax and letter bombs and the terrible things strangers do to their neighbours. At dinner time, he made a steak with some frozen vegetables and sat eating, the box beside his plate. The night came quickly and wind cracked around the gumtrees that lined the longfallen fence of his garden. At ten o’clock he couldn’t wait any longer. He began to carefully cut through the tape, exposing the ribs of the cardboard beneath it. Inside was a vial, a little bigger than an ordinary tube of toothpaste. Its contents were a cloudy brown and it had a tag attached in string. Edward squinted to read it. It said: INCREDIBLE REVERSE BALM. APPLY TO ANY PART OF THE BODY AND BE AMAZED AS IT RETURNS TO ITS ORIGINAL STATE! NOT TO BE TAKEN ORALLY. NOT TO BE USED ON CHILDREN. Edmund turned the vial in his hands. The liquid was syrup-like and clung to the sides of the glass like expensive wine. He touched the hole in his throat, calibrating the scar tissue beneath his index finger. It was soft against the folds of his old skin. It reminded him of the inner thigh of a woman. He put the vial back on the table and he went to bed, turning the oil heater on and closing the door. Chelsea shivered in the hallway through the night. The next day he took Chelsea on a rare walk through the bushland around his property. She scampered feebly, picking up twigs and trotting to his hand only to be ignored. Edmund thought: IF THE BALM DOESN’T WORK, THERE ISN’T MUCH TO LOSE. He only ate half of his cheese sandwich at lunch. His ancient stomach was twisted with excitement. He calmed Chelsea with a short pat. She was delighted by the rare contact and rolled on her tummy, exposing the bony lengths of her stomach. Edmund took his opportunity and poured a little balm onto her lame leg. She shrieked and twisted, and started to hop on the other three feet, spinning in hopeless circles to shake the burning free. Edmund held her jaw closed so she couldn’t lick the balm off. She went quiet and stood still.

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Chelsea sprung up. Her leg straightened. It arched. She began to run in circles, with the speed of a young dog. WOOF WOOF WOOF! She barked. WOOF WOOF WOOF! Edmund was a scientific and careful man. He decided to give it a day to see if there were any nasty side effects. He monitored Chelsea closely, not feeding her and withholding water in case they interacted with his experiment. She was ravenous after her frenzied introduction to her new limbs and begged for the dog biscuits that were too high for her to reach. Edmund watched her stalk the room, chasing her tail, falling asleep with her legs tucked beneath her, a feat she hadn’t ever been able to achieve without one leg falling extended from her. He slept with the door closed. Chelsea kept him awake most of the night by running up and down the hallway. Her growling was rough and new. It was a sound neither of them had heard before. The dull sunlight didn’t wake Edmund – he’d had his eyes open in the dark for hours. He had twisted himself into the sheets. In the grey-yellow of the morning, he looked like a grotesque caterpillar. The room was unadorned. There was a bed and a chair and a tiny drawer of clothes. One jacket hung from a doorknob. A comb, covered in dust, sat on the windowsill. It had one grey hair hanging from it. The bed was covered with flannelette sheets the colour of eggshells. It had one grey man lying in it. He thought: I COULD FIX MY VOICE. BUT WHO WOULD I TALK TO? Outside the room, somewhere downstairs, there was a crunch. Shrieking, then a silence. Edmund didn’t put on his slippers. He ran like he hadn’t in twenty years. Chelsea sat at the window, shaking. Her ears were spiked like a wolves. There was something different in the curve of her back, it had razored. It had lost its domesticity. She didn’t turn her head to him. There was a wet crunch beneath Edmund’s feet. A weak spurt of blood mixed with the remnants of the balm on the ground. NO, NO, NO, NO, NO. He kneeled on the ground, trying to find the coned bottom of the vial. It was under a chair, and now his knees were bleeding. There was a dainty smear of liquid in the bottom. He held the jagged cone to his throat, and poured. 81

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He could not see through the pain. To be blinded was something quite different – the pain made a screeching sheet in his eyes, the colour of agony, bright and terrible. It was in his mouth, it tasted clean and acrid, like lemons in bleach. His throat was ripping through his skin, and the room flashed with unearthly light. It stopped. He reached for his throat. It had healed. Something was in his mouth. Something that had burned through his nose, into his brain. There was a softness. A forgiving. Every rage he’d felt, every algorithmic hour was relieved. The something rose past his lips – what was it? It made him shudder. It was laughter. Chelsea. His wilful companion, his furred wife. He needed to show her. But it was too late. She had drunk almost all of the vial. It had gone beyond the little it had touched in Edmund’s brain. The balm had undone the symbiosis of the species. It had reversed evolution. Chelsea was ten-thousand years ago of canine – agile and impossibly hungry. Edmund was smeared in blood and the metallic smell excited her nose like no dropped cereal ever had. She leapt, and it was easy. She started at the tenderest part: his throat. He kept laughing, and said to her the only words he’d spoken for years, and ever would again: GOOD GIRL. GOOD GIRL.

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www.thornburyrecords.com

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Human/Alien/Animal: Gills Are Better Than Lungs

Shane Jesse Christmass

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utations can create entirely new genes and I guess that’s what devolution is about – snarly examples of traits that can increase personal mental fitness, but cannot be explained by direct agency for a generation fused by superheroes. Let’s inject some psychedelic mathematics into the double helix – evolution in organisms occurs – the peace and safety of a new species is a desirous selection, with the fitter arising. Enhanced survival and increased fecundity; Arthur Machen Arthur Machen fantastically represents the human body in the 1895 Machen published The Novel of the White Powder – sometimes called The White Powder. The White Powder is narrated by Mrs Leicester. She relates a tale about how her time-worn brother, Francis, takes a prescription filled by a careless druggist. Francis takes his fill and in turn acts bizarrely. Anxiety pins into Francis’ eyes and he gives way to a person who becomes ‘a careless and merry idler of Western pavements, a

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hunter of smug restaurants, and a fine critic of fine dancing.’ In short, he becomes a creep. Reflection of God’s own fossil records; medicine and stuff Eventually Francis becomes a recluse, refusing to see anyone. When his door is eventually forced open, his body has transformed itself into a black, slimy atrocity that’s dripping in slime and liquid. The medicine, which normally is harmless, undamaging, has changed to become the drug that witches call Vinum Sabbati (witches wine). This occurs due to a process of long storage, and constant changes to the room temperature. The scientific study of common hypothesis is blending inheritance; HP Lovecraft. In 1927, HP Lovecraft wrote The Colour Out Of Space. A story that has similar animalistic views toward the human body, as well as using the thematic device of witches. The ‘blasted heath’ that surrounds the town of Arkham, where the story is set, also occurs in Shakespeare’s Macbeth, as well as Milton’s Paradise Lost. The Colour Out of Space is narrated by a surveyor who seeks out Amni Pierce. Amni Pierce becomes the story’s sub-narrator. Forty-four years earlier a meteorite fell near the well on farm grounds owned by Nahum Gardner. Initially professors from the Mistakonic University inspect, they then withdraw from the meteor. The farm harvest grows to a ‘phenomenal size’ with an ‘unwonted gloss’, and eventually ‘a stealthy bitterness and sickishness’ enters the fruit’s flavour. Unusual animal prints occur in the winter’s snow. In spring the plants bloom in unusual colours. ‘Hectic and prismatic variants of some diseased, underlying primary tone, without a place among the known tints of earth’. In due course the vegetative abundance, the vestigial structures on the farm become grey and brittle. The farmer’s wife, Mrs Gardner goes mad, gets locked in the attic, finally entering into a progressive decomposition. Here, as opposed to Francis in The White Powder, everything, including the human form, enters into corrosion. This decomposition, this devolution, enters the poultry, the pigs embark on ‘loathsome changes’. The cows become badly affected with ‘atrocious collapses or disintegrations’.

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Unique lineages that subsequently become synthesis; the Victorian age Lovecraft and Machen wrote amid the Victorian age’s scientific value of Darwinism. Charles Darwin was the central figure during the Victorian Age. He proposed that humankind isn’t created by a munificent God, but that we developed, or evolved, from some Nature that’s wholly different. Both stories deal with situations where humans devolve into an animal or plantlike form. In the late-Victorian Age, the reappearance of the Gothic correlated to people’s anxiety toward modern urban and scientific culture, much akin to today’s technophobia, or anti-transhumanism. People freaked in regards to Darwinism. If it was possible to physically evolve, and to scientifically and culturally evolve, then was it perhaps possible to culturally and physically devolve, to degenerate, into what Charles Darwin described in The Origin of The Species, as ‘a hairy, tailed quadruped … probably derived from an ancient marsupial animal.’ Asexuality is all ‘micro-evolution’; the horror of abhumans Both stories view humans as having an abhumanness. Victorian science, in particular Darwinism, certified subversive effects to the way people viewed the human race. Suddenly we became impermanent, metamorphic, accountable to extinction, akin to rats, just animals, although less cute and furry. The human body was seen as not having a fundamental totality, a wholeness that people thought had integrally been given from God. Darwinism saw the human body as being a beast scraped from diverse animal forms that the human species had inhabited during our many evolutionary phases. Phenomena is just humans and the anthropoid apes; bones like sticky goo With these ideas permutating about, Francis’ body in The White Powder becomes ‘a dark and putrid mess, seething with corruption and hideous rottenness, neither liquid nor solid, nor melting and changing before our eyes, and bubbling with unctuous oily bubbles like boiling pitch.’ Both stories tear down the contented notion that humans are the centre of the living world. Both Machen and Lovecraft, as much as the Victorian scientific movement, 86

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horrifically and chillingly expose humans as just a species developed by chance rather than heavenly advantage, or even design. Lovecraft’s worldview was that humankind is incidental and altogether inconsequential. Lovecraft believed that we’re saturated in mystical, religious and superstitious repugnance. He perceived the universe as a sequence of meaningless, unsystematic atoms, snaking along toward total deterioration. We live on a placid island earth; environmental control The horror in The Colour Out of Space, and the one that takes central place in Lovecraft’s philosophy as an artist, is the character’s realisation that they’re vulnerable, that they’re irrelevant in the cosmic scheme of things. It’s a paradoxical quandary that humankind finds itself amongst. We’re highly intellectual and developed creatures, who can perceive, but Lovecraft makes us feel our sombreness, our unimportance in a disordered universe, which neither loves, nor hates, or even values a trivial curiosity to the human species. Degenerate Forms of our Ancestors ; This New Hybrid Species. It’s interesting to recognise how Lovecraft considered the alien body, because if we see how he viewed the alien, we’ll rightfully notice how he viewed the human. His significant principle on the alien form, was it like trying to have an undiluted understanding of a God, it would literally blow our minds. The universe is, not only more extraordinary than we imagine, but it’s also more extraordinary than we can ever dream to imagine. Human notions are rooted upon a dirty, earthly bauble, in a murky, immeasurable part of the cosmos, and Lovecraft believed that any notions humankind possesses, are notions that only this human species will cherish. Concepts such as courtesy, affection, respect, love and goodness are aspects akin to this human body alone. The Colour Out of Space shows that humans expecting otherworldly creatures to share such notions, are ultimately foolish and thoughtless. The true alien will not only be alien in appearance, but also in thought and by deed. Lovecraft’s alien creatures are beyond what humankind distinguishes as good and evil, which is such a dim duality anyway. These alien creations exist as they exist, and execute what they set out to execute. Humankind’s notions on how these alien

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creations ought to exist and execute, matter little outside our miniature subsistence in the cosmos. The cosmic horror that apprehends the humans in ‘Space’ is horrific because it isn’t understandable. The animalistic creation is a perplexing, amorphous thing that cannot be destroyed, and even more horrific is that the creation might not even think at all. The only options left are not to run or fight, or – something even more futile – to go insane or to just scream. This helplessness is what makes Lovecraft’s dreadful attacks on the human body so chilling. The human form is one that is not assuredly solid, or one that takes on haphazard shapes, it’s one that confounds our sense of the world. True horror comes from an abhuman being threatening our identity of the human body. We’re just poor animals…

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Hyena Nicola Hardy

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ay me down on the long and empty beach, up near the scrubby bushes protected from the breeze, away from the driftwood that makes monster shapes in the shadows. The breaking waves are over there in the distance. All the colour has drained out of the day and everything is reduced to a monochromatic palette, all washy and strange. There are two blankets and the scratchy wool one is flat on the sand, the down filled one has been cast aside. Your cool thighs are either side of my hips and you are a person-shaped shadow above me, your face obscured by the moonlight behind you. The fire dwindles but then flares when we throw the cardboard beer cartons on it. The wind blows through the scrub and makes a scary sound but we decide not to worry unless we hear a hyena, which is unlikely. We put on our clothes, now damp and cold and you pull the blanket over us. We lie close together to generate warmth, chest to chest, knee to knee, arms not knowing where to go. My nose touches your throat, your chin is on top of my head and we lie there with our teeth chattering. As we pack up our things we smoke another joint. You’re kicking sand onto the fire then you turn away, take a piss and we head to the carpark where the car is waiting for us to return. Lying in the back with the seats down, we don’t really have enough room but we contort our body into new shapes to fit in. Anyway we don’t care because we are out of the wind and safe from potential hyena attack.

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Direct Action on Climate Change Conal Thwaite drawing by Kimberly Tillyer Strudwick

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y now most people have heard of Tony Abbott’s policy of ‘direct action on climate change’. A political animal if ever there was one, with a passion of hatred for the left that can only come from a conservative who spent his university days in the 1970s, later as a Rhodes scholar, one imagines that Abbott at least partially understands the irony in his choice of words. In a delight of triangulation and the art of wedge politics, the Coalition has inadvertently adopted the rallying call of the anarchist movement for the past 140 years (a constituency they hardly need worry about being confused with) as the name of their policy on climate change. Not that Tony Abbot would understand his words with that degree of depth. The Coalition has adopted the terminology of direct action, in the long tradition of rightwing groups adopting popular terms that began their lives on the political left; turning words such as ‘democracy’, ‘libertarian’, occasionally even ‘anarchist’, into populist phraseologies with little content. We would do well to remember today that any notion

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of democracy in Western capitalism began its life on the radical fringe along with socialism, opposed to the liberalism of its day, which argued not for democracy but for the sanctity of private property â&#x20AC;&#x201C; seeing them in gross contradiction. It was only under the direct threat of a radical labour movement, calling for much more than democracy, that universal suffrage gained popularity with the capitalist class as a next-best scenario, and that the democratic-liberalism of figures such as John Stuart Mill gained ascendance. With added irony, for a good part of the twentieth-century, â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;socialismâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; was also adopted by the radical-right, by Mussolini in Italy for instance who had his many admirers in Australia. These included the influential Catholic anticommunist BA Santamaria, who Tony Abbot has revered and referred to himself as the brainchild thereof. Traditionally direct action was a revolutionary notion of how to achieve progressive change and eventually end capitalism. Democratic political parties seek to govern social movements between periodic elections, but to anarchists this is not democratic enough. It is primarily through the mechanism of representation that working-class organisations end up making decisions against their own interests, because those in government no longer share the same interests as the members (just think of the last ALP-union scandal you happen to have heard of). Direct action, and its sister in struggle direct democracy, is therefore incompatible with representative democracy. Anarchists propose instead that working-class organisations elect mandated, recallable delegates to undertake tasks, and that free association between individuals and groups be assured. While there are some legitimate forms of authority over individuals, the movement should be kept as democratic and libertarian as possible. To the early anarchist movement, direct action was a strategy that would build the power of primarily working-class organisations, without having that power integrated and co-opted, over time, by the capitalist state. The legitimate activity of the institutions of people power, such as unions and community assemblies, should not give up their power to act to representatives in political parties or in government. While sharing a similar critique against capitalism as Marxists, anarchists also saw political hierarchy as central to the organisation of capitalism. During the period between the 1860s and 1910s, long before the Russian revolution, they repeatedly predicted that the Marxist plan of centralising ownership of the means of production in the hands of the state, and of the social-movement represented in government by

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a vanguard organised as a political party, would lead to the worst form of capitalism – state capitalism, whereby a minority of state bureaucrats, rather than the capitalist class, owns all capital, and uses its monopoly to exploit the majority. The alternative plan was for unions and other working-class, community organisations not to support political parties or participate in state elections, but engage in ‘direct action’ including strikes, sabotage, boycotts, etc. While today we are invited to think of direct action as some kind of way to measure directness (counterpoised with being ineffective), to the large-scale anarchist and syndicalist movements between the 1860s and 1920s (and in some cases until the 1940s, and in some Latin countries still today) direct action has been primarily a question of legitimacy. The authority of so-called ‘representatives’ over the working class is illegitimate; they should be able to be removed at any moment. Direct action has therefore included virtually all of the activity of groups who saw themselves in these terms, of representing no one other than themselves, whether that means baking cookies to raise funds for strikes, or fighting a revolutionary war. When the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) published their newspaper Direct Action, numbering some thousands of people in Australia one hundred years ago, the phrase was counterpoised with political action. ‘Political’ referred to the bourgeois political sphere by the 1900s represented by a parliament in which various parties participated, including the Australian Labor Party. The IWW opposed participation in ‘politics’ in that sense. The IWW activist Monty Miller, who took part in the Eureka Stockade rebellion in Ballarat and was a member of the original Melbourne Anarchist Club in the late 1880s, wrote the pamphlet ‘The Passing of Parliament’, making the IWW’s argument for direct action. (You can find the pamphlet on the stalls of the small IWW groups that still exist in Australia in various capital cities, or by visiting the current Melbourne Anarchist Club in Northcote). While elsewhere it persisted, in Australia most of this terminology on the left was lost by the 1920s. After having a huge impact on Australian society through the anticonscription campaign during the First World War, the IWW was viciously suppressed, and in its wake the Communist Party of Australia established. Marxism positioned itself as both revolutionary and able to engage in the bourgeois political sphere, thereby negating the libertarian emphasis on the problem of political hierarchy. Stalinism defined Marxism in Australia until at least the late 1940s, and its histories

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condemned libertarian ideas as archaic forms of socialism that had died out. But as the stories from Russia began to leak out, and the Soviet Republic became a clearer example of state capitalism in practice, the more authoritarian the communist parties around the world became. They found it necessary to excuse more extreme instances of the arbitrary authority of the Bolshevik elites over the masses they led (as early as The Ukraine 1919–20 and Kronstadt 1921, long before Hungary 1956 or the Prague Spring of 1968). The capitalist class in Australia was only too happy to assist in portraying socialism as necessarily a dictatorship led by a bureaucratic elite. It was therefore in the mid-twentieth century that the spectrum between left and right popularly recognised today was established; of the right being seen as concerned with ‘freedom’ but having little regard for equality, and the left arguing for equality but harbouring a deep authoritarianism with little regard for individual freedoms. However, some of the language of direct action was resurrected after the 1950s when leftists were looking for an alternative to Stalinism. As part of the ‘New Left’ anarchism gained credence again, while Trotskyism gave Marxism a veritable facelift. Sometimes at the level of rhetoric, while sometimes in a genuine attempt to return to the libertarian emphasis of groups like the IWW, direct action re-entered the vernacular of the left, as more than the subject of ridicule. The Melbourne socialist magazine currently named Green Left Weekly was in the 1970s called Direct Action. In particular direct action was adopted by the environmental movement, were it was most obvious that parliamentary reform gained few results. Having their roots in the campaign to stop the Franklin Dam in the 1980s, even the Australia Greens sometimes still talk about direct action – although they have to be more careful than the Coalition of being associated with the radical left, let alone with the original meaning of direct action as the strategy for radical, anti-state socialism (anarchism). The irony of the adoption by Abbott of the language of direct action for state-led in-action cannot be overstated. Most obviously, his attempt to implement the policy through winning government (after which democracy will end and we will all have to live with whatever next pops into Tony Abbotts head) is the very definition of political, or parliamentary action. Secondly there is the content of the policy itself, which is to use state money to subsidise some of the wealthiest elites in the nation, in order to ensure that they maintain their monopoly of wealth as the economy makes

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some minor alternations to its technological base. That is, state-political action to ensure the continuance of capitalism, rather than anti-state, direct action in order to overthrow it. The combination leads to the Orwellian statement: ‘To facilitate direct action, a Coalition Government will establish an Emissions Reduction Fund to support CO2 emissions reduction activity by business and industry.’ If nothing else this is an interesting account of the genealogy of words, and how they can easily become their opposite. Anarchists should not be obsessed with word games, or with finding the ‘true’ historical meaning of things; clearly the meaning of words changes over time, as should our ‘politics’. Consider the feminist declaration,’'the personal is political’, which has also become important to anarchism. If the personal is political, and so is parliamentary action, as well as everything in-between, then being ‘anti-political’ no longer makes much sense. However, the way in which direct action has been lost in a myriad of other meanings, rather than updated and explained, is a clear indication that we have lost our notion of a broad, participatory struggle that is both anti-state and progressive.

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Simple

Ben John Smith

A six night bender ends but I think I can push a 7th without getting too much grief from work; So I swerve from the highway and into a family caravan park. We put an economy room on the credit card. It has an ice box and a pot to piss in.

drawing by elyse morahan

She fills one with wine and I fill the other with bottles of beer. Children ride push bikes on the gravel path as we sit on the veranda and smoke cigarettes in the windy sunshine. We talk about having a baby. Two bunk beds sit empty in our room. The children ride past again with their helmets and joy luck laughs.

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A bird shits into the open mouth of my beer bottle. I clean it off with my coat sleeves. Most people would say poetry doesn’t really matter and I’d be in no position to argue with them.

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Chapter 12 extract from

Freak the novel

by Ann witherall

drawing by Kimberly Tillyer Strudwick

T

he dog barking on the other side of the door didn’t frighten me. The feeling my life depended on this did. This was all I wanted. This would be the beginning or the end. If Lillian and her friends didn’t like me I’d have nothing left to hope for. No reason to live. My head started spinning. I closed my eyes and went to knock but then hesitated. What if Reg and Mark were right? Maybe no one would ever accept me. I had to do something soon or they’d be wondering why the dog was barking. I needed to piss and considered going back to the train station to find a loo. Indecision, fear and bladder pain crippled me. All I could do was shift from foot to foot and stare at the graffiti on the door, BOYCOTT BATTERY EGGS. Welcome to the Fairfield Boathouse Squat – eating pumpkin scones and clean underwear forbidden. Meat = Murder. Fuck off Yuppie Scum. The door swung open. A scruffy, black and white dog bolted out then jumped up on my legs, wagging his tail, licking as much of me as he could. A giant, wearing only a towel and a mohawk stood in the doorway yawning. He scratched the word ANIMAL tattooed on his chest, ‘Yeah?’ I’d been rehearsing what I’d say when Lillian opened the door. Ever since she’d given me the map I’d gone over this moment in my head. I was ready for when she opened the door and would invite me in. I was not ready for a giant with huge muscles and Billy Idol looks wearing nothing but a towel to open the door. 97

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The urge to vomit replaced the need to wee. I told myself to close my mouth and make eye contact. ‘Umm … ’ I swallowed air, looking everywhere but at the giant. ‘Is Lillian here?’ ‘Probably.’ He had a deep, welcoming voice. ‘Come in. I’ll go see.’ I stepped into a large room filled with tattered, non-matching sofas. The walls were covered with flyers and graffiti. An army boot hung from the ceiling near my head. Plastic flowers drooped from a hole at the toe end. The giant knocked on a door on the other side of the room then opened it and spoke into the dark. He came back, sat on a sofa and packed a bong. His towel opened with the movement, revealing everything. The plastic flowers were faded from the sun and covered in dust. Each flower had six fake petals. The giant’s arm shot out holding the bong, making me jump, ‘Do you want one of these?’ ‘No thanks.’ I picked up the bottle top at my feet so he wouldn’t see my hands shaking then threw it. The dog jumped and caught it mid-air. He left the bottle top at my feet again wagging his tail as he backed away. His eyes darted from the bottle top, to me then back to the bottle top. I really liked the dog. Lillian came in with a big smile. ‘Grouse, you made it.’ I tried not to look as relieved as I felt. ‘Come and have a coffee. We’re going to The Hare’s later if you wanna come?’ Wished I knew what that word ‘grouse’ meant. I would’ve asked but didn’t know what The Hare’s was either and thought I should find out before going. I followed Lillian into the kitchen. A gum tree grew in through the window and back out through the ceiling. ‘What’s The Hare’s?’ I asked, examining the kitchen utensils and other things hanging from the tree’s branches. ‘The Hare Krishna’s!’ She sounded surprised that I didn’t know. I was more surprised. Why would punks be going to a Hare Krishna’s place? It crossed my mind they might be involved in some weird cult. The crucified Barbie 98

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doll hanging upside-down from the tree, The Germs poster and anarchy sign on the wall were reassuring. But for all I knew these were normal cult decorations. Lillian made coffee. The giant came in, this time wearing a MDC t-shirt with the picture of a starving child. It was so worn you could see his muscles through the material. A studded belt held up zipper-less jeans that had more holes than denim. He’d rolled them up to expose the total of his big boots. Safety pins kept his fly done up. We sat at a purple table. The dog seemed possessed by the bottle top and kept returning it to my knee with the kind of care you’d hand over a new born baby. The giant had just showered, his smell was distracting. My eyes kept darting to the mountainous, brown skin exposed by his sleeveless shirt. Lillian told him I worked in the anarchist bookshop and lived in a squat in Collingwood. ‘You been there long? My name’s Grifford by the way.’ He held out his hand. ‘How many of youse live there?’ My palm slid over his. Its gentle strength melted my skin. It took me a second to answer. ‘Just me at the moment.’ ‘You live there on your own?’ Lillian turned, her mohawks flopping at either side of her head. ‘How old are you, Annie?’ I considered lying and flicked the bottle top off my knee. ‘Wot sort of dog is this? Wot’s his name?’ ‘His name’s Ska and he’s a border collie. How old are you?’ Ska skidded across the kitchen floor, retrieved the bottle top and brought it back with a gleeful tail wag. I decided there was no need to lie. ‘Fifteen, but it’s my birthday next month.’ Silence while Grifford and Lillian exchanged a look. Then Grifford laughed. ‘Shit, sorry, I wouldn’t have offered you that bong if I’d known you were so young.’ ‘That’s okay. I’ve been smoking dope for years.’ I hid the bottle top under my hand. Ska sat down, staring at my fingers. ‘Is Ska your dog?’ ‘He’s no ones. He’s one of us.’ Lillian put a mug of coffee in front of me. ‘Where are your parents? Do they know you live there?’

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‘No, but they don’t care. This other girl used to live with me but she left a few months ago. It’s been alright.’ I sipped the coffee. It tasted bitter. I would’ve preferred cordial. Lillian spiked her mohawks up using soap then we walked to the train station with Grifford and Ska. Ska swapped his bottle top for a stick. Grifford threw it for him while telling me all about the corrupt system we lived in. He was a verbal encyclopaedia on anti-conformity. We didn’t buy a ticket because he said public transport should be for people not profit. He sat opposite me on the train. I had to remind myself not to stare. He was the first punk guy I’d ever met. I felt weird when he looked at me and self-conscious when he asked me questions. It was hard to believe he seemed interested in my opinion. We got off at Flinders Street Station, crossed over and walked up Elizabeth Street. Ska didn’t need to be on a lead, he knew where we were going. Lillian smiled at everyone but no one smiled back. People stared and moved out of our way. They seemed scared of Grifford even though he wasn’t doing anything but walking, though he took strides rather than steps. We went through a doorway leading to a staircase. Ska stayed at the bottom of the steps without being told. The smell of incense and food wafted down as we went up past posters of Krishna. At the top was a well lit room with lots of tables and chairs. Near the entrance stood a glass counter filled with an assortment of hot food. Two different curries, rice, custard and some brown, solid mush. I followed Lillian and Grifford’s lead grabbing a tray from the top of the food counter. A Hare Krishna guy wearing a peach coloured robe put what we wanted on our plates. I got two piles, one of rice and one of runny, bright yellow curry. It smelt delicious. I looked for prices, a menu or a board with the specials written on it, but couldn’t even see a cash register. ‘Would you like some Halavah and custard?’ the Hare Krishna guy picked up a bowl. ‘Wot?’ ‘Would you like some pudding?’ he smiled, pointing to the brown mush. ‘No, that’s all right.’ Pudding! I would’ve loved some pudding. Watching him pour hot custard over Lillian’s felt torturous but I wasn’t sure if I’d have enough money to pay for the curry. 100

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The three of us sat at a table near the window. I started eating straight away, shovelling the warm flavours into my deprived gut. ‘You hungry, Annie?’ Lillian asked. My face got hot and I put the fork down. ‘How much is this gonna cost?’ Lillian and Grifford laughed. I felt stupid. ‘I didn’t know we’d be coming out to eat. I didn’t bring much money. This isn’t expensive is it?’ ‘We don’t pay, it’s free. Unless you wanna make a donation.’ Grifford pointed to a big box with the word DONATIONS on it. Free food! Free. Hot. Food! All this time I could’ve had hot food for free! Grifford looked at my plate. ‘Is that why you didn’t have any Halavah?’ He grinned. ‘I’ll get you some.’ He went back to the counter and waited in line. I couldn’t believe he’d do that for me. Halavah was the yummiest thing ever. If I hadn’t felt so awkward I would’ve gone up for seconds. As we were leaving I heard Grifford whispering to Lillian, ‘She won’t want to, she’s fifteen, it’ll be boring.’ Lillian whispered back then at the bottom of the stairs she told me they had to go do some stuff. ‘We’re going to be busy for a while, looking for a new place to live.’ She smiled reassuringly. ‘But as soon as we find somewhere I’ll come and see you in the shop.’ Grifford winked but didn’t say anything. They walked away. Solitude covered me like a sheet dropping over my head. It felt as if I’d just met real humans for the first time and they were leaving. Half way up the street Ska stopped and turned. He wagged his tail and barked, as if to say ‘Come on’. It took all my strength not to run after them.

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A Death in the Family Luke McQ

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M

y dog died a few days ago. It was very sad, the whole house was silent for an entire hour. My housemate and I had nothing to say to one another. We couldn’t even look at each other.

I dug a hole in the backyard and buried the dog beneath his favourite tree along with his squeaky bone. His name was Darryl. I'm pretty sure Darryl was murdered by the guy across the road. Evidence: Darryl had hammer-like indentations on his head when we found him all crumpled up in the gutter outside our house. I scooped Darryl up in my arms and wept silently. While I did this, I also noticed the guy across the road was running water from his frontyard tap over a bloodied hammer. Last night: Myself and my housemate are building a new dog. We use chicken wire for the body and fill it with small blocks of wood wrapped in newspaper. Each one is dipped in kerosene. The new dog’s tail is also made of newspaper. His head is a clay jar filled with stinking chicken bones from last night’s tea. We tie it all together using more wire and then wrap a thick cord of rope around his middle. This rope is his lead. We wait until midnight and then take the new dog outside. We set his tail on fire and then my housemate grabs the dog’s lead and starts swinging the dog around his head. It whips around him once, twice, and then he lets it go and it sails through the air and through the window of the house across the road. The curtain catches on fire as it smashes through. The room is suddenly lit up. The new dog is marking territory. The guy across the road comes running out in his undies. He is screaming, furious and nonsensical. I just shrug as he waves his arms about. The broken window behind him looks like a dragon’s mouth, still flickering and smoking. My housemate offers to piss on the fire. The guy across the road just gets angrier and starts shoving my housemate. They get into a fight. It doesn’t last long, the police and firemen arrive and it gets broken up. It looks like my housemate and I will get charged for destroying our neighbour’s front room. The guy across the road refuses to give back our new dog. Tonight: Myself and my housemate are building a new dog. The body is a petrol can with a piece of rope hanging out of it. We are sticking shards of twisted scrap metal to the outside. 103

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The quiet years Daniel Gloag

drawing by Kimberly Tillyer Strudwick

I

was eight years old when the guardians came for my father. I saw the whole episode through the kitchen window. You don’t forget a thing like that. He had made the very bad move of driving to the supermarket – in his gigantic fourwheel drive. The car was practically spotless and it still looked new. By that stage the supermarket was a pretty unreliable source of food. The shelves were almost empty. Food prices had more than tripled. There had been riots. But my dad went anyway. He had to feed us as best as he knew how. He was just manoeuvring into the driveway when two men on bicycles blocked his path. Three other cyclists surrounded the car. They were angry looking to say the least. One of the men beat on the driver’s side door, until my father wound down the window. ‘How long have you known?’ the guardians demanded. ‘Known what?’ were my father’s last words. I think he was honestly naïve to the whole situation. He spoke to them politely, as if they were merely looking for directions to the swimming pool or something. They pulled open the door and two of them started dragging him by his arms out of the car. But his seatbelt was still attached. He started screaming. His clothes were ripped and his glasses smashed. Suddenly he came free, and in the process 104

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went head first onto the blacktop. One of the men loitering behind the action had a hammer in his hand. Bending over, he smashed it into my father’s head again and again until his skull came apart. I don’t know where the neighbours were while all this was going on. Probably cowering in fear behind their curtains, watching in agony through the gaps. The guardians were all cheering now, but they weren’t what you would call insane. They were too coordinated for that. With household tools and knives they started work on the car. They cut every hose they could find under the hood. Then they pushed it into the middle of the road to make a block before slashing the tyres. The whole encounter had only taken five minutes. When they were gone we crept out to drag his body inside. We were lucky. We were able to bury my father. Some people found out their loved ones had been made into compost. In 2037 the West Antarctic Ice Shelf collapsed. It was a very big deal. Here was what our scientists had been telling us for decades was going to happen – and now it was too late to do anything about it. The mean temperature was climbing steadily each year and would soon be three degrees above normal. The Great Barrier Reef was thought to disappear inside the decade and rainforest ecosystems around the world were calling for last drinks. It all finally started to sink into the collective consciousness. The shame of it all. The guilt and the self-loathing. Of course there were massive human tragedies, migrations and conflict and people were dying. But that had been going on for years already. There would simply be more of it. What had now happened was a change in the whole human psyche. The collapse of the ice shelf was like a bell that ushered in a new epoch. Ordinary people whose lives were not directly affected by disaster, started to act in surprising ways. Quite suddenly they began doing things they had never done before and they couldn’t explain why. They couldn’t put it in words. Maybe it was some kind of inbuilt protection mechanism for the whole process of evolution. This ‘psychic change’ by no means manifested itself uniformly. Different people felt it to different extents. Some people locked themselves indoors and became ascetics,

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while some were so unaffected that they actually took advantage of the situation and lived even more decadently than ever before. The people who were most sensitive to the ‘change’ were the people who became the guardians. Nobody knew whether they had evolved to some higher state or reverted to a more primitive one. They were not known uniformly as guardians, that was only the local term, the term I became familiar with. The press dubbed them ‘Beyond Zero Extremists’, or ‘Earth First Gangs’, or ‘Climate Change Kamikazes’. At first the accounts were somewhat comical. I remember reading about radicals who had buried themselves up to their necks in the botanic gardens and were slowly dying of starvation. Small trees started appearing in strange places – they grew out of the gutters on your workplace rooftops, or were planted inside parked cars. Roadways were dug up in the night time. It was possible to pass it off as creative protest – yet no environmental groups came forward to claim credit. There were no political statements or press releases. The radicals buried up to their necks apparently bit those who dug them out. When they were taken away, they howled and screamed. That autumn groups of organised bezerkers blockaded the Bruce Highway in Queensland – the major route carrying tourists to the Reef. They assaulted passengers and destroyed their cars, using mostly gardening tools as weapons. Over two hundred people were killed before the police could muster enough firepower to stop the attack. Only one of the bezerkers was captured alive – a woman. She was a kindergarten teacher from Perth. She refused to say anything and during an interview bit and mauled a reporter. Although Australia was the first, attacks of this scale were soon happening all over the world. There seemed to be some pattern involving complex ecosystems – that is, places where man and nature coexisted in stark contrast. In Brazil for example, a thousand ‘guardians’ marched en masse from the Amazon rainforest to the Barcarena power station. They massacred the workers and in some cases threw their own bodies onto the transformers until they shorted out. An oil-refinery in Ghana was attacked and all present were butchered. When soldiers finally recaptured the site they found that human remains had been shoved into the pipes – but hardly a drop of oil was spilled. With the collapse, however, of major communications networks, and the almost complete cessation of jet travel, the majority of news soon became limited in and to 106

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Australia. In fact, we hardly knew what was going on outside of Melbourne. Things were absorbing enough here not to worry about elsewhere in the world anyway. Electricity was totally cut off and there was no public transport. Suddenly it was impossible to buy food. It was winter but we were too scared to even light a fire for warmth – smoke attracted guardians. Yet my mother and I survived. As most of the population were dead or had disappeared, there were several resources remaining for clever scavengers. We hunted for tinned food, raided vegetable patches and ate dog biscuits. As time passed we learned to cook over a slow smokeless fire. We ate household pets. We formed ‘tribes’ with other survivors, moved from suburb to suburb by cover of darkness and learned to covet solar panels and batteries. After eighteen months of travelling around we found ourselves back in our original neighbourhood with a tribe we got along with. The objective now was to establish an area of primary production. Roads were dug up to plant crops. Every backyard became an animal pen. Wheely bins became watertanks. Grape vines were draped along every rooftop. It was a hard life. I saw many of the old and weak die from malnutrition. There was no danger anymore of being attacked by the guardians. Perhaps there never was for people like me and my mother. At any rate, there were no more gangs on the streets. Many of them probably returned to states of normality and some may have even joined our community. Lots of the survivors still felt guilty about what had happened and lived lives of torment and anguish. Us young ones however, became the leaders of a new era. I didn’t realise it then but it was the beginning of the quiet years. In the quiet years we have resurrected old forms of entertainment. People write novels or play board games. In the evening between six and seven there is an hour of electricity, which is all our wind and solar power stations can provide. Construction is taking place for new ones. In the quiet years we see ourselves as a species. In the summers I walk on the beaches – waiting for the sea levels to fall.

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Two poems Thomahawk Merryweather

Wooden Wings The heavy embezzlement of fractured containers Handed up Handed out like carved wings to the dovecote We are filling up, holding on, getting close This overflow of flightless souls is killing us Save the build up Save the damage to this cracked cup The mocking lie of a coaxing hand â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;Come along, leap ... flyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; Those fingers curl like rolling waves Floating so safely to the shore Heighten pitch and commence thundering roll Swimming in the soup of our own death toll.

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_ _ _ _ the _r_n_ w_ _. Cross swords. The air was drunk and heavy It hung around my shoulders Like the limbs of a large tree Putting heat and almost Conviction In my flesh Soaking my open pores With its own intoxication.

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Cryptic Crossword

by Nick Livingston

W

elcome to edition four of Death of a Scenester, as usual, most clues or questions in this crossword pertain to this issue’s theme: animal. I hope I’ve created enough challenges for the cryptic ‘net raves’ whilst accommodating the newcomers to obliquely ‘spun’ wordplay. For the beginners, here are a few insights into how cryptic clues work. Basically cryptic questions consist of two clues: • a lateral indication of the answer, possibly an anagram, or a play on words • a more literal expression of the answer. Usually (but not always!) the two clues are associated via an instructive ‘trigger’ word which informs the reader as to the nature of the riddle. For example if we consider this edition’s theme let’s deconstruct the following clues: I’m an LA sort of creature (6) The word ‘sort’ informs the reader to rearrange the letters of ‘I’m an LA’ to equate to the word ‘creature’. (The bracketed number tells us the amount of letters in the answer.) Giant laminated table holds beast back (6) Again, ‘beast’ is the literal clue while ‘holds back’ suggests the other clue is somehow in reverse. I’m in rear passageway – inhuman! (6) Slightly lewd but if you place ‘I’m’ into the word ‘anal’ (‘rear passageway’) we get another synonym for the edition’s theme. How ‘bout these ones: ‘I’m Alan’, declared monkey (6) Ted faces the reason about this publication (5, 2, 1, 9) To get things started, well, it’s a bit of a spoiler, but try 15 down! Enjoy! Across 1. Vicar sights tits – awkward for diligent animal lovers (6,9) 9. Can a sad wriggle turn on snakes? (9) 10. Cricket guards zoo employees (7) 11. Ache until vilifying the unrighteous (8) 14. Lions paw now captures parent (5) 15. A lob in parties like a polar bear (6) 16. Hot direction in Rio, horny beast (5) 18. Seldom endangered (4) 19, 21 down. Head south, couple deviants with animals, befuddle local 18 across imps (9, 6) 22. Wild forecast – howler! (4,4) 25. Pict loves landscape of Ringo’s aquatic gardeners 26. 3 × (s + 9) = diabolical numeracy (3, 3, 3) 27. see 12 down

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Down 1. Religious Education ran round, beguiling animated nemesis (10) 2. Flee to a ghetto, shave and fashion a kid’s beard (6) 3. Thoroughbred cuts his overheads to obtain a manger (6) 4. Cast a die for Man Friday (4) 5. Eliot abroad in the UK gets long in the tooth (4) 6. A tee off in private sounds capital! Beat 9 across’ cousins (6) 7. Sounds like a pen is an eye-sore (4) 8. Sea lions are confused without lithium, but have spring.(6) 12 & 27 down. Ohh! Can piss destroy stores for bovine discretion? (5, 5) 15. Manila folder for the this edition’s theme (6) 17. Turn around, find a half-pint in the litter (4) 18. French Boxer pummeled woodlands character (4, 3) 20. Extract drug from ox heart, around the ribs (6) 21. Journey afar is a journey afar (6) 22. see 12 down 23. Animals reproduce Gods (4) 24. Toad, rabbit, chimpanzee – they all embody a rash reaction (4)

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Answers Issue #3 crossword Across: 1. realm 4. backyard 9. omission 10. avatar 11. three dimensions 12. affair 13. workshop 15. float 16. numen 17. geographies 21. cabin fever 23. rash 24. TARDIS 25. landmine Down: 1. room to swing a cat 2. aviary 3. mesmerising 5. chain mail 6. astronaut 7. dire straits 8. dominion 14. remember 15. furze 19. harem 20. Essen 22 & 18. run over

Stay tuned for the next issue of death of a scenester ISSUE #5 coming soon!

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Death of a Scenester

ANIMAL

Issue 4

Death of a Scenester

Issue #4 Animal

Featuring fiction, non-fiction, poetry, comics, art, and crosswords.

Spring 2011

Death of a Scenester Issue #4 â&#x20AC;&#x201C; Animal Spring 2011

Words and art

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Animal - Issue 4 - Death of a Scenester