Just before writing this editorial, I was stumped for words; what did I want to write about? Do I make an awkward anecdote about genre? Do I start with a definition? All I wanted to do was be angry about my favourite character dying on a television show—and then I decided that her death was a genre: a genre trope. Lately, in the television show The 100, one of the primary female characters was unnecessarily killed with a stray bullet. Apart from the fact that she didn’t deserve what happened to her, she deserved not to have her death fall into a genre. Her death played right into the lesbian death trope. Are tropes genres? Or rather, do genres have tropes? It’s not too farfetched to ascertain that they do, and I’m over this genre trope. If you’re sick of this genre trope, or just have feelings about genre, this edition is for you. We’ve got a bit for everyone, to take your mind off classwork or forget that the book you’ve just finished is over. We’ve got fiction and non-fiction, poetry and articles; everything from the Myer-Briggs indicator to Elizabeth Bennet killing zombies. We’ve got a piece about introversion and a poem about racial profiling. Of course that isn’t all we’ve got, but I don’t want to give away all the content on the first page. As always, we hope you enjoy this edition of WORDLY magazine. If there’s something you’d like us to know, or you’ve got a feeling about the concept of genre that you’d like to express, send us a tweet @WORDLYmagazine. We’re always up for a tweet.
WORDLY Magazine - Issue 2 of 2016 ‘Genre Edition’ © 2016 Deakin University Student Association Inc Reg. No. A0040625Y
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form by any electronic or mechanical means (including photocopying, recording, information storage and retrieval) without permission in writing from the publisher. Opinions expressed in this publication belong to their respective authors, and it may not be the opinions of WORDLY or DUSA. Unattributed images sourced from unsplash.com, The British Library and Adobe Creative Cloud Assets. Want to advertise? Contact email@example.com for more information.
CONTENTS UNI-QUE.................................................5 Rosie.........................................................6 My Genre..................................................8 Howl.........................................................9 A Harmony with One Voice...................10 The Wings of Icarus...............................11 More Than Sexualities...........................12 Itâ€™s Time.................................................14 Silence is Golden...................................15 The Body that wasnâ€™t in the Library.......16 Categorising People................................19 Going the Distance................................20 Shatner...................................................22 Romance versus Romance......................23 The Paradoxes of being Female..............24 A Tap on the Glass.................................26 Both? Neither? Me.................................27 Excess.....................................................28
Editors-in-cool Bonnee Crawford Jessica Harvie
Cover art Tessa Rose
Editors Aiden Finlayson Cassie Axon Claudia Sensi Contugi Demi Johnston Justine Stella Luke Peverelle Paddy Amarant Rowan Girdler Sos Gill Theertha Muralidhar
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UNI-QUE Ashleigh Nolan discourages us from attempting to fit people into boxes.
After my first day of university, I thought that I’d better rifle through the mountainous pile of pamphlets, booklets, cards and handouts I had picked up throughout the day. Upon flicking through one of the many copies of WORDLY I’d collected, I wondered if I would ever submit anything. Of course, I knew that I wanted to, but the thought of actually doing it scared the pants off me. But hey—I’m starting a new life now. I need to do all the things I want to, no matter how many times I lose my pants over it (innuendo intended). All jokes aside, the ‘Prelude’ edition of WORDLY says that the next issue is titled ‘Genre’. ‘What the hell do I do with that?’ I asked myself, with some more colourful language though, I can assure you. So, I thought about what genre means, where the term genre is used, and what types of genres are out there. The very similar answers to all of my questions lead me to an idea: we use the genre of something as a way of describing what something is or what type of thing it is—in the simplest form. Now, that’s all very well and good, but why do we only use it for things like books and movies and plays? Humans are an abundance of genres. We are black, white, gay, straight, tall, short, hairy, bald and everything in between, or at either end aof the spectrum or the scale or whatever you want to call it. We are individuals that are put into separate boxes by society because society cannot stand it when people don’t conform to its stereotypes. When we don’t fit into one box—or we fit into too many— society freaks out and throws us into a box where we don’t belong and that just sucks on so many levels. It’s said often enough yet not often believed, or taken as a good thing: YOU ARE UNIQUE, and if people don’t like it, screw them, damn them, curse them, and kill them! (Okay, maybe not the last one, but you get my point). Even though you may have similarities to some people, there is always, always something that sets you apart from the crowd and allows you to create your own box of what you want you to be. Your own genre, if you will. If we can accept that some plays are comedies, some movies are action films and some books are romances, then why can’t we accept that some people are queer, some people have different coloured skin and some people have different beliefs? We may be different but we need to stand as one, no matter what our differences are. Diversity should be celebrated, not oppressed. Our own unique genres are illustrious and important and are not to be trampled or used as a means to mistreat others. I think that’s what we need to take out of this whole genre thing. Everyone’s different. Each person is a wonderful concoction of race, religion, hair colour, music taste and fashion sense—just to name a few. That is what society needs to not only understand but to accept and just suck it up if they don’t like it. As I sat down to write this, I wondered what genres I would fall under. My very sophisticated and professional answer to that is: whichever ones I bloody well want to.
Rosie Words by Kirsty Ventura
Today, I uncovered an aged letter in the ruins of a demolished house. What caused the collapse of this once noble household, I don’t know, but as I sat in the confines of my little study, the words within that letter sent frightful spiders scuttling up and down my spine. Upon the front of the envelope it read: ‘Here lie the final writings of one Kirsty Ventura. If anyone is reading this, please, read on, that you may learn of our fate. To the bearer of this letter, the future of humanity may rest in your hands.’ Peeling open the torn envelope, I read the words gravely: ‘With a name like ‘Tiger’, you would think my dog would be a savage and proud beast, King of the canines. Unfortunately this is not so. Indeed, my dog would be lucky to stand over a foot tall, is built like a sausage roll, and at this late stage in his life, has a grand total of four teeth in his mouth. When he sleeps, his tongue breaks free of its inadequately-toothed prison, and lolls from his mouth in the most magnificent display of dignity I have ever witnessed. Not exactly the brightest creature I’ve ever encountered, I’ve seen him charge headlong at German Shepherds, and flee in unbridled terror before Chihuahuas. For years he’s been tormented by cats, possums and bees alike. One cat, having developed a particular fondness for torturing the poor fool, has taken to stalking him from around corners and pouncing on him when he least expects it. Due to his failing eyesight, that is most of the time. We thought the dog’s inadequacies had reached their climax the day we brought home the new vacuum cleaner. It was one of those little robotic vacuums, a gift for my mother, and a curse for the dog. If we had only known what we know now, perhaps we would have listened to the dog, perhaps we could have been saved.
We called our new robotic slave ‘Rosie’. This whirring red disk would scuttle about the room, little brush-fingers scooping crumbs and debris into her sucking mouth. Wherever she went, a high-pitched whine went with her, a sound that scratched uncomfortably at the inside of your brain. Rosie had a particular fondness for stairs, and anything her little wheels could get hooked upon, and we often found ourselves having to rescue her from the sock-islands upon which she marooned herself. To us, Rosie seemed like a perfect and hard-working angel. If only we had thrown that little devil-disk away the moment we laid eyes upon her. For a time, Rosie was a welcome addition to the home, and a diligent worker. It was not long however, before her reign of terror began, and her crusade came to threaten our once peaceful household. We set her to work in the lounge, and, after a cursory spin about the room, the newest member of the Ventura family began to lap back and forth before us in long, sweeping lines. We were blessedly surprised at Tiger’s lack of concern for this new stranger to the home, for, though he certainly kept his distance, the dog seemed neither inclined to flee from the machine, nor bark incessantly at it. All, it seemed, would be dust-free and peaceful in the Ventura house, a rather rare occurrence, I must add. Peace reigned … until the day Rosie turned. We don’t quite know what happened. Perhaps she was always cursed. Maybe the devil took her dear robotic soul while we weren’t looking. Or perhaps she at last found an opportunity to rise up against her human overlords. All had seemed calm that terrible day. My mother and father sat reading, and Tiger trotted about the room in his usual slow, and aimless way. Rosie was performing her traditional lap of the room…
While Tiger gazed up at my father with the adoring grin of the very dim, Rosie stopped in her predictable tracks. She spied the unfortunate hound and turned to face him. Did I catch a glimpse of the glinting red eyes of one possessed by the King of Hell himself? She charged off her line. Tiger’s eyesight was poor, he could not see the peril he faced. BANG! She slammed into the dog’s vulnerable ankles with all the might her tiny wheels could muster. There was a yelp of fright, and the dog fled in wounded terror. In the shocked silence that followed, I was certain I could hear a cruel chuckle emanating from the little devil. From that day on, Tiger was afforded no rest. Wherever the pup wandered, the robo-vac followed close behind, striking his heels, crushing his toes, vacuuming his tail. Hers was a determined, dare I say it, dogged pursuit. Finally, tired of the canine, her sights turned to the human residents of the household. No ankle was safe now. No toe unstruck. No heel un-vacuumed. Our lives were a living hell. Our every waking hour lived in fear. Our nights were cursed by restless slumber, for there was no time that the high-pitched whine didn’t pierce our ears. No time that Rosie didn’t come tapping at upon our doors. The little devil is still in service, for nothing can stop her now. We have managed to banish her to the upstairs rooms, where she can torment the dog no more. So far, closed doors have kept us safe from her diabolic reign, but she is Queen now, and we, her subjects, live in fear.’ There was a gap here where the words were faded and illegible beneath a great brownish-red stain.
I flicked over to the next page where the writing began anew. ‘They’re all gone now. Mum, Dad, Tiger. All gone. I know I shall be next, I’ve known it for a long time. She has let me live this long, toying with me, taking her time, but I know it cannot last. Remember us. Remember the Venturas for what we once were, and not the faded shadows of humanity that we have become. If they ever find our bodies, please, bury them with all the honours of our noble house, and let our tombs be a warning to all those yet living. … I must go. I think I hear her coming. If this is to be my last entry, please, heed my words. The robo-vacs, they are not what we think. They are possessed. Act now before it’s too late, destroy them all. I hear her. She’s come for me at last. Oh God, she’s coming for m-’ Here, the account ended. With shaking hands, I folded the worn pages of the letter and placed them in my pocket. Fear held me in its cold fingers, for just outside the door, I could hear the whirring of my own little Giselle. Did a demon grip her poor mechanical heart as well? Thump. Thump. Thump. I stood frozen as the little robo-vac bumped against my door. She knew. She was coming for me. I cowered beneath my desk, quivering in terror as Death came knocking at my door. Thump. Thump. Thump. The vacuum had found me. The end had come. I watched the door creak open slowly …
My Genre Poem by Charlie Osborne
I understand the style. I understand the rhythm. The feel of the words, The taste of them.
What I have to say. What I need to shout. It’s all there, Sparkling.
They run around in my brain. They chase my thoughts. Screaming. Screaming.
It’s my style. It’s my rhythm. These are my words, My words.
I must get them out, They must leave. On to paper, Out of my mind.
Look at that magazine. Look at its pretty cover. It’s gleaming, glinting: Drawing me in. I’m published and scared, It’s overwhelming. Will people understand? Will people understand?
Howl Words by William Vong
The boy hides among the brush, his ear to the ground. The wound on his arm trickles with blood and his veins pulsate. Above him, the moon hides behind a wall of canopy, its glow creating a silhouette of leaves and branches. He licks the wound and whimpers—his ears twitch at the sound of incoming footsteps. The leaves that litter the forest floor crunch as the footsteps grow louder. The boy bites on his wrists and pulls himself deeper into the brush as he sees the men come into view. They stop under a great oak tree and whisper amongst themselves. The men wield knives and torches that cast dancing shadows around them. They spit and sharpen their knives while some of them go to take a piss. When they join back together, the men nod in unison and they go their separate ways. The footsteps begin again, and the boy clamps his eyes shut. He waits until he can hear the forest fill up with the sound of crickets chirping and animals scurrying before he even takes a breath. The boy releases his arm from the grip of his jaw and lets out a yelp. The blood spurts and collects under him. He crawls out from under the brush and stands up to shake the leaves and twigs off. In the distance through the trees, he can see the lake shimmer and the reflection of the moon waving up and down as the waves wash ashore. The torches flicker in and out of the trees without making a sound. He falls to the ground and begins to crawl towards the sound of waves, grazing his arm on the rocks scattered on the forest floor. The blood runs down his arm and he feels himself becoming dizzy and lightheaded. The boy stands up and steadies himself against a tree. He sees the bank of the lake, takes one look around him, and breaks into a sprint. The forest becomes a blur and the branches lacerate his body. They catch on his clothes and drag against him, cutting into his hands as he tears at them. From the corner of his eyes, he can see the torches flying through the trees and converging on his path. The boy keeps running until he is out of the forest and in the open. He trips and falls down the bank and onto the shore. The waves pull back and the water calms, becoming a sea of stars. The boy looks up at the sky. Clouds pass over the moon, eclipsing it and casting a shadow on the shore. Boots crush gravel and the men stop short of the boy, who turns to growl at them with his teeth bare. All but the man leading the group drop their torches and ready their knives. The man holding a torch sheathes his knife and holds up his clenched fist. ‘Wait,’ he breathes. The men huddle together and watch in silence. The boy turns his back to them and stares up at the moon. A breeze passes over the lake, sending leaves flying onto the water and causing it to ripple. The clouds drift apart, revealing the moon and its warm, yellow glow. The boy tilts his head up to the moon and howls. Across the lake, something howls back.
A Harmony with One Voice Poem by Keagan Day
An endearing fool in his tight Black coat; Hair tossed asunder, Wind gnaws at his clothes. Now, with time to think, She, dancing behind his eyes Floating, landing, singing; He, a little death each time. Blind again, the foliage is Royal Blue, And the birds are dazzling shades Of White and Black. What a gift it must be To float and land like that. Royal Blues fade To boring and vibrant Greens; All is—again—exactly as it seems. Rising from an unholy throne, He eyes the pathway with contempt. ‘Distasteful rocks’ he spits; ‘Dull and jagged stones.’ The crows aren’t dark enough And the sun itself never seemed so dull. He feels his own irregular ears, Flattened nose, dark skin too tight against his skull. Those same ears prick, Unworthy as they are To the sound of a floating, landing voice Dancing down the path. The Royal Blues are out to play, Brighter as the voice approaches. The forest lets through more of the day, Creating shadows the voice reproaches. Further and further up the path it comes, Smoothing stones all the way. Chestnut ringlets fall On a flowing supple form, Framing dewdrops where her eyes were; Making mock’ry of the dawn. And her Crimson coat Outshines his throne, This wolf among the Moors; Opens out around her throat Framing brittle collar bones.
‘What sweet round eyes you have!’ ‘The better to see you with!’ she crows. The lovers glide, now hand-in-hand, Together down the path; Hurriedly skipping through sweet nothings, Knowing that this mirth won’t last. ‘How big your hands have grown!’ ‘How beautiful a new Red cape To have and call your own!’ The path continues straight and true, Until it meets a crumbling wall, Windows, roof, and a door All gleaming behind vines; All choking on Royal Blue. In the dark their dazzling shades Of dark and White skin blaze. ‘What big hands you have!’ She sighed as he held her beaming face. He swept his mane behind his head And gazed down at her body of truth. ‘Is it Ebony or Ivory or Porcelain, That which hides beneath your flowing skin?’ ‘My darling, yours is naught but Royal Blue.’ A sudden blow. In the doorway, where darkness was, Now the blinding light of a man. What fear an axe can yield, When held between a woodsman’s hands. ‘What dark skin you have; Don’t you touch her, don’t you dare.’ ‘And what large hands!’ he spat; ‘And your ears, and your nose, and your hair!’ He tore our wolf away from his queen, Red with rage—or was it Green? All that is remembered as truth, Is the death of every unfortunate wolf. The woodsmen among us Who we hold as our kings, They are afloat on a sea of truths Made of lies and diamond rings. I offer to them the depths, Made of Blues that never fade. Where we know all these Blues are nothing, When you whitewash them with Greys.
The Wings of Icarus Rowan Girdler challenges our obsession with reality. Back in high school, I was so cool that I founded and ran a miniature war-gaming club. For those who don’t know, miniature war-gaming involves buying, assembling and painting small plastic figurines in order to create an ‘army’ that you then pit against an opponent’s on a tabletop battlefield, following complex sets of rules and using dice rolls to determine results. Being a miniature war-gamer is about as nerdy as it’s possible to be, and I decided to recruit a collage of my high school’s least popular so we could all enjoy this hobby together. Our game was Warhammer, a prominent tabletop battle-game involving armies of aliens and science fiction soldiers fighting endless wars amidst a grim dystopian vision of the future. The club met once a week during the Friday lunch break in a classroom off the library. My fellow club members were the sorriest collection of zits, pale complexions and nervous tics you could imagine, but each was passionate about their particular army and keen to extoll its merits over those of any other. Brandon’s obnoxious love for his Space Marines was matched only by Floyd’s enthusiasm for his Tyrannids, and Lachlan was always keen to champion his Necrons despite Zac’s boasts about his Tau. We were rarely able to finish a game, however, as most of what little time we had was spent arguing over the rules. In my role as self-appointed president, I usually ended up mediating these disputes, the others assuming that I knew everything about the game when in fact I knew almost nothing. When I wasn’t busy bossing everyone around, I was dealing with the outsiders who came in to mock us, but like all petty dictators I revelled in exerting my power. Unfortunately my hot air was the only thing holding the club together, and it fell apart after I graduated. One memory that stands out from those days is the time one particular girl came in to watch us. She had a reputation for emotional behaviour and seeking attention, and after standing there for a while she decided to give me her opinion on what we were doing.
‘You know why I think this is stupid?’ she asked, face inches from mine. ‘You’re all playing games with little plastic men, and it isn’t even real!’ What is it about things being ‘real’ that captures the minds of so many? What is the intrinsic worth of things that physically exist? Why can some people never look past the fact that something is make-believe to see what makes it great? If I knew the answer, maybe I could fix them. As it is, when people ask me these questions the only response I have is: what’s so good about reality? Reality is wheelie bins and politics and taxes. Reality is war and death and the strong picking on the weak. To be fair, Warhammer consists entirely of war, death, and the strong picking on the weak, but at least it allowed us to escape into another world, a world that we liked as opposed to the real one which we hated. The handful of nerds that gathered together in that room every Friday lunchtime might have spent a lot of time arguing, but they kept coming back because for us, reality was a hard place to live, a place of disrespect and sometimes fear. Warhammer allowed us to escape into a fantasy where none of that was true. In a short essay simply titled ‘On Fantasy’, George Martin cuts to the heart of why fantasy means so much. ‘Reality is the strip malls of Burbank, the smokestacks of Cleveland, a parking garage in Newark. Fantasy is the towers of Minas Tirith, the ancient stones of Gormenghast, the halls of Camelot. Reality flies on Southwest Airlines, fantasy on the wings of Icarus.’ I created that gaming club as an excuse to throw my weight around, but to the guys who put up with me, just maybe it meant something more. Maybe it was a chance for them to escape their realities and fly on the wings of Icarus. So to the girl who barged in on us that day and everyone else like her, no, what we do isn’t part of the real world, but sometimes it’s the only world we can take. And maybe, just maybe, it’s a better one than yours. Dedicated to the guys ‘n’ gals of Four Rings Gaming, wherever you have ended up.
James Gardiner shows us that we don’t have to be defined by who we love.
Adapted from a speech originally presented at celebrations for IDAHOBIT 2015 at Knox City Council. My name is James Gardiner. I’m 21 years old and I’m gay, but I don’t think that’s the most interesting thing about me. I also have Asperger’s Syndrome, but what’s even more interesting is that I’m in my first year of a Film and Television Bachelor, and I have a blog called Not a Sexy Vampire because I have pure white skin and sharp teeth that stick out. These are all far more interesting things about me, things that I would happily use to label myself. Gay is a wide ranging label but it doesn’t define me. However, it has almost become the thing that defined me several times over. In those moments where I have considered suicide, it became the most defining thing about me. In those moments when I’m glared at on the train for resting my head on my boyfriend’s shoulder, it becomes the thing that defines me. Nowadays I’m able to shrug this off, but I haven’t always been so lucky. A couple of years ago I was at a Catholic, all-boys high school. My parents had decided on single-sex education believing that it would offer less distraction (i.e. girls) and allow me to concentrate on my schoolwork. Clearly they hadn’t seen the signs. Homophobic insults were commonplace in this environment. In my first year of high school I was accused of trying to kiss a boy. I hadn’t (he wasn’t even my type!) but, even after he left the school at the end of the year, the rumours persisted. It became a running joke. Meanwhile, the school itself was an example of institutionalised homophobia. In the six years I attended high school, my religious education class only mentioned the topic of sexuality once and that was in a pamphlet examining the pros and cons
of gay marriage, with a focus on the latter. Instead we wasted time watching the overly violent The Passion of the Christ when they could’ve been teaching acceptance not fear. Ironically, religious education was my best subject because I treated the Bible as a literary novel to be analysed and understood. Thus, high school became a difficult experience with the everyday, casual homophobia of other students coupled with the institutionalised homophobia of the school itself. As a young man coming to terms with my sexuality, this was far from an ideal environment. Home wasn’t much better as it was filled with confusing mixed signals. One Saturday mum said to me, ‘One day, you’ll get married to a woman, or a man, if you’re that way inclined.’ After so many years fearing how she would respond, I was filled with hope. Then, the very next day, we were talking about the bomb site that is my bedroom and my brother mentioned the stereotype that all gay people are very tidy. Mum responded with, ‘Well, we know James isn’t gay then. Thank goodness.’ It was a crushing blow, confusing and upsetting my feelings even further. Dad was no better with his continual emphasis that I must become a cleaner, more organised person or I’d never find a wife. The fact that I didn’t want one didn’t make this any less hurtful. I learnt later that it was mum’s own background and the time in which she grew up that had caused her homophobia. It seems that we are all victims of the societies we grew up in, but it made home a stifling environment.
I’d like to clarify that I have never thought of myself as a victim or, my preferred term, survivor, of homophobia. I was never actively attacked for my sexuality; no one ever said to me that I was disgusting or an abomination or that I was nothing because of who I loved. You hear those stories but they never happened to me. But I have known homophobia. I am a survivor of homophobia. Even those tiny things that happened to me were homophobia because, even though they seem like insignificant remarks, they nearly took my life. For years I hated myself because I was attracted to other students at my school and I was taught that was wrong. I tried to change it, to ignore it, to bury it, but nothing worked. It couldn’t work. This was a part of me and it was never going to change. It all came to a head one night when I was watching the beautiful film Prayers for Bobby. In this true story, a young man kills himself because he’s unable to deal with the homophobia of his mother and the world at large. I was shocked to find that I could relate to him. I became terrified that I would fall into a depressive spell, like I had done so many times before, but that one day, I wouldn’t be able to get out of it. That would become too much and I would allow the darkness to overwhelm me. I came out to my mum that very night. It became the moment I knew that this was who I was, the moment everything suddenly became crystal clear. After some minor teething difficulties, she and the rest of my family have accepted me wholeheartedly, and I have even made my family obsessed with some iconic queer things like Eurovision.
The weird thing was that it wasn’t my coming out that hurt, not the casual homophobia of my school or the people around me; it had been the stress and the lead-up to that moment. The fear of facing who you truly are and sharing that with the people you care deeply about. But that would have been a lot easier if the homophobia and oppressive attitudes had never been present. I was lucky. I had support, through my participation in queer support groups (where I met my partner) and loving family and friends. A lot of people aren’t that lucky. They face this homophobia and are unable to deal with it. That is why things like IDAHOT day matter for me.
Even those tiny things that happened to me were homophobia because, even though they seem like insignificant remarks, they nearly took my life. It is not only about the elimination of aggressive, overt homophobia, but also the wider societal change needed in regards to those seemingly smaller, just as damaging moments of institutionalised homophobia, transphobia and biphobia. It is through the destruction of these attitudes that people can finally be defined as something other than simplistic labels such as just gay or lesbian or bisexual or asexual or transgender and so on. We cannot let people go to the grave believing that their sexuality or gender identity defines them. We are far more interesting than that.
It ’ s Time Poem by Nasser Sadeqi
My heart tells me it’s time To smell the roses and sing of love And let myself take flight It tells me the time is now, for a new beginning The time is now, let’s start dreaming Of a new day and a new age To break free from this cage And let us go together on this journey Let us shine brighter so the old can change Oh, the beautiful fear of the unknown When the seeds of new realities are sown When we free ourselves from the so-called norms That gradually sever our wings Our ideas, thoughts and our dreams But don’t worry old friend For your time has come to shine To let you brighten the night So we can see not with the eyes but with the heart For only the heart has the power to see beyond Beyond the struggles and our human faults Listen, listen closely to the strings of your heart It’s ready now, for you to cut through For if not now, then when? And if not you, then who? My heart tells me it’s time.
14. by Kirsty Ventura Art
Ari Moore demystifies some assumptions around introversion.
If you only read one sentence on this page let it be this one, where I say emphatically that introversion is not the same thing as shyness. Despite the platitudes of pop culture hammering the point otherwise, introversion in no way indicates a fear of public speaking, a love of books or a hatred of loud noises. Anything that implies that a perfectly healthy, average level of socialisation is impossible is unequivocally false. Introversion simply means that a person’s energy is drained by social contact—that’s the entirety of it. It’s tempting to stereotype and lump all introverts into an easy-to-spot checklist of attributes, and ironically, we introverts do this in spades, in order to identify and band together with people who understand what having a social limit means. But despite the common frequency of certain preferences or behaviours (admittedly, I’d comfortably put my money on the person who plays with the dog at a party), they don’t always hold up. I rarely find the need to tell people I’m an introvert, and when I have it’s almost immediately met with disbelief. I’ve heard a defensive ‘No, you aren’t’ enough times to know that the general conception of an introvert tends to be limited to the extreme end of the scale: antisocial, awkward, and unable to speak up. But most never see behind the scenes. In high school, I’d go through sixteen hours of drama performances—once again, something any introvert can do—and then get home and crawl under the bed because I couldn’t handle the exhaustion of being in the presence of another human being for another minute. The endless social contact was infinitely more testing than being alone on a stage, reciting Shakespeare in front of hundreds of people. And to this day (to a less intense extent) that holds true. Time spent in my own company is refreshing, something that would make an extrovert’s skin crawl with boredom. It’s not that I choose this. I don’t consciously elect to spend time alone. It just feels better to me; the quiet is like a weight off my shoulders. In the book Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, author Susan Cain suggests introversion is simply due to a person’s heightened sensitivity to their surroundings. An interesting study showed that babies who would be immediately curious, cry, and generally react strongly to new stimuli in a room would consistently test as
introverts later in life. The extrovert babies were calm and barely registered any change. Whereas an introvert is automatically perpetually sensitive to tiny changes in the environment, an extrovert, more often than not, needs to seek out entertainment to avoid boredom. It means they can power through social events for days on end without feeling overwhelmed. Extroverts make great salespeople, retail staff, entertainers and politicians; being ‘powered up’ by contact with people gives them a natural advantage in these fields. This is the key (and only!) difference: the introvert brain reaches a social limit more quickly, is exhausted more quickly, and thus requires peace and quiet to recharge. We’ll be in the mosh at shows and do stand-up comedy and can be found absolutely anywhere most people would mistakenly regard as an introvert’s nightmare, but we just struggle to go hard two days in a row. Day two is for recharging.
I rarely find the need to tell people I’m an introvert, and when I have it’s almost immediately met with disbelief. I’ve heard a defensive ‘No, you aren’t’ enough times to know that the general conception of an introvert tends to be limited to the extreme end of the scale: antisocial, awkward, and unable to speak up. The implications of recognising one’s tendency for introversion are significant and, crucial in the defence of the extroversion/introversion spectrum as a meaningful measure of personality, nothing really changes. You still know that spending sixteen hours at a festival you enjoyed immensely will probably exhaust you for a week, but now you understand why, and can align future choices (career, partners, home) accordingly. I’ve met introverts who have spent years in constant travel, run companies, are actors, bodybuilders and bosses, and generally have very public lives not typically associated with a strong need for alone time. Barack Obama, Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, or less obvious examples like Christina Aguilera, Lady Gaga or Emma Watson: all introverts. It’s possible to do it all, we just need a few hours afterwards to decompress. For introverts, silence really is golden.
The Body that wasn't in the Library Words by Patrick Banfield ‘It looks like he’s dead,’ said Alice. She nudged the body with her foot. It gave no movement.
Alice gave the door a gentle push, the light from the kitchen revealed the top step, then nothing but darkness and silence.
‘You didn’t tell me you were hosting a murder party,’ said Titus.
‘Fantastic,’ said Titus. ‘I’m presuming there’s a light switch.’
‘Shh!’ she hissed, pointing to the basement door, which rested slightly ajar a few feet from the body. Tacked to the door was a sign, ‘Here There Be Monsters’.
‘But isn’t this is just a murder mystery?’ said Titus.
‘I never got around to getting it fixed, okay?’ said Alice. She tapped at her front teeth with a thumbnail. ‘It’s a shame it’s just Isaiah. You can’t pass up a good monster, you know?’
‘Little early to call it that, isn’t it?’ Alice replied. Titus raised his eyebrows and gestured down the hall to the living room, where the other guests were presumably still gathered. ‘You mean, one of them killed Jeanie’s new boyfriend and is now lurking in the basement?’ Titus said, looking back to the body. ‘I know she introduced me but damned if I can remember his name.’
With eyes peeled for clues, they began to descend the basement stairs, Alice leading. Halfway down Alice started rummaging in her pocket. Behind her, Titus gave her a gentle push. ‘Just getting out your candlestick so you can wallop me too?’ he said.
‘Greg?’ she said. ‘No, maybe Graham?’
‘Of course. If anyone’s in a perfect walloping position now it’s you,’ she said, waving her phone’s torch light in his face.
‘I would’ve remembered if she was dating a cracker,’ said Titus, putting on a half-smile.
‘Way to ruin the atmosphere,’ he said as he removed his own phone from his pocket.
Alice stared at him for a long time.
Arriving in the basement, Titus and Alice’s torches revealed only mouldy boxes and the never-used appliances that Alice had been so sure that every home needed. Nothing jumped out at the pair from the dark corners, or descended from the ceiling, or grabbed their ankles from beneath.
‘Okay, sorry,’ he said. Titus crouched by the body and pointed at the dent in the body’s skull. ‘We’re looking for someone strong. That means that it can’t be Jeanie, and little Lindsey’s not the murdering type. That just leaves Isaiah.’ ‘Isaiah!’ Alice hissed towards the basement door, ‘Isaiah!’ There was no response. ‘Exactly what a murderer would do,’ she muttered.
‘Well isn’t that genuinely disappointing,’ said Alice. ‘Hey now,’ said Titus. ‘There’s still a body upstairs.’ Consigning themselves to the idea that, at least for now, they were stuck in a murder mystery, Titus and Alice trod back
upstairs into the kitchen. Alice closed the basement door behind them in order to lock the monsters inside. They faced each other across Greg/Graham’s body and prepared for some deductions. ‘Why would Isaiah want to kill Graham?’ asked Alice. ‘Greg,’ said Titus. ‘And he seemed like a bit of a dick.’ ‘If we went around killing people for being bits of dicks, all parties would be murder parties,’ said Alice, mildly annoyed. She glanced back down at the corpse and added, ‘I would kill for an uneventful evening, though.’
‘You invited us,’ said Lindsey. ‘Has anyone seen Greg?’ asked Jeanie, looking around the room. Titus made a satisfied noise and opened his mouth to crow victory, but Alice cut him off. ‘Thank you all for coming. If you’re wondering why I’ve gathered you all here tonight, it’s because one of you,’ she paused for dramatic effect, ‘is a murderer!’ There was silence for a moment until Lindsey’s stomach made a rumbling sound audible to everyone in the room.
‘And we just came in here to get the—oh!’
‘You know Halloween isn’t for like six months?’ she said.
Alice darted across to the oven, now emitting the unmistakable smell of burning food. She yanked open the door, reeling back at the dark smoke. The cookies inside were twisted black mounds.
‘Did you guys see him? Who vanishes like that?’ asked Jeanie, looking past Alice and into the hallway. ‘Maybe inviting him was a mistake.’
‘Hey now,’ said Titus, ‘this is still the most fun I’ve had since we uncovered those drug-runners.’ ‘You’re right,’ said Alice. ‘I still don’t know why the police were so upset about that.’ She straightened and turned off the oven. ‘We’re still on why Isaiah would want to kill Graham, right?’ ‘Greg. Maybe it was out of jealousy,’ said Titus. Alice snapped her fingers as they both remembered Isaiah’s long-held crush on Jeanie. ‘Isaiah waits for Graham to leave the room,’ said Alice, ‘a moment later he also makes an excuse to leave, so that he can lay into him with the lead pipe.’ ‘Your pipes are PVC.’ ‘Honestly, how do people find murder weapons these days?’ Titus and Alice peered into the living room. The door entered the room from an awkward angle and they couldn’t see whether Isaiah was in the living room with Jeanie and Lindsey, or if he’d managed to escape to the attic. Alice and Titus took a deep breath before they entered the room for the grand reveal. Isaiah, Jeanie, and Lindsey were still seated, still talking. ‘What took you so long?’ asked Isaiah.
‘He was a bit of a dick,’ agreed Titus. ‘You’ve all made a mistake,’ said Alice, throwing her arms open, ‘in coming here tonight! Graham isn’t coming back from the bathroom.’ ‘Who’s Graham?’ asked Isaiah. ‘You killed Greg,’ said Titus. ‘I hadn’t finished the build-up yet,’ snapped Alice. ‘Like, in the kitchen?’ asked Lindsey. ‘Did you ruin another undercover operation while you were there?’ Lindsey stood up and led the others into the kitchen. Seeing Greg’s body on the tiles, she immediately turned around and made her way back to the living room. ‘I know it should be in the library,’ said Alice. ‘But I don’t have a library.’ She levelled a finger at Isaiah. ‘You’ve always been jealous of Graham, haven’t you? And tonight? Tonight it got too much for you, didn’t it? Produce the candlestick, Isaiah!’ ‘What candlestick?’ was all that Isaiah managed to say before Alice lunged forward, tackling him to the floor. ‘Alice, don’t!’ shouted Jeanie, trying to pull her off Isaiah. Lindsey re-entered the kitchen, phone in her hand.
‘See, he’s got a complex,’ said Alice to Titus, pointing at Isaiah.
‘What the hell is wrong with you people?’ she said. ‘Why didn’t you call the police?’
‘You didn’t bring the cookies,’ said Lindsey.
‘We are the police,’ said Titus.
‘He’s not that complex,’ said Jeanie.
‘You’re idiots who burn cookies,’ said Lindsey. ‘Cops are on their way. I reckon Greg just slipped, cracked his head. Ain’t shit to investigate.’
Alice gestured that she wanted silence and moved herself to the centre of the room. She also gestured to Titus to dim the light, but he ignored her. ‘You’re probably wondering why I’ve gathered you all here,’ she said.
‘Maybe his name was Graham,’ said Jeanie, still holding Alice back from Isaiah. ‘I mean, we only went out a couple of times. Maybe I misheard him.’
Art by Liz Cameron
Categorising People Psychology student, Cathy Cobb, considers the value of personality tests.
It makes sense to put our books and movies into genres, it can help us discover something new and determine what we’re in the mood for that night. However genres for entertainment aren’t always accurate; sometimes we feel as though a romance movie was better suited for the drama section, or that horror you watched last night was really more of a thriller. Now, if movies and books can be that difficult to place into categories, what on earth made us think we could do it to people? And yet personality tests are highly popular, and not just amongst those in psychology. Yes, there are indeed personality tests that are performed by qualified psychologists over a number of sessions, but there are also the more popular online personality quizzes. I’ve recently been subjected to personality quiz after personality quiz for the purposes of a class assignment and now know a little bit more about them, enough to tell you that they’re a damn good way to find out what you think about yourself. And that’s about it. One of the more standard personality tests available is the Myer-Briggs Type Indicator. It uses questions to sort you into one of two categories based on how you react to social situations, how you process information, your personal values and how you organise your life. Once completed you get a four letter score and a little blurb explaining the personality type. Upon completion I was given two letter scores due to scoring evenly on two of the categories, making me either an INFJ: the counsellor, or an ISFJ: the protector. Both are drawn to helping and motivating people, with slight differences in how they do this and how they relate to people. I identified highly with each type and the blurbs allowed for some self-reflection about why this was. However that was my second time taking the test. Originally the test asked me to answer how strongly I identified with certain words. I examined the two words presented to me: compassionate and competent. I had to choose between them? What, I couldn’t be both? I selected the option directly between them. Scrolling down I saw another combination: practical and intellectual. Once again I couldn’t bring myself to answer as being either one so I answered as both. Then I was asked to choose how strongly I agreed or disagreed with certain statements. Goddamn I hate absolutes. I hate having to answer as always being something or not. I read ‘I enjoy chatting with new acquaintances’ and selected sometimes—it really depends on how I connect to the person. Finally I clicked submit and was hit with eight possible personality types. Upon investigation I saw it was because I’d scored evenly over three sections. Damn. So I took the test again, this time answering the absolutes and identifying with single words more strongly. Already I’d had to change my answers to ones I would not have selected just to get the test to give me an actual result. Despite the apparent simplicity of these tests, there is a lot that can warp your results. People have a tendency to answer questionnaires with a deliberate or unconscious desire to get a particular result, and frequently the way we answer questions on a computer is very different to how we react in the real world. Thus, often we can be unconsciously trying to get the result of the person we aspire to be instead of the person that we are. Taking personality tests out of interest sounds fun and they certainly intrigue me, but unfortunately they’re not accurate. There are too many variables to know for certain if the results are correct. These tests are a great way to start discovering what you think of yourself as a person. Start by taking a couple of them, compare the results and see what you agree with and what you don’t. Be curious but analytical. You may not always like what you find. Discovering ourselves isn’t always easy and can be confronting, however there is no reason that you can’t use these tests to start the process of changing or accepting who you are.
Going the Distance Bonnee Crawford shares how she survived a long-distance relationship.
Almost two years ago I spent an hour crying on the lounge room floor, overwhelmed with the fear of being in a longdistance relationship. After nearly four years together, my partner and I were planning to move in with each other at the end of 2014. Those dreams changed when he applied for a 12-month internship interstate. As someone who loves the idea of travelling, gaining experience, and seizing opportunities, I told him to give it his best shot. But after I read his message, ‘Would you hate me if I moved to South Australia?’, I knew the year ahead wasn’t going to be easy and I feared what his prolonged absence might do to our relationship. Step by step, we have faced and worked through the change and I’ve come to see that I didn’t need to be afraid of our long-distance relationship.
First stage: acceptance
He might be going away. We wouldn’t be sharing a house, a bed, or a life on a fulltime basis as soon as we had hoped. Our relationship had been heading in the direction of a smoothly executed happily ever after, but his decision to apply for an internship interstate changed the path we wanted to take and those plans felt more like unattainable dreams. Realistically, they were just plans that had been postponed, but due to the unexpected ripyour-heart-out factor of the decision, it felt like my world had shattered and coming to terms with the thought he might be leaving was hard.
Second stage: waiting
We didn’t find out if his application had been accepted for six months. This was the hardest part, and it was definitely the longest. Not knowing if he’d be there for the next year or not made me feel physically ill. The longer we waited the worse I felt about not knowing because it meant less time to prepare myself if he did go. I had lived on the student residency on-campus until this point, but eventually I had to move off. When I moved in to his share house, and for a couple of months afterwards, we didn’t know if it would be a permanent arrangement.
Third stage: saying goodbye
When we finally got confirmation we were also told his start date had been pushed forward. We continued to live together for an extra six months with full knowledge that he would disappear for a year. On one hand I was happy that we were living together for a substantial amount of time. On the other hand I was aware that by the time he left, I would have become used to living together, and that would make it so much harder to live without him.
Fourth stage: telling
Dealing with how other people reacted to finding out our long-term relationship was about to become a longdistance relationship was a mix of good and bad. This stage technically started the moment he applied for the internship and is ongoing in his absence. For the most part my friends and family were overwhelmingly supportive and helped me stay positive. However, some people—usually those who didn’t know us very well— subtly hinted that a long-distance relationship couldn’t survive. I overheard one person tell someone that they thought I would cheat on my partner with another close male friend, which made me utterly furious. Another person saw my partner’s absence as a chance to ‘win’ me. It didn’t work. We don’t talk anymore. Rather than making me sad, the fact that people would express that they didn’t think our relationship could last becoming long-distance made me angry. Thankfully, the support I received from the people closest to me, paired with my own confidence that our long-term relationship was strong, outweighed the negativity from the lessimportant people in the background.
To be perfectly honest, living apart has been a whole lot easier than either of us, and even our most optimistic friends, could have anticipated.
Fifth stage: going the distance
The day he left, the kiss goodbye was insufficient. I was numb for a while after he left for the airport. Then it was getting used to sleeping alone, cooking for one person, and not being able to see him whenever I wanted. Dinner dates became Skype dates and ‘Netflix and chill’ turned into having a call so that I could hear him playing computer games with his friends while I wrote my uni essays. To be perfectly honest, living apart has been a whole lot easier than either of us, and even our most optimistic friends, could have anticipated. This could be partly because we have those wonderful people in our lives, and it could also be that we spent so long in the waiting and saying goodbye stages that when he finally moved we couldn’t have been more ready for it if we had tried.
Seventh stage: the return
I am so excited for when he comes home at the end of June. We can get used to living with each other again and sharing everything. Our sixth anniversary won’t be far off. Cooking for two is much easier than cooking for one. And I won’t need to be in a Skype call to listen to him playing computer games with his friends while I study.
Sixth stage: visiting
This is the fun part. I say ‘is’ instead of ‘was’ because while he is still interstate, there may still be another visit. South Australia isn’t that far for the occasional visit. We visited each other for our fifth anniversary and his birthday, Christmas, the uni break, and Easter. With a few more months to go before he is due back in Victoria, I might be able to visit him one more time, financial situations allowing. Most of our visits have been only a few days over a weekend, and they’ve been filled with adventures and the excitement of seeing each other without a computer screen. But this always loops back to stage four and five on a smaller scale; saying goodbye once more and returning to long-distance right when we’d had another taste of being together.
As we come towards the end of his year away I look back and laugh at myself because I spent so much time worrying about how going long-distance would impact our relationship. It isn’t over yet, but we’re coming towards the end so I can say this with confidence: being in a long-distance relationship is not as hard has people think. Our relationship was strong before this trial began, and our love for each other, and the support we had from those around us, has seen us through. If anything our relationship and we as individuals have become a thousand times stronger.
shatner Words by Melissa O’Connor Bruce Dessner hadn’t seen anything like it in his twenty years of teaching: Johnny’s text response essay was solely comprised of the repeated word Shatner, fragmented to match the number of characters each word would have had, had Johnny written the essay with any degree of competence.
His chance at happiness burned in the phosphorescence and bloomed in the fairy floss and toffee apples. He’d waited too long to have a birthday. He’d waited far too long to have a childhood, or to allow concerned, disturbed security guards to halt his ascent into infancy.
Shatner, it began. Shatnersh atnershatne rshatn Ershatnersh Atnersha tn ersh atners ha Tnershatne Rshatn.
Children roamed between rides and games with wide-eyed naivety, parents in tow. The forty-seven year old teacher darted through, weaving between security guards, around toddlers, heart pounding in his throat as he leapt-dived-plummeted-into the ball pit.
Replacing the papers on his desk, Dessner leaned back in his faded plastic chair. To an empty classroom, he murmured, ‘I hate my job.’ The empty classroom offered no reply.
One onlooking boy tugged his mother’s sleeve, pointed to the educator, and whispered, ‘Mum, who’s that?’
Bruce Dessner lived alone, with a pile of bills, an aging goldfish named Gregory, and the few vinyl records that his life partner hadn’t wanted upon divorce.
The mother, an avid collector of vinyl records, had no answer to volunteer. Sophie Dessner was speechless. Rendered dumbstruck.
Dessner may have risen from the plastic chair, but it felt like a descent. The leisurely stride through the beige hallways, with their waxed floors and the lingering aroma of Lynx, was a treachery, an act of infidelity.
The children already occupying the inflatable pool filled with plastic multi-coloured orbs shrieked and vacated, leaving Dessner to flounder, felled by his own design. Flapping, thrashing, the teacher barked out cynical laughter that quickly morphed into shouts of protest when three muscular security guards hauled him from the children’s play site.
The engine of his white 2004 Ford Focus shuddered, gasped, threatened to misfire. Groaning, the flaking hatchback departed the empty teacher’s car park. Darkness had settled on the highrise, the bright glow of city lights breaking the black expanse. Reflections glittered in dirty rainwater puddles gathered in potholes. Dessner began the drive home through the city, to the pile of bills, to the few vinyl records, to Gregory. Then it caught his eye. A beacon of dazzling strobe, a bubblegum and cobalt behemoth in the darkness, a hub of thriving activity that targeted tired Bruce Dessner: Anthony Carmichael’s Entertainment Complex, Specializing in Children’s Birthdays. A hive of games and enjoyment, a focal point of happiness for ages 5-12. A half-decrepit Ford Focus pulled into the Anthony Carmichael’s Entertainment Complex multi-level car park. Dessner pushed three two-dollar coins through a slot; placed his receipt neatly in the middle of the dashboard. Then Dessner ran. Legs pumping, keys rattling in the pocket of his trousers, teacher’s identification card swinging from his lanyard like the pendulum of a grandfather clock, he ran into the strawberry palace, loafers slipping on waxed sapphire floors.
Dessner refused to go without incident. Dessner, Mr. Bruce Dessner, year 11 English teacher at St. Theresa Secondary College, scratched, bit, and kicked at the three men who outmatched him in strength and size, so aggressively as to force the summons and arrival of two armed police officers. Bruce Dessner screamed, ‘You can’t arrest me, I know my rights.’ But arrest him they did, and he spent two nights in jail before his ex-wife, Sophie Dessner posted bail and drove him home. Although the two said little in that terse journey, a new mood formed between them or perhaps not ‘new’. Perhaps old, very old and forgotten. There was a twinkle in Sophie’s eyes when she glanced across at her former husband, a glimmer that conveyed the idea that, maybe, Dessner had changed. Maybe he was no longer that aging and pathetic goldfish circling forever in a dirtied bowl. Maybe now he had reverted to that man she had first known, a man with a heart like a … vinyl record. Beautiful, outdated, and brave. Brave to retain old habits in an advancing world.
Romance versus Romance KC Hardy explores the romance genre from a critical perspective.
It’s no secret that, in real life or in movies, I tend to baulk at the word ‘romance’. I find the modern romance genre to be tedious and dull: boy meets girl, falls in love, complications arise, they get together in the end. Unless it’s a queer relationship, in which case the story is a tragic battle against blatant homophobia until they finally find happiness, only to have a ‘shocking’ twist where their partner unexpectedly dies. Tiresome plots aside, I’ve never really found the characters in such movies particularly interesting, relatable or even the least bit likeable. Up until recently, I’d always assumed that’s just because I’m mostly aromantic, but that was before I’d ever really thought about what the word ‘romance’ actually means. When asking my good friend dictionary.com what the romance genre is, the top result was ‘a novel or other prose narrative depicting heroic or marvelous deeds, pageantry, romantic exploits, etc., usually in a historical or imaginary setting.’ The key terms in that description are ‘marvelous deeds’ and ‘pageantry’. I think the reason I’m so opposed to romantic movies is because I’m too fixated on, well, romance. The romance genre was originally closer to adventure stories. It doesn’t necessarily have to be princes, princesses, valiant knights and charming swashbucklers, although those things will definitely not hurt. I’m simply more interested in these romantic journeys, rather than the romantic relationships. This probably explains why one of my favourite modern romantic movies is P.S. I Love You, a movie where the love interest dies in the first ten minutes, and a large portion of the rest of the movie is simply breathtaking shots of the Irish countryside. Although I frequently joke that my heart is bitter and cold, the truth is it’s pretty easy to stir my emotions. Just show me something fantastic; show me magic, show me battles, show me great, swelling musical numbers. Show me Satines and Christians, Buttercups and Westleys and definitely show me Willows and Taras (minus the tragic queer death trope). Show
me something that I don’t see every day in the real world. Because the real world is boring, and by definition unromantic, going by the fourth listed definition of romance in dictionary. com: ‘a baseless, made-up story, usually full of exaggeration or fanciful invention’. Romance movies today are closer to a depiction of ‘real life’. They are centered on the ins and outs of relationship dynamics; they’re full of ridiculous dating rules and often portray unhealthy or even abusive relationships as the norm. As well as this, they imply that dating is the most important thing in our lives. Basically, I don’t like romantic movies for the same reason I don’t like comedies: while I believe these themes can make great additions to films of other genres, I don’t believe they should be a central focus. In saying that, one of my biggest pet hates is when a movie tries to shoe-horn in a poorly conceived romance. Filmmakers are trained to place romantic subplots into films that don’t need them, and audience members are trained to see romance where it doesn’t necessarily exist. This is the reason why, when I first watched The Hunger Games, I saw Katniss, Peeta and Gale as just another forced Hollywood love triangle and was turned off the series altogether. It wasn’t until I read further into the intricacies of that dynamic (Katniss is obviously aro. Why do you think she’s so passionate about archery?) and the commentaries that the novels were making that I started to really enjoy the films. Throwing romantic entanglements into movies just for the sake of it is like giving everyone iPhones in a film set in the 1800s. If it doesn’t belong there, don’t put it in. So there it is; I have sullied my flawless reputation and come out as a lover of the romance genre. But don’t give me Romance™, give me romance. Give me an adventure, and if love happens to be discovered on the way, then it’s all the more exciting. And if it doesn’t, I’m still in for a bloody good ride.
the paradoxes of being female Charlotte Milkins looks at the way female characters are represented in the Pride and Prejudice and Zombies movie. Imagine a world in which women were trained in martial arts and fought in gowns with thigh splits all in between searching for a profitable marriage. This is exactly the world brought to audiences in Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, a movie released in February this year. Critics slammed the movie and, despite the fact it didn’t make back its budget at the box office, I, myself, have a soft spot for the franchise and ended up enjoying the film version of the novel it sprung from. For those of you unaware, this film was based on a novel turned graphic-novel by the same name, written by Seth Grahame-Smith, who obviously, in turn, had taken liberties with the original best seller by Jane Austen. The original novel had less of the aforementioned zombies and far more tea and sitting room conversations. The reason I bring up this recent cinematic release is that I feel it represents several directions the film and book industries are taking. The novel by Grahame-Smith, for those who have not read it, contains far more almost ridiculous humour, clearly symbolising his attempt at paradox-ing the mild manners of regency England in contrast to the grizzly nature of apocalyptic conditions. Grahame-Smith’s novel still depicts Elizabeth ‘Lizzie’ Bennet as a badass zombie killer but it was clear that this novel, even from its proposal stages, was meant to be a clash of those fanboy clichés and the prim and proper world of women’s literature. Yet when the movie was declared and the trailer came to light, it was obvious the film was going to be very different. It seemed to ignore the disbelieving reaction to the zombie/ninja aspect of the story that many would have if they weren’t familiar with the franchise.
The depiction of women in this film is conflicting in itself but not in the way you’d expect. Lizzie and her sisters aren’t cowering from the brain-desiring creatures that they encounter. They fight with blades hidden in garters and boots and they even manage to match their killer instincts with a killer wardrobe. This image alone brings up the ever-changing role of women in society. These women are fighters and well-trained in the martial arts yet are expected to be prim and well-read, and to marry the most eligible bachelor. Mr. Darcy says he believes a woman should have fair knowledge of music, singing, drawing, dancing and be welltrained in the martial arts but even then they would be a woman ‘only half-deserving’ of the title of an ‘accomplished woman’. Elizabeth responds that a woman can either be highly refined in the arts or in war and that it would be ridiculous to expect them to have time achieve at both and survive. In an earlier scene Elizabeth’s parents are discussing the arrival of Mr. Bingley in front of the girls when Mr. Bennett askes his wife ‘what does this have to do with our warrior daughters?’ to which Mrs. Bennett proclaims that ‘you know I mean for him to marry one of them!’. Both of Elizabeth’s parents wish for their daughters to achieve in different ways and it’s clear to them that one cannot have both a prominent livelihood as a skilled fighter and be a good housewife at the same time. Yet again Elizabeth hits the mark when she proclaims that she will not be ‘herded like a parade of heifers at a farm auction’. She doesn’t want to be someone’s wife if it’s in sacrifice of her passions.
Despite being based a couple of centuries before the cinemas it was released in, I cannot help but find a ringing solidarity to these women and their journey. As a woman in the 21st century, contradictions are a way of life. Women are expected to be strong but emotional, glamorous but down-to-earth, romantic but realistic. It’s these contradictions that are enough to make any woman go crazy and take a sword out and start hacking at zombies, just saying. It’s this rise of women who have to deal with the adversity of womanhood that represents the sociological complications that women face. Think of the Buffys, the Xenas and even the Hermione Grangers of the world. Women need to be strong to survive what is thrown at them but this does not mean they should have to sacrifice who they are in order to be the ‘strong woman’. But does this mean that the original Elizabeth Bennett, the one composed in Austen’s beloved work, is weak because she doesn’t procure a sword when faced with trouble? No, not at all. The original Lizzie represents a different kind of strength. She represents the daughter of a man who isn’t exactly of means and, in the society she lives in, that means she almost has to fling herself at any man with money to his name to ensure not only her own but her families livelihood in the future. Yet Lizzie rejects this notion, remaining true to her own beliefs to find a husband who will be more than a piggy bank for her. It’s a strength that doesn’t require swords and guns, but a strength that, in the time that Jane Austen was writing the novel, was rarely seen. Once more, she is someone who will not sacrifice her passion and her livelihood to simply be considered a ‘proper’ woman.
Perhaps what I am trying to say is that I enjoy the turn that the industry has taken in creating parodies that subvert expectations and create characters like a zombie-fighting Elizabeth Bennett. This means that women do not need physical strength to be their only identifying trait in order to be strong. Instead a strong woman should be just as diverse as any other woman—with her own ideals, beliefs and passions that help her be strong—not diverse in spite of her strength. However, I wonder if the industry’s critics and general audience are ready for characters like women who wear gowns and fight for survival alongside the men. The image of a strong woman usually involves armour, skin-tight clothing and the illusion of a pin-upesque effect. It is almost a degrading idea that a woman cannot be strong unless she is wearing a costume, masquerading who she is in an effort to not be identified in everyday life. The skintight costume effect highlights an ideology that women cannot be strong unless they are fulfilling a certain purpose, whether it’s to fight crime in a theatrical manner or to serve as a sex symbol to comic book collecting men. Yet this is rarely the case, as in reality strong women can come in many shapes and forms, both in fiction and in our day-to-day lives. Lizzie Bennett doesn’t need a blade to be a strong woman but it certainly makes me want to learn how to fence in the near future. I say cheers to the Pride and Prejudice and Zombies movie and I, personally, hope for even more strong female characters like Lizzie who challenge the perceptions of women in society in the near future.
a tap on the glass Words by Patrick Amarant There are usually simple explanations for strange occurrences. Sometimes, however, things happen that we simply cannot explain. Most people will tell you that they don’t believe in things that go bump in the night. Still, they will have a story about something odd that happened to them once that can be coaxed out sometimes by a dark night or the company of the right friends or a few drinks. This is mine.
When I was eleven years old, my parents began their divorce, and my siblings and I moved with my mother to a small house on the edge of town. We were told that a previous tenant had left the property after her children had played with matches, starting a fire in one of the bedrooms. I never knew how much of the house the fire claimed or if anyone was hurt; although it may have justified the hollow, worn down feeling the house emanated and the thin walls that barely separated us from the garden outside. Still, when my mother set up my bedroom, she discovered black grime covering my window and several burned matches on the window sill.
One night, a few months after we moved in, I heard a noise that I hadn’t heard in my room before; the sound of a gentle knocking on my window. Tap, tap, tap. I tried to ignore the noise and go back to sleep, but the tapping behind the curtains was insistent. At first, I thought that it was the small tree outside my window blowing in the wind, against the glass, but I knew that its branches were too small and could never reach.
The knocking didn’t stop, neither did it change its pace. Tap, tap, tap. After what seemed like hours, I crawled out of bed and wandered down the hallway to my mother’s room.
‘Mum, I think there’s someone knocking on my window.’ My mother made a small, frustrated noise. ‘It’ll just be the tree blowing in the wind.’ ‘Can I sleep here?’ I asked.
‘No. Go back to bed.’ I stood there for a moment, hoping that she would say something more or change her mind and let me sleep on the empty side of the bed that had once belonged to my father. But she said nothing more and I turned and left the room.
The tapping on the window had continued unabated in my absence. Tap, tap, tap. Knowing that there was only one way I would be able to go back to sleep and seized by the brief, spontaneous sense of bravery that overcomes us when we are either going to do something that is either incredibly necessary or very stupid, I opened the curtains.
Beneath the branches of the small stunted tree blowing in the wind was a tall figure looking down at me, his fist raised to the glass. I only saw him for a moment, but I still remember his eyes staring back at me. I screamed and slammed the curtains shut. My mother spent some time circling the house with a torch, but whoever it was had fled, and my room was silent once more.
In the years that followed, we had many theories about who came to my window that night, but never any clear answers. I have lived in many houses since then, and I’ve had many bedroom windows. At night, when the sun goes down, I close the window firmly shut and pull the curtains tight. And I do not open them again until morning.
BOTH? NEITHER? ME. Nai Yan Yeap shares her experience as an Australianborn person from a Chinese-Malaysian family. When I walk around uni, people look at me and think I’m an international student. Why wouldn’t they? I look like an international student from China, with Chinese facial features and long black hair. Even if they saw my university profile, they would see a Chinese first name, last name, and probably a photo too, so it’d be easy to assume I was one. But as soon as I open my mouth, an Australian accent comes out. Not like a ‘true blue Aussie’ from the country (I don’t say ‘mate’ nearly enough), but enough that when I go overseas I can be recognised as an Australian within a few sentences. It’s probably the use of slang, that I often don’t even realise is slang, and the occasional selfdeprecating joke, but I’ll still be quietly side-stepped when it’s time to form groups in classes. And yet, the kids from China, without even hearing me speak, can probably tell I’m not ‘one of them’. I don’t speak their language—I stumble through my grade-school level Mandarin that I’ve been trying to learn for years—and something about me must scream ‘Different!’ because they keep their distance, rarely edging close enough to initiate conversation, or any kind of interaction. Neither international students nor local students are at fault—I just hover somewhere awkwardly in-between them and don’t quite know how to slide myself into either group, so I find my own place to stand in the middle. The thing that confuses me is whether I am in my own group, or if I really do stand with one foot in each of them, uncomfortably straddling a space of nothingness between. If I am my own category, as an Australian-born child of ChineseMalaysian migrants, then if my brother and his partner were to have a child, the baby would be a different category too, as they would be ‘half ’: half Chinese Australian, half European Australian. The categories of race, nationality and identity are endless. The world is becoming more multicultural and new identities and nationalities are established every day, so how can we keep confining ourselves to these categories that don’t quite reflect our sense of identity? I don’t know where all the categories begin, and I don’t know where they end, but I do know this: I am both, and I am neither; I am who I am, regardless of which box people try to shove me into.
excess CONTINUED FROM WORDLY PRELUDE EDITION’S ‘ENVY’ Words by Aiden Finlayson
CHAIR OF THE GODS, LATE 18TH CENTURY Rome, a wonder-world of modern design. Antiquity oozes from every tile, every statue, and every pore of smoothed marble. Luxury is abundant; every caste of society experiences the ecstasy of living. ‘This is your fault, Lucifer.’ ‘My fault? Oh, muffin. You’re too quick to pin blame on me.’ ‘No—this is quite literally all your fault.’ Lucifer’s almost clandestine expression twisted. The fallen angel stepped forward to be beside the shorter Norse god. One hand unfurled, resting over the mischievous god’s shoulder. ‘You may recall, I didn’t incite any of this. I simply gave you the idea.’ ‘Yeah—and that’s why this is literally all your fault,’ Loki spat back, shrugging Lucifer’s hand off his shoulder. ‘You’re so cute when you’re snooty and aggressive.’ The angel’s words echoed. ‘Are you seriously flirting with me right now? I’m trying to have a fight here.’ ‘Well, is it working?’ ‘Beside the point!’ Loki seethed back, then paused to consider. ‘No … no! Exactly the point! Come, come! Look at what I’m trying to tell you.’ Stretched out before the mighty Chair of the Gods lay Rome, built high, built powerful. It encircled the Chair (which in itself was something of a palace, built atop a high hill) and spanned out as far as one’s eyes could reach. The city was bathed in colourful lights, shaped by stained glass torches. Here and there, the cheers of large crowds boomed over the city. Festivals in honour of pleasure, of joy, of mirth—venerating the gods and
goddesses of all great sensations. ‘We’re still trapped in the Roman period. There’s been no industrial revolution, despite my efforts to seed the idea of progress into the minds of the greatest artisans of this generation. It’s stagnant; these people have become stagnant.’ Loki dared a glance at some drunken priests and priestesses below. ‘This is what you wanted, though. Is it not?’ Lucifer whispered, standing behind the Norse god. ‘This? THIS? I didn’t ask for any of this ruckus! Nothing is being accomplished!’ Loki barked back, hands rising to signify the many subjects in the city. ‘They’re too busy falling in love, rejoicing in comradery, or imbibing the finest of life’s spices.’ ‘That’s not what I meant. Recall for me, when we defied the others, did you not want change?’ ‘Well, yeah. I wanted to make things happen on my own terms,’ Loki murmured. ‘And you wanted to be more involved with the humans, yes?’ ‘Well … yeah. Because they’re too busy fighting each other to get anything done—’ ‘And you similarly called upon the other gods, goddesses, primordial entities and spirits to join you in arms, yes? Each of them having their hands tied to this world?’ Loki turned, glaring up at the passive angel, always commanding a sense of coolness in expression. Loki spoke, ‘We haven’t even had a war, not in centuries. Ares is too busy with Aphrodite—I haven’t had a chance to speak to him to start any sort of crusade. I’ve even tried to get people to revere the Gods of order, if only so we can get things done. I’m not facing Odin like this.’ ‘Alright, little muffin. I’ll tell you what—I’ll pull some ties and get the council together. If things are as dire as you suggest they are, then we’ll do something about it,’ Lucifer murmured, sliding back a single step.
‘Keep calling me “muffin” and I’ll have you hung from a tree. Don’t push me, boy,’ Loki retorted, pointing firmly at the other. Lucifer cackled and departed.
Loki’s brows furrowed, expression stern. ‘We need those radical ideas to fuel progression! How will we ever get them to reach the space-age?’
‘Alright. Good to have you all here, this evening.’ Loki searched the council table leisurely, with curious eyes. Most of the representative deities of the many pantheons now in power had shown up. Ares seemed far too interested in whispering to the close by Aphrodite, while Dionysus looked incredibly inebriated, giggly as ever. Apophis sat further down the table, gingerly giving Fenrir a good head scratch—Fenrir was still growling about ‘Ragnarök’ as usual. A few more colourfully dressed deities sat along the other end of the table: some Mesoamerican, some Celtic, along with others who seemed almost forgotten from time. ‘As you’re all aware, we’ve carved humanity into something pristine; a culture that reveres the pleasures of life. Food, alcohol … love, lust … art, architecture … companionship, celebration.
‘Do they need to leave Earth if they’re comfortable being here, as is?’ suggested Apophis.
‘And, yet, despite these things, society hasn’t progressed. We’ve trapped the humans in this age of decadence. They’re all happy, but nothing is being done. The farmers are doing a great job of supplying and the working class are rarely unhappy. But we’re still trapped in the Roman era. ‘I built this society up with your aid so we could surpass the other deities that represent order and goodwill. So far, we’re incredibly behind schedule. The humans don’t want to do anything—they’re too immersed in themselves to progress as a society.’ Most turned to address Loki with their attention, a few heads bobbing in agreeance. Others simply grimaced, heads swaying in disagreement.
Ares peered up, clutching Aphrodite’s wrist gently. ‘Can we not just … be? Be as we are? Revel in one another?’ The god’s head tipped, as if posturing to the glamorous Aphrodite sat beside him. ‘It sounds like you’re already giving in,’ suggested a voice in the council. Loki, with a gloomy expression, sank in posture. With hands tucked deep into pockets, the god pressed a hard sigh between grit teeth. Perhaps they were right. ‘I don’t understand why I, and a handful of others, are the only ones who are bored by this stagnancy. At least with the deities of order, there was chaos to be had. Intrigue to be employed. This world is just a constant cycle of … Well. Nothingness.’ Lucifer stepped in, manicured hands falling over Loki’s shoulder. ‘This is the price you must pay, Loki. We all stood up, defying our Fathers, our Lords. We rebelled for a cause we believed to be greater. And this is the paradise we gained.’ Loki flinched—paradise. ‘Is it truly a paradise?’ Lucifer shrugged, lips twisting in a vaguely sincere smile. ‘This is as close to one as we’ll likely ever come to.’ ‘We made humanity great again.’
‘You’d give up this age of decadence? Why do they need to progress if everyone’s happy? There’s been no war over religious beliefs, no conflicts over race. Each and every last one of the humans is pleased with themselves. By day, they work only as much as they need to, and by night they celebrate each other. Why is that so wrong to you, Loki?’
Fuck, it’s week ___ and I’ve got ___ assessments due tomorrow.
DRAW YOUR FAVOURITE PIZZA. DON’T LIKE PIZZA? MAKE IT A PANCAKE.
E B I T C X H O U W
K P G W R A L X Y Q
T D O F M I T K H H
X D H L O A C P I T
U O A N E Y I T V O
I G P O Q T O E T C
N Y E T H Q N I A O
I J O D F U H A V J
N I U G N E P X N Q
P S I Y K R H W L E
FIND THE 5 ANIMALS 1. _______________ 2. _______________ 3. _______________ 4. _______________ 5. _______________
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What is a genre? Is it just a category of music or can it help us define what we cannot express? Does genre capture or trap us? 'Genre' is W...
Published on May 12, 2016
What is a genre? Is it just a category of music or can it help us define what we cannot express? Does genre capture or trap us? 'Genre' is W...