Radical Intellectuals…

July 28, 2012 by

Having a desktop clear off…

Radical Intellectuals: an Unacknowledged Legislature?
Andrew Milner

Charles Darwin, January 1836
“The whole population, poor and rich, are bent on acquiring wealth: amongst the higher orders, wool and sheep-grazing form the constant subject of conversation… with such habits, and without intellectual pursuits, it can hardly fail to deteriorate.”

It’s worth noting , however, that for all his condescension towards the Australian colonists, these are not the senses in which Darwin himself used the term ‘intellectual’. For him ‘intellectual’ meant more or less the same as ‘intelligent. This had been the word’s dominant meaning from the fourteenth century until the early nineteenth. It was only in Darwin’s own time that the word was first used to refer to a special kind of person, someone who ‘thinks’. The problem with this usage should be obvious: we all think, and all our productive activities require the exercise of intelligence. Indeed, it is our capacity to think, amongst other things, that makes us human. To suggest that only intellectuals ‘think’ is to deny our common humanity.

It also needs to be stressed that for most of Australia’s history its intellectuals have normally been conservative rather than radical in their politics. In the years before the First World War, the various Protestant clergies clearly played an overwhelmingly conservative social role. The Catholic church’s Irish connection certainly led it it dissent from the British imperial politics of the main Protestant churches, and to move into an uneasy alliance with the newly formed Labor parties But support for Irish republicanism and opposition to conscription during the First World War led neither Archbishop Mannix of Melbourne nor his clergy towards any wider radical sympathies.
Page 261

Quintus Servinton 1830, Henry Savery “the first Australian novel”

First privately owned newspaper, the Australian, founded in 1824


Chris Franklin, where have you been all my life?

January 28, 2012 by


and “Jack Off Australia”

Final Xmas kitsch

January 7, 2012 by

The stories we need to tell ourselves (and others) about ourselves…

Yet more Australian kitsch…

January 6, 2012 by

Night Before Christmas in Aussie land

‘Twas the night before Christmas; there wasn’t a sound.
Not a possum was stirring; no-one was around.
We’d left on the table some tucker and beer,
Hoping that Santa Claus soon would be here;

We children were snuggled up safe in our beds,
While dreams of pavlova danced ’round in our heads;
And Mum in her nightie, and Dad in his shorts,
Had just settled down to watch TV sports.

When outside the house a mad ruckus arose;
Loud squeaking and banging woke us from our doze.
We ran to the screen door, peeked cautiously out,
snuck onto the deck, then let out a shout.

Guess what had woken us up from our snooze,
But a rusty old Ute pulled by eight mighty ‘roos.
The cheerful man driving was giggling with glee,
And we both knew at once who this plump bloke must be.

Now, I’m telling the truth it’s all dinki-di,
Those eight kangaroos fairly soared through the sky.
Santa leaned out the window to pull at the reins,
And encouraged the ‘roos, by calling their names.

‘Now, Kylie! Now, Kirsty! Now, Shazza and Shane!
On Kipper! On, Skipper! On, Bazza and Wayne!
Park up on that water tank. Grab a quick drink,
I’ll scoot down the gum tree. Be back in a wink!’

So up to the tank those eight kangaroos flew,
With the Ute full of toys, and Santa Claus too.
He slid down the gum tree and jumped to the ground,
Then in through the window he sprang with a bound.

He had bright sunburned cheeks and a milky white beard.
A jolly old joker was how he appeared.
He wore red stubby shorts and old thongs on his feet,
And a hat of deep crimson as shade from the heat.

His eyes – bright as opals – Oh! How they twinkled!
And, like a goanna, his skin was quite wrinkled!
His shirt was stretched over a round bulging belly
Which shook when he moved, like a plate full of jelly.

A fat stack of prezzies he flung from his back,
And he looked like a swaggie unfastening his pack.
He spoke not a word, but bent down on one knee,
To position our goodies beneath the yule tree.

Surfboard and footy-ball shapes for us two.
And for Dad, tongs to use on the new barbeque.
A mysterious package he left for our Mum,
Then he turned and he winked and he held up his thumb;

He strolled out on deck and his ‘roos came on cue;
Flung his sack in the back and prepared to shoot through.
He bellowed out loud as they swooped past the gates-

MERRY CHRISTMASto all, and goodonya,MATES!’

Australian kitsch

January 5, 2012 by

Goodbye Granddad

Poor old Granddad’s passed away, cut off in his prime,
He never had a day off crook – gone before his time,
We found him in the dunny, collapsed there on the seat,
A startled look upon his face, his trousers around his feet,
The doctor said his heart was good – fit as any trout,
The Constable he had his say, ‘foul play’ was not ruled out.

There were theories at the inquest of snakebite without trace,
Of redbacks quietly creeping and death from outer space,
No-one had a clue at all – the judge was in some doubt,
When Dad was called to have his say as to how it came about,
‘I reckon I can clear it up,’ said Dad with trembling breath,
‘You see it’s quite a story – but it could explain his death.’

‘This here exploration mob had been looking at our soil,
And they reckoned that our farm was just the place to look for oil.
So they came and put a bore down and said they’d make some trials,
They drilled a hole as deep as hell, they said about three miles!
Well, they never found a trace of oil and off they went, post haste.
But I couldn’t see a hole like that go to flamin’ waste,

So I moved the dunny over it – a real smart move I thought –
I’d never have to dig again – I’d never be ‘caught short’.
The day I moved the dunny, it looked a proper sight,
But I didn’t dream poor Granddad would pass away that night,
Now I reckon what has happened – poor Granddad didn’t know,
The dunny was re-located when that night he had to go.

And you’ll probably be wondering how poor Granddad did his dash–
Well, he always used to hold his breath, Until he heard the splash!!

Empty land? Empty hopes

September 25, 2011 by

The country itself had no travel-established identity for white people, and its quality as a blank slate was internalised by the immigrants as a basis for their own reconstructions. Those anxieties were also projected on to the land, as Paul Carter has argued in his profound book The Road to Botany Bay. Carter shows how places were named for whites and their ideologies, from Melbourne and Sydney after peers of the governmental realm to places like Mt Disappointment and Mt Misery where the explores’ noble hopes were dashed. More than that, naming and interpreting the land were forms of fictionalising, rewriting the alien land mass into a familiar fable of Europeanicity.

Page 154 of Stephen Knight “The Selling of the Australian Mind”

Australian Citizenship Test – hilarious

August 28, 2011 by

This is roll around on floor laughing your ass off material, this is…


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The Bogan Delusion

August 23, 2011 by

Bookmark to self – this book, “The Bogan Delusion” looks like it is worth a read…



Film Review: Crocodile Dundee

August 20, 2011 by

Watched this for the first time since, well, 1987 or so. What a set of myths it taps into/sprays around!

The Rugged Outback hero, a bit of a conman, but with a core of competence too.  (Most Australians live in towns or cities).

Tarzan, pure of a state of nature, going to the big city where the confusions of race and gender and class don’t baffle him for long. (After the ‘now that’s a knife’ scene, Linda Kowslowski’s character actually references Tarzan)

The Fugitive healer, who teaches a woman What’s Important (and saves her from life with an effete journalist).

That this was such a huge hit says/said something about a) the jokes (which were relatively funny) b) Australians’ need/wish to see themselves as Dundees and c) The wider world’s desire for these kinds of myths, I guess.

Best stuff I ever read on this was by Meaghan Morris, in her wonderful collection “The Pirate’s Fiancee

Fear of a non-white planet

August 18, 2011 by

The Indian political psychologist Ashis Nandy has suggested that Australia’s tendency to see itself as a colonial power, when in actual fact it is a colonised society, means that there has been an ongoing struggle for our supposedly rightful status as ‘a European colonial power with a civilizing mission.’ This struggle has fostered a fear that ‘even faint streaks of yellow, black, or brown detract from Australia’s nationhood’, which in turn has promoted the active denial of cultural space to others.  This anxiety is now a feature of Australian political culture, playing out in electoral battles and other ideological contests concerning, for example, our acceptance or rejection of asylum seekers.

Page 32 of Sarah Maddison’s “Beyond White Guilt”