Floating Life 4/06 ~ 11/07

an archive

Archive for July 2006

The Ballad of Desmond Kale and so on…

I mentioned a while ago that I bought a remaindered copy just before Roger McDonald’s novel won the Miles Franklin Prize. Now I am reading it, and I have to say I really don’t like it all that much. I think it magic realisms itself to death, though there are many clever moments and some sharp characterisation, but being so clever for so long makes me feel just a bit too sated in the end. I much preferred Carrie Tiffany’s Everyday Rules for Scientific Living which was shortlisted for the same prize. They say The Ballad of Desmond Kale is sprawling; well it is that. Too clever for its own good, in my opinion, with more about sheep than I will ever want to know, or ever did. However, it does give a good whiff of colonial life, but too often I found myself forcing myself to read.
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Written by Neil

July 31, 2006 at 5:54 pm

Mel, Mel, Mel! And Pell too, while we are at it…

Right wing religion and politics often lead to very unpleasant places. There were many with strong reservations about The Passion of the Christ, and now it appears that its creator’s true colors are on public display. His father, Hutton Gibson, a one-time quiz show champion and notorious right-wing nutter (“the Second Vatican Council was illegitimate due to the heresies it produced, and … was the result of a secret anti-Catholic plot orchestrated by both Masons and Jews”) seems to have poisoned the son. A sad story of religion gone wrong. And of alcoholism too, it appears, though that I can regard with compassion.

From Mel to Pell, pell-mell one might say… Pell is possibly to the left of Mel, just, but nonetheless his anally retentive oversight of the Redfern branch of his Sydney archdiocese has not been without consequences. Those of us who live in the area have been well aware of the depth of sadness this has created in the parish of St Vincents. Of course it is always hard to follow someone like Ted Kennedy, whom many regard as a candidate for sainthood but whom Pell regarded as having been a meddlesome, perhaps even heretical, priest.

Now read details of the latest in Redfern…

Written by Neil

July 31, 2006 at 9:03 am

From The Poet: How We Miss Yitzhak Rabin

The Poet has drawn my attention to this editorial on BuzzFlash.

When Yitzhak Rabin was assassinated in 1995, we felt a profound loss and a sense of horrible foreboding.

He was killed by a right wing Israeli — not an Arab, not a Palestinian, not an Iranian, not a Syrian. He was killed by a fanatical, radical Israeli who saw the democratically elected Prime Minister of Israel as a proponent of the Oslo accords and as an enemy of the settler movement.

We support Israel’s full right to be a nation-state and live without suicide attacks and rockets launched by Hezbollah. The editor of BuzzFlash, who is Jewish, has relatives and friends in Israel. We wish them, as would anyone, long and safe lives for them and their children. Many of them are quite dear to us.
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Written by Neil

July 31, 2006 at 8:39 am

Lunch at Johnnie’s Fish Cafe

Not with Lord Malcolm and Sirdan today, but with Delenio, who told me about a recent typo I am about to correct… Very pleasant day. Talked of many things, including Master Fu, and wondered about The Rabbit. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Neil

July 30, 2006 at 4:49 pm

At last: a sane voice on Palestine!

I am sure there are many. It’s just that with the Fool in Washington, the Broken Man in London, the Toadie in Canberra, the Rampant Bigot in Teheran, the murderous elements in Hezbollah, the Butcher in the Knesset, and the whole pack of really bad uninspired leaders across the board, enemies of humanity all of them I sometimes think, it is little wonder that we despair at times.

So where did I find this sane voice? Sorry, atheists, but it was on the ABC religious program Encounter this morning, and they have very wisely raced ahead and put up a transcript within minutes of going to air. They usually wait up to a week. “Sociologist, politician and Christian Palestinian, Dr Bernard Sabella, is a passionate advocate of peace between Israelis and Palestinians and argues that finding ‘a joint vision of the future’ is an urgent priority for Palestinians and Israelis. This program presents Dr Sabella’s address to a Canberra audience during his Australian visit this month.”
An extract from Dr Sabella’s speech follows….

Written by Neil

July 30, 2006 at 8:56 am

On double standards

P. Akerman, whose effusions I don’t even bother to read any more, and T. Blair are both strong on the evils of “dual nationality” when the two “loyalties” are Lebanese and Australian, but precisely the same phenomenon is not just OK but positively noble when the two “loyalties” are Israeli and Australian. Could a clearer case of hypocrisy ever be made? Either dual nationality is a bad thing across the board, or it is acceptable across the board. Benjamin Solah noted this in a comment here yesterday, and he has a point.

Where Benjamin and I would disagree (probably) is that I do not so easily equate the State of Israel with that abstraction “imperialism” and I do not see armed Hezbollah firing rockets into Israel as heroes either. Go down that track and you are ineluctably drawn into the madness that says one side’s bombs are good and the other side’s bombs are evil. The doctrine of “armed struggle” also means the deaths of innocent civilians. Those killed in the Twin Towers for example are just as dead and just as innocent as the poor sods under the bombs in Lebanon. Those responsible are the maddies of whatever political or religious persuasion who accept that this is somehow a reasonable thing to do. It isn’t.

The Fury of Aerial Bombardment

Richard Eberhart (1904–2005)

You would think the fury of aerial bombardment
Would rouse God to relent; the infinite spaces
Are still silent. He looks on shock-pried faces.
History, even, does not know what is meant.

You would feel that after so many centuries
God would give man to repent; yet he can kill
As Cain could, but with multitudinous will,
No farther advanced than in his ancient furies

Was man made stupid to see his own stupidity?
Is God by definition indifferent, beyond us all?
Is the eternal truth man’s fighting soul
Wherein the Beast ravens in its own avidity?

Of Van Wettering I speak, and Averill,
Names on a list, whose faces I do not recall
But they are gone to early death, who late in school
Distinguished the belt feed lever from the belt holding pawl.

Please explain. I am just a Martian trying to fathom the folkways of Earthlings. Here is my life-time in pictures:

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
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Written by Neil

July 28, 2006 at 8:37 am

Last time I mentioned Tim Blair…

…my traffic went through the roof! He is, despite appearances, a sensitive soul who seems to read avidly what people say about him, and where he reads his fans follow. Or so I found back in March.

Let me therefore commend this week’s column to you: New word order. It is a very useful guide to Tim’s perennnial Aunt Sallies and hobbyhorses, with an irony that is delightfully two-edged. For example:
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Written by Neil

July 27, 2006 at 9:05 am