I just subscribed to The Monthly online…

07 Nov

…and so should you!

Here’s why.

“For years, everyone had believed that John Howard had promised to leave the prime ministership when asked to do so by his party. In September, the most authoritative voice of the party – a majority of the Liberals in his Cabinet – had asked him to retire. Howard stubbornly refused. Not only had he broken a promise made on a hundred occasions. It was suddenly clear that the promise had been formulated in so cunning a manner that its second half effectively negated its first. This was what one of those who spoke to the recent biographers of the prime minister meant by Howard’s ‘lawyer’s tongue’.”

In the Monthly Comment, Robert Manne presents a balance sheet for the Howard years and provides his final pre-election word on why Australia needs a change of government – on why an ex-mandarin must become the nation’s top banana.

“My mother was very fond of an old German joke: ‘Go with God, but go!’ That is how I feel about John Howard. I hope that by the time the next issue of this magazine is published, a new era in Australian history, under the prime ministership of Kevin Rudd, will have begun. Only when that era opens will the meaning of the Howard years … gradually become clear.”

“I didn’t think you could call someone a bogan. Even a bogan, I thought, doesn’t want to be called a bogan. It is a term so derogatory it is double-edged, condemning its user as a snob with something to prove at the same time as slagging off its target. Then again, in a society squeamish about identifying class differences – up or down – maybe everyone has their own private bogan, someone slightly to the west of them.”

And in “All Bogans Here”, Anna Funder visits a session at the National Young Writers’ Festival in Newcastle that opens her eyes to the bogan-pride movement. Audacious, loud and without pretension, the panellists help Funder to discover that boganism is a new way of understanding art and life. Boganism, with its irreverent humour and defiant honesty, might just be an antidote to bland populist culture.

“Perhaps to be a bogan is to expect so little and have so little expected of you that you define yourself by your lack of pretension. This is not a bad place to make art from: social pretensions are not useful if you are trying to see things for what they are.”

“The historian does not merely record; he edits, he omits, he judges, he interprets, he reorganises, he composes. His mission is nothing less than ‘to render the highest kind of justice to the visible universe, by bringing to light the truth manifold and one, underlying its every aspect’. Yet this quote is not from a historian discussing history writing; it is from a novelist on the art of fiction: it is the famous beginning of Joseph Conrad’s preface to The Nigger of the Narcissus, a true manifesto of the novelist’s mission.”

And in “Lies That Tell the Truth”, Simon Leys explores with customary wit the intellectual link between veracity and fiction. Myth, parable and creative writing: all are tools employed by thinkers to uncover a higher truth. Through a sparkling series of examples, Leys investigates how creative thinking and writing can lead to the most important of scientific, historical and moral conclusions.

“The fact is, these two arts – history writing and fiction writing – originating both in poetry, involve similar activities and mobilise the same faculties: memory and imagination; and this is why it could rightly be said that the novelist is the historian of the present and the historian the novelist of the past. Both must invent the truth.”

For just $40 for twelve months. No, this is not an ad. I genuinely believe The Monthly is making an extraordinary contribution to the quality of thinking here in Australia. Something to balance the mainstream media and more balanced than the increasingly risible Quadrant (poetry aside) was definitely needed.

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5 responses to “I just subscribed to The Monthly online…

  1. Kevin

    November 7, 2007 at 1:17 pm

    “For years, everyone had believed that John Howard had promised to leave the prime ministership when asked to do so by his party. ”

    Not those of us in the know, my friend! November, 2007 will be such a sad month. We will likely wave goodbye to John Howard, the greatest statesman since Margaret Thatcher, Ronald Reagan, and Winston Churchill. *sniff*

    Put your worries aside for a moment, because they are horribly subjective. Are you better off today than you were 12 years ago? Do you have more ‘stuff’? Is your life easier?

    The sad fact is that the answer to ALL of those questions is an undeniable ‘yes’, but many of you (and I suspect Ninglun as well) said ‘no.

    Eh, I’ll see you in a few months. I can’t be around people who are willing to pay $40 for 12 months of negativity. Not to mention that you can get free negativity from the dailykos! They hate mankind at LEAST as much as The Monthly, and they’re free.

  2. ninglun

    November 7, 2007 at 1:54 pm

    We will wave goodbye — perhaps — to a Prime Minister with no resemblance at all to Winston Churchill except in the most fevered imagination, though some to M Thatcher, and he was never as funny as R Reagan.

    Hating mankind? The Monthly? The Kos? You are joking… The $40 per year is cheaper than buying it at the newsagent, which I had been doing.

    And don’t forget it was his own party that were plotting his downfall back during APEC…

    Am I better off than I was 12 years ago? No. Nothing “subjective” about that.

    One interesting thought is that if the USA had the same electoral system as we do, this year’s Congress results would have meant you would now have a new Democrat President. On the other hand, if our PMs had an eight-year limit like your Presidents, we would have been rid of Howard three years ago…

  3. Adrian

    November 7, 2007 at 6:40 pm

    I wish I could be as certain as you both that Howard is on his way out…

  4. ninglun

    November 7, 2007 at 7:38 pm

    I wouldn’t say I was certain, Adrian. I did say “perhaps”. Kevin, of course, as a Right-Wing American, is in mourning…

  5. Adrian

    November 8, 2007 at 10:09 am

    Ah, so you did, Neil. My apologies. I glossed over the “perhaps” in a fit of election angst. (That adverb seems to be getting a fair bit of air-time in your blog comments, doesn’t it?)

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