McKenzie Wark had the good fortune to ensconce himself in media studies just when those who once would have busied themselves with Stendhal or John Tranter began to envy his terrain. And his various journalistic gigs, notably his column for The Australian Higher Education Supplement, give him the advantage over other academics of being able to cobble together a book every year or two. Or, as he puts it, ‘Celebrities, Culture and Cyberspace is a book that was written in its own peculiar way, as a series of experiments with fitting events and ideas together, conducted in public, through a wide variety of print and electronic media.’
The cover story of the first issue of TheAustralian’s new coloured magazine was of five people who had made a million dollars in their twenties. These young people’s achievements were presented for us to admire and to envy. Nowhere in the interviews with them was it suggested that people might be motivated by different values from the ones that drive these lives.
‘There are not many Australian academics whose conversation shows awareness of the main intellectual dilemmas of the age. (These are nobody’s specialty.)’ So wrote Donald Horne in The LuckyCountry, yet Horne, variously academic, editor, journalist, writer, administrator, and Chair of the Australia Council, in his writing himself might be seen as a happy exception to his rule. His latest book, The Public Culture: The triumph of industrialism, continues in the tradition he established previously not only of demonstrating an awareness of intellectual and political dilemmas, but of making these the chief focus of his scholarship.