Commentary

'Nature’s ancient history'

Julia Kindt
Wednesday, 25 September 2019

It is easy to overlook that nature itself has a history – or at least our thinking about it does. In the years since Henry Thoreau initiated the modern genre of return-to-nature literature in Walden (1854), his autobiographical account of a two-year stint in the woods, the view that the natural world is a sphere apart – a realm untouched by human interv ...

'An evergreen canopy: The alluring and resilient eucalypt'

Bianca Le
Wednesday, 25 September 2019

The Australian outback has long been a muse for artists and storytellers. Australian flora – including the iconic eucalypt in its many forms – has the ability to tell a story about cultural identity and our rich history with the land. This extends to our urban landscape, with native plants common throughout our bustling city streets and parks – they can transf ...

'The Night Parrot: It’s a whitefella thing'

Kim Mahood
Wednesday, 25 September 2019

If you google the words ‘Night Parrot’, they come up with a companion set of adjectives, the most common being ‘elusive’, followed by ‘mysterious’, ‘secretive’, ‘enigmatic’, ‘mythical’, and, until recently, ‘thought-to-be-extinct’. Apart from anecdotal claims, there were no confirmed sightings of the Night Parrot from 1912, when one was captured and shot, until a dead parrot was found by a roadside in 1990 and a live bird was photographed by naturalist John Young in Western Queensland in 2013. Controversy, compromised reputations, and accusations of faked evidence followed the re-emergence

 

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'Scar Tissue: Searching for Retribution Camp'

Billy Griffiths
Wednesday, 25 September 2019

At first I can’t make out the inscription, even though I’m searching for it. Smooth new bark has grown into the cuts, bulging around the incision, preserving the words on the trunk. I run my hand across the surface, tracing the grooves, feeling the letters: R-E-T-R-I-B-U-T-I-O-N. And below, in slightly larger hand, ‘CAMP’ ...

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La Trobe University Essay: 'On September 11' by Morag Fraser

Morag Fraser
Monday, 23 September 2019

Primo Levi, in two interviews given almost twenty years ago*, set a standard of critical sympathy that is not only exemplary, but peculiarly apt to the fraught debate about the post-September 11 world and the USA’s place and reputation within it.

'After the Academy' by Kerryn Goldsworthy

Kerryn Goldsworthy
Monday, 23 September 2019

At seven o’clock on the morning of 2 February 1999, I was due at the Memorial Hospital in North Adelaide to relieve my older sister at my mother’s bedside, where she had been all night. The alarm was set for six. At five-thirty, I was woken by the phone; my mother had died, as we had known for a couple of days that she would, from complications following a cerebral haemorrhage.

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'The tyranny of the literal' by James Ley

James Ley
Monday, 23 September 2019

For there is always going on within us a process of formulation and interpretation whose subject matter is our own selves.

These words appear towards the end of Erich Auerbach’s study of representation in Western literature, Mimesis. First published in 1946, the book has become a classic of twentieth-century literary criticism, but is almost as famous for the circumstances under which it was composed as for its content. It was written between 1942 and 1945 in Istanbul, where Auerbach, a German Jew, was living in exile.

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'Australian Dreaming'

Kim Scott
Tuesday, 10 September 2019

Stan Grant’s comment on the prolonged booing of the Australian Rules football star Adam Goodes – featured in Daniel Gordon’s new documentary, The Australian Dream (produced by Grant himself) – has attracted much interest, including more than one million hits on one website ...

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In retrospect, the Morrison government’s win in May 2019 is not surprising. After the shift to the right in a number of liberal democracies since the election of Donald Trump, why did we assume that Australia would be immune? The assumption that Labor was certain to win resembled the attitude of most commentators towards Hillary Clinton ...

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'Long Live the Bookshop'

Robbie Egan
Friday, 09 August 2019

In June 2019 I got a new perspective on an industry I’ve been part of for twenty-five years. I have attended many Australian Booksellers Association’s (ABA) conferences as a bookseller, but this year’s ninety-fifth annual conference in Melbourne was my first as CEO of the ABA. More than three hundred delegates came together to ...

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