Commentary

In the teaching of copyright, it is usually said that copyright is an economic right. In Arnhem Land, they think otherwise. In 1990, I attended a meeting of Aboriginal artists in Maningrida. These artists had been involved in a copyright infringement case concerning the unauthorised reproduction of works of art on T-shirts. The case had settled, and the purpose of the meeting was to discuss the division of the spoils. The case involved a number of artists and different infringements by the same infringer.

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Writing Down the Voice

Gillian Bouras
Wednesday, 10 June 2020

My great-grandfather Robert had a beard, a pointed one, presumably grey. He stands in a sepia-coloured photograph, gazing steadily at the camera, leaning on a walking stick and wearing a grainy-looking overcoat. But these are only dimly recollected details: I have not looked at the relevant album for years. Much more vivid is the voice I never heard. It was transmitted by my mother, who is now also dead. Throughout my childhood my imagination was peopled by various characters, as she recalled their exact words, entertaining my sister and me as she herself had been entertained: by using remembered voices she recreated her past and created one for us.

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Hostages to Fortune: Parents and Children

Lisa Gorton
Friday, 05 June 2020

At first, you find the claim that you resemble your parents implausible. Later, you find it unflattering. But there are moments when you glimpse someone in a mirror and only belatedly recognise yourself. These are the moments when you realise – it is in equal parts chastening and reassuring – that if you are moving through time as an image of your parents’ past, their image is waiting for you in mirrors: they are the ghosts that haunt your future, as it were.

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Against Religion

Tamas Pataki
Friday, 05 June 2020

Shortly before the federal elections of October 2004, Treasurer Peter Costello delivered an address entitled ‘The Moral Decay of Australia’ to 16,000 members of the Assemblies of God at the Sydney Hillsong Church. For his main theme, Costello invoked ‘the Judeo-Christian-Western tradition’, the core of which, according to him, was the Ten Commandments. He lamented that few people could recite the Commandments today, despite the fact that ‘they are the foundation of our law and our society’. He listed the legacy of that tradition as the rule of law, respect for life, respect for others and private property rights. ‘Tolerance under the law,’ he added, is also, ‘a great part of this tradition.’

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Mateship, Friendship and National Identity

Ronald A. Sharp
Friday, 05 June 2020

A year ago, I came to Australia prepared to spend the first half of my sabbatical leave completing a book on John Keats. Never having been to Australia, I was eager to spend some time here: five months in all. When I participated in the 2008 Mildura Writers Festival, it became clear to me that something both delightful and extraordinary was at work. There was a fine group of writers, including Les Murray, David Malouf, Alice Pung, Alex Miller, Sarah Day, and Anthony Lawrence. But what made the festival remarkable was the combination of conviviality and serious talk about literature and ideas that surpassed anything in my previous experience, which included far more such events than I could begin to count.

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The Obscure(d) World of Australian Popular Fiction

Ken Gelder
Wednesday, 03 June 2020

Last December, the Melbourne Age asked some prominent literary folk to name the best novel of the twentieth century. Readers would have found few surprises in the choices. Most of the punter – some novelist and a few literary critics – went for Proust’s Remembrance and Joyce’s Ulysses. Little argument there. But Ian Rankin, a Scottish crime fiction writer, chose something altogether different: Mario Puzo’s The Godfather (which, incidentally, is also Jackie Collins’ favourite novel of all time).

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In 1919 a major outbreak of pneumonic influenza threatened the livelihoods of actors and musicians throughout Australia, and forced a tense confrontation between artists and government officials in Melbourne.

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Epiphany: The education of an operamane

Ian Dickson
Wednesday, 27 May 2020

It is a truth, maybe not universally acknowledged but a truth nonetheless, that epiphanies tend to happen earlier rather than later in one’s life. Soul-shattering, life-changing experiences occur more regularly when the soul is tender enough to be shattered and the life malleable enough to be changed.

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A number of recent political events in Australia will have enduring and wide-ranging impacts on freedom of expression in this country. They include the denial of access to archival papers concerning the Whitlam dismissal, which Professor Jenny Hocking detailed in the April 2020 issue of ABR.

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I was operating when it arrived. Between patients I read the email hastily. It concerned an article from surgeons at Stanford University. Along with colleagues in the United States, Italy, China, and Iran, they were reporting an increased risk of death from Covid-19 among otolaryngologists, neurosurgeons – and ophthalmologists, like me. Surgery around the nasal passages or other mucous membranes of the face seemed to release a potentially lethal aerosolised load of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. Among the casualties were surgeons in their thirties.

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