Fascist Creeps

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March 2019

Second City

‘The Conundrum of the Instant’: on John Mateer

John Mateer, over a long career, has been a poet of distance and locale, working with a continental sense of poetics, traversing land and sea in an inquiry into the nature of an historically-framed instant.

Everything Is A Sham

What makes Moshfegh an uncommon writer is that beneath the scorn and the dark humour there lurks an authentic Swiftian disgust. Her work has a corporeal, rebarbative, scatological quality. She revels in the grubbiness of the human body, splashes the ordure around like a preschooler in a muddy puddle. Her characters smell bad. And this recurring note of fascinated distaste makes it hard to disentangle their misanthropy from their self-loathing.

Best in Show:
Australian Art Exhibitions: Opening our eyes

'The considerable achievement of this book has been to chart the various curatorial paths and strategies adopted by people working both inside and outside the official art establishment and the discussion of the fascinating intersections between these various paths.'

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The SRB is an initiative of The Writing and Society Research Centre at Western Sydney University

February 2019

Worlds at Home: on Sneja Gunew

'It is, then, at the interface of the post-multicultural and the neo-cosmopolitan that Gunew locates her project, aimed at opening up a different engagement with a world in which older models for imagining the relationship between the local, the national and the global have lost currency. In calling her project pedagogical she clearly indicates its ambition: to teach new ways of looking at cross-cultural and global relations. However, she also insists that she has no intention of telling readers what to think. Hers is a ‘stammering pedagogy’, a tentative process ‘suggesting differences without providing comprehensive answers’. Her method involves forms of denaturalisation or estrangement as means to ‘enable receptivity to other ways of “being at home in the world”’.'

Fourteen of the Best:
Les Murray’s Collected Poems

'How then to deal with this vast collection of poems? Synecdoche may be the best approach. I’ve long asserted both privately and in print, and not always light-heartedly, that it is only by the poet’s best fourteen poems that he or she is remembered. Of course, the number is arbitrary; it could be thirteen,  fifteen or twenty but certainly not forty. A few poets have had to be posthumously content with one or two. Over time, however, due mainly to the work of successive anthologists and a few scholars, the poems that may once have filled six collections, or thirty, are filtered back to the fourteen or so that will reappear in anthologies every few years for the next century or two. This is not just laziness among compilers. There are good reasons why these fourteen should be re-run. Which then are Murray’s fourteen? I'

Ultima Thule: BlakWork by Alison Whittaker

Whittaker uses English as both an object of ridicule and a tool of empowerment. In subverting the conventional rules of usage, she makes it her own. In her hand, English does and says and tells a different story. Audre Lorde said that the master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house. And they won’t. But Blak writers like Whittaker use these tools to carve out their own spaces to build other story – to re-story Country with the old stories, and to create new ones.

December 2018

The Death of Truth by Michiko Kakutani

Godwin is Dead

'"It is not just that the left and right consider each other repellent," observes Jeff Sparrow in Trigger Warnings: Political Correctness and the Rise of the Right. "It’s also that they find each other almost incomprehensible." Trigger Warnings and The Death of Truth are notable contributions to what has become a deluge of books and articles trying to explain how we arrived at this point. They offer different diagnoses, but share some basic assumptions. Both propose that the peculiarity of contemporary discourse is, to a significant extent, a product of the culture wars.'

How to be an Academic by Inger Mewburn review

Life Choices:
Vocation in a Casualised Work World

'In this era where most analyses of the university and academic labour thrum with words like ‘neoliberal’, ‘corporate’, ‘precariat’ and ‘para-academic’, we might be forgiven for greeting the term ‘vocation’ with a snort or a curl of the lip. Is it really possible – or more to the point, is it really desirable or fair? – for young academics today to consider their work a vocation, calling or mission? Surely, the marketised, casualised university has turned the idea of vocation into a sick joke, the kind of self-punishing ideal that Lauren Berlant describes as ‘cruel optimism’: ‘when something you desire is actually an obstacle to your flourishing’. Or has it? Can the people that academic and blogger Inger Mewburn calls the ‘New Academics’ – those who, like her, have never known a university that was anything but precarious, who are both the product of the contemporary university and its future workforce — can they have a vocation?'