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Return of the Knave
Drink It Black
Sunday, 9 November 2003
Consecrated whine
And you thought I'd run out of titles. No chance. I've got a million of them (okay at the rate I post I might still run out)

Anyone looking at the Australian music scene could get the impression that either we're a devout society or we obsess over our religious colonial beginnings. Consider the names of some of our preeminent bands: The Church, The Saints, The Angels, The Choirboys, The Godmen, God, Man Bites God (okay, well that might be stretching it!)

I like to think it has something to do with our cheeky irreverence. Certainly none of these bands have a song catalogue that will turn up any time in a Christian Youth Camp to replace "Morning Has Broken" or "Rock My Soul In The Bosom of Abraham"

Our census statistics still suggest that most of us are nominally Anglican though it's long been held as an article of faith (heh) that there are many bodies buried in the Anglican section of the cemetery for no other reason than that they didn't have a declared belief.

Posted by berko_wills at 12:07 PM EADT
Updated: Sunday, 9 November 2003 12:19 PM EADT
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Thursday, 6 November 2003
Old soak
[Originally posted on The Grassy Knoll]

As for the ramifications of the Patriot Act; I still think that the US cannot see the forest for the trees. McCarthy was out persecuting people and trying to shut them up or shut them down because they were (allegedly) in cahoots with an organisation whose greatest sin was the way they smashed dissent and denied individual freedom. Had the American people at an essential level understood the grim irony of this position it might have given them pause.

But most of the fervent patriotism I see coming from there is still of the moronic yeee-hhaaaa flag-waving kind with no real thought whatsoever. 'My country right or wrong' must be one of the most insidious notions ever concocted because if an adminstration takes the helm that does NOT have the average joe's interests at heart, they'll still go on merrily shafting themselves and handing ove their rights for some mythical 'greater good'. This is no better, in any sense, than the same brainwashing in mainland China, in the former Soviet Union, or in any other nation where 'the State' takes on an autocratic life of its own and rules the people instead of serving them.

Our Anzac Club - a group for retired servicemen and women - has the motto They Only Deserve Freedom Who Are Prepared To Defend It. I'd want clarification because that sounds stupid from where I'm sitting. I would want to know how long I have to surrender my freedom (until the threat is passed?) before I have a right to regain it and thereby give it meaning. If I never have freedom, and there is nothing in the system I serve that will look like giving me freedom then I am defending a lie; a pretend freedom. And what value does my future freedom have if I have lost my independant will or been permanently scarred by the experience of first defending it?

If I have to defend my freedom but some shirker indirectly benefits from it then am I to be given cold comfort by sneering at them that THEY don't deserve it?

So if the old diggers are going to have such a contentious statement on their wall then they need to hire a patient and skilled mason or scribe to etch all the subclauses and codicils that should emanate. And that would just look messy. Better to get a decent slogan to begin with.

Besides it is a weak statement because if we apprehend what freedom really entails then we have an automatic right to it. The fact that there may be hostile forces ready and willing to take that away from us (including those on our 'own side') does not take away from our right to it. An analogy would be insisting that in order for a business to run, it should have all the necessary security features, alarms etc whereas no the merchant has the RIGHT to have his gold trinkets on a trestle in a crowded marketplace. His right here is not, and should not, be impinged by the inevitability of some scum stealing it. Of course he would be foolish to leave it so unguarded but that is an entirely different proposition to saying that he has no right to be a merchant in the first place.

The thing about the Patriot Act is that it doesn't guarantee its citizens freedom; it does the opposite. So it should be opposed for being against the American Constitution, its founding fathers and all it purports to stand for. This rather spins past some vague thing called an 'opinion' and has ultimately fuck all to do with partisan politics.

We had an Australia Card proposal by a social democrat government, which would have seen every individual's details stored at one central chip. It was so vehemently opposed that the plan was abandoned, as it should have been. American needs to treat the Patriot Act the same way.


Posted by berko_wills at 1:50 PM EADT
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Sunday, 2 November 2003
Trinken Sie Es Schwarz
Trinken Sie es kurze Liste des Schwarzen A der notwendigen Ubel: Formen und Markterhebungbesteuerung die politische Systembevolkerungsdichte, die Verunreinigungsausgabe auf dem militarischen shonky Schnellimbi?gaumen der Diplomaten verursacht

Posted by berko_wills at 11:54 PM EADT
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Saturday, 1 November 2003
The formula
It hasn't been deliberate yet already this blog has developed features that a critic could glom onto:

(1)the revolving hyperlink: favourites signify both individual taste and mass acceptance; the revolving hyperlink cycles through it all
(2)apt title: the title doesn't have to fit the content of the posting but it does have to play off Drink It Black
(3)the way the world plays it: this started off accidentally with Filipino fans of Smallville and seemed a novel way to point to a country and its people without going into fallback mode and documenting their latest coup de tat or natural disaster
(4)a bit of language: the link is in another language
(5)alignments: what started with skeptics popping up in a newspaper piece, has evolved into a need to drop in on all those maddening little subgroups who exercise an opinion different from that fed to them like infant mush by the mainstream
(6)musical chairs: I'll be back on the beat in no time
(7)sitting here without a comic book: that's a document of description NOT a suggested title
(8)there's a lesson in there: exploring a thing not because it has personal significance or you want to rat on your friends but because it is of interest and could prove beneficial - as long as it doesn't come across all preachy
(9)haranguing by a thread: has the quality of the zine upon which it is based

Posted by berko_wills at 2:59 AM EADT
Updated: Saturday, 1 November 2003 4:39 AM EADT
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Tuesday, 28 October 2003
Now that Jello's back in town
I've never really understood spoken word. I know not everything should be turned into comedy, as my blogging style attests. And I am sure too that there should be at least an attempt to entertain rather than to harangue. I suppose the structure of song, screenplay and vignette quell the directness of the message. I'm just not sure that paying someone forty dollars to tell you stuff for three hours is all that good a deal.

The paining thing for me, being sympathetic to Biafra's position, is that it is those early Dead Kennedys songs that I remain so enthused about. More, Holiday In Cambodia is my favourite single. So the fact that JB is out on his own and the kid from The Courtship of Eddie's Father is singing his material is all a bit confronting. It makes all those old accusations about the DK's being cartoon punk take on resonance. I don't begrudge the others for wanting to preserve the franchise but it's a bit surreal for my liking. And that's saying something.

"Jane Fonda on the screen today/Convinced the liberals it's okay"

Posted by berko_wills at 11:28 PM EADT
Updated: Tuesday, 28 October 2003 11:47 PM EADT
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Horses for courses
Or not.

Posted by berko_wills at 1:39 PM EADT
Updated: Saturday, 1 November 2003 4:19 AM EADT
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Sunday, 26 October 2003
On the heist horse
What does all this mean to the practicing writer? Well while I was at uni I managed to be at loggerheads with both a lecturer who loved the play of po-mo AND one who bore the post-sense sense of 'post' some ill will. I've put this down to a number of possible causes:
my Libran tendencies sped up so that I'm deliberating out loud, if you will, about which way I'm going to jump on any issue;
it's my fondness for playing Devil's Advocate, sometimes to my own detriment;
I was a hick writer who had to learn me a few things about Lyn Hejinian and ilk e like
I was an elitist prick;
I didn't know shit from clay in those days;
it was Freud's principle of fort da operating - ever since I've learnt that wretched (not to say obscure) theory of Sigmund's I have been cursed to play it out. Without getting too circular, the idea seems to be that we are compelled to send things - even things that are good for us - away;

well, you get the idea. And if I can fashion so many possible plausible explanations for something I "should know" then perhaps I was wrong and should surrender to the multiplicities at once.

Posted by berko_wills at 4:57 PM EADT
Updated: Thursday, 6 November 2003 1:38 PM EADT
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On a hire horse
If you waltz into the halls of academe with the attitude displayed in that last post then you're cruisin' for a bruisin' because English studies has fully embraced Fredric Jameson, Gayatri Spivak, Jean-Francois Lyotard and Jean Baudrillard.

This is fair as far as it goes and I would be more suspicious of a discipline that chose to ignore or reject the prevailing theorists. There might have been critics of F.R. Leavis's Close Reading too. But they had to wait their turn.

Neither are critical theorists like Julia Kristeva or Edward Said left out of the debate. There would seem to be a nod to all the major twentieth century theories so long as they are not at complete variance with the dominant thinking.
In short, any theory needs to trace its lineage to Ferdinand de Saussure's structuralist theory rather than that of opposing semiotician C.S. Peirce. This then flows nicely down through Roland Barthes and the poststructuralists, picking up anthropology and psychoanalysis along the way till it arguably reaches its most radical with Jacques Derrida and Deconstruction, and Paul de Man.

Posted by berko_wills at 4:33 PM EADT
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Saturday, 25 October 2003
On a high, hoarse
The following was originally posted on the old Mobius Infinity boards:

["But isn't everybody post-modern?" "Yeah, but we're 22!"]

The title of this thread is particularly apt as it is the conceit of postmodernists that irks me the most. I read some poetics where these PM dudes were criticising poets for differentiating themselves from postmodernism. As if that was not valid because 'hey you're postmodernist whether you think so or not.'

Well here's another poet who does NOT identify himself as postmodernist. I am not against the theory per se. I love some of the programs that play with the dice such as The Simpsons, Roseanne (except for the last series which went too far with Jackie's imaginary prince and what have you). But I find it more useful as a tool to differentiate from other cultural and literary theories: marxism, phenomenology, etc. Why should it arrogate itself into a position of all inclusiveness?

My main beef with postmodernism, however, is the way that it "opens up all possibilities". I feel cheated and robbed as a poet when I see people spewing out any old crap and insisting that it be called poetry. I have practiced and polished my craft for more twenty five years yet, in current thinking, my work has no more claim to legitimacy than some abject hack who wouldn't know his asshole from his assonance.

It is probably the artists' fault that we have placed what we do on such a pedestal. If the poet was considered in the same light as the cabinetmaker then we might have a go at quantifying/qualifying the standard of what we produce. The inheritors of the Gertrude Stein school of poetics are the equivalent of the guy who goes crazy with a nailgun and insists he's a tradesman. "What's a dovetail joint, man?"

Posted by berko_wills at 1:15 AM NZT
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Monday, 20 October 2003
Take your medicine
Some people have creative blocks. Not me, I churn out stuff. But I've got blocks; blocks going round the block, blocks enough to make me do my block, a veritable tower of blocks. And I've finally decided to do something about it.

It was simple really. I remember reading in an ancient selfhelp book where the author describes a faulty light switch that he put up with for literally years. The damn thing annoyed him something chronic and when he did finally get it fixed he realized what a tremendous burden had been lifted from his shoulders - all for something that was easy and inexpensive to fix.

So I looked it up on the Internet under 'clearing blocks' and, as I suspected, the way to go is in such healthy alternatives as reflexology and Reiki. So I'm booking an appointment following next payday and getting healed. I'm sick of having big ambitions thwarted by nasties that have burrowed down in my unconscious and, if left unchecked, will see me an old man gazing ruefully out the window of my bedsit at what might have been.

Posted by berko_wills at 3:54 PM NZT
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