News from Nowhere 2

Wednesday, 17 April 2013


: : I’ve been following the news in horror regarding the Boston Marathon tragedy. I have no words. It feels strange to say and hear: ‘my thoughts are with you’ when such tragedies occur. It reminds me of what people say in funerals, at a loss for words. I think: what does that even mean? I guess it’s a gesture of common humanity in the face of inhumanity. If so, then yes, my thoughts are with everyone in Boston. It still feels inadequate.

: : I watched an interview on ABC news this morning with author Carrie Tiffany, the winner of the inaugural Stella Prize. It warmed my heart that she donated a large portion of her prize money to fellow authors. As she said in the interview, when you give authors money, you give them time. The luxury of time to write is one that most authors have to scrounge for in between other full-time work. If you’d like to read her book, it’s called Mateship with Birds.

Another thing that stood out for me in the interview is when Tiffany mentioned her annoyance at once reading an article where an editor or a publisher (I can’t remember which) mentioned how they don’t want to read such and such from authors anymore. Tiffany’s response was to do precisely what was suggested as a bad move in this article. She said that it’s not the place of marketing people or publishers to tell writers what to write, but rather, that writers have to discover on their own what they want to write about. I agree. There are too many rules and guidelines out there for writers, streamlining all our work into some marketable end product. Is that really the writing and reading culture we want?

: : I wrote an article for Overland Journal on Downton Abbey and the Heritage Industry. It’s an expanded and reworked version of the blog post I wrote on Downton Abbey here on my blog.

: : I also wrote this post on English ballerina, Mona Inglesby, who helped democratise ballet in England. I think her story is wonderful and should be more well-known.

: : There have been many articles on the proposed university cuts here in Australia, these are just two: Fear of death by 1000 cuts and University sector to be hit in Gonski reforms. This stood out from the first one:

“Professor Richard Teese, from the University of Melbourne, believes the cuts to universities are particularly cynical because Labor can bank on the fact there will be minimum electoral backlash. He says university funding has traditionally been something few voters have cared about.”

Yep. This country doesn’t give a shit about university funding, or universities full stop. Our university funding ranks 25 out of 29 advanced economies and is well below the OECD average. It seems incomprehensible to me in an environment where universities are already severely strapped for funding, that they are being hit with even more cuts. I really don’t know why I did a PhD anymore, there is very little future or a sustainable career path in academia. There are also no jobs, and most people work in short term contracts or casual tutoring. And they have to fight for that as well. It’s kind of pathetic to see a group of smart, enthusiastic and highly educated people compete for casual work, like dirt beneath someone’s shoes.

There is currently a petition against these cuts as well as a letter that can be sent directly to Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Craig Emerson, Minister for Tertiary Education. You can also take part in the national protests, with all the details here.

: : This was probably the most powerful article I’ve read on Thatcher, and we should all remember Clause 28.

: : Thanks Gwyneth, bunnies make everything better.

Image credit: Mona Inglesby and her dog Copper.


ronnie said...

so many things to chew over in this post.... but given that I'm at the pointy end of my Higher Degree, the federal governments cuts to tertiary education stand out (even more than the point about market pressure on artistic integrity)

yesterday the vice chancellor of monash uni sent all students a note regarding the surprise cuts to funding and I'll share one part of his note --

"The University recognises the importance of adequate funding for schools, but there is no good reason that funding should come at the expense of universities. Indeed, students need to have strong universities awaiting them when they graduate."

as a teacher and a student I'm appalled by what is happening in education in this fair land....

hungryandfrozen said...

Thanks for the link to your story about Mona Inglesby, I loved it.

Ugh, terrible news about university cuts, how can education not be valued?

Mesmerising bunny :)

"A gesture of common humanity in the face of inhumanity" - that puts it just perfectly.

lc said...

thank you for always making me think hila xo

Midori said...

Hi Hila. I'm an avid reader of your blog. I enjoyed every post you did. I should say I've learned quite a lot from your viewpoints and stance, especially on feminism and women empowerment. Have you done any write-ups related to BDSM (Submission/Slave) and Women Empowerment? Since I started reading your blog I haven't encountered any write-ups related to this. I would love to hear your views on this.

Thank you. :)

Midori said...

Hello Hila. I'm an avid reader of your blog. I enjoyed every post you did since I started reading your blog. I learned a lot from your stance and viewpoints, especially on feminism and women empowerment. I'd like to know if you have written any articles related to BDSM (Submission/Slave) and Women Empowerment? I'd love to know the link if they can be accessed online. If not, I'd love to hear your ideas/perspectives on this. Thank you.

querido diário said...

Your blog is really an incentive towards thinking in such an avid visual internet world.
We absorb so much of everything that's around us and this latest posts just make stop and reflect.
thank you.

Hila said...

Ronnie: It doesn't look like the Gonski reforms will pass with the states. But still, these proposed cuts are simply indicative of the continual under-funding to higher education in Australia. And ironically, by a group of people who most probably received their higher education for free, back in the day when we actually valued education. I remember one of my old professors telling me that when he finished his PhD, all he needed to get a position at a university was the PhD. Today, to compete for the one-in-a-million full-time positions available, you have to have a million ARC grants to your name, considerable experience, a completely intimidating publications record, and more. I don't know how anyone who is just finishing their PhD, or who is an early career researcher, is supposed to compete with that. So they leave academia and seek work elsewhere. And losing that potential pool of talent is a huge loss to universities in the long-run. Students also have less resources and less support because staff are simply overworked and departments under-staffed. It's all so depressing; it's especially depressing if like me, you genuinely believe in the endeavour of keeping a research field alive and thriving.

But apart from all that, I do wish you all the very best of luck in finishing your PhD!!

Laura: Thank you, I loved writing it. That bunny truly is mesmerising.

lc: My pleasure, thanks for reading :)

Midori: Thanks! Nope, I've never written on BDSM - apart from a brief mention on a post on 50 Shades of Grey, but that was more to say that I don't think the books are about BDSM. I don't feel I know enough about the subject, but maybe one day (when I have time to do some reading on it), I'll write something about it.

querido diário: Really, thanks so much for saying that. I often feel my overly wordy blog has no place in the current blogging culture.