News from Nowhere 2

Mona-Inglesby-dog

: : 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.