Politics & Media
Chimera
Chimera

Just weeks before Rudd’s restoration, the internal polling for Labor was doom-heavy: zero seats returned in WA, Queensland gruesome…

Death to Writers’ Festivals
Death to Writers’ Festivals

I’m trying to cut back on red meat and writers’ festivals. The first is on the advice of my doctor, the second’s a self-made prescription.

Vanity in the Media
Vanity in the Media

It was late and my girlfriend had retired in disgust. She was right to. I was immobile on the couch, watching live coverage of the Boston manhunt from an American broadcast, and dumbly forgiving of the rolling nothingness

How Not to Write a Column
How Not to Write a Column

I’d always wanted to write in a way that excited the same raw euphoria as music. But I didn’t and I can’t.

Leaks and Confidentiality
Leaks and Confidentiality

In David Foster Wallace’s novel The Pale King, about—wait for it—the metaphysics of boredom in a bureaucracy, he writes: “True heroism is minutes, hours, weeks, year upon year of the quiet, precise, judicious exercise of probity and care—with no one there to see or cheer. This is the world.”

Swanston Street
Swanston Street

My father prepared for death like he prepared for most things: with effortless practicality. A melanoma had insinuated itself in his subcutaneous fat, and the prognosis was poor.

Boys Will Be Boys
Boys Will Be Boys

Two quotes and a movie was all it took. I scratched my Labor column. Others could examine the party’s existential nausea. I’d reached a combustible temperature on something else: rape and the creeps who defend it.

Canberra
Canberra

Canberra turns 100 this year, but awkwardly it seems Australians have forgotten its birthday. The Bush Capital must now be cursing its weird remoteness, and the fact that outside its borders ”Canberra” is not the name of a city, but shorthand for political bastardry.

Killing Time
Killing Time

A few weeks before Christmas, serial killer Paul Haigh was in Victoria’s Supreme Court representing himself.

Drones
Drones

It was not until the Berlin Wall fell in 1989 that the world began to grasp the diabolical scale of repression in East Germany. The Stasi—East Germany’s secret police—may have overseen a fatally diseased economy…

Goodbye, Grattan
Goodbye, Grattan

I wasn’t going to write about Michelle Grattan’s departure from The Age. Cyber feelings were unusually wired, and I happen to write for her old ‘paper. Best to stay out of the fray, I thought. Don’t get zapped.

The March of Idiocy
The March of Idiocy

In the week of Anthony Mundine’s graceless capitulation—and news that his hero, Muhammad Ali, was dying—I wanted to write about boxing.

Credulity
Credulity

I have in my hands some American scripture, a small paperback first published in 1969. The book is 13 Days, Robert Kennedy’s posthumous memoir of the Cuban missile crisis…

Murdoch’s Culture Wars
Murdoch’s Culture Wars

Rupert Murdoch is a contradictory man. About the newspaper business, anyway, and it’s possible his lusty ego can reconcile them, but I cannot.

2012
2012

It was not a good year for writers or language, and a particularly bloody one for journalists. According to Reporters Without Borders, it was the deadliest on record since its first yearly report in 1995. 88 journalists killed, 2,000 threatened or attacked…

Closure
Closure

“To write poetry after Auschwitz,” wrote German philosopher Theodore Adorno, “is barbaric.” Adorno’s famous decree was a sort of melancholic resignation a belief that along with six million people, the Holocaust had expunged meaning itself, and exposed the lie…

Panic!
Panic!

Like many of you, my real education at high-school occurred outside the classroom. I learnt about suicide when a girl threw herself off an overpass, and learnt about the ineffectual oddities of local politics when that overpass was caged, and the one 200 metres…

Chicken Littles
Chicken Littles

You probably missed it amid the rancour, as Parliament slunk towards its summer adjournment and somewhere got stuck in mutually assured distraction. Or perhaps it was eclipsed by the slush fund story that is, in many ways, a meta-story…

Dispatch from Perth
Dispatch from Perth

I’m in Perth researching a book about murder, meaning and the colourful constellation system of justice. The institutions that formally comprise it, and the variety of individuals involuntarily thrown into it. What are their roles? How do they each make sense…

The Press Gallery
The Press Gallery

So I’m late to the Gillard Speech party, or at least the ensuing commentary about the commentary. So shoot me. I didn’t much like the party, filled with cowboys and girls, their guns loaded with smug certitude and me just packing an old-fashioned…

Comedy & Taboo
Comedy & Taboo

In July, American comic Tig Notaro was diagnosed with aggressive breast cancer. This was just the latest splash of fate’s bilge water: in previous months, Notaro had suffered a break-up, a bacterial disease and the sudden death of her mother.

Mr. Jones
Mr. Jones

In August last year a warning was issued: the public’s “deep malaise” would be stripped from Newspoll and rudely supplanted to the nation’s highways. Yes, the Convoy of No Confidence was rumbling into town where this travelling circus of indignation would…

Disturbance
Disturbance

Yesterday I spoke at the Council for Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences (CHASS) inaugural national forum. The theme was “What Makes Us Human?” The following is the speech I delivered.

Sydney’s Protests
Sydney’s Protests

Waleed Aly could barely contain his anger. In his Monday column on Sydney’s protest, you could trace the hard edge of his incredulity. Typically, though, Aly’s frustration was elegantly transposed into a thoughtful and muscular piece.

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