Thursday, August 01, 2013

After every high comes a low ...

After Dame Slap's epically satisfying rant, the pond feels flat, dull, stale, weary, unprofitable ...

Truly there's only so many gift horses that come anyone's way in a lifetime, and the image of a harridan snapping at an innocent questioner "here no bloody Bronte village, no bloody Bronte village here" will long linger in the mind as a treasured memory.

Oh sure, there are triers out there, but they're not yet stayers.

Poor Nicolle Flint has a go at stirring the pot today, but Misogyny lurks in Winton's world of fiction, is a pitiful, pitiable effort, not really worth a Fairfax hit so early in the month.

Thanks to a vigilant reader, the pond was made aware of the flinty Flint back in the day when she was furiously scribbling Breaking the sheep's back with political correctness, which inter alia, while celebrating Nick Cater's astuteness - yes, yes, breaking the sheep's back with political stupidity - she would come out with bon mots like this:

Postmaterialists found their professional homes in academia, bureaucracy and media, and their common causes in feminism, gay and lesbian rights, human rights, environmentalism and animal activism, rather than business, science and economics. 
Australia has recently been beholden to their power. Witness the Greens partnership with Labor, and a Labor government seemingly more concerned with social and environmental issues than balancing the books. Feminists and bureaucrats keep reminding us how bad things are for women, the human rights industry how bad things are for minorities, and environmentalists and animal activists how destructive and cruel we are, too.

Uh huh. Perhaps more dull, predictable, caricatured, stereotypical, Murdochbot, leaden - than bon - mots, and never mind that it's The Age that played host to the Cater worship.

But it brings us back to the Flint piece about Winton, which sure enough, spends its time reminding us how bad things are for women in Winton's novels.

Why and to what end?

Well it turns out that Flint, in the usual way, wants to have it both ways. So she provides a perfectly conventional explanation:

On one level Winton's women might be construed as literary devices enabling the stories of his slightly bewildered, emotionally repressed Aussie blokes to unfold. Accordingly, women should be no more insulted at their convenient and repetitive use than Aussie men with a flair for trades, fishing, surfing and 1970s-style emotional issues. 

Well yes, he's writing novels, frequently about boofheads, which amazingly involves literary devices and an assortment of characters which no doubt reflect aspects of the author's own life.

Or I suppose you could write this:

It is Eva, I suggest, who provides the potential for reconfiguring white surfing masculinities, but whose over-determined masculinization and often misogynistic representation within the patriarchal logic that structures the work, hinder attempts to realize this potential. This attempt is further restricted by the text's erasure of indigenous people from the landscape. (found here)

Now the pond is frequently accused of heresy when acknowledging not much interest in Winton or his world - why worry if you've lived in Tamworth, centre of the known universe - but thinks even less of Flint, because it turns out that she's an idle game-player, a club-maker, and so she reveals her real purpose:

On another, these female characters appear stereotypical. They ''bother''. What remains most remarkable about Tim Winton's writing, in the context of ongoing allegations of sexism and misogyny, is that the literary left leaves the handiwork of one of our most revered cultural icons unexamined. ''Sometimes,'' as Bob Dylan once sang, ''the silence can be like thunder.'' 

Yep, one day feminists are reminding us how bad things are for women, and the next day Flint is reminding us how bad things are for women, and how feminists and leftists are not reminding us how bad things are for women ... How reflexive, or is that up yourself, can you get?

Yep, sometimes the hypocritical contradictory bleating can sound just like a sparrow's fart, especially when once again the club is trotted out to give the "literary left" a clubbing, while Cater is given a joyous toasting ...

But there's your trouble in a nutshell. Flint is a lightweight, a trainee, a novice in the commentariat art, and she has a long way to go.

She really needs to work out whether she dislikes feminism, or whether her idea of feminism is simply a mechanism, a device to give feminists a good bashing ...

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
 I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

Yes, it's the business of art to "bother", and now that Winton has managed to "bother" Flint, the pond is suddenly interested anew in his work. But then what does she make of the "bother" and the sexism in vampire tales ...? Could the pond suddenly get interested in feminist vampirism?

Oh it's a dull old road ...

Even the lizard Oz is dull today, producing a kind of wan lassitude.

Oh sure, there's good old Dennis "the suit and tie" Shanahan lathering himself about the NSW corruption scandal - it's amazing he still hasn't managed to work out, much like Tony Abbott and Co. the difference between state and federal spheres - and then there's Greg "hang 'em high and hang 'em hard" strutting the street with his deputy sheriff's badge (personally signed on the reverse by John Howard);

Yes, being a total prick is always ethically just and in The Australian's ratbag fundamentalism policy terms, always necessary.

And there was Niki Savva having a panic attack:

She's really worried, as you can read in Easy ride for celebrity nerd teflon Kev if you can be bothered to google around the paywall, a real Chicken Little routine. It seems the current Chairman is getting away with it, no one's holding him to account, the Bolter couldn't lay a glove on him, the media is failing, the combined efforts of the Murdochians are flailing and failing, and it's doom, doom, doom:

Politicians, policy gurus and political junkies have watched Rudd's success with a mixture of awe, admiration and disgust, wondering if or when it will collapse. 
This from a former senior bureaucrat, highly respected for policy rigour: "No one is following up or checking whether the reality matches the rhetoric. Or if someone does, no one is listening. But this may be a more fundamental and enduring shift in the political landscape -- if so, poor fella my country!"

Indeed. Every so often the pond wakes up in the morning wondering why the Murdochians never bother to enquire whether the reality matches the Tony Abbott rhetoric, and concludes poor fella my newspapers ...

Eventually Savva gets around to it, in her very last par:

Ultimately not all the credit for Rudd Reflux belongs to the media or to hisselfie. The opposition deserves some for fluffing its initial responses to the PNG Solution and meandering hopelessly on Gonski. If it mucks up its handling of Bowen's statement and its own economic policy, it's pretty much over. Three strikes will count the opposition out and Kevin in.

Yes, it's still got nothing to do with actual policies or rigour, it's just whether your team gets up, but in this case, as a reader once sagely noted, currently it's like watching Brisbane play Manly, or, if you happen to live in more civilised climes, your preferred set of drug cheats playing Collingwood ...

But it wasn't enough. It still felt stale and weary, as a been there and done all that mood took hold of the pond, an existential inertia.

Even Paul "generally grumpy" Sheehan was down beat. The poor lad, traumatised by the need to churn out two columns a week, turned in some filler:

Well it sounds impressive, but it turns out that in We'll have a giggle when it comes to monkeys, gorillas and persons of interest, definitively not worth wasting a Fairfax hit, all Sheehan has done is assemble a pathetic, tawdry list of police slang, so ancient that the pond was transported back to the world of Raymond Chandler in a trice. Sample:

Piece: Handgun. 
Heat: Gun. 
Hardware: Gun. 
Hammer: High-calibre gun. 

What? Someone forgot to pack the gat? The roscoe's missing? The 9 isn't to hand? The chopper's toast?  The pocket rocket isn't a penis? The burner's a bust? The heater's now called heat?

And so on and on, with a special wink at closet days slang for a closer, as old as the moth-eaten fur coat in the pond's TG friend's wardrobe.

Oh what to do, what to do.

How about some street theatre? A little direct action? Like in the old days ...

Right, be warned, if you stumble past a harridan outside the Newtown railway station today, and ask for directions, be assured you'll have your head snapped off, with the harridan shouting "there is no bloody Newtown village here, stop all this talk of villages, just bugger off, what we need is a mall and a Coles and a Woollies and a Macdonalds."

Get thee gone Camus, and take trainee Flint and old school Dame Slap with you ... the pond needs, nay demands, top notch commentariat ranting on a daily basis ...

It's the only way to say Begone Dull Care ...

(Below: sheesh, a couple of New Yorker cartoons as filler)


  1. Dorothy today was special or maybe it is just me.

  2. Flint is embarrassing alright. As a true right winger-this is just a revenge piece on Winton whose a proud environmentalist. As usual there is no argument just the simple minded, idiotic suggestion that women must be written in a certain way, certainly if written by a left leaning environmentalist. To wit if anyone wished they could turn Charlotte Bronte or Agatha Christie or Shakespeare into raging misogynists. Indeed for someone who supposedly hates feminists Flint's conversion into a misogyny champion is remarkable (lol)


  3. I thought you meant Winterson and was going to pen something about oranges. Interesting combination of Pentecostalism and lesbianism.

    Enough to give Francis a Sémillon! (Great value from Virgin).

    I think you may have needed to see a recent Russell Howard News show to appreciate this.

  4. Poor Nicolle Flint: she can't decide whether she's Planet Jane, Jr., or Pauline Sheehan. Personally, I couldn't give one either way about Winton but I'm not aware that he's notably in the Left Vanguard


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