Author: Brian Matthews

  • ARTS AND CULTURE

    Echoes of Auschwitz in Manus memoir

    • Brian Matthews
    • 27 March 2019
    6 Comments

    Like Auschwitz survivor Primo Levi in his works, Behrouz Boochani's No Friend but the Mountains exemplifies among many other things 'the possibilities of human decency' despite the Manus prison's squalor. Like George Orwell in another time and place, he is buoyed by hope in irrepressible nature.

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  • INTERNATIONAL

    Passport paradox at the Israel-Jordan border

    • Brian Matthews
    • 22 January 2019
    5 Comments

    As you couldn't enter Jordan with a passport in which there were Israeli stamps, officials in the Australian Embassy advised us to arrange a second, 'clean' passport. This was a weird business because we would be entering Jordan from Israel — our physical presence in Israel would deny the cleanliness of our passports.

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  • AUSTRALIA

    Philistine invasion is cringe-worthy indeed

    • Brian Matthews
    • 17 December 2018
    7 Comments

    Simon Birmingham's recent vetoing of 11 humanities research projects is a good example of cultural cringe's transmutation into populist philistinism. Scientific research projects are often more opaque to the uninitiated than humanities projects but are usually safe from ignorant criticism because their importance is assumed.

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  • ENVIRONMENT

    A crash course in climate literacy

    • Brian Matthews
    • 23 October 2018
    2 Comments

    Drought creeps, infiltrates, sometimes seems little changed day after day, then tightens its grip on this or that paddock, unveils the slowly splitting bottom of a never-before-empty dam ... Even still, according to many of the experienced, crisis-hardened men and women on the land to whom I've spoken, this drought is different.

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  • AUSTRALIA

    Here's Fraser Anning's final solution 'context'

    • Brian Matthews
    • 21 August 2018
    14 Comments

    The desperate, semi-literate plea that one has been taken 'out of context' is the first resort of many politicians challenged for being indelicate, stupid etc. It is its own condemnation. The latest appeal to contextual sensitivity though, that of Anning in ducking the implications of the phrase 'final solution', deserves some contextualising.

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  • AUSTRALIA

    The Complaint of the Poor Commons of Oz

    • Brian Matthews
    • 10 July 2018
    3 Comments

    The same sense of grievance and outrage that drove Jack and his rebels 500 years ago has sent Trump to the White House, propelled the United Kingdom out of the European Union, resurrected the poisonous 'Irish question' and legitimised Senator Pauline Hanson. She, with Cade-like empty bravado, claims to be for the 'battlers'.

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  • INTERNATIONAL

    Ireland's 'hard border' irony has a bitter taste

    • Brian Matthews
    • 08 May 2018
    11 Comments

    The word 'irony' is sometimes preceded by 'delicious'. But it is sour and wounding in Ireland, where British withdrawal from the EU, Brexit, and the Irish Republic's firm intention to remain, raises the possibility of what pundits call a 'hard' border between the Republic and Northern Ireland.

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  • AUSTRALIA

    Parliamentary troll alert

    • Brian Matthews
    • 23 March 2018
    4 Comments

    In Iceland, the most recent 'troll alert' was only 50 years or so ago, and belief in the mythological troll dies hard. What is interesting to consider regarding the revenant troll of the internet age is where they are congregated. Michaelia Cash's recent outburst suggest we might look no further than our Federal Parliament.

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  • ARTS AND CULTURE

    Johnno vs the bloody banks

    • Brian Matthews
    • 28 November 2017
    7 Comments

    As a conversation opener, it wasn't that flash. I could have told Johnno that stories about the 'bloody banks' are so numerous and predictable that they're being used in sleep clinics. Still, one tries to do the right thing and so, steeling myself, I asked the crucial question. 'What's the story?'

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  • ARTS AND CULTURE

    My Telstra Catch-22

    • Brian Matthews
    • 06 October 2017
    5 Comments

    'I am being charged for items I did not buy and have never heard of. The cost of these 'purchases' was added to my normal Telstra phone bill. When I protested, Telstra said it was not involved, it simply administered the charges ... Entirely innocent from the start, I lose - no matter what happens.' On 23 August I wrote these words to Telstra for reasons that will soon become apparent.

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  • ARTS AND CULTURE

    A Romantic view of 'darkling' modern world

    • Brian Matthews
    • 07 September 2017
    2 Comments

    Born a few months after Shelley drowned and desperate to understand the living Nature the Romantics had known, Matthew Arnold too found the natural world had gone silent. Where Wordsworth had heard 'strange utterance [in] the loud dry wind' and 'the sky seemed not a sky / Of earth - and with what motion moved the clouds', Arnold sadly concluded that 'the world, which seems to lie before us like a land of dreams, so various, so beautiful, so new, hath really neither joy, nor love, nor light ...'

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  • ARTS AND CULTURE

    Nearly knowing John Clarke

    • Brian Matthews
    • 13 June 2017
    2 Comments

    One of the 30 comedians, satirists, cartoonists and writers they interviewed was John Clarke. 'I first met John Clarke five years ago,' Murray recalls in his 1992 introduction to the interview, 'even though we grew up in the same town in New Zealand and for a while went to the same school. My claim to fame is that I nearly knew John Clarke. Recently when we looked though his school photos we realised that we knew every kid in Palmerston North in 1960 except each other.'

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