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Author: Philip Harvey

  • ARTS AND CULTURE

    Atheist Clive James' hymn to God

    • Philip Harvey
    • 10 June 2014
    8 Comments

    Rumours of his death are greatly exaggerated, but Clive James has since 2010 made a public art of dying. It is in this intense moment of re-evaluation of life that we read his translation of Dante's Divine Comedy. Possibly no great poem is so immersed in the connections between our life here and now with life after death. It's striking that an avowed atheist produces the best poetry in Paradiso.

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  • ARTS AND CULTURE

    Sex and haikus

    • Philip Harvey
    • 07 November 2013
    6 Comments

    Saying we love someone can take all our courage, our wisdom, our foolishness. Often we don't know how to say it. When we do get to say we love someone, sometimes we reach for the pitch known as poetry. Of all the art forms, poetry and song relay love most immediately. A new book of Australian love poems shows how poetry can stretch the message to screaming point, or say it all in a few seconds.

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  • ARTS AND CULTURE

    Pablo Neruda's prophecy in poetry

    • Philip Harvey
    • 15 May 2013
    7 Comments

    On the eve of the violent overthrow of the elected government of Chile 40 years ago, Pablo Neruda wrote a cycle of cantos that came to be called The Book of Questions. Twelve days after the coups the poet was dead. It is hard to miss the military and political connotations of some of Neruda's 'questions'.

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  • RELIGION

    The fable of Benedict's red shoes

    • Philip Harvey
    • 06 March 2013
    14 Comments

    It's hard to trace the rumour that Benedict's shoes were designed by Prada. Perhaps it was just a mischievous allusion to The Devil Wears Prada. Benedict is a wily fox, which is why we can be sure his red shoes were there to invite symbolic interpretations. Only thing is, red shoes have a life of their own.

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  • ARTS AND CULTURE

    Mysticism and the Beatles

    • Philip Harvey
    • 11 October 2012
    6 Comments

    It has never seemed just an accident that John Lennon and Paul McCartney first met at a church fete. The broad message of Christianity is at the very front of the lyric concerns of the Beatles, even if Christianity itself is rarely acknowledged. In art and belief, they were never interested in experimentation for its own sake but in how to make something new out of something old.

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  • ARTS AND CULTURE

    Peter Steele's seven types of ingenuity

    • Philip Harvey
    • 03 July 2012
    7 Comments

    More than once I observed him walking from the Medley Building of the University of Melbourne to Newman College reading a book, not looking up. It was the book leading the human through the everyday world. 

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  • RELIGION

    'Jesuit' James Joyce's Church challenge

    • Philip Harvey
    • 13 June 2012
    24 Comments

    One character sings a risqué satire called 'The Ballad of Joking Jesus'. Another wanders into a church and misinterprets the liturgy to comic effect. The puritanical Catholic hierarchy were offended, but Joyce's seemingly anti-religious novels would not exist in their final form were it not for his Jesuit education.

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  • AUSTRALIA

    Mythologising the Queen

    • Philip Harvey
    • 01 June 2012
    16 Comments

    One curate in our parish claimed to dream about the royal family and believed everyone did. Any easy familiarity I had with an idealised royal family collapsed with the dismissal of the Whitlam government. Malcolm Turnbull is persuasive when he says in Australia there are now more Elizabethans than monarchists. 

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  • AUSTRALIA

    Time to re-imagine the Australian flag

    • Philip Harvey
    • 11 May 2012
    50 Comments

    The readiness of Australians to design a flag that is agreed to and honoured ought to be on the agenda of any forward-looking party. Otherwise a day will come when a design will be foisted on us that no one likes and has no distinctive meaning. One only has to listen to the national anthem to know Australians are capable of embracing second best.

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  • ARTS AND CULTURE

    Getting personal with Anzac Day

    • Philip Harvey
    • 25 April 2012
    16 Comments

    Should I even be saying all this to people I have never met? What do I say? How far do I go? My paternal grandfather, Edgar, was not only an Anzac but among those who landed nearly 100 years ago at the Turkish cove. Even among my family his experiences are still largely passed over in silence.

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  • MEDIA

    Elitism in online dictionaries

    • Philip Harvey
    • 27 March 2012
    19 Comments

    Free dictionaries on the internet are often bland and incomplete, while those that are complex and exhaustive require a credit card. Quality comes at a price, and this is an increasing educational issue. Rich institutions and individuals can pay for the words we all use, while others cannot, or just do not.

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  • MEDIA

    Weighing Wikipedia

    • Philip Harvey
    • 16 January 2012
    12 Comments

    Somedays it looks like the most extravagant love letter to the humanist project, other days like the biggest ragbag of unsorted intellectual capital. The sheer scale of information is truly amazing. But as a reference, the time has come for Wikipedia to up its game.

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