victory of spin
It all depends on how you frame the thing
client claimed to be from the Crown Casino and he promised serious
money for what he intimated was a case of arson.
make myself known to you in the National Gallery of Victoria, Sunday,
1.00 pm sharp, at St George Hares The victory of Faith,
he said, and hung up.
not? I thought. I hadnt been to Melbourne in years.
a couple of decades of the Thatcherist neo-Keynesian free credit policy
had done wonders for Bleak City at least in terms of glitzy
high-rise wonderland in the shopping mall triumphalist style had risen,
fronting the Yarra at Southbank. There was the vast, spectacularly
vulgar Packer casino itself, and a concourse of hotels and restaurants
and a graceless cluster of tilted neo-lousy cubes at Federation Square
opposite the old Flinders Street station. At last, the Mexicans had
something to rival Darling Harbour.
wandered through 19th Century galleries at the NGV, the collection
struck me as largely made up of approved academy painters
hurriedly purchased, long ago, to stock the public buildings and stately
homes of the new Athens of the South.
St George Hare's painting without much trouble. A piece of blatant
male lesbian fantasy with cross-racial allure, two metres wide and
a metre high is hard to miss and somewhat engaging, in a jokey sort
it depicted two martyrs on the eve of their sacrifice to the lions
in the Coliseum and indeed a tiny, almost subliminal, Christian cross
could be made out, scratched on the dungeon wall. The depiction
of naked women in chains seemed to hold a special interest for Hare
and he returned to this subject frequently the curators
notes coyly advised. The work had been purchased at Londons
Royal Academy in 1891 and donated anonymously to the gallery in 1905.
The frame was the original
by Chapman Bros., London
... they're big on frames at the NGV.
one, my client still hadnt turned up, and he hadnt called
the mobile. Right. The triumph of faith. Anonymous
donor. The joke was on me. Somebody wanted me in Bleak City, or at
least, out of Sydney, for reasons that would no doubt become clear
time Id got back to Sydney, John Howard had launched his long-anticipated
Federal election wedge tactic and this time the Koories were in the
efficacy of the Muslim terrorist scare campaign has worn off since
the last election. Its usefulness has declined through overuse
and also with the fortunes of the Iraq imbroglio to the point where
the Howard pundits now avoid mentioning the war at all costs. Besides,
our very own military commitment is such a risibly tiny and transparently
insincere one you wouldnt want to draw attention to it.
Great Illusionist needed a fresh new issue to appeal to the redneck
prejudices of the idiot aspirationals he depends on in
the critical marginal seats the people now doing it tough under
Work Choices and interest rate rises. Taking the big stick of tough
love and martial law to the blacks has obvious appeal here.
Howard can be seen to be taking a strong stand about a festering problem;
he can bamboozle the black leaders by saying theyve asked him
to do something for years and now hes doing it; and he can lay
blame at the doorstep of the Labor state governments.
eagerness not to be an irresponsible critic, silly Kevin
Rudd backed the Prime Minister and the mainstream media rushed to
editorialise in his favour and all forgot that during his terms in
office his spin has been that his mob were out there doing practical
reconciliation by tackling real problems on the ground in Aboriginal
communities not for John Howard the waffly prescriptions of
the latte-sipping elites.
in the few short months before the elections, nothing at all is likely
to happen on the ground, just as bugger-all has happened while Howard
has been running the shop and selling practical reconciliation
eleven years during which hes had exactly the power and
authority he has now, and the problems have been no different.
may well recall Parliament so he can grandstand some more and even
bluff through some nasty, repressive racist legislation. In the best
possible outcome for him, he might be able to make serious inroads
into native title as a property form, close down a swag of communities,
and dump their hapless dispossessed inhabitants onto the charities
and the state housing departments.
reminded me of St George Hares painting. Its wonderful
to think of a well-dressed gallery crowd filing past that painting
on a Sunday afternoon a hundred years ago, murmuring respectfully.
It all depends how you frame the issue, as Mark Textor
would say. Put a nice gold frame around it, call them Christian martyrs,
and sincere naïve folk wont notice its actually a
salacious picture of naked ladies.