Wednesday, December 05, 2007


Even though I no longer subscribe to The Monthly, I still receive spam informative emails from the publishers trying to woo me back. In these emails the latest edition is summarised in all its overwritten, underthought glory.

Fortunately this has allowed me to discover two important things. Firstly, I don't want to subscribe to The Monthly. Secondly, The Monthly is so crammed with dunderheadedness that it can be mocked with nothing more than the tiny excerpts provided. I am lucky to have such a boon.

One of the benefits of reading the email rather than the articles, beyond the obvious ones, is that one is introduced to the commentary of Monthly editor Sally Warcraft... sorry that should be "Warhaft". Actually no, it should be "Warcraft", but I can't be held responsible for the shortsightedness of Sally's ancestors in missing out on a really cool surname.

In "Toots's Kismet", Robyn Davidson explores the behaviour of animals, reflecting on the time she spent in the Himalayas with Toots, an injured whistling thrush that she shared her home, and her life, with. Do animals and humans, she wonders, influence each other?

I dunno. Why don't we ask anyone who's ever owned a dog, eaten a steak or killed a mosquito?

What exactly does sharing one's life with a whistling thrush entail, anyway, other than sounding like being cursed with a bizarre venereal disease? Did she negotiate household chores with the bird? Did she seek its opinion on major purchases? Did it offer practical advice on how to deal with deep personal issues rooted in an unhappy childhood?

Elsewhere Sally goes from the social to the political:

In "Dropping the Ball", Mungo MacCallum critiques political commentators' tendency to adopt the language, and the attendant notions (points, free kicks and knockout blows), of sport. Sport and politics, in fact, have become so intertwined that the electorate is presented with merely an elongated political game, an interminable contest devoid of vision and grand ideas.

WorkChoices wasn't a vision, Sally? The GST wasn't a grand idea? Or when you write of visions and grand ideas, do you just mean visions and grand ideas that you and Mungo agree with?

If that's the case, then I too decry the lack of vision and grand ideas in politics, such as the vision of providing free MST3K downloads to struggling bloggers, and the grand idea of hiring homeless people to run through The Monthly's offices hitting random staff members about the head with cricket bats.

Of course the inanity does not begin and end with Sally Warcraft Warhaft Duke-Nukem. Gay Bilson gets down and foodie:

Food is so beholden to commerce, so lacking in independence from the idea of marketing, as opposed to the original definition of 'market', that our personal relationship with what we eat seems to have no legitimacy.

Er, could you repeat that last bit please, Gay?

...our personal relationship with what we eat seems to have no legitimacy.

I had fruit salad for breakfast. Apparently not only do I have a personal relationship with the salad (I would have thought it was rather impersonal myself), but that relationship is illegitimate. I feel so dirty.

Were I Supreme Overlord of the World, I would demand that Gay write out "our personal relationship with what we eat seems to have no legitimacy" on a blackboard until she could explain precisely what it meant or until her head collapsed like a failed souffle, whichever came first.

It's probably a good thing for her that my personal relationship with absolute power lacks legitimacy.

Meanwhile occasional contributor Don Watson is always good for a laugh, albeit of the sour, disgusted kind.

"I saw a kookaburra dive from a fence post on one side of the road to the verge of the other; in pursuit of what I don't know, because in the instant that it dived, a man on a motorbike roared round the corner and the bird's head struck the front wheel. The collision killed the kookaburra: it bounced back across the road and lay there on its back, quite still. What Australian does not love kookaburras? To be truthful, in that moment I would have been no more dismayed if it had been the motorcyclist on his back and the kookaburra flying on down the road."

So there you go - the gut reaction of Don Watson is that the life of a kookaburra and the life of a man are roughly analogous. Go on, Don, admit it: that line about "in that moment" is just a feint, especially if the motorcyclist was one of those working class people whom you celebrate in the abstract but despise in the flesh.

On the other hand, if Don had somehow foreknown that the motorcyclist was Gore Vidal or Naomi Klein, one suspects whole flocks of kookaburras could have gone under the wheels without comment.

The Monthly is now available at newsstands for only $7.95. Of course in some countries the same can be said for syphillitic prostitutes. In both cases just because it's for sale doesn't mean you should buy it.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hadn't heard of the book by Robin Davidson, thanks

2:48 PM  

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