"I'm just going to write because I can't help it."- Charlotte Brontë

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Bits and Bobs, Sense and Dollars.

The best thing about having holidays is that one has time for movies and long leisurely reads. Here are three things that recently caught my attention:

It was all about the money when Germaine Greer went after the publishing industry in her article Writers wonder if it's worth putting pen to paper :

Australian publishers are not doing their job, which is to manage the market. Their most obvious failure is in organising the merchandising of electronic texts. Online publishing is the most exciting development since the invention of printing. Properly orchestrated, it would make possible the publication of all kinds of books in all kinds of formats at reduced cost and hence with higher profit margins.

Australians have always paid over the odds for books and they have bought as many books per capita as any other English-speaking nation, so it is not readers' fault Australian writers cannot make a living. And it's not the writers' fault, either. Even the best Australian writers find that, given the escalating cost of living typical of a mining boom, they cannot keep up their mortgage payments unless they work their ticket around the literary festivals, teaching creative writing or even how to be a professional author.

Writers getting paid properly for creating the primary product that keeps afloat the mammoth industry that is publishing? What an outrageous idea. She's such a trouble-maker, that Germaine.

But writers aren't the only ones getting dudded, and the matter of money popped up again in the December 2012 issue of Cosmos in this quote from physicist and author Brian Cox, which had me going 'What? Can this be true? Well, that's outrageous. Get your priorities straight, World!':

When you look at the cost of sending a manned mission to Mars, it's less than the cost of the current financial crisis. You can contrast the amount of money paid: we spent more money bailing out the banks in Britain in one year than we've spent on science since Jesus.

Just once, I'd like to read about CEOs and financial barons fully bearing the consequences of their greed-fuelled actions and doing it tough. Seems to me it's all fun, excuses and superior attitudes about their perception of what makes the world go round, but no accountability.

Finally, at the movies last week, watching Wreck-It Ralph (which had me worried half way through because it seemed to me the film was preaching that we should be happy with our miserable lot even if other people are mean and nasty to us because upsetting the status quo will inevitably upset the social order and make those other thoughtless people miserable too, which I found offensively feudal. Fortunately, a more inclusive message that condoned a little shaking up of society to right such injustices ultimately prevailed), this now often quoted line excusing the gruff behaviour of Sergeant Calhoun (Jane Lynch), a highly armoured and beweaponed and certainly troubled female soldier from a sci-fi, high action, space bug-hunting video game was also the standout for me and made me laugh:

It's not her fault - she was programmed with the most tragic back story ever.

And boy, her back story as it unfolded was heartbreaking indeed. Every old chestnut in the tragic hero/heroine journey was presented with a comic SF twist.



Steve Cameron said...


I also read this article by Germaine Greer and found it fascinating.

I don't always agree with what she has to say, but this time I think she got it right.

Thanks for re-posting it.


parlance said...

I'll have to memorise that line about Sergeant Calhoun, because it's wonderful and will help me be patient with my friends who are lugging around their own tragic backstories.

Gitte Christensen said...

Good old Germaine. I don't always agree with her either, Steve, but I think all societies need stirrers like her to raise debates and force us to find out what we actually do think about certain matters, especially issues we prefer to shy away from.

It is a good line, parlance, though probably best whispered as a secret aside to give yourself strength when you're dealing with troubled non-fictionals :)