Tags: germaine greer

2 Dec 2007, Comments Off on Girl Germs at the Capitol

Girl Germs at the Capitol

Author: Helen

I took Girlchild to the Germaine Greer lecture on Jane Austen on Wednesday night. It was part of the Jane Austen and Comedy conference organised by Laura. I’d expected to have to drag this Millenial along under gentle duress, eyes rolling, in the hope that she might be intrigued in spite of expectations, and that she’d look back on it as an interesting experience, hearing a public lecture from one of our most prominent intellectuals and shit-stirrers. How I underestimated that girl. She, like, totally got it at once, came cheerfully and willingly and listened attentively (with the odd chuckle), despite not being a huge Austen fan.

Shameful confession: I’ve never been inside the Capitol Theatre before. The theatre itself is a larger than life personality which would upstage a lesser speaker. It was nice to hear a voice say hello in the queue outside and turn around to see Genevieve from Reeling and Writhing, who I’d met at a couple of blogmeets.

If you didn’t want girl cooties, it was the wrong place for you. I was amused to see that the crowd was overwhelmingly biased to women my age or older, and that many of them – Genevieve included – had the same idea of bringing a daughter along. Initiating them into TEH HIVEMIND. (Tim T was in the audience, but I didn’t spot him.)

“Check out the estrogen level in this place,” said Girlchild. I wondered if we’d all start menstruating at the same time the next day. Hell, with this many women in one room, the men would be, too.

Germaine Greer has an image in the popular mind as a ballbusting terror on wheels. It doesn’t reflect her real-life persona, as most of the people who read here would know. She’s like your favourite auntie, the generous and funny one who nevertheless doesn’t take any crap from anyone, and might come out with Outrageous Remarks after a few sherries. “Hello, there,” said a sweet voice to kick off the lecture. She spoke self-deprecatingly of not doing written lectures very much, but aiming to please anyway, and her disappointment at not being able to see our faces because of the stage lighting. She took us on a magical mystery tour around the Bildungsroman (with reference to The Getting of Wisdom and Mansfield Park), the eighteenth century, Colin Firth’s wet shirt (she’s over it); Why she doesn’t write fiction herself; Psychoanalysing Fanny Price in Mansfield Park; the invention of scottishness, Percy Shelley, and many other fascinating side trips, rather like the alleyways of Melbourne into which we spilled afterwards – you never know what you’ll find, but like Greer, you always return to the firm grid of Bourke/Elizabeth/Swanston which keeps us on topic.

Maybe shamefully, I was hoping for a hint of controversy – a provocative remark, a hint of intellectual stoush maybe – and blow me down if Pamela Bone didn’t stand up right at the very end, in question time, and ask why, if Germaine was able to talk about the patriarchal structures binding Fanny Price and other female heroines, why she wasn’t … I forget here what she was actually advocating Greer do at the time, but anyway, feminists aren’t doing enough.

I recognise not everyone frequents the same corner of the blogosphere, so if you don’t immediately recognise this popular strawargument, I’ve blogged it before here, and you can find much robust discussion (cough) here and here.

Greer’s reply was a study in fluency and civility, although her voice was fighting irritation in response to Bone’s, which was sullen and accusatory. I wonder how many times Greer has had to take on that stuff from the Decents in her own home base. Rather than focusing on the savagery and needless suffering caused by the West’s concept of direct “intervention”, as well as the fact that our incursions onto middle-eastern soil have not really been prompted by concern for the status of Muslim women, Greer’s central point is that in the places where the barbarities happen, we have no standing. We can only help people on the ground who have some standing in that society. Otherwise, we can denounce until we’re blue in the face, but nothing will happen– the people practicing the barbarities just think we’re weak and degenerate for doing so. Also, as we can’t seem to get the justice system to do much for rape victims in Australia, we won’t be very effective anywhere else.

No stoush ensued. Laura asked a question about the reading of Jane Austen, and do we read it in the wrong way – that is, as a romance novel? Greer’s answer is that there is nothing to worry about, the text is always there and we will always have it no matter how many production companies make bodice-ripper movies out of it.

I wish we could always have Germaine, but at least we had the experience of hearing her speak; Girlchild and I were exceedingly diverted.

Update 2/12/07: Laura and Another Outspoken Female debrief. Other people we failed to spot in the audience: Gina Riley and Judith Lucy.

LP has more – and that hilarious Andrew Bolt has weighed in too, wouldn’t you know.

Update 6/12/07: Dr. Cat, who was part of the JA conference, debriefs too.
Crossposted at Road to Surfdom

28 Oct 2007, Comments Off on Not just pretty (type)faces

Not just pretty (type)faces

Author: Helen

Besides entertaining us all with writing, many of my must-read bloggers have started some exciting real-life projects. Here’s some of the things people have been doing.

Ampersand Duck and Crazybrave Zoe have started up a website for Artwranglers. As well as publishing posts on art, artists and exhibitions, Artwranglers does collection management, conservation, valuation, database management, transport and all kinds of useful technical stuff. Zoe is running the blog and Ducky is doing the printed material. Here is something very frightening from the earliest posts on the blog. Oy.

Laura of Sills Bend (and Sarsaparilla) is putting together a Jane Austen and Comedy conference for late November. As a non-academic I was inspired by the idea of going to hear the Germaine Greer lecture. Girlchild and I are going. We’ve got tickets! Way-hey!

I didn’t know that Spiceblog Anthony had a magazine in addition to the blog. The mag is called Spice, of course. A year’s subscription is a mere $30, which would only buy you three Monthly mags.

Link’s cafe is getting off the ground, and the Blairites are turning themselves inside out, logically speaking; The rightwing penchant (in Australia, that is) of valorising the small business as the highest human endeavour – rank sentimentality, as they really prefer big business- has come up against someone whose politics they don’t agree with actually having one. So they’re trying to make a case that this small business isn’t worthwhile, because it’s, you know, a leftie small business, which leads to various hilarious hippy jokes. Hilarious in their lameness, that is. I’ll make sure I drop into Link’s cafe should I ever be doing a leisurely driving tour through NSW (which might be dimly, remotely possible, if I get my arse into gear, which I rarely do.)

Slightly off topic, because not a blogger, but someone who was mentioned on this blog: Mrs Wainwright has released a new CD, Clickety Clack. Genre: Country /pop/folk (including the subgenre which Trish describes as “Celtic Tragedy”. It’s a fine effort from Trish and the boys. (Channelling Ma-sha): You did good, girlfriend. Well done, darlin’.

Who have I missed? Post a comment with a link to your new business startup, artistic project, recording or imminent world domination.

Coming up: an exciting announcement from the Balcony household. It’s SO’s project, and he’ll want a dedicated post.