We’ve chanted it before, but dear Margaret has such effortless class and style, her outfits can’t help but garner admiration. We think she is the epitome of classic meets moderne chic.
I’ve been in London for nearly a month! I sort of can’t believe it, it feels as if I arrived yesterday. To commemorate, here’s a glowing St Paul’s that I snapped up after seeing Miss Julie at The Barbican.
This is a meek attempt to appease my absence from Nearly Kirking since my arrival in London. Be sure that a detailed post on the past three weeks is in the oven and there are various theatre reviews begging to be written. For now, drink in the shimmering beauty of Hampstead Heath Pergola & Hill Garden, it’s said that these gardens were the resplendent dream of a Lord Leverhulme, designed for 1920s garden parties and evening summer strolls and later used as a manor house for the local hospital during WWII. Living only 5 minutes down the road does have its perks and I often like to imagine I’m in a Poirot drama to pass the time.
Unnecessary photos of my secret garden. So cheesy, but I’m so darn grateful for living 5 minutes from this 🙏 (at The Pergola and Hill Garden)
May look like a cheerful, red-faced London butcher but don’t be fooled, official Make-up artist for Shiseido, Dick Page, has a gentle artist’s soul…wrapped up in a philosopher’s crystallined cerebral cortex. Browse through some of his travel videos to Hong Kong, New York, Paris, and Tokyo, for some tranquil wanderlust.
I truly adore and admire Margaret Zhang, especially the Australian roots (V and I are starting to really appreciate our Australianness now that we are enveloped in the vast expanse of “Briterica”) that brewed this fine soul. I went to the same university for a while and got to meet ‘Margot’ briefly. Here, Margot reminds me immediately of my new but deep-seated fixation with organic, holistic produce shopping. I could spend hours wandering through open-air market, quaint little organic groceries or the Whole Foods giant itself. Call it procrastination from reading the impenetrable Hegel but it feels so goddamn good.
— Sylvia Plath, The Unabridged Journals (via larmoyante)
A beautiful evocation of the relationships that connect, the roving wanderlust that animates and the soon-to-be re-union of V and A across the Atlantic. See you in June, m’colleague.
Sunset over the Heath ponds, elderflower presse and old letters… To misquote Martha Graham, a queer divine satisfaction.
A glorious, heart-thumping and foot-stamping tune from the ghosts of our favourite band, Yves Klein Blue’s. YKB’s lead singer, Michael Tomlinson, has in the past few years that he’s been in London grown his hair long, formed another popping-alternative band that smells a bit like YKB and possibly acquired a British accent. Well, it just so happens that the band is conveniently playing a gig on Camden High Street on Wednesday, where I may just linger for a few moments too long. His voice is a wonderful reminder of home-grown talent taking on the big guns.
— Louise Erdrich. A quote that has and is powering me through some winding roads and tempestuous storms.
Let’s clear something up: our responses to terrorism are not about the loss of innocent life. We think they are because that’s the first thing we talk about. We use the suffering of victims to emote, and we look at the attacks through that prism. But it’s never really about the victims. It’s about us. It’s about the magnetic trauma of watching these attacks repeat on our news services. It’s about the fact each of us is entirely interchangeable with the killed and injured; that we can so easily transpose ourselves into the situation. It’s about the brutal unpredictability of the violence.
This is partly why the Boston Marathon bombings have attracted so much more of our attention than the much deadlier bombings that struck Iraq on the same day. It’s not just that we don’t value Iraqi lives as much as American ones (although this is true, given our ability to rationalise away the mammoth loss of civilian life during the Iraq war). It’s that there is nothing surprising about them. They do not shock us. And for that reason, they cannot truly terrorise us.
Terrorism is a grotesque form of theatre. It doesn’t exist without its audience, which is why it is always public. The show is for us. The most futile terrorist attack is the one we fail to notice. So it is designed to seize our emotions; to make us incapable of ignoring it. Thus is terrorism’s paradox: it succeeds only because we make it. We ultimately decide whether or not it is effective. And generally we react wildly, thereby rewarding the terrorists who have sought to provoke us.
But it is different this time. US President Barack Obama’s initial response was to tell us all the things we did not know. ”We don’t yet have all the answers,” he began. ”We still do not know who did this, or why. And people should not jump to conclusions before we have all the facts.” His tone was cool and authoritative - described byTime as ”efficient formality” - as if he was determined to avoid any emotional response. Only the next day did he describe it as ”an act of terror”.
Closer to home, Foreign Affairs Minister Bob Carr responded by telling Australians considering travel to the US: ”I wouldn’t alter my travel arrangements. This is something that, the way we live now, could occur at any time. In fact, if you look at the experience of terrorism since September 11, 2001 … what is striking is how little progress in over a decade the terrorists have made.”
Meanwhile, NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell rejected any suggestion of a suffocating security crackdown on the City2Surf, since that would mean it was ”not of the same character” and ”would actually give a win to those people who engage in those sorts of acts of violence”.
This is a far cry from the kind of hysteria that typically follows a terrorist attack. There’s no talk of smoking anyone out of their holes, or bombing anyone back to the Stone Age. There’s no with-us-or-against-us ultimatum. Sure, this attack isn’t as apocalyptic as September 11. But it is just about impossible to imagine that if the Boston Marathon had been bombed 12 years ago, the response would have been so restrained. It’s almost as if we’re dealing with an unfortunate matter of routine.
Even the media coverage has, generally, followed suit. Yes, the New York Post got it about as wrong as possible when it declared 12 people had died, and a Saudi national had been identified as a suspect. But then, the Post has long since given up on being a real newspaper.
More reputable organisations such as CNN and the Associated Press committed one howler, reporting a suspect had been arrested when that was not true - prompting a swift, terse rebuke from authorities. But this was no Oslo debacle, when every outlet from The New York Times to the BBC proceeded cheerfully on the basis that the terrorists were connected somehow with al-Qaeda. We’re witnessing something truly remarkable: media outlets almost sticking to reporting what they know, and not racing ahead of a terrorism story. Ever since the bombs detonated, we’ve confronted something of a deafening silence, a huge vacuum in the story. Why are so few attempting to fill it?
I have two theories on this. The most encouraging one is that we’re finally maturing in the way we handle terrorism. Gone is the triumphalist rhetoric of the ”War on Terror”, with its ridiculous promises of a terrorism-free world and the ultimate victory of freedom over tyranny. In its place is a far more sober, pragmatic recognition that terrorism is a perpetual irritant, and that while it is tragic and emotionally lacerating, it kills relatively few people and is not any kind of existential threat. Perhaps we’re learning to avoid being sucked into terrorism’s radicalising vortex, where attack brings overreaction, and the violence rapidly escalates. And perhaps the media have been so stung by the embarrassment of Oslo that they have recognised the virtue in shutting up occasionally.
But it’s possible, too, that this reticence is a product of the very real suspicion that the perpetrators here are self-styled American patriots. At this point, most analysts are leaning that way. And while it’s entirely possible they are wrong, there’s something chilling about realising that this violence might not be something that can be assigned to a demonic other. Maybe we’re speaking in more hushed tones because our own societies might just be implicated.
We won’t know until perpetrators come to light. Does the act become more heinous if it is Islamist? Does terrorism cease to be a fact of life, and once more become an existential threat? If so, it cannot be about the attack itself, which, after all, is the same either way. It must be about the politics, the prejudices, we bring to it. That could be very revealing. Watch this space.
Waleed Aly presents Drive on Radio National and is a lecturer at the global terrorism research centre at Monash University.