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Against productivity

Here is a picture of my fancy standing desk, shoebox/dictionary edition. The title of this post is ironic, or possibly a declaration of longing. I’ve been a bit busy.

It does mean I have some more work out in the world.

The melancholic background is a new post for Overland, on grief, Judith Butler, and expendable humans / the struggle against dehumanisation. I have just ordered Butler’s new book on non-violence. Her thinking has been a strong scaffold for my own for many years, and I’ve found her work especially necessary during the pandemic.

Torino is slowly coming back to life. It’s all a bit anxious, but it’s also a joy to hear and see people out in the street again. I cycled up along the river on Sunday and there were plenty of youths hanging out by its banks, laughing and smoking weed – not very socially distant, but lovely to see. I was delighted and then overwhelmed by a great fear that we will all begin forgetting this too quickly, before it is even over.

Here is a small observance that appeared on a neighbourhood partisan memorial on April 25, the day Italy commemorates its liberation from fascism. Bella Ciao was sung from the balconies. It was beautiful and strange and the coincidence with Australia’s ANZAC day invited comparisons. I keep thinking about how history lives in us, which makes us its ecosystem – breaking some things down, feeding others. I guess I’ll always be fascinated by how these forms of personal and social memory work (and don’t work). It’s been interesting to realise, while editing The Airways, that everything I make has some preoccupation with memory and accountability.

While we’re on accountability: I also have a new short story in The Saturday Paper, I will not be taking questions, [$] which is a bit of political satire told entirely in questions, written a year or so ago, and reading, in the context of present corruption etc challenges, as very of-the-moment; but then, I suppose not much changes on that score.

Get well soon, world.