Mapping Inner Conflict with Montaigne


Those who know me would probably find it unsurprising to know that my current favourite pop music artist, Montaigne, goes by a stage name inspired by the french philosopher who made essays popular, and wears shirts that say ANALYSE YOUR WEAKNESSES. As a literature nerd who aspires to emotional awareness, I’m aware that I can be something of a niche audience, and yet somehow, here I have been blessed with pop music of a broad appeal that actually ticks those boxes for me, and for that I am so incredibly stoked.

Montaigne is an absolute star, awarded as “Next Big Thing” by FBi Radio’s SMAC awards in 2015 and “Best Breakthrough Artist” in the 2016 ARIAs, a hype train that I’m sure will only gather even greater momentum as we see more from her. I very rarely resonate so strongly with a musician’s branding as much as I do with Montaigne’s right now, so it seems…

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Theresa May sends message to a Turnbull government of slogans, secrets and lies.

Urban Wronski Writes

may and turnbull

Stunned by what the press insists is a “shock” election result in Britain where, inexplicably, hollow slogans, austerity economics and Sir Lynton Crosby’s fear tactics fail to win the day for Tory crash test dummy, Theresa May, our political world is reeling this week as MPs joust with shock jocks in a knee-jerk war on terror while Chief Scientist, Alan Finkel obligingly offers our fearless leaders another chance to dodge any real commitment to climate change.

Political actors dig deep. Best mystery shopper is won easily by One Nation’s epic failure to yet provide a coherent, credible explanation of who paid for Pauline’s Jabiru, while stunt of the week goes to Adani’s incredible “Green Light to Carmichael” oratorio Tuesday, a stirring, religious work relayed faithfully by media and featuring standout performances from fossil fuel fan-boy Resources Minister Canavan and Queensland coal-lobby groupie, Annastacia Palaszczuk.

The staging of Green Light

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Turnbull government a dead parrot as power-crazed Trump cuts loose

Excellent satirical commentary on recent political events by Urban Wronski. Well observed, with more than just a few chuckle-worthy phrases, e.g.:
As the Chinese Year of the Rooster dawns, Malcolm Turnbull and his government are already feather dusters.

It’s been a shocker of a holiday for a Turnbull government which slunk off to lick its wounds after being routed by its own ludicrous 2016 energy policy debacle – only to be rocked by M…

Source: Turnbull government a dead parrot as power-crazed Trump cuts loose

Sussan Ley, Centrelink and Alcoa: Turnbull government in deep trouble

The latest from blogger Urban Wronski – highlights recent pratfalls of the Turnbull government.

It’s been a bad week for Turnbull government. Even for a mob with a gift for self-inflicted crisis and a record for monumental mismanagement and sheer ineptitude, it’s been a shocker. H…

Source: Sussan Ley, Centrelink and Alcoa: Turnbull government in deep trouble

Standing Up to a Strongman — Caroline Kennedy: My Travels

Contributing Op-Ed Writer By MIGUEL SYJUCO DEC. 11, 2016 A rally in suburban Quezon near Manila, on Nov. 30, to protest the re-burial of the late Ferdinand Marcos at the Heroes’ Cemetery. MANILA — Dusk set silver-gray over the crowd gathered in a park here on Nov. 25, but the banners and placards could still […]

via Standing Up to a Strongman — Caroline Kennedy: My Travels

Niki Savva, Tony Abbott, Peta Credlin and the kiss of death to Liberal politics.

A very good,review, by political blogger Urban Wronski, of the much-talked about Niki Savva book Road to Ruin, which I have yet to read (but am motivated now to do so).

Urban Wronski Writes

tony and margie mis-kiss

Former Peter Costello staffer, political commentator, veteran Canberra journalist Nikki Savva’s book The Road to Ruin, How Tony Abbott and Peta Credlin destroyed their own government is a  carefully substantiated examination of the disastrous consequences of Tony Abbott’s surrender of his Prime Ministerial authority to his political dominatrix, his high-handed Chief of Staff, Peta Credlin.

By patiently interviewing an abundance of MPs, former staff, friends and other key players who were keen to place themselves on record, Savva documents Abbott’s abdication. He was a Prime Minister who gave up power the moment he won office. Failing to set up the right structures, personnel or processes to run a government he left it all to Peta.

Lacking any real qualification or personal attribute to be a Prime Minister, Abbott allowed his power-hungry, megalomaniacal adviser to do his job for him. It was an arrangement that suited both of them nearly two…

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On Awakening: My feminist journey (Part I)

When I left an abusive marriage decades ago, I wasn’t aware that my ‘abandonment of the marital abode ‘ (in the terms cited in the Civil Code of my country of origin) marked the beginning of my feminist journey.

I didn’t count myself as a feminist then. Indeed, I didn’t know what it meant – I remember  reading bits of news from the UK and USA of  women marching, burning bras, picketing men-only pubs and clubs. These reports mystified me. What was it all about?

It wasn’t the actual act of separation from my former partner that I regard, in hindsight, as a feminist act. Leaving an unhappy marriage is not necessarily feminist, without considering the circumstances that led to it,.What counts is how it leads to a woman’s realisation of self, and the accompanying awareness of a distinct identity and place in society.

My ex-partner was prone to drunken violence. Looking back, and with what I now know of psychological disorders, he might have had untreated post-traumatic disorder  that led to violent behaviour. However, at the time, few people, not even those among the medical profession in my home country, knew of or understood PTSD.

I sought counselling. My partner, of course, didn’t think there was anything wrong with him – the problem was me. He expected me to conform to the ways of his family. One of those I consulted was an old  Catholic priest, a kindly man, but his advice was like a death sentence: : “You just have to bear the suffering, my dear, never mind, you will get your reward  in heaven”.

I resisted that advice after much soul-searching; I decided to leave when I realised that staying could end with premature death (never mind the heavenly reward), either from mental illness and suicide, or from any future DV episode. I was not fearful for the children staying with their father because he was never violent towards the kids, and his parents and sisters were living in the same premises.

Even though I felt free at last from fear and violence, I was still beset by guilt, shame and self-doubt, especially about leaving my children. Family and friends, even though they knew of the violence, thought it was wicked of me to leave. I should have just stayed, ‘for the sake of the children’.

One day I chanced upon Simone de Beauvoir’s The Second Sex. I read it through and could not believe how closely it seemed to resonate with my life, my innermost longings and thoughts.  It was a godsend, an  eye-opener. The high, almost ecstatic, sense of enlightenment I felt was like the day when, as a very young child, I discovered I could read and comprehend the words in my kindy primer. The Second Sex made me understand why my life had gone awry, why my marriage failed, even why the violence. Simply put, my ex-partner and I weren’t ‘made for each other’.I wasn’t ready, not mentally nor emotionally equipped, to accept the patriarchal dominance that was the norm prevailing, which my ex-partner expected . Indeed, it was my father’s dominating, controlling hold over me that drove me into marriage, thinking that as a married woman, I would at least be leading my own life as an adult – from frying pan to the fire, as it turned out. As de Beauvoir put it:

The truth is that just as – biologically – males and females are never victims of one another but both victims of the species, so man and wife together undergo the oppression of an institution they did not create. If it is asserted that men oppress women, the husband is indignant; he feels that he is the one who is oppressed – and he is; but the fact is that it is the masculine code, it is the society developed by the males and in their interest, that has established woman’s situation in a form that is at present a source of torment for both sexes.

However, the notion of a long-institutionalised ‘masculine code’ cannot be taken as an excuse for violent and abusive behaviour. Each of us, after all, should be able to still use reasonable judgment to guide our actions.

I am about to reread The Second Sex, now more than three decades since my eyes fell upon the book. No doubt  there will be some  of de Beauvoir’s original ideas on women and female relationships that I would now disagree with, but I daresay some of her major points will still hold. But what I know is that at the time I first read her work, during those early weeks when I left my marriage, her words gave me much comfort and encouragement. She taught me that the patriarchal order of things, which I had accepted as ‘the way things are’  is not the natural order. This now famous quote particularly struck a powerful note with me: One is not born, rather one becomes, a woman. Women accepted patriarchy as normal for too long, to the detriment of their own personal and social development as a human being.

I stopped feeling guilty, no longer felt ashamed. I wasn’t wicked: I was simply resisting and fighting back against oppression. Having removed these negative feelings, I was on my way to remaking my identity and my life.

This episode – reading de Beauvoir –  is only the first of my encounter with feminist thoughtMy interest and understanding of feminism continued developing. Like life itself, ideas of and about feminism are constantly changing. The concept of patriarchy as a theory of  male oppression over women may be outmoded, but  it  is not dead, because it is still practised in many societies.  But it is not the only explanation for gender inequality and oppresssion. Much more needs to be explored in the economic, political and cultural structures of society to correct the imbalance between men and women in all aspects of their lives.

Postscript: I have remarried, happily now for many years, to a man who has encouraged my feminist development and pursuits. I eventually gained custody of my children. I can say that these words by de Beauvoir now applies to my present situation

On the day when it will be possible for woman to love not in her weakness but in her strength, not to escape herself but to find herself, not to abase herself but to assert herself–on that day love will become for her, as for man, a source of life and not of mortal danger.

Note: This piece is an account of my own experience. In referring to Simone de Beauvoir’s analysis of male-female relations of power and oppression, I do not deny that men also can be  victims of oppression or violence, with women as perpetrators. But statistics overall do point to the majority of victims of DV to be female.



In which Pell crosses to the other side of the road

No Place For Sheep

Good Samaritan

He Qi: The Good Samaritan

Over the last few days of his questioning at the Royal Commission into Child Sexual Abuse, Cardinal George Pell demonstrated the opposite of what his saviour, Jesus Christ, taught about helping those in need. Pell has proved himself to be about as far from the Good Samaritan as it is possible to get:

Luke 10:25-37 New International Version (NIV)

The Parable of the Good Samaritan
25 On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”

26 “What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?”

27 He answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’[a]; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[b]”

28 “You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do…

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Politics, policy makers, and religion.

No Place For Sheep

Religion vs politics. Ruth Clotworthy Religion vs politics. Ruth Clotworthy

Last time Sheep ventured into this territory I was threatened with defamation action, however, undeterred, we’re going there again.

If you argue that a politician’s religious beliefs don’t affect his or her attitudes to policy, firstly consider this exchange between Catholic Prime Minister Tony Abbott and Qanda’s Tony Jones on refugees and immigration, back in the days when Abbott was LOTO and not too lily-livered to front up to an unpredictable live audience.

Note: It’s a measure of a leader’s failure that he becomes less available to unpredictable audiences, not more. In case you need another example of his failure but you probably don’t 

TONY ABBOTT: …Jesus didn’t say yes to everyone. I mean Jesus knew that there was a place for everything and it is not necessarily everyone’s place to come to Australia.

TONY JONES: It’s quite an interesting analogy because, as you know…

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