Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Anzac Day Unease

Every year things tilt further off balance and it’s causing a grinding, an unease, a wearing away of the parts. I feel like it’s just me and only half of me hopes it isn’t. The other half hopes that it is. Self-generated psychic pain I can deal with. The external gnawings, they take endurance of a special kind, and extract a special price.
Well, we’ll see. Meanwhile the smell of something rotten hangs lower and heavier in the air. It’s like our national neurosis has taken the form of a kind of shit-mist - a dumb ether of confusion and insecurity. Today it hangs at its lowest and heaviest. Next year it will be heavier still – 2014 will start a four-year-long centenary commemoration to cover the years of Australian involvement in WW1. Jesus Mother.  

Australia is still being historicised. We are a fledgling nation, so young that the newly nationalistic clamour surrounding Anzac Day would just be mildly embarrassing and endearing were it not so insidious. The whole thing is unnerving. The pageantry of it is unnerving. The cheap Australian flags, the 4th of July American style ceremonials, the entire tourist industry built around Gallipoli. But beneath all that shit it’s really the constructs and clichés underpinning the pageantry that are rotting out my nerves and making me want to draw down and bolt shut the shades.
Because  basically it’s all myth. National identity, mateship, the egalitarian, fair go for all idea – all myth. This would be okay were it not for the way that our memorial culture takes collective memory as historical certainty and national truth.
Memory is just a prism through which we negotiate the past, and collective memory by its fucking nature contains constant renegotiations and appropriations over time in accordance with external circumstances, generational shifts and *coughJohnHowardYouCuntcough* political ideologies and agendas.
Yes. Well. It may be Anzac Day for the general pop but for me it is the one day of the year when I mourn for my incomplete national-identity-and-mateship themed thesis. I think about war every other day of the goddamn year alright, on all the days when hams on morning television aren’t providing the fucking narrative.

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