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Bliss

Still coming down from the high of the weekend and enjoying watching the ever-growing collection of photos on Flickr in the Federal Election 07 pool.

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Kevin heaven

Last week I tried to write an election post and only got this far:

I realised today that it was in the lead-up the last election that I began blogging in earnest. (Only to let this earnestness slip alarmingly in the past year). I had blogged before, about sport of all things, but it was the election and a misguided belief that THIS time it would be different that really got things firing.

THAT tshirt

Then I realised I hadn’t made one stroke of the keyboard in an effort to make any of my usual uneducated comments on things this time round. I made noises about resurrecting Psephite but most of the participants now have real grown-up jobs and have not as much time for his blogging malarkey outside their own stuff. Fair enough.

I am secretly excited about this Saturday. I say secretly because I still maintain I WILL BELIEVE IT WHEN I SEE IT. Deep down I am visualising much champagne-pouring at the election party on Saturday but there is always this nagging feeling that it is there to be lost. And they’ve done THAT before.

Comparing this campaign and the general feeling in one of the most safe Labor seats in the country I have to say that even though there is more evidence to predict a win, there is more hesitancy to claim a win just yet.

I was going to go on and describe the feeling in one of the safest Labor seats in the country. But I didn’t. And now it’s all over.

Polling booth on Australia St NewtownWhen Saturday finally got here the atmosphere in Newtown, the leftist of the left in Sydney, was quite tense. Excited, expectant but still with a sense of hesitancy. As the day wore on there was a distinct party atmosphere developing. The hesitancy was starting to wear off and people were getting ready to party. Hard. People were setting up a television at the Hub (opposite the station). It was going to get really UGLY if things didn’t go to plan.

Thankfully, they did.

I was lucky enough to get to a party in a big backyard complete with a huge television purchased for the occasion. I figured some people would be glued to it whereas others would drift in and out and chat and make noise and not really watch the progress.

The big election telly

As it turned out EVERYONE was glued. There was extreme nervousness early on, when it was still light. Later there was spontaneous cheering and clapping, there was gloating, there was swearing and ultimately, there was an overwhelming sense of utter relief. A lot of us had been at a party together for the last election and that endly oh so badly. The slate had been wiped clean.

Glued to the telly

I don’t expect this honeymoon to last. I’m sure there will be disappointments. There is though now the hope that with a parliament that is moving more towards true representation of who we are as a nation, there is a chance for us to feel hopeful about who we might become.

Bring it on.

Kevin

Oh yeah, the line that got the biggest cheer of the night? Kerry O’Brien announcing that there had been a “huge swing to the ABC” after an update on Bennelong. How right you are Kerry.

We recruit

Now the Right has realised it was right about the Left it can also be revealed that recruitment starts early.

The Guantanamo Public Library

Although most of them haven’t been charged with anything, have no liberties and may or may not have been tortured, the detainees at Guantanamo Bay have a library, even if they’re not allowed to set foot in it.

Amis’ Last days of Mohammed Atta

For the first time in a long time I have just read a longer piece, in its entirety, on the screen. I usually print interesting things out and take them home. But as I am at home and have no printer, well, I guess I was forced to read it. Then again, perhaps it was the ghoul in me that pressed me on.

Martin Amis has written a short story on the imagined last day of Mohammed Atta. You can read it at the Guardian.

Although I felt it started rather badly:

Then to the bathroom: the chore of ablution, the ordeal of excretion, the torment of depilation. He activated the shower nozzle and removed his undershorts.

I persisted. I couldn’t help myself. Having read nothing previously, that I can recall, of Amis’ I didn’t know if it was just his style that was putting me off or whether it was actually going to continue to be like this.

Mohammed Atta is probably the only one of the 9/11 hijackers that has stuck in my mind and I suspect I am not alone in this. The passport photo of him, published widely after the attacks, seemed to show a man with no feeling, with no emotion. Something less than a man, then. He became the face of terror made real.

I suppose I was drawn to Amis’ story due to this very fact. The picture I had built up of Atta, was (John Howard would be proud), of someone with an unswerving, almost psychotic commitment to his beliefs. Amis’ piece actually brings out a little more humanity, a little more realism. Amis’ description of Atta is of a person not particularly rabid in his beliefs but that of someone who has other, social, difficulties which have contributed to the situation in which he finds himself on the morning of September 11. In other words, he’s tried to build up a complex, contradictory character.

And this is not the sort of thing that lends itself to Western views of September 11. Amis’ imagining of the cadre of hijackers is that there was a fair amount of animosity, of school-boy peer-pressure and bickering. To imagine that such an event could be orchestrated by a group that is, well, just like the rest of us, makes life rather uncomfortable. To think that the group was not a bunch of Muslim automatons would no doubt make some shift in their seats a little. Of course, no one would ever doubt the gravity of their offences. It does make it easier for us to deal with the event and the subsequent grief though if we imagine the perpetrators as aliens.

I think Amis’ short story, although at times the writing made me cringe, asks a lot of questions and is a reasonably good example of fiction being able to cut through the two-dimensionality of media and politics and forcing us to ask questions.

Why was Bush reading Camus?

John Dickerson asks this in Slate this week. And I agree, I would like to know a little more about the President’s holiday reading choice of Camus’ The Stranger.

White House spokesman Tony Snow said Bush “found it an interesting book and a quick read” and talked about it with aides. “I don’t want to go too deep into it, but we discussed the origins of existentialism,” said Snow.

Oh please, Tony, go into it. This is no time to be vague…does his experience in Iraq push him to read works replete with themes of angst, anxiety, and dread? Was the president trying to gain insight into the thinking of Europeans who are skeptical of his plan for democracy in the Middle East, founded as it is on the idea of a universal rational essence that existentialists reject? Did he just want to read something short for his truncated vacation? This may be the first time that national security demands an official version of literary criticism. We want a book report!