Free speech for public servants and Osip Mandelstam

During the week the High Court of Australia passed judgement on a case in which a public servant was sacked for an anonymous tweet, critical of government but made in her private life, that was said to breach a code of conduct for government employees. The lower courts had found that this action was an … Continue reading Free speech for public servants and Osip Mandelstam

My descriptions of the Northern Peoples – travel in Stockholm and Uppsala

I am returning today to my notes on my travels, and piecing together the literary and cultural associations prompted by my travels through Stockholm and Uppsala in June. I began to say that I knew little Swedish or Scandinavian writing or culture as I entered the country, but that was not really true. As we … Continue reading My descriptions of the Northern Peoples – travel in Stockholm and Uppsala

11 years with WordPress – from the archive: Good Government Starts Today

Earlier this week I got a message from WordPress that I had passed my 11th anniversary as a blogger on the platform. I began with an anonymous blog, The Happy Pessimist, which I began amidst a bout of doubts about my public service career, which led me to embrace the political essay in its new … Continue reading 11 years with WordPress – from the archive: Good Government Starts Today

Poem: Boundless

Another poem from my collection in writing, Meditations. It may be prefaced by these words from the conservative philosopher, Michael Oakeshott: “In political activity . . . men sail a boundless and bottomless sea; there is neither harbour for shelter nor floor for anchorage, neither starting-place nor appointed destination. The enterprise is to keep afloat … Continue reading Poem: Boundless

Reflections on 2018… on (not) belonging

This year has seen the mass formation of stories of belonging in defiance to an imagined social order of cultural dominance: #metoo, people of color, it's OK to be white, neurodiversity, gender diversity, identity politics, alt-right, intellectual dark web. majority-minority. These new claims of belonging, of strength through identity, oppose the powers that be, and … Continue reading Reflections on 2018… on (not) belonging

Poem: South Ward

I have made many visits to mental health hospitals over the years, almost all of them in support of my mother who suffered for most of her adult life from severe mental illness. The experience of these institutions humbles the mind. It teaches us how each of us is a "preposterous hodgepodge, uniquely arranged" - in the words of the great Inga Clendinnen who knew the gulf between the experience of the well and the sick - "a more significant division in any society than class or gender or possibly even homelessness."