Tag Archives: Michael Leunig

Oh This Age! Oh These Manners!

Right.  Let me see if I can justify this post.  It’s not going to be typical of this blog.

It is about a writer.  That’s good.  On this blog I write about writers and writing.  But it’s really about Twitter and a Melbourne daily broadsheet called The Age.  Not so good.  There we enter unfamiliar waters.  Possibly waters marked ‘Here Be (Marine Species Of) Dragons’.  We’ll see.  But it’s also about freedom of expression and about variety of expression.  And that’s something I’ve written about before.

If, like me, you live in Victoria then you already know that last week Catherine Deveny lost her job as an opinion columnist with The Age.  And you – more or less – know why.  For any readers hailing from more far-flung areas, or any living humble lives in caves and only alleviating the boredom by reading adaironbooks.wordpress.com, a brief re-cap is probably in order.  For the rest of you, be assured that I’ll keep it very short. Continue reading


Popular Penguins

I’m a huge fan of Popular Penguins.

They’re wonderful, robust, no-nonsense little paperbacks; I like the 50s orange covers, the neat typeface (take a bow, Eric Gill), and the lack of frills and trimmings.  And at ten clams a pop, they’re a bargain.  It’s a rare visit to a bookshop that sees me resisting the urge to invest in one.

It being Penguin’s seventy-fifth anniversary this year, they’ve released a list of seventy-five new titles to join the existing one hundred and nine.  It would have been a nice round one hundred and ten, but some duffer included Chomsky’s Hegemony or Survival in the first fifty without realising that Penguin didn’t own the rights to it. Continue reading

Self Flagellation

In the dark old days of Mao’s China, erring party disciples would, if they were exceptionally lucky, be made to write self-criticisms.  In these documents, the straying member of the flock would abase themselves, detail their crimes against the collective and swear to be a better and truer comrade in the future.  For all I know, this sort of thing still goes on.

In the short life of this blog, I find I have urinated copiously from the lofty internet heights on Robert Frost, Inga Clendinnen, Nick Hornby, Francis Collins, Emma Beare, Don DeLillo, Ron Rash, Madeleine St John, Andrew Porter, Bret Easton Ellis, Margaret Atwood, Norman McGreevy, Michael Leunig, Colleen McCullough, J D Salinger (the day after he died), Bryce Courtenay and Tim Winton.  Well over twenty per cent of my posts, in other words, have been more or less slavering attacks.

The tables must turn, however.  In the interests of fairness, I’m going to have a go at me.  Ladies and gentlemen, the scorpion is about to sting himself.  Let the Mao-style self-criticism begin.  I direct this not to Mao, but to George Orwell, whose Politics and the English Language is and shall always be my final guide to writing.  The idea of taking up a totalitarian epistolary notion and directing it at Orwell is grievously inappropriate, but I can’t resist. Continue reading

Why Leunig Gets My Goatperson

The Lot in Words finds Michael Leunig out of his element, and only occasionally in full possession of a reasoning mind.  As a study of how debased a person’s opinions can become when cultural and ethical relativism run rampant it has significant value, but as a collection of prose writings it has no value at all.

There must have been a time in my life when I didn’t know who Michael Leunig was, but I can’t remember it.  In The Age and in Penguin collections of his cartoons owned by my parents I learned first to love and then gradually, oh so gradually to understand the world of Mr Curly and his duck, Goatperson and the myriad confused and lost figures wandering through a world of sublime madness and absurdity.

Before the Howard years, before September the 11th, before the most recent wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Leunig looked on the world with a puzzled but essentially forgiving eye.  He doesn’t do that anymore.  Puzzlement has given way to perilous certainties, and forgiveness to fatuous cant. Continue reading