Creative Development

The Poetics of Politics in Australian (Film) Culture

Published alongside Rod Bishop's The Politics of Poetics in Australian (Film) Culture in Arena No.80, Melbourne, 1987

If you think you come in an era, an epoch - you're already spent. You're fucked (sic). To come in such periods - to believe that you have inserted yourself into a time or that you have been inserted by a time - is to be deluded by the mystery of power, to be overcome by your own presence. Your delusion brands you as a sign of time, as one who is excited by the prospect of being a sign of a time. You display yourself thus. You get a kick out of wearing threads (as a Taylor addicted to cloth) made out of the fabric of society. People see you walk down the street and gasp in awe at your ability to tailor yourself from society, embodying its knots and fraying (you think).

In the 60s you were a walking sign. You're now paint peeling off the side of an old brick terrace in the inner city - which you probably commend the National Trust for preserving. That building used to be your local milk bar - in a time when 7-11 was nothing but an arbitrary number. "Think globally - act locally": a political utopia where the concept of action itself is commodified into a repeatable capsule, whose very repetition is presumed to generate linkage. Like a wonderful ideological mosaic - except do you ever stop to notice the grout between the fragments, bonding them together, defining their separation? You now still support the concept of lobbying as a belief in the power of unification. You have your head in the skies and your feet on the ground - and you'll probably die without ever touching grout.

The 60s and the 70s are mutually exclusive states of mind that occurred simultaneously through colonised synchronicity. In the 70s you were still a sign, but you'd stopped walking. You even thought you'd stopped 'signing'. You were a living corpse, a zombie of signage. You'd come through the time you came in and thought that was it. You got on with your life. Think globally - act locally: how true. You thought 60s through the 70s. Like a rolling stone. Like the Rolling Stones. Like Rolling Stone. You were born (made 'aware' ) through synchronicity, but you'd died through synchronism. You talked of a generation gap (and you still do) and you still ignore the substance of grout.

No one possesses signs of the times - we just get stuck with them. We're not branded with them, but we inevitably wear them. Hence the T-shirt: the walking blank billboard awaiting any sign whatsoever. T-shirts are not made up of the fabric of society. (A true materialist would acknowledge that they're usually made out of polycotton.) Only the deluded think they can wear the fabric of society ... and only tailors hate T-shirts.

The world was your stage: you acted upon things, against things, for things. Your act was for real - it had an effect in the real. Street theatre. You have now found a different method of acting: political lobbying. You are excited by situationism - not for its cause, but for its effect. And not its heroic, matyristic, saintly or valiant effects, but for its authorial effect, where you become not the actor but the author, the wheeler of power of your action. You are still overcome by your own presents - removed from the street and now displaced in the corridors of power. Your voice reverberates down its chambers - you like the effect of your own voice.

Your power is now spherical - a mould of projected curves that come back to you, that go back to where you came. You are encased. Your voice is now effect-laden - like a thickened solo voice simulating a chorus. You are massed. They called you the 'us' generation. They call me the 'me' generation. I accept 'me' - but you're not an 'us' and perhaps you never were. And you never can be me ('me') nor could I be you ('you'). You are simply the 'you' generation. You should hear yourself sometime.

Philip Brophy - 10 in 1970.

Text © Philip Brophy. Image © the Australian Film Commission.