Weekend Round-Up 2007 #6

The Age

Just about every new government, either Federal or State, promises more open government, more access to information, and greater respect for the separation of powers. The fact that few of them achieve this should amaze none of us. But it is always worth keeping an eye on what governments are up to, which is what Clive Hamilton and Sarah Maddison have done in editing the collection of essays about the current Howard government, titled Silencing Dissent. Michelle Grattan, long-time political reporter for "The Age" reviews the book this week, and finds that "The Howard years have seen an unrelenting attempt to control information, curb irritant views, reward and advance political friends, and hobble those considered not one of 'us'. Silencing Dissent documents the process, inside and outside government - in public service and statutory authorities, media, universities and the research community, non-government organisations, the intelligence community, and, since the Government won a majority there, the Senate...This is a book with attitude - lots. Clive Hamilton heads the left-leaning Australia Institute. It makes its argument robustly, giving little quarter to any other side. But even if there is some exaggeration, the case its contributors build is scary."

Regardless of the fact that atheists such as Richard Dawkins are getting a lot of air-time, religion and spirituality seem to be flourishing in Australia. Gary Bouma has written a book about this upswell of interest in Australian Soul: Religion and Spirituality in the 21st Century, which Barney Zwartz finds "is an important contribution: insightful, authoritative, accessible and extremely wide-ranging. Indeed, Bouma covers so much ground in 212 pages that inevitably he sometimes seems glib. Occasionally I'd like to pause and see more closely how he justifies a generalisation (I am sure he will expand on this material in the future)."

The Australian

After last week's banquet of Australian fiction, this week we're down to one non-fiction collection. J.M. Coetzee's Inner Workings: Literary Essays 2000-2005 is reviewed by Geordie Williamson, and a detailed critique it is, too. The best line comes after Williamson has outlined Coetzee's interest in a number of European novelists whose lives seem to mirror the "crisis of European humanity" experienced during the twentieth-century: "This is not nearly as dense as it sounds: Coetzee shuttles effortlessly between critical registers. His prose is all starch and hospital corners, exhibiting the rare skill of translating difficult concepts into ordinary language."

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This page contains a single entry by Perry Middlemiss published on February 28, 2007 11:25 AM.

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