The Nonsense of Ab-Sense: A critical review of Jack Straw’s epochal work, Ab-Sense—a book that doesn’t exist, by an author who has never been seen
Jack Straw would not be the first non-existent Australian writer who set out to create the archetypal Australian novel in which the hero of the story is set up to embody a contemporary Australian Legend. Nor would it be for me to say that Jack Straw has failed at this. In fact his work covers a great deal of ground, finding a case for the Australian Legend in places so unlikely that the whole premise of the work beggars belief, and still, when the cover is finally closed, the sheer nothingness that it generates remains so deeply embedded in the unconscious that it reminds one of waking from a daydream with sweat pouring like the condensate on a beer can cooled in the dam. In the words of Mitchell librarian and Miles Franklin Award judge, Richard Neville, it is a novel that has ‘an aspect that … sticks in your mind.’ 1
The point that Straw makes in this, his third novel 2 — and I propose his premise could be summed up by a simple Lennon and McCartney lyric, ‘A Nowhere man sitting in his nowhere land leads to making nowhere plans for nobody’— (1965) is deftly argued from both a political standpoint and a cultural one. At no time is the reader challenged to look beneath the lines, for if one dared, one would simply find nothing. There are no clever literary devices like Novakovic’s ‘fields of wheat representing fertility’,3 (2010) or clever homonyms like ‘acres of balls’; it is simply clean page after clean page drawing the reader into a blind saga of the becoming of a legend. The text offers nothing that can be drawn into palimpsest; it is like the country itself, ‘a land of sweeping plains,’ (Mackellar) spreading from cover to cover as though it were the impossible path from the North-West Cape to Cape Howe some four thousand odd kilometres eastward. If Paterson could ride Clancy across these pages today, he would discover the very thing he sought beyond the Overflow.
Straw’s novel reads like an exercise in striving for the outer limits of pastiche. Initially, there is the sense that it is an inverted parody of Clive James’s Falling Toward England, in which he describes the sensation of being ‘drawn there by gravity like a snowflake to the ground.’ (14) Straw’s main character, like the self of James, is also drawn by gravity, but he arrives by a ‘soft landing in the butt crack of the world’s arse end’. 4 (27) And then there’s a reminiscence of Peter Carey filtering from its colonial edges too. Like Carey, Straw casts a wide net of intrigue, dragging the reader along as if parallel to the net in the way Carey does with McCorkle in My Life as a Fake. As with many of Carey’s characters, Straw’s characters, redolent of a medley of barn-dance songs and emerging from a substantial history of Australian iconicity, bristle through the narrative at breakneck speed with hidden agendas that seem to surface only long enough to leave a simulacrum instead of any form capable of being fixed in memory. He manipulates his central character with a kind of ‘terror of being out of date’ (Carey 108), pushing the narrative into corners of conscious suspicion toward the European bullshit of literary theory that argues the absurd postmodernist disappearance of endings. But Straw has a brilliance too, which is almost le Carre-esque, lying in his ability to supplant moments of closure with new mini-narratives that create a violence of irruption in the text, pitching the story sideways at a moment’s notice and forcing the reader to reconsider any sense of the character’s identity, as though it is the reader who provides the greatest force of antagonism. Some critics have suggested that this novel is literature’s personal version of The Spy Who Came in from the Cold.
Straw’s hero is an unlikely Australian, an immigrant, a product of the new Britain, one who adventured ‘overseas’ and through the phenomenon of visa overstay (a policy gash the size of the Great Australian Bight from a seriously flawed government led by an inept prime minister called Polwright) 5 manages to never return to the ‘schizophrenic Englishness that promotes [the] contradiction [that the colonial places and people of Britain were] made subordinate to England and to the English whilst being held, simultaneously, as different.’ (Head 124)
It was made perfectly clear in the first blank pages that this hero is one of no particular colour, whose prevailing psychosis was not such that it would improve, either by 4.48, through the therapy of travel, or by means of inhaling the sweet acridity of the hemp left growing wild at the foot of the Blue Mountains by earlier travellers upon which he came by accident. In fact, it seems that everything this unlikely hero manages to accomplish, he does so by accident.
It was by accident that he left his native England. He’d arranged to meet a mate in a pub at Drury Lane following Arsenal’s trouncing by Newcastle City one Friday. His mate did not show, but a mob of Australians, egalitarian 6 to the core, argued the toss over football codes with him and introduced him to the legendary brands of Fosters and Bundaberg in quantities so copious that he left the tavern legless, was thrown into a van, driven to Heathrow and wheeled, paraplegic, aboard a Qantas flight with a false passport and visas identifying him as Tooanphrom 7. He slept the sleep of the dead for the full thirteen hours to Singapore, where he was woken by the gentle ministrations of a flight attendant who, curious to know the reactivity of a paraplegic’s penis, tended his every need during their two-hour layover. Five hours later, well fed and glowing from attention he did not deserve, the flying kangaroo’s Ranga from Randwick wheeled Tooanphrom out into the forty-one degrees of a summer mid day at Perth International airport, whereupon he promptly rose from the wheelchair, pecked the lovely attendant on the cheek as her jaw dropped and said, ‘[You’re] not standing by, to watch [me] slowly die, so watch me walking out the door.’ 8 (Straw 29)
His miraculous recovery and subsequent absorption by the brilliant sunlight into the heat haze of Perth airport’s car park was the first signal that, here, Straw was betting against the emergence of a true Australian Legend, a position Tooanphrom discovers to be left vacant by a host of other absences, from Croc Dundee to Cazaly, and a rival of the great Jesus of Nazareth (if ever an Australian could be found to worship). Not, as Straw goes to great lengths to illustrate, that Australians do not. Shane Warne was worshipped. He held the Legend briefly, but his exposed personal text messages to other players’ wives lost it for him pretty sharply. A legend can be a cad, but not a wanker. Ben Cousins came close, but his dalliance with the powder and the pills and running away from owning up to serious croppers disqualified him. A coward before the law cannot claim the prize. So it was that, when Tooanphrom arrived, the field seemed pretty empty. Australia was his oyster.
Jack Straw does a fair job of laying out the shoes Tooanphrom has to fill, and his narrative style refuses to leave anything waiting outside the door for an overnight polish. It’s gripping work, and he reminds us with megapixel sharpness that not only is there Clancy and other greats of Aussie homo fictus like Harry Beecham, Bazza Mackenzie, Mick Dundee and Les Norton, there is also a host of homos who are not fictus. He gives us a glimpse of Bob Hawke, a bloke who holds a record for downing a yard of beer, cried on television while prime minister—twice—and dumped his wife for a busty blonde shortly after. Hawke’s wavy grey locks and iconic larrikinism put him in a class of his own in the eyes of the country’s middle-aged Matildas, for whom he oozed sex like a capless Ipana tube oozes toothpaste.
Originally a sandgroper son of a former state premier from the well-to-do Western Suburbs, Hawke rose through Melbourne’s blue collar murk. But he was a man who knew the bush, its character and what it meant to the urban refugees who cleaned up other people’s shit day in and day out in the sprawling metropolises mestastasizing across the country’s shorelines, spreading tumours of humanity in the form of leafy hills-village suburbs and beachside bungalows astride shopping centre fora.
Straw’s London Australians send Tooanphrom forth with a healthy desire to take the crown; not just from the legends of politic, but also those of entertainment and sport. And he quickly found he had big acts to follow. Slim Dusty, the drover’s dog who had been stuck at The Pub with no Beer 9, Jimmy Barnes, himself a Jock immigrant, having found his way into Adelaide in the nineteen-seventies and emerged in the eighties the representative of the Australian Working Class Man 10; Bon Scott, another Jock and Fremantle jail’s most famous inmate who had paved the Highway to Hell 11 in the seventies, and of course John Farnham, the only rock and roll singer to ever be Australian of The Year, sprouting You’re the Voice.12 A large part of Tooanphrom’s struggle is to ‘try and understand it.’ (Qunta)
In sport, he uncovered Cazaly’s boots, Bradman’s pads, Norman’s woods—all serious legends, all Australians, all part of the pattern. And it did not stop there. Tooanphrom’s research took him into the realms of the industrial giants of the Australian Legend, including Lang Hancock who’d unleashed McCamey’s Monster, leaving its feral ferrite to his daughter to rescue from the greedy paws of his grandchildren, and the Duracks whose great pastoral dominion had grown and slaughtered more cattle than white Australians had eaten steak dinners, while producing in a daughter a notorious artistic fraud masquerading as an Aboriginal man whom the ancient spirits visited and guided the brushes. He stood in awe at the sheer magnitude of iconic characters like Alan Bond, who, one year was the first to ever wrench the America’s Cup from the grip of selfish Yankee paws, and the next handed Kerry Packer the fastest and easiest millions he’d ever made by defaulting on the purchase price of a television network. The ‘Legend’, he was quickly coming to realise was monumental, of mythical proportions, and in his mind, it was his task to create a history that could ‘demand greatness that should be everlasting.’ 13’ (Price, David 92)
Although Straw’s narrative is delivered in a form of chaotic mythic structure, at first giving all the appearances of a quest but gradually disintegrating into rebirth, it is as arresting as Peter Slipper’s gaydar as he casts Jung’s theories of the archetypal character squarely at the Australian Legend, and sets Tooanphrom on a path of self-mythification. When Tooanphrom is arrested for pissing in a public place, he argues in front of the magistrate that his act is an essential aspect of becoming the Legend, ‘as central as the ancient river beds along which the psychic current flows.’ (Straw 143) A shearer’s wife, in the post coital dusk of a sweaty afternoon, had told him of the legend of the pissing tree, which re-emerges later in the work appropriated by Art Lazaar’s Poetic License. 14 The magistrate dismisses the reference as a Joseph Furphy and fines him five hundred dollars, suggesting that next time he point Percy at the porcelain. He argues in front of the beak that he was about to do exactly that, and indicates a dark-skinned, amply bosomed girl called Tuppy. ‘But nature had the more pressing engagement—her porcelain had to wait.’ (Straw 144) His contempt cost him a day in jail. Straw uses the character of Tuppy as his prevailing metaphor for Australia’s dark history, a series of events that one of her relatives later told Tooanphrom was like being ‘fucked up the arse by a rough-hewn gatepost from a tingle tree.’ (221)
Tuppy’s story is revealed in an antiquarian mode of history that pitches the Australian Legend as a ‘fraud on the face of a naked nation.’ (188) Antiquarian history, according to Nietzsche, ‘seeks to preserve traditions and pass them on to those that follow.’ (Price, David 93) She takes Tooanphrom deep into the red centre where he meets her mob in a lost fortnight of booze and drugs and sex that alters his entire concept of what sex should be. He learns that her name is synonymous with cunt and is drawn into a mythical world of desire, from which she shows him a culture that has refused to be colonised, refused to die, but remains within the firm grip of its custodians, shrouded in secret business and preserving, for those yet to come into the world, the conditions under which those who preceded her came into being. It is because of this refusal to let the past become anything other than the history for herself that Tuppy remains Tooanphrom’s constant companion throughout the work until her violent death under a train, where not only does she leave him, but her history crumbles to dust at the same time. The Australian Legend, he finds, cannot exist within a history that refuses its monumental stature.
The other mode of history present throughout the work is the one brought by the performer, Art Lazaar 15 , whom Tooanphrom meets one Saturday afternoon soon after his arrival. By yet another accident, Tooanphrom finds himself a guest at an Asian family’s early evening barbecue, where he is drawn into a food culture that not only engages every nerve ending of the entire olfactory system, but celebrates a blended culinary refinement like nothing he has heretofore witnessed. Other than a gathering of Catholic priests (present not so much to bless the food as to take from the banquet the godliness of the repast and to sanctify gluttony) the only other white person among forty is Art Lazaar who, although born Australian, refuses to identify as anything other than Asian, citing Paul Keating’s assertion that Australia is ‘at the arse end of the world’ 16 (Milliken 1994) as justification for eschewing ‘outmoded and out-dated English, French and American modes of theory and power and politics,’ (Straw 136) and accepting membership of Asia as a critical imperative for Australia. It is his criticism of the commonplace history of Australia that alerts Tooanphrom to the possibility that the Legend may not actually exist, but only ever be present in a mythology brought from the outside, a colonised mythology that maintains the suppression of the real mythology of the land.
Functioning as a guardian/mentor character throughout the text, Art Lazaar performs a history in which he celebrates the extraordinary diversity of the Australian, pitching from the stage the myriad voices of immigrants other than the Englishman, bringing them into sharp contrast with those of the land’s Indigenous. The performances take on an increasing intensity, warning Tooanphrom that his quest is not only dangerous to himself, but it is laced with the possibility of undermining the monumental nature of all Australia’s political history. In between Crown Lagers, he tells him:
Australian history is a documentation of brooding tragedy with dark shadows that are frequently, and conveniently, lightened through a collective recall of great moments from the past. Australia makes its way in the world by ignoring inconvenient truths and embracing notions that things that actually happened can be wrapped in yarns, warped and bent at will, insulating the fabrication from the fallacy. (Straw 130)
He argues that Tooanphrom’s pursuit of the legendary status can only reinforce the monumental history that the English so much admire in their retelling of global colonisation. In a bid to alter his trajectory, Art Lazaar admits him to the membership of his Poetic License and takes him on the road, into the performer’s realm, from where he is able to enjoy the privilege of the view from the stage, the paregoric subculture of the backstage, and the endless sexual favours of adoring young girls.
Art Lazaar’s Poetic License rises to be a powerful force of cultural subversion. At his peak, he is pursued by the apparatchiks of Polwright’s newly formed Literary Commission, a secretive government agency tasked with closing down voices of dissent, claiming artists such as Art Lazaar to be seditious, giving voice to those who are oppressed and silenced by a consuming culture. His critical history takes ‘a form of personal history, which is not quite autobiography but an attempt to give him a past in which [he] would like to originate in opposition to that in which [he] did originate,’ (Price, David 100) choosing, instead, a personal past he prefers. As his story unfolds, Art Lazaar applies the facts to the fantasy in an effort to keep the Literary Commission at bay, restrain Tuppy’s influence, and the residual influence of unproved legends from taking effect in Tooanphrom’s pursuit of the grand narrative. In The Eighty-Sixth Gate Road, he questions the validity of the rabbit-proof fence and its effect on a rising tide of rural suicide; in Working Man’s Woman he raises serious questions about the social consequences of fly-in, fly-out workforces that companies use to keep the rapacious minerals industries out of sight of resident populations. In Shades of Grey, he offers the following comment on the apology to the stolen generations: [^17]
Came the day we apologised to the stolen generations:
A lesson from our past, Kev said, it’ll build our future nation.
Well, I’m sorry to be a cynic; to find so many wrongs …
I was shamed by the mother who’s never seen her son. (Straw 280)
p>Art Lazaar’s Poetic License works to break up and dissolve multiple accepted histories: in particular one that holds that Australia is a founded colony and it can somehow be made whole by apology alone. But it is The Legend of Ora Banda that finally gets Art Lazaar arrested. The work criticises the way a mix of crimes, in which a leading Perth detective played a critical role, is subsequently covered up and deleted from the history. Through Art Lazaar’s alternative history, the sharp point of Straw’s accusatory finger is directed at the proliferation of moral crime, including gold theft, murder, prostitution and organised drug racketeering brought about, not by a drop in moral standards, but by the shifting power centres of amoral politics and corrupt policing that creates criminals out of ordinary folk, and excuses criminal behaviour in those charged to protect society. Straw is not satisfied with just pointing this out, but uses Art Lazaar’s arrest and subsequent imprisonment to illustrate just how tenuous is any government’s hold on morality.
The melting of the Australian Legend in Straw’s work occurs synchronously with this moral decay and he leaves Tooanphrom with nowhere to turn other than inwards, where he finds only the emptiness of suburban life, stripped of any real connection with society other than conspicuous consumption. The reward for becoming Australian, he finds, is that hard work is respected only if a degree of opulence accompanies the success: a man seen to have his own successful business deserves more respect than a man working for one. The same man is afforded extraordinary latitude when it comes to judgement by the law, because ‘a hardworking businessman, a good citizen, a good husband and parent,’ (Tsiolkas 279) should be given the benefit of the doubt and awarded the court’s apology for having had his time wasted on frivolous charges.
Striving for success is striving to leave the past behind, the past with all its baggage and deadweight that prevented achievement in the first place. It means moving into a better suburb, with better neighbours, affording better private schools for the kids, joining better clubs and climbing their social strata, being recognised and identified as an equal among the more affluent classes. For the non-achiever, it means remaining a loser, and for Tooanphrom it is the brutal realisation that the egalitarian Australian is a myth, no more than mere insulation of the fabrication from the fallacy, created to benefit those who leech from the toil of others, encouraging the multitudes to buy into it and create the mega-myth of need and desire, which can be satisfied only through credit infused copulation with consumer culture. If it ever existed, and Straw’s point by thrusting Tooanphrom’s monumental history of the Australian Legend against Tuppy’s antiquarian version of Indigenous culture, carefully picked at and knitted by Art Lazaar’s critical view of contemporary Australia, is surely to demonstrate its questionable foundation.
Straw takes Tsiolkas’s argument that ‘we became the richest and fattest we’ve ever been. And I think we’ve also lost our kindness’ and raises the stakes, pushing an advancement of theory beyond late capitalism into a completely virtual space, where inflation drives not only the aspirations and incomes of the burgeoning management and parasitic classes of modern Australia, but also the ego at the heart of a celebratory culture that craves recognition for mediocrity. The fact that his work is presaged entirely on the virtual space demonstrates with absolute clarity two things: That the Australian Legend, if he ever did exist, was never from the bush, only ever of the bush, mythical, fabricated; and the egalitarian Australian is long gone, replaced by a selfish egocentricity that can only pursue its own disintegration, leaving us with a new class of backyard Loki: a two-sided character with all the properties of Scotch Tint, who is okay with others ‘so long as it doesn’t interfere with me.’
Cain, Jonathan (Journey), Working Class Man. Recorded by Jimmy Barnes. For the Working Class Man. Mushroom Records, 1985. LP Vinyl Record.
Head, Dominic. Modern British Fiction, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002. Print.
James, Clive. Falling Towards England, London: Jonathaon Cape, 1985. Print.
Lenon and McCartney. Beatles. Rubber Soul. EMI, 1965. Vinyl LP Record.
Mackellar, Dorothea. ‘My Country.’ Official Dorothea Mackella Website. Web. 18 July, 2013.
Milliken, Robert. ‘Keating’s rear view of the lucky country causes storm: Careless remarks have damaged the PM’s nationalist stance.’ The Independent. 27 June 1994. Web.
Neville, Richard. “About Judges” Miles Franklin Literary Award. Web. May, 2012
Novakovic, Jasna. ‘Dorothy Hewett’s Sacred Place,’ Australasian Drama Studies 56. (April 2010): 205. Print.
Parsons, Gordon. A Pub with No Beer. Adapted 1957, from ‘A Pub Without Beer’ written by Dan Sheahan. Slim Dusty. Single. Columbia 1957. 78 RPM Record.
Price, David W. ‘Salman Rushdie’s Use and Abuse of History in Midnight’s Children’, Ariel: A Review of International English Literature 25. 2 (1994): 96. Print.
Qunta, Andy; Reid, Keith, Ryder, Maggie and Thompson, Chris. You’re the Voice. John Farnham. Whispering Jack. Mushroom Records,1986. Compact Disc.
Scott, Bon; Young, Angus and Young, Malcolm. Highway to Hell. AC/DC. Mushroom Records, 1979. Vinyl LP Record.
Straw, Jack. Ab-Sense. Bullsbrook: Fermenting Press (fictional), 2011. Imagined.
Tsiolkas, Christos. The Slap. NSW: Allen & Unwin, 2008. Print.
Tsiolkas, Christos. Interview by Geraldine Doogue, Compass. ABC Television, 9 October, 2011.
- In a video interview, Neville gives an account of how judges compare so many books, with wildly different plots and styles, and how they agree on a winner. This is a fascinating insight into the judging process, pointing out the absolute fatuousness of the award system. Only publishers can submit a book for consideration and it’s worthwhile noting that Straw’s publishers have refused to submit his work three times, commenting on this particular work that ‘its nothingness would render the work incapable of being judged.’ Neville makes this comment in his attempt to explain what a winning book is for him, and based on that comment it’s hard to see why Straw’s publisher might refuse him the opportunity. ↩
- Straw’s first novel, Black as Heart, (Ratchette, Aust, 2002) was a totally dark work (every page was completely black) which, according to Straw, was a ‘complete Twisted Shandy’. His second novel, Cum Fry With Me, (Allis and Underhand, Aust, 2005) was considered by the critics to be no more than a whole wad of wank. ↩
- Novakovic says, ‘The connation of fertility is thus sustained, despite ominous undertones that threaten to undermine it.’ She is referring to the remarks about the lack of rain by characters in Hewett’s The Man from Muckinupin. When Straw’s characters discuss a lack of rain, according to him, they mean no more than there’s a lack of rain, that it is ‘simply the simple country talk of simple country folk.’ ↩
- All citations of Jack Straw’s works are entirely imagined. As Straw himself is entirely imagined, no works under his name actually exist, nor do his publishers. ↩
- The name Polwright has the same qualities as Peter Carey’s Makeprice characters from The Tax Inspector, a shady family of car dealers who are subject to a tax audit and have been in the practice of cooking the books. Polwright could be argued, and possibly was by Docherty in Ethics of Alterity, to be little more than a play on the sensibilities of political correctness and an identity constantly moving away from itself. On the other hand Derrida may have argued that it indicates a binary opposition to the idea of opposition at all, being that if Polwright is the power of the government, then the opposing force must be anything but, thus making it an opposite polarity. In this sense the text itself proves the point that the dark nature of political correctness must be political correctness itself (the polar opposite of itself), and that, in all forms of power that have no basis in the way things actually are, the power creates its own opposition. Thus Polwright becomes the insidious force Straw uses, against which identity is sought, and it is the power exercised principally by the reader. ↩
- Egalitarian is one of the core qualities that Russell Ward argues in his book, The Australian Legend (Oxford University Press, Michigan, 1958), identifies the character of the Australian Legend. ↩
- Scholars have argued that Straw’s use of the name, Tooanphrom, is more than rhyming slang, suggesting that he is making a clear indication that the character is contained within a binary opposition, and may, in fact, be less than reliable. Given Straw’s well-known disdain for European modes of literary theory, it’s much more likely that it is Aristotelian and therefore dialectic, suggesting that the character suffers an ongoing internal conflict that ultimately will result in a new generation of character, much the same as a Doctor Who regeneration. ↩
- This line of dialogue is blatantly plagiarised from Paul Kelly, To Her Door, (1987). To Her Door was listed in APRA’s top 30 Australian songs of all time. Straw’s use of the lyric suggests that the character is about to embark on a quest of folly, bound to produce a failure of a hero. ↩
- Gordon Parsons, A Pub with No Beer, adapted 1957 from a poem originally written by Irish poet, Dan Sheahan of Ingham, Queensland. A Pub with No Beer was ranked fifth out of the best Australian songs of all time by a 100 member APRA panel in 2001. ↩
- Working Class Man was Jimmy Barnes’s signature song after Cold Chisel disbanded and he became a solo artist. He performed the song at the closing ceremony of the Sydney Olympic Games, 2000. ↩
- Highway to Hell won the ‘Most Played Overseas’ category in the 2009 APRA awards. A raft of rumours persist about the origins and meaning of the lyric, but Bon Scott is reported to have said it was about driving Canning Highway after a night drinking at the Raffles Hotel in Applecross, WA. ↩
- You’re the Voice was the song that resurrected John Farnham’s career. Australian radio was initially reluctant to play the song, but popular demand driven by album sales forced a change in radio playlists. The song was awarded ‘Single of the Year’ at the ARIA Awards 1987, and helped drive Whispering Jack, the first Australian Album issued as a Compact Disc, to become the all-time biggest selling Australian album to date. ↩
- In this article, Price examines Nietzsche’s three modes of history (antiquarian, monumental and critical) arguing that Salman Rushdie engages all three modes through different characters in the novel. This quoteis cited from page 68 of Nietzsche’s essay, Untimely Meditations, published in ‘On the Uses and Disadvantages of History for Life.’ There are significant parallels in the uses of Nietzsche’s three modes of history as a postcolonial framing for the texts and aspects of character differentiation between both Rushdie’s novel and Straw’s. ↩
- Art Lazaar (a fictitious character). ‘The Pissing Tree.’ Poetic Licence. Appropriated, Perth, 2005. There’s a pissing tree out back/Silently waiting for the knobs/A pissing tree by the shed/Like the one round at Bob’s/A pissing tree’s important/For blokes to pass the time/Pissing in the wind/Pissing in a line. ↩
- Scholars of the schools of Levi-Strauss, Saussure and Kristeva argue that Straw’s adoption of the name Art Lazaar relies on an indeterminacy of stability in the use of linguistics, creating a questionable subject in process that relies entirely on the formalist notion of poetic language that is analogous to romantic literature, placing the subject at an indeterminate distance from the text, rather than within it. In an essay published in the Quaffant in 2011, Straw takes these theories to task and insists that Art Lazaar is a real person who was brought to public notice by multiple Grammy Award winning pedal steel player from Asleep at the Wheel, Lucky Oceans, who was at the time a foundation member of the World Famous Oralettes, and more recently a presenter of ABC Radio National’s ‘Daily Planet’. Art Lazaar became an occasional member of the World Famous Oralettes until the group was forced underground. Straw stridently claims that Art Lazaar still continues his association with certain members of the WFO, and his Poetic Licence ‘can be found if one chooses to seek it out.’ ↩
- It was revealed by Bob Hawke in 1994 that Paul Keating passed a comment in a private conversation in 1990 during which he threatened that if Hawke did not step aside as prime minister, Keating would leave the country which was, by the way, ‘the arse end of the world.’ ↩