An ode to my beautiful wife

Days
filled with dusty tomes and forgotten archives,
the memories of lives long since lived;
paradise for the historian.

Nights
spent with family and friends,
a welcome respite from long days of ponderous thought
as the cogs turn,
churning out ideas, themes, patterns.

Swept up in it all;
sometimes I forget to tell her just how much I miss her.

Continue reading “An ode to my beautiful wife”

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Fancy a trip to Westralia, anyone?

I am writing this blog post from a cosy motel on the outskirts of Armidale – the highest city in Australia (both in elevation and hallucination, I can only assume). Why am I here, you ask? Well, today marked the first day of a three-and-a-half month research trip that will take me on a whirlwind tour of the land of the sweeping plains.

My research topic is what is known as a ‘trans-national’ study – a study that traces ideas and ideologies across national borders. A side effect of this is, of course, that I need to conduct my research on multiple continents. Sadly, this means that I have to be away from home, and my beautiful wife, for three and a half months.

However, it also means that I get to spend that time visiting archives in Armidale, Brisbane, Sydney, Newcastle, Canberra, Wagga Wagga, Melbourne, Adelaide, and Perth. I get to read the correspondence, diaries, meeting minutes, and other ephemera left behind by the radical conservative groups that I am researching. I get to step inside the minds – indeed, the hearts and souls – of the people, and the times, that form a part of my historical period.

Above all, I get to learn something new every day. For instance, did you know that the provincial strain of thought within new state movements of the 1930s first emerged within the New England movement as a counter to the Cohen Commission’s dismissal of their goal for complete autonomy? Well, I found this out just this afternoon. Okay, okay, so this probably sounds boring to you – but the secessionist tradition to which it belongs is downright fascinating.

Continue reading “Fancy a trip to Westralia, anyone?”

The revolution that wasn’t

It is 2am on the 6th of May 1932. A cold morning, with the crisp promise of winter in the air. The suburb of Maroubra in South-East Sydney slumbers peacefully.

All of a sudden, two limousines appear outside the house of J. S. ‘Jock’ Garden, Secretary of the Trades and Labour Council. Eight men silently disembark. Four peel off around the side of the house, whilst the others knock on the front door, claiming to be policeman searching for a prowler. Garden obligingly opens the door, and is subsequently attacked by all eight men. His two sons rush to their father’s rescue, and manage to drive off seven of the attackers. The eighth, a man named William Scott, is cornered by the family dog and is unable to make good his escape.

Three days later, all eight men pled guilty to assault. But the escapade would not end there. For all eight were members of the ‘Fascist Legion’, a secretive inner group within a paramilitary movement known as the New Guard. And their actions would see an alarming discovery come to light that led to a charge of ‘seditious conspiracy’ being prepared against the New Guard.

Continue reading “The revolution that wasn’t”

The Life and Death of Armon Attomar

Howdy folks,

As I mentioned in one of my earlier posts, I am currently waiting to hear back about several fiction projects.

My main work – a post-apocalyptic mystery fiction titled “The Mountains” – has been submitted to several literary agents in the United States. I also have two short stories being considered by Aurealis and The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction respectively.

However, as the old saying goes, “if you want to be a writer, write every day”. So, rather than simply chewing my fingernails down to nubs whilst waiting, I thought I might hone my skills by publishing some material online.

Continue reading “The Life and Death of Armon Attomar”

Hypocrisy – not OUR future

Whenever I see one of the “Not our Future” anti-smoking ads, this is what I think:

Add to this the increasing push to make New Zealand smoke-free by 2025, and I feel like banging my head against a wall. Now, i’m not a smoker myself, so outlawing the humble durry wouldn’t affect me in the slightest. Nor am I a rabid libertarian, ready to pounce on any supposed example of “nanny statism”. I’m a pragmatist – and I cannot stand the kind of contradictory logic that goes into a campaign like this. It is, at best, misleading – and, at worst, blatantly hypocritical.

Here’s why.

Continue reading “Hypocrisy – not OUR future”

Exploding the ANZAC myth

I had my first metahistorical “wow” moment when I came back to study history at university in 2008. At the time, my interest in history was based on my belief that it was merely a catalog of cool shit that had happened in the past. Boy, was I in for a shock.

On the advice of my lecturers, I decided to read the VUW guide to Writing History Essays. History, I read, was not about capturing some objective truth – it was about coming up with arguments that best fit the available evidence. Thus, the textbooks that had formed the staple of my highschool history career were not an official retelling of ‘what really happened’ – they were merely one person’s attempt at reconstructing what happened. This not only made them conjectural – it made them contestable. Which made me wonder – just what other historical narratives that I had been fed throughout my life were contestable?

Enter History 2.0. A world where critical thinking and geeky enthusiasm provided the means for deconstructing hegemonic historical narratives in order to reach a closer approximation of truth. Or, in layman’s terms, a world where I could take a step back from popular historical beliefs and say “Hey? What’s really going on here?” This, I decided, was where one of the true powers of history lay – exploding historical myths. And what better place to start than with ANZAC Day?

Continue reading “Exploding the ANZAC myth”

Why history is awesome

One of the questions I get asked fairly often is, “so what is it that you’re studying at university?” As my fellow aspiring historians would appreciate, this is a difficult question to answer. What to say? Where to start? How does one reduce the subject of multiple years’ research into a simple, one sentence answer?

My stock-standard response is to repeat the title of my thesis: “oh, i’m looking at radical conservative movements in Australia and New Zealand during the Great Depression.” To me, that single sentence – complete with all the little connotations that only I am familiar with – is more exciting than a rollercoaster full of sharks hurtling through space.

However, i’ve no illusions that most non-historically inclined people tune out somewhere after ‘radical’. And why wouldn’t they? Let’s face it – we aspiring historians love OUR topics, but sometimes WE even struggle not to fall asleep when a colleague is ranting excitedly about their own little research babies. Continue reading “Why history is awesome”

Hello, world!

“This is how the blog begins… not with a bang, but with a programming reference.”

Hello, and welcome to my new website / blog! I’ve been procrastinating about creating a site for months now, until I stumbled upon the idiot-proof wonder that is WordPress. I know, I know – a former software engineer designing a website using WordPress. How shameful!

I hope to use this site to keep track of my academic and fiction projects. Chances are, i’ll probably use it for the occasional rant, whether or the political, historical, or anecdotal variety. One day, Flying Spaghetti Monster and mass publication willing, this thing might just evolve into an official website. But until that day comes, I hope the three or four people who scroll through this out of sheer boredom find it interesting! Continue reading “Hello, world!”

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