Essays

I’m a keen writer of investigative essays and narrative non-fiction. Here’s a selection of my published work.

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The Devils and the Deep Blue Sea – Visible Ink Anthology, Issue 30: Trace, Clover Press, 2018

This is the story of note I found in the front of a second-hand book, written from a occultist lawyer to a corrupt politician. In this investigative essay I explore enigma, the Cold War, legacy, and what it means to try to change the world and being changed by it. Visible Ink can be found at Readings and certain other excellent book stores.

‘We’ve nearly hunted mysteries to extinction. The oceans are scoured. The heavens are mapped. The moon is a mine shaft waiting for our drills. All of our dreams are over-exposed—we’ve bleached the world with light. A bright autumn Saturday pours through the window of the train. I sniff yellowed paper and old glue. I’ve just bought a battered paperback of The Devils by Fyodor Dostoyevsky from a second-hand bookshop in Fitzroy. The cover is an oil painting of a hollow-eyed man; his features are blurry, expression indistinct.’

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The Disrupted – Melbourne Knowledge Week Stories, 2017

In 2017, I was honoured to be chosen as an RMIT Story Ambassador for Melbourne Knowledge Week. This narrative non-fiction essay, published in partnership with Melbourne City Council, explores automation’s human cost and and makes the case for a post-work world.

‘The weavers are coming to break the machines. They charge through streets that smell of kerosene and dung as the planets – still undimmed by smog – circle above the English midlands. The weavers carry lit torches and sledgehammers and cry the name of their leader, King Ludd. Ludd is a legend and an in-joke, a hero who doesn’t exist. A couple of the bearded weavers wears dresses and call themselves “Ludd’s Wives”. When the Luddites reach the mill they storm the door and swarm the floor to break the things that took their jobs. The guards have fled and the looms do not fight back.’

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Why We Still Need Philosophy – The Philosopher’s Lunch Club, Issue 1, 2016

An piece about why, in spite of the dismissal of high-profile scientists like Stephen Hawking and Lawrence Krauss, philosophy is more relevant that ever.

‘Vocation, vocation, vocation. In education, culture and society at large, the entire project of the humanities is being more or less dismantled by a neoliberal orthodoxy that considers profit the only measure of worth. But the study of sages is barely even being defended. More and more, philosophy seems to be seen as a rarefied refuge for pedants and poseurs, a teetering ivory tower that ought to be demolished to make room for something useful. But in an era of profound uncertainty, where unconscious structures and dangerous ideas ride roughshod lives, that demolition is the last thing we need.’

 

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Here are some pieces I’ve published here and on other sites.

Cold Water – A personal essay about about complicity, Balu, Tony Blair and the perennial struggle to be present in the world when we’ve internalised a culture of distraction. There’s other travel writing on this site too.

Chocolate and Rubber – An essay on the disjunct between the way we remember the victims of WWI and the victims of colonialism. It touches on Belgium, the Congo Free State, resource exploitation, racism, propaganda and memory.

Close the Pod By Doors, Siri – In which I argue that the Turing Test and a lot of the hype around AI should be taken with a grain of salt, and that our obsession with building minds is symptomatic of a creeping contempt for human experience.

A Meaty Proposal – An essay about ethical consumption, vegetarianism, hypocrisy and bioethics which includes the worst sentence I have ever written: “Sam Kekovich understands that the industrial production of meat is environmentally catastrophic, intensely cruel and predominantly unhealthy.

Randomocracy – A discussion about democracy that springs from the 2016 Australian Senate reforms. I make the case that our parliamentary system is so enmeshed with power and privilege that it’s less democratic than elections based on random chance.

Roy’s Three Little Lines of Surprise – Me making fun of a lame cartoonist.