‘The Enchanted Wood’ Re-Framed

On my way home today I stopped in a bookshop, and after being bored by the synopsis on the back cover of a book about female chauvinist pigs, turned toward the children’s books on a side wall.

Ahh, ‘The Enchanted Wood’! Wouldn’t that be a lovely book to give my tiny niece for Xmas.  Memories of childhood imaginings about Joe, Bessie, and Fannie climbing the Faraway Tree and meeting Moonface; hot-cold goodies; and exploring the land at the top of the tree.  I loved this when I was a kid out in the bush, and one sunny day lamented that I wanted to have adventures like Joe, Bessie, and Fanny, considering my own life unadventurous.  Although I doubt that Joe and co. ever had to concern themselves with avoiding snakes, sunburn, and dehydration on bush walks, or helped break in neurotic ponies, or were solo driving at seven.

Harmless storytelling to inspire the imagination of another generation.  Certainly, I became aware many years ago that some of Enid Blyton’s storybook characters were racially-offensive confections compounding stereotypes, well out of place in a more culturally-aware society. Fair enough if these had changed.

Surely there wasn’t anything offensive in ‘The Enchanted Wood’.

But lo, there it was on the back cover:  “Joe, Bessie, and Frannie.”  FRANNIE?  FRANNIE?? FRANNIE???

What numpty, politically-correct publishing prat changed Fanny’s name to that of a burnt-out middle-aged bank teller with frigging corns and a nylon blouse?

I hot-footed it out of there.

What the hell else has changed?  Let me guess:

  1. Joe, Bessie, and Frannie’s helicopter mother follows them everywhere and won’t let them climb trees.
  2. Joe, Bessie, and Frannie’s famed bottle of milk and sandwiches stuffed into a bag, is now a bottle of organic soy milk with individual cups and enviro-killing wet wipes and gluten-free, nut-free in an ostentatious bento box-style Disney-licenced plastic lunch box of wanker proportions.
  3. Joe, Bessie, and Frannie aren’t allowed to touch the tree in case they get bark-poisoning just from looking at it.
  4. Joe, Bessie, and Frannie never find out what is up the Faraway Tree, and never have any adventures because their pathetic helicopter mother is too freaked out to let them climb it.
  5. Joe, Bessie, and Frannie miss out on eating Moonface’s hot-cold goodies, because there’s no proof that they are paleo-inspired and come out of a twee enviro-killing crunchy plastic bag that’s headed straight for land-fill.  Also, Moonface may turn out out to be a tree-hugging creep.
  6. Joe, Bessie, and Frannie are forced to ‘curate’ a photo essay of their day out for their mummy blogger’s Instagram account, which will be full of over-exposed ‘whimsical’ shots of them in twee designer clothes that are not designed for playing in outdoors.

Re-framing literary narratives within the confines of a contemporary social narrative has its merits, but at some point, revisionism egregriously assumes an -atriarchal[sic] role in a reader’s critical thinking that sucks some of the enchantment out of storytelling.

c. Kylie J. Lawrence 2017







Leave Nigella Lawson Alone!

I usually don’t mind reading Sarah Le Marquand’s columns in the Snaily Telegraph.  She usually writes with intelligence and some decency.

But today she takes the cake with her patronising and pompous faux-feminist attitude to the way Nigella Lawson has chosen thus far to deal with the very public breakdown of her marriage to Charles Saatchi, the man who assaulted her recently at a restaurant.

Le Marquand demands of Nigella:

But she cannot stay quiet forever. Having found herself in the centre of a highly publicised matter, she owes it to herself – and to the countless women in similar situations now watching her closely – to speak up and denounce violence and bullying.

Daily Telegraph 11/07/2013

There is no singular perfect human response to trauma. 

Le Marquand’s smug,  insensitive,  patronising, and ignorant suggestion that Nigella get a wriggle on denouncing Saatchi publicly, and become the posh anti-domestic violence poster girl before she turns into a 50-something Rihanna, chooses underhanded and passive aggressive feminism at close to its worst. 

At no point in her article does Le Farquwittand[sic] open her heart to the possibility that Nigella’s refusal (thus far) to publicly denounce Saatchi or to make any comment about intimate partner violence in general, is anything beyond the mark of a very public figurehead maintaining the clichéd stiff upper lip in the face of public humiliation.

As one who was many years ago on the inside of a relationship marked literally by domestic violence, the last thing a person in Nigella and her family’s (yes, Le F. you didn’t think about the rest of the family did you?) situation need is judgmental outsiders casting cut-throat black and white aspersions their way during a shitty time of transition.

Le Marquand’s eager article reads as black and white about one thing:  Charles Saatchi is not the only pig at the fair.

This is a time less for heartlessness, than healing, and kindness.

c. Aroomofheroine 2013.

“Write What You Know.”

“Write what you know.”  That’s what they told me early on at film school.  I was shocked.

To me, that’s just plain lazy.  Wow, don’t leave home, your pond, your life.  Stay put, know only what you know.

What happened to imagination?  What happened to being eternally open to the worlds of the wilds of imagination, of inspiration?

Advantages of Writing What You Know:

  1. Research is a piece of piss.
  2. You can just get on with writing your story.
  3. Your characters will be ‘more’ authentic.
  4. Your story world will be more authentic.

Disadvantages of Writing What You Know:

  1. People will insist that the story world is more important than the ‘real’ world you know, which has inspired your story.   They will be write – woops, right.   And they will be wrong.  This may prove annoying, or deeply challenging.  You may be acccused of using your imagination because your real world sounds too fantastical.  Social realism thus becomes addressed as fantasy.  So now, you are arguing authenticity.   So who is the fantasist:  you, or those who apply narrow real-world thinking to your story?

Advantages of  Writing From Imagination:

  1. Inspiration

c. Kylie J. Lawrence 2013







Kanye Bugger off West and Never Come Back?

To be honest, despite being a feminist, I don’t tend to read many feminist blogs, and I think that Naomi Wolf needs to take a ride in the real world.

But this post by Melinda Tankard Reist in The Punch got my goat this morning.  And it’s not hard to see what got hers.    Kanye West presenting sexually objectifying, degrading and torturous depictions of women in his latest video clip, Monster: http://www.thepunch.com.au/articles/counterpunch-women-arent-playthings-slaves-and-bitches/.

If she hasn’t already, I think Naomi Wolf will shit herself with feminist delight when she sees West’s clip: something to really get her critical teeth into.  And why not?

Frankly, I am so repulsed by the image, first, of a woman hanging dead in front of Kanye West seated on a throne, that I don’t want to watch the video clip.   I can’t stand graphic horror.  Maybe I should**, if I am to comment with the ‘authority’ of anything beyond secondhand information and the ensuing Reist blog post debate amongst her readers, some of whom mention the satirical perspective which West takes in his narrative.  Maybe I should, to discern for myself whether the video clip and lyrics really are a satirical commentary upon shallow women who use their wiles to garner the attention of rich men, such as West, and prostitute themselves for the connections with benefits.

However, if I wish to read about shallow women, I can stick my nose inside WHO Magazine any day of the week, or watch Keeping Up With the Kakas.

There is nothing wrong with West using satire to critique and challenge women who sell out such traditional values as not giving head jobs to music industry power knobs, and spilling their milkshake around the yard on missions of self-aggrandisement. If that was his intention.  But when he catches up with the women in his family, and they ask,  ‘What have you been working on lately?’ what is he going to say?  What is he going to say to every woman and girl whom he loves and respects, about a video clip which muddies a purportedly satirical message about women and self-respect, against visual footage of not only overt female sexual objectification, but women being tortured and decapitated?

Some might say that the joke is on the viewer.  Here is West using the merest smearing of ironic critique to get away with sexually and brutally objectifying women for his pleasure in a video clip.  One which could be seen by every woman and girl whom he loves and respects… as well as all of those whom he doesn’t.

Satis, I say.  Enough satire from you, West.   Perhaps in your next video clip, you  could even up the score by filming yourself  wearing lots of gold chains with money symbols, and having a wank in front of a mirror.  Or consider the recent rape  and beating of 60 Minutes journalist Lara Logan in Egypt’s Tahir Square, the online report of which brought tears to my eyes this morning, right before I read about a very muddy message about women, men, and self-respect.

**17/02/2011   Edited to Say:  Today I bit the bullet and watched the Monster. It did indeed ”cross tha line” (West). 


c. A Room of Heroine 2011.

Divine Selling

Several years ago I was in a furniture shop, a very well known chain, and saw, on a shelf in a bedroom display, two books written by the late Pope John Paul II.

It seemed a clear act of Roman Catholic subversion against the many Buddhist statues and figurines which proliferate in public and retail space these days.  Whoever put it there obviously felt justified in expressing their faith.  I am no Roman Catholic, but I did enjoy the clearly rebellious intent of the window dresser on a heartfelt divine mission in a cynical world.   Somebody working for that furniture shop went home satisfied with themselves at closing time.

When did faith become a commercial commodity?  When did representations of divinity confer greater integrity upon a product such as a plush cushion or a leather pouffe?   Who decides to use Buddha to sell more garden furniture, books, or tea pots?

Is the consumer more blessed for buying a coffee table holding up a statue of Shakyamuni, rather than a vase of everlasting silk flowers or an over-priced but elegant book of photographs?

Religious celebrity sells a lot of consumer goods.  For retail marketing departments, I will bet my bottom dollar that such a decision is less about faith than it is about fashion and making pots of money. 

Beyond such cynicism, and the fact that I am well-enough informed to make purchasing decisions about material goods based entirely upon their own virtues, I cannot help being reminded of something else when I walk past one of those aforementioned divinely-enhanced shop displays.

You see, I love the serenity of Buddha statues, and the notion that the spirit of Buddha is present in each one.  Buddha is peace, love, tolerance, compassion, and keeping a cool head, no matter what comes along to ruffle ones day.

Is it possible that a statue of Buddha is the very symbol of peace, tolerance, and compassion that we need? 

Even in furniture shops.

Missing But Not Forgotten

On Monday afternoon after walking home from work, I gleefully grabbed my flat mate’s Sunday papers and headed for the top of my bed, inspired by a sudden decision to enjoy a Sunday on a Monday.  And boy was I going to make the most of it.

Off with the work clobber, and on with the kettle and toaster.  Swish, and Sydney’s Sunday Telegraph (19th September 2010) and all her inglorious innards was snatched away from under the television.   On with curling up beneath my horse blanket (no, there were no horses in my room, rather, it is a beloved thick blanket with a picture of a mare and foal on both sides), I perched the tea cup on the adjacent shoe rack,  and spread out the lovely picnic of toast and newsprint on the shiny faux satin quilt.  Ah, bliss.

Until, in the accompanying magazine supplement, Sunday Magazine,  an article, ‘Don’t Forget Our Daughters,’  which revealed the hopes and fears of the parents of three young women who were either abducted or went missing Victoria and New South Wales from 1990 to 2001.

The continuing heart-break of the Small, Carmichael, and McDiarmid families who hold out hope that their beautiful children, Jessica Small (15), Sarah McDiarmid (23), and Kellie Carmichael (24) will return, or that investigations can provide conclusive answers to the whereabouts of their daughters; read baldly on the page.

Jessica’s mother, Ricki does what she can to cope with the likelihood that her daughter, abducted and assaulted on the 26th of October 1997, between Bathurst and Kelso, may no longer be alive.  But:

The recent discovery of human remains in Belanglo State Forest brought all the memories back.  ”News like that fills you with dread,” she says.  ”It could be your child, your loved one.  You know it will be some sort of closure for someone” (Sunday Magazine, 19/11/2010: pg 17).

For all the value that publicity about these cases may provide to investigations, what were the Sunday Magazine editors thinking when they decided to run a four page fashion spread featuring a young female model posing in a forest, in the same issue?  And why do this only four pages after a two-page story about missing children?  Where was their compassion?  For the grieving families of those missing girls reading that magazine supplement on Sunday, how could one expect this to be anything less than a vicious, low kick in the teeth?

Consider the A.F.P. statistics: ”It is estimated that 35,000 people are reported missing each year in Australia. This equates to one person every 15 minutes. This is a rate of 1.7 people per 1,000 Australians.”  But of these, ”more than 95 per cent are located within a short period of time (usually one week). However there remains a significant number, more than 1,600, who are listed as long-term missing, that is, missing for more than six months.”  (http://www.missingpersons.gov.au/nmpcc/faqs.aspx#a3).

Sarah McDiarmid’s mother, Sheila, has created a website, http://www.notalone.com.au to provide another avenue of support for other families in the same situation.  She updates it with ”… photographs and stories of  all those other children so the public and police never stop looking” (Sunday Magazine, 19/11/2010: pg 18).

We should never give up hope.  Not for Sarah McDiarmid, Kellie Carmichael, or Jessica Small.  Not for any missing person.