routine/ nostalgia

by outoftheruins on August 15, 2013

In San Sebastian it may be late Spring but it is 12 degrees. Perched on top of a stonewall overlooking the water, the windchill singes through my hoodie and it feels like it could be minus a few degrees. A couple of metres directly below me there are inconceivably massive, perfectly chiselled – as if carved to minute specifications – granite slabs. A sheet of mist adorns the hills that arch over this bay. San Sabestian has put on it’s wintery best and in the pale orange glow of the old town lights through the sporadic spray of drizzle, it is beautiful.

The setting suits the drawing out of many of the thoughts that have been clouding my mind in my first week or so of travelling in Europe. These tend to revolve around an unsettling nostalgia running head first up against an equally unsettling desire for routine. So I finally retreat from the cold to a bar to get drunk and see what spark of clarity might occur with the help of a little alcohol. Read the rest of this entry »

Stranded in an ocean of individuals, or rescuing collective practice from liberal multiculturalism. Part 2

by outoftheruins on April 20, 2013

Part 2 of a very long article i put together about race, religion and liberalism…

The collective pulls

I began with religion, and despite the distance between that simple anecdote to where I am at now, religion is the base to which this argument must return. It is important to spell out now why it is the crux of the problem I am getting at. In the face of the institutionalised racism I have described, as well as the displaced sense of identity that migrants face, religion is a cultural marker, an affirmation of being within a community that can be clung too. Additionally, as a traditional cultural form that migrants might cling too, it only works in the collective form – its importance clearly being much more than simple faith, but as a site to meet in commonality with others, a site of practical and emotional support – and therefore in some opposition to the alienated individualism of liberal capitalism. Lets call on Zizek again to sum up how religion as a traditional cultural form is treated within liberalism:

“If the subject wants it, he or she can opt into the parochial tradition into which they were born, but they have first to be presented with alternatives and make a free choice amongst them” (Zizek, p.123).

At this point I am going to take a detour through Hanif Kureishi’s novel The Black Album, which although set in early 90′s London, precisely deals with this conflict between the need for collective safety in the form of traditional cultural practices and the allure of the liberal idea of ‘free choice’ and individuality. Read the rest of this entry »

Stranded in an ocean of individuals, or rescuing collective practice from liberal multiculturalism.

by outoftheruins on April 20, 2013

Part 1 of a very long article i put together about race, religion and liberalism…


Lets start with a simple moment, nothing more than a passing word and a flicker of a smile, a polite thanks but no thanks, but really it’s nice you’re out here trying to talk with people. It’s Islamic week at the university where I work, and the woman with the headscarf nods and smiles back. Rewind a few months when the geeky kids with the Evangelical Union t-shirts are out in force and my reaction to being approached is one of unconcealed hostility in the hope that one of them dare take me on and give me a chance to launch into a stinging rebuke about the violence and regressiveness that underpins everything they hold dear. If only. Read the rest of this entry »

For the iconoclasts, against the morals of the civilised.

by outoftheruins on April 20, 2013

A polemic

“When they finally put you in the ground,
Ill stand on your grave and tramp the dirt down.”

- Tramp the dirt down by Elvis Costello

Repression tends to coil like a spring – the more pressure applied downwards, on keeping a thing small and hidden, the more inert force is retained, ready to burst forth at the moment of release. This holds throughout the various tendencies of repression, from the personal trauma an individual pushes deep into their subconscious so that they can blank out a whole period of their life, through to the more political sense of repression where the state uses social, economic and judicial coercion to hold down a particular class or category of people. In either case, when the cracks do finally appear in the the repressive apparatus, the force held back, quickly has the capacity to rock the core of the subject enacting this repression. Read the rest of this entry »

Notes from the picketline

by outoftheruins on April 17, 2013

not from Sydney Uni strike!

These are some notes on the issues surrounding the recent strike days at the University of Sydney – the institution where I work. I’m not so concerned with describing what happened at the strike as with some of the strategic questions about the situation at the university in the hope of creating some sort of ongoing, radical, worker and student collective action that might counter the neoliberal onslaught. I’m also not going to go into any detail about the crucial role of education in the Australian economy and what the neoliberal restructuring of higher education looks like, even if these are obviously part of the larger context surrounding all of this. Those articles have been written elsewhere. For the sake of some structure – so that it wouldn’t just be a collection of random thoughts – I have divided this into three constituent parts: the workers; the unions; and the students.

Another here’s another piece from the strike that does a better job of describing what things looked like on those days.

Read the rest of this entry »

Mutiny on Sydney Harbour (gig review)

by outoftheruins on February 3, 2013

A review/ collection of thoughts from the shows by Mutiny on the recent Australia Day long weekend.

The short-story of Mutiny bringing their pirate-punk stylings to Sydney on the Australia/ Invasion Day long weekend was “fucken awesome, something fun to do where I can see friends, listen to great bands and get seriously drunk without having to deal with flag-waving jerks”. And that’s pretty much how it went. I was intending to only go to their on-land show at the Red Rattler on the Saturday night, but as great as they were that night, I had a desire to see them in a more contained space. The Rattler’s cavernous room properly drowned some of the energy in the crowd, even if it couldn’t totally contain the momentum jumping off stage. That, and a bunch of my friends already going, decided for me that I’d also get along to the Sydney Harbour cruise show on the Monday. So twice the amount of friends, fun, awesome music and drunkenness! Easy review.

So is there a long story? Yeah, I reckon, or at least I’m going to do my darndest to make one, but I firstly want to emphasise that some of the ideas raised here, should in no way be read as a criticism of what Mutiny do, just that as well as being fun, they are an important band for a few reasons and as such important questions come up through their music. To start, calling Mutiny a pirate-punk band is a description that only has the particularly limited use where it might give someone who hadn’t seen them a fairly good idea of what they do. Rollicking, folk-y punk with some nice big sing along choruses, a scratchy voiced singer with some extra layers of melody folded through by means of accordion, tin whistle and more. But pirate-punk also isn’t a good enough indicator of what is contained in their music and why these shows were particularly pertinent. Mutiny’s music is steeped in the stories and sound of the history of colonial Australia. More directly than ‘pirate-punk’ the nature of their music brings to mind the tradition of convict ballads – sped up and sounding a whole lot more punk. Read the rest of this entry »

Refused and spectacular memories

by outoftheruins on February 3, 2013

A quick review of the Refused gig at the Enmore Theatre from November 2012.

It can be a strange thing finally seeing one of the iconic bands of your life, particularly if it is a band you’ve resigned yourself to never seeing. As well as the immediate – somewhat misplaced – sense of achievement, there’s also the understanding that this one show, no matter how great can never do justice to all the traces of their music that appear throughout your life and that attach themselves to particular memories. This is even more apparent if the band is one that has broken up for awhile and then reformed – so that they too are contending with memories of their own collective self, more than simply playing a set that allows the music to announce itself for the immediate present. Read the rest of this entry »

Still alive and kicking…

by outoftheruins on January 19, 2013

I’m still here… Had a month off work which involved plenty of drinking and eating but also a decent amount of writing. I guess the way this seems to work is i do a bunch of writing and then will dump it on this blog in one go. Which means big gaps in between. But hopefully by the end of January i’ll put a bunch of new stuff up. In the meantime some things i like…

A friends new blog…

Difficult Marxist/ political economy ideas written about in a fairly accessible way and applied to the immediate situation in Australia.

A great article about human rights discourse i chanced upon when i was flicking through a hard copy of Overland at work…

And this is an excellent blog but don’t really know it fits under ‘things i like’ so much…

Basically it provides regular updates about the struggles in Greece with the anarchist milieu being a particular reference point. I realised i’ve been a bit in my own bubble of thinking and writing and hadn’t really been keeping up with stuff happening elsewhere and then i finally returned to this blog and saw how much shit has gone down in Greece. It’s really intense. Solidarity with the comrades there.

Well here’s something better to finish on in case you haven’t already seen it… An awesome song from The Coup’s latest album.

Careers in Retail

by outoftheruins on October 20, 2012

This is some thoughts on the exhibition of poster prints, Careers in Retail by a couple of friends of mine.

“Lets build quiet armies friends, lets march on their glass towers… Lets build fallen cathedrals and make impractical plans…” BBF3 – Godspeed! You Black Emperor


The beginnings for Careers in Retail (as written on the back of the flyer for it) has the two artist/ protagonists (collectively calling themselves Dexter Fletcher) with headphones on at school, ‘thinking of sex during maths’, reading the wrong things about art, revolution and anarchy. Dreaming of escape, of so many potential futures as made possible through pop music and a knowledge of the past and the world around. But in the space of a blink of time those subversions of the boredom of school now manifest themselves as escape from the tedium of a job behind a cash register.

On the poster for BBF3 a child gazes wistfully into the distance. From amidst a swirl of ideas they look away and imagine a future and an escape (or many escapes). Boredom is counter-revolutionary and we are expected to be bored everyday – to accept the containment of our desires within the strict orthodoxy of post-industrial capitalism. Here we sell our labour to have access to a series of ‘choices’ about how to spend our ‘leisure’ time that are contained within acts of exchange and consumption that cannot really meet our desires. Mostly we accept to continue to sell our labour out of the merest desire to survive. Read the rest of this entry »


by outoftheruins on October 20, 2012

From Lisboa, a very quick first impression – I only spent 3 days there – and before I had visited Eastern Europe where there was certainly more poverty. From early 2010, so also just before many of the full effects of the economic crisis had manifested.

The streets of Lisboa are littered with crumbling monuments to past imperial glories. They stare enviously at those symbols of the new hegemonic power that has usurped them in the hearts and minds of the people. Despite being conspicuously the poorest European city I have visited so far – around the many abandoned buildings in the city are many more homeless folk – Armani, Gucci and Mercedes still line the streets. Although, it is lacking in the usual fast food chains, here cheap family-run cafeterias and pastelerias maintain. Read the rest of this entry »