Laughing at the Carpenter

The tragic and the comic are not polar opposites, or mutually exclusive,
but subtly and sometimes almost paradoxically inter-linked modes of experience.1

It is common when considering The Canterbury Tales to discuss how some tales seem designed to emphasise the themes of others. Two such tales are the Miller’s Tale2 and the Knight’s Tale3.

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Looking at the Romance: the Romance of Looking

The definitive action of the modern romance hero,
what he/ she does best, is looking.

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Critical Discussion of King Horn

When considering that King Horn emerged from a “weakened, if not interrupted English verse tradition”1, it is interesting to note the importance of its narrative structure. Fowles2 in his Dictionary of Critical Terms defines narrative as “the recounting of a series of facts or events and the establishing of some connection between them”. The `connections’ used in King Horn, and exemplified in the passage under study, are not of the `cause and effect’3 type commonly used in modern fiction. Instead they follow the patterns of oral tradition. The conventions of Romance, cyclical themes, repetition of key phrases, myth and symbol, are used to form the `connections’ that were obvious, and seemingly meaningful to the original, noble medieval audience4.
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Changing Communication Technology: Evolution or Revolution?


This essay discusses the potential of new communication technologies to engender cultural change. Three main issues which will define whether such changes will be positive or negative are explored.

First there is a discussion of the biases inherent in the ‘techno-logic’ school of thought due to the ascendancy of scientific logic. A consequence of which is the generally enthusiastic, uncritical embrace of these new communication technologies. Individual, critical awareness is the only sure method of fighting fundamental biases of this nature, and so ensure an acceptable future rather than a frightening distopia.

Second, the politics of the power of information is examined. I look at who has a vested interest in information – who may try to shape any future, which includes such communication technologies, so that they retain their present power base. The general proliferation of computers is seen as a healthy sign, indicating that traditional power brokers are not getting everything their own way.

Finally I discuss how capitalism will sell the future to us: how much these technologies will cost us ideologically, physically, temporally and culturally, and whether these prices could be worth paying.

These new communication technologies can be seen as both a threat to the status quo and an opportunity for reform. Which they will turn out to be depends on the ethical choices of each individual taking part in the evolution of our culture. A revolutionary new level of freedom will only come about through individual responsibility for the choices we make while building the future.
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Reverent Comic Subversion in The Hobbit

Tin Duck winner for 1998
for Best Western Australian Non-Professional Writer in 1997, SwanCon23.
This essay was published in Piffle And Other Trivia #26 (1997).

Nominated for a Best Fan Writer Ditmar, 1998.
Thylacon II, Australian NatCon, 1998.

Tolkien’s work makes for an interesting case study when examining the suggestion that “along with the wish to revere the medieval world goes an apparently irresistible urge towards satire, parody and other forms of comic subversion of it”[1]. This is due to the fact that he wrote both literary criticism of medieval texts and fictional `alternate medieval mythology’, and used humour in both.

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Problems with “Lights, Cameras, Eco-Action!”

This commentary discusses my essay Lights, Cameras, Eco-Action! which is also available online.
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Lights, Cameras, Eco-Action! – Self, Intertextuality, and Environment in “Stark” and “The Bluebird Cafe”

“The Force will be with you always,”1 Obi Wan Kenobi told his apprentice Luke Skywalker. Yoda added, “it is in you and surrounds you. It is between you and the rock, the rock and the land, the land and the ship”2.

I think this is a pretty astute metaphor for the environment. We hardly ever really recognise it, yet it always ‘surrounds’ us, and we have a relationship with its components. Usually a utilitarian relationship, as we pick a tomato, kick a football, or breath the air (or levitate a spaceship if you’re a Jedi Knight). The environment is a constant backdrop to both our lives and our fictions, but its presence is often assumed or unnoticed. But more often than we realise we define ourselves by it, by our relationship with it, as Yoda does. In this essay I wish to explore how two recent Australian Science Fiction (SF) novels, Stark3 and The Bluebird Cafe,4 use the environment to define notions of self.
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Medieval Courtly Love: Did Women Love Too?

“Damsel, come forth! For I will make boast to defend it if anyone is so bold as to intervene. For no woman excels you in beauty or worth, in grace or honour any more than the moon outshines the sun.” 1

My critical discussion of Larry Benson’s paper “Courtly Love and Chivalry in the Later Middle Ages”2, is based on how useful I found it in relation to my proposed long essay question. The question is “In you view, how does Arthurian legend serve either to underpin or subvert its contemporary society”, and I want to focus on how women were represented in the legend, and how it corresponded to the culture of the day.
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Eyeballing the Simulacra: Desire and Vision in Blade Runner

It has been suggested that one of the defining features of post-modern society is the “rearticulation of the verbal by the visual”1; that, to paraphrase Olalquiaga, there is a replacement of the symbolic with the imaginary or the simulacra. This is obviously not literally true, or I could not be ‘writing’ this essay, however I think that as a description of a trend it is accurate enough. Furthermore, I think that it is most apparent in representations of our desires.

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Is There a Price to Pay for Every Damn Thing?


The High Price of Freedom for Women in The Children’s Bach and Joan Makes History

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