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Aussies, Rogues and Slackers: Simon Hanselmann’s Megg, Mogg and Owl Comics as Contemporary Instances of Rogue Literature

Abstract

This paper examines the Megg, Mogg and Owl stories of Simon Hanselmann, an Australian artist whose serialized comics both depict acts of contemporary roguery committed by a group of friends in an inner city sharehouse and test the generic limits of its own storytelling conventions, thereby becoming contemporary instances of “rogue texts.” The paper positions the adventures of Megg, a witch, Mogg, her familiar, Owl, their housemate, and associated characters including Booger and Werewolf Jones as contemporary variations of both the Australian genre of grunge fiction and the broad international tradition of rogue literature. It shows how Megg, Mogg, Owl and their friends use the structure of the sharehouse to make their own rules, undertake illegal behaviour, and respond to the strictures of mainstream society, which alongside legal restrictions include normative restrictions on gender and behaviour. It shows the sharehouse as a response to their economic, as well as cultural and social conditions. The paper then shows how Megg and particularly Owl come up against the limitations of the permissiveness and apparent security of their “rogue” society, and respond by beginning to “go rogue” from the group. Meanwhile, the text itself, rather than advancing through time, goes over the same chronology and reinscribes it from new angles, becoming revisionist and re-creative, perhaps behaving roguishly against the affordances of episodic, vignette form. The paper argues that Simon Hanselmann’s Megg, Mogg and Owl comics can be understood as contemporary rogue texts, showing characters responding to social and generic limits and expressing them through a restless and innovative comics text.

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“But what a place / to put a piano”: Nostalgic Objects in Robert Minhinnick’s Diary of the Last Man

Abstract

In 2003, Martin Rees referred to the present as “mankind’s final century.” A few years later, Slavoj Žižek wrote that humankind is heading towards “apocalyptic zero-point,” when the ecological crisis will most probably lead to our complete destruction. In his 2017 collection, Diary of the Last Man, Welsh poet Robert Minhinnick offers readers a meditation upon Earth at a liminal moment—on the brink of becoming completely unpopulated.

Imagining a solitary human being, living in the midst of environmental collapse, Minhinnick yet entwines different voices—human and non-human—operating across vast spans of time. The speaker of the poems moves freely through different geographies and cultural contexts, but the voice that starts and ends the journey, seems to be the voice of the poet himself: he is the last man on earth, a survivor of ecological disaster.

The paper discusses Minhinnick’s collection as a projection of the world we now inhabit into a future where it will exist only in the form of nostalgic memories. The analysis focuses on the role of objects in the construction of the world-within-the poem, where the fragments of human civilization are being claimed by forces of the environment—engulfing sand, progressive erosion—forming a retrospective vision of our “now” which will inevitably become our “past.”

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Don DeLillo’s White Noise: A Virilian Perspective

Abstract

Don DeLillo’s White Noise depicts a world of rapid techno-scientific and economical changes. Paul Virilio’s concepts of dromology and speed, as well as his notions of accident and technology, seem to be the most relevant in order to examine a novel centrally concerned with change, speed and technology. This article first offers an analysis of White Noise in the light of Virilio’s concept of integral accident in relation to the negative consequences brought about by industrial and technological progress. This is followed by a discussion of the relevance to the novel of Virilio’s theories about architecture and space. Finally, Virilio’s theories about the replacement of conventional war with pure and info wars are discussed in the context of the central event of the novel. Reading the American writer through the lens of the French theorist can shed light on the enduring relevance of both.

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East Asian Technical Cooperation Initiatives in Central America: A Comparative Analysis of Japan and South Korea in Guatemala

Abstract

This article describes the similarities and differences of Japanese and South Korean technical co-operation approaches in Guatemala. The literature review illustrates the transition from an initially donor-centric results chain approach towards one that is increasingly recipient-balanced due to new cooperation principles such as horizontality and demand-drivenness. Such approaches are mainly fostered by the rise of new emerging donors on the international development cooperation horizon, such as the advocates of South-South Development Cooperation (SSDC).

An analysis based on a framework by the Network of Southern Think Tanks (NeST) concludes that Japanese and Korean technical cooperation approaches are markedly similar, most notably in regard to officially proclaimed technical cooperation standards and commitments. Differences result from the degree of related implementation: Japan achieves higher results based on relative deficiencies in reporting by Korea as well as comparatively shorter bilateral Korean-Guatemalan relations. Similarities are fostered by analogous institutional and project related structures, stemming from an argued learning and simulation approach by Korea from the long-standing experiences of Japan. Lastly, it is argued that the growing assimilation of the traditional and the SSDC concept, as well as the increasing engagement of both countries in triangular cooperation contribute to the identified similarities.

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Heresy and Orthodoxy Now: The Zigzagging Paths of the Lawful

Abstract

In this article I consider a certain characteristic of our times as a “secular age,” namely, a series of complications in our understanding of transgression. Transgression implies the presence of some rules and laws which can be violated. As long as the rules and laws are perceived as right, as a way of protecting the values which would otherwise perish, transgression appears to be a wrong thing to do, a misdeed, a criminal act. Needless to say, the very conceptual structure makes sense only provided that the distinctions between right and wrong, good and evil, lawful and lawless are not arbitrary, which, in turn, depends on the presence of the concept of truth.

In the secular age, though, the concept of truth becomes not only difficult to handle, since it is incompatible with the modern frame of mind, but also assumes some derogatory connotations, up to the point when to insist on the distinction between (truly) right and (truly) wrong is in itself a wrong thing to do. That is the state of contemporary societies which G. K. Chesterton examines in his work Heretics. The effect of Chesterton’s reflections is a new map of right/wrong, good/evil, lawless/lawful permutations. After Chesterton, I comment on the character of a new heretic, one for whom transgression, understood as the attack on buried-for-long orthodoxy, is too easy a thing to do. To illustrate the mentioned changes of perspective, I refer to an exemplary criminal figure of the West, that is, the biblical serpent, and its criticism.

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Joe Brainard’s I Remember, Fragmentary Life Writing and the Resistance to Narrative and Identity

Abstract

Paul Ricoeur declares that “being-entangled in stories” is an inherent property of the human condition. He introduces the notion of narrative identity—a form of identity constructed on the basis of a self-constructed life-narrative, which becomes a source of meaning and self-understanding. This article wishes to present chosen instances of life writing whose subjects resist yielding a life-story and reject the notions of narrative and identity. In line with Adam Phillips’s remarks regarding Roland Barthes by Roland Barthes (1975), such works—which I refer to as fragmentary life writing—emerge out of a profound scepticism about any form of “fixing” oneself and confining the variety and randomness of experience to one of the available autobiographical plots.

The primary example of the genre is Joe Brainard’s I Remember (1975)—an inventory of approximately 1,500 memories conveyed in the form of radically short passages beginning with the words “I remember.” Despite the qualified degree of unity provided by the fact that all the recollections come from the consciousness of a single person, the book does not arrange its content in any discernible order—chronological or thematic; instead, the reader is confronted with a life-in-fragments. Although individual passages could be part of a coming-of-age, a coming-out or a portrait-of-the-artist-as-a-young-man narrative, Brainard is careful not to let any of them consolidate. An attempt at defining the characteristics of the proposed genre will be followed by an indication of more recent examples of fragmentary life writing and a reflection on its prospects for development.

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“Let me hear Thy voice”: Michèle Roberts’s Refiguring of Mary Magdalene in the Light of The Song of Songs

Abstract

The article engages with the protagonist of The Secret Gospel of Mary Magdalene by Michèle Roberts, first published in 1984 as The Wild Girl. Filipczak discusses scholarly publications that analyze the role of Mary Magdalene, and redeem her from the sexist bias which reduced her to a repentant whore despite the lack of evidence for this in the Gospels. The very same analyses demonstrate that the role of Mary Magdalene as Christ’s first apostle silenced by patriarchal tradition was unique. While Roberts draws on the composite character of Mary Magdalene embedded in the traditional association between women, sexuality and sin, she also moves far beyond this, by reclaiming the female imaginary as an important part of human connection to the divine. At the same time, Roberts recovers the conjunction between sexuality and spirituality by framing the relationship of Christ and Mary Magdalene with The Song of Songs, which provides the abject saint from Catholic tradition with an entirely different legacy of autonomy and expression of female desire, be it sexual, maternal or spiritual. The intertext connected with The Song of Songs runs consistently through The Secret Gospel of Mary Magdalene. This, in turn, sensitizes the readers to the traces of the Song in the Gospels, which never quote from it, but they rely heavily on the association between Christ and the Bridegroom, while John 20 shows the encounter between the risen Christ and Mary Magdalene in the garden whose imagery is strongly suggestive of the nuptial meeting in The Song of Songs.

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Liminal Space in J. G. Ballard’s Concrete Island

Abstract

This article explores the way in which surrealist techniques and assumptions underpin spatial representations in Ballard’s Concrete Island. With much of Ballard’s fiction using spatiality as an ideologically charged instrument to articulate a critique that underpins postcapitalist culture, it seems important to focus on exactly the kind of spaces that he creates. This paper will investigate the means by which spatiality is conceptualized in Ballard’s fiction, with special emphasis on places situated on the borders between realism and fantasy. Ballard’s spaces, often positioned on the edgelands of cities or centers of civilization, can be aligned with the surrealist project as presented not only by the Situationalist International, but of psychogeographical discourse in general. What the various Ballardian spaces—motorways, airports, high-rises, deserts, shopping malls, suburbs—have in common is a sense of existing outside stable definitions or what, following Marc Augé, we would call non-places, which by their definition are disconnected from a globalized image society, thus generating a revolutionary idea of freedom. As these places exist outside the cognitive map we impose on our environment, they present a potentially liberating force that resonates in Ballard’s fiction.

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The Lynching and Rebirth of Ned Buntline: Rogue Authorship during the American Literary Renaissance

Abstract

Though largely unknown today, “Ned Buntline” (Edward Zane Carroll Judson) was one of the most influential authors of 19th-century America. He published over 170 novels, edited multiple popular and political publications, and helped pioneer the seafaring adventure, city mystery and Western genres. It was his pirate tales that Tom Sawyer constantly reenacted, his “Bowery B’hoys” that came to define the distinctive slang and swagger of urban American characters, and his novels and plays that turned an unknown scout into Buffalo Bill, King of the Border Men. But before “Ned Buntline” became a mainstay of the popular press, he had been on his way to becoming one of the nation’s highbrow literary elites. He was praised by the leading critics, edited an important literary journal, and his stories appeared in the era’s most prestigious publications. This study examines how and why “Ned Buntline” moved from prestigious to popular authorship and argues that the transformation was precipitated by one very specific event: in 1846, Edward Z. C. Judson was lynched. A close examination of Judson’s life, writing, and the coverage of him in the newspapers of the day (including the remarkable story of how he survived a lynching) demonstrates that the same issues that led to his lynching also led to his rebirth as a new kind of American author.

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Men Without Fingers, Men Without Toes

Abstract

What happens once the rogue rides off into the sunset? This cross-genre essay considers the figure of the rogue’s decline and gradual dismemberment in the face of the pressures of the world. Beginning with the “rogue” digits and other body parts lost by the men who surrounded him in his youth—especially his grandfather—Dobson considers the costs of labour and poverty in rural environments. For him, the rogue is one who falls somehow outside of cultural, social, and political norms—the one who has decided to step outside of the establishment, outside of the corrupt élites and their highfalutin ways. To do so comes at a cost. Turning to the life of writer George Ryga and to the poetry and fiction of Patrick Lane, this essay examines the real, physical, material, and social costs of transgression across multiple works linked to rural environments in Alberta and British Columbia. The essay shows the ways in which very real forms of violence discipline the rogue, pushing the rogue back into submission or out of mind, back into the shadowy past from whence the rogue first came. Resisting nostalgia while evincing sympathy, this essay delves into what is at stake for one who would become a rogue.

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