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Name: Antony Loewenstein
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Monday, October 31, 2005

Compare and contrast

Australian culture "defined":

"Almost 50 per cent of people believe getting drunk occasionally is part of being Australian, a survey suggests.

The study of more than 1500 Australians, by the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre, found one in 10 reported having a problem with alcohol at some point in their lives. Three in five said they knew a friend or family member who had experienced an alcohol problem.

Germany, on the other hand - with its own myriad of problems, to be sure - recently hosted the annual Frankfurt book fair, the largest in the world:

"The other pleasant discovery was the real seriousness with which the German media treat the fair. Almost every radio network in the country (they are state-based there) had a huge outside-broadcast van parked near one of the five huge exhibition halls; television interviews with authors, critics and publishers seemed to run non-stop; the newspapers treat it thoroughly."

Hard to imagine in Australia. After all, why celebrate an "elite" artform, when you can grab a beer or ten?

Australia's cultural immaturity lives on.


Blogger Shabadoo said...

Jesus, Anty, you really are like a sullen teenager locked in his bedroom wondering why his family has to be so unsophisticated and how he can't wait to ditch this hick town so he can discuss, like, ideas, man. I'd love to see your angst poetry sometime. Not.

C'mon: if you don't like it here, just get out. Really. This post is just plain silly and puritanical...are you so out of ideas that you're reduced to imitating David Williamson's rant about being on a cruise ship full of Kath & Kim bogans?

(As an aside, has anyone else noticed the big anti-booze push in the Fairfax press lately, especially the Age? It's bizarre...on the one hand they don't want people to be made to work too hard by their bosses; on the other, they want to tell people how they can and cannot enjoy themselves. Leftism in a nutshell, really. But as your guuuuuurlfriend's top post indicates, at least she doesn't have a problem with a drink or ten...perhaps it is simply ocker beer that offends your precious sensitive soul?)

Shab's assignment desk: Someone go dig out per-capita booze stats for Germans and Aussies and further prove Anty's hypocrisy.

Monday, October 31, 2005 11:57:00 am  
Blogger Iqbal Khaldun said...

Yeah alcoholism is a big problem in Australia. I remember going to my mates' 21sts where they get cheered on for sculling a yard glass. I reckon the stats you quote would be worse in regional Australia. Of course, there's a strong correlation between alcohol abuse and a range of other medical and social disorders. Nevertheless, I think the fundamental problem is a cultural one. The solution isn't to band alcohol. But for us Australians to take a serious look at ourselves (though Shab, you can keep drinking your ginger beers mate). Anyone who caught Australian Rules (the movie) on SBS last night would know what I mean. Often the only emotional outlet men have is their sport and when they drink with their mates. Not always the best way to foster critical thinking and debate.

Monday, October 31, 2005 7:41:00 pm  
Blogger James Waterton said...

Ant, your immaturity lives on. The embarrassingly weak logic you've shat out here is absolutely breathtaking in its incongruity, and your misplaced, elitist snobbery serves to highlight the finger-depth nature of your thought - as if any further confirmation was required. I mean, how could you possibly connect these two discrete and wholly unrelated pieces of information and come up with such a pathetically dated hypothesis - Australia is a cultural desert? Hello cringe, hello 1970s.

Firstly, the German book fair. You know what's really remarkable about a book fair to us knuckle dragging Aussies? They're so novel (pardon the pun) - we don't ever have book fairs in Australia! Hell, we don't even have books! Oh, those Germans, they're so cultured! You deadset idiot.

And then you hang your cultural ignorance out for all to see by making a judgement about Australia's unsophistication due to its alcohol - later you mention beer - consumption rates and habits. Words almost fail me. Almost. Let's go back to wonderfully cultured Germany for a second. Do you realise, you utter moron, that the Germans consume far, far more beer than we do per head of population? If I remember rightly, they're not far behind the Czechs, who consume the most in the world. We Aussies are some way down the list. If you had any idea about German culture you would realise how important beer is to that culture. Come on, even a stupid cultureless dimwitted Aussie has heard of Oktoberfest. As for alcoholism,
I'll even go so far to wager that there is a greater incidence of alcoholism in Germany compared to Australia, not least due to the wonderful communist rule in the East and the high rates of alcoholism experienced throughout the former Soviet bloc.

Here's a thought for you, Ant; imagine how much bigger the Frankfurt book fair would be if the Germans stopped drinking their beer and shut down all their breweries? Philistines!

Antony, I am simply agape that you would post something so remarkably muddleheaded, so obviously wrong, so stupidly foolish - just plain fucked up. The argument you've put forth is so flimsy it will collapse from the slipstream of a mosquito flying past. Dude, give the game up. You just don't have the brains to blog.

Incidentally, this is the last time I am posting or visiting this pile of turd. In case anyone's interested, let me answer the question Antony's posed from day one - the whole truth is that every time I read the idiocy spawned in the barren dunes between Ant's ears, I can feel my IQ shedding points.

Monday, October 31, 2005 9:39:00 pm  
Blogger James Waterton said...

And Ant, good luck trying to concoct a witty comeback to counter my last sentence.

Monday, October 31, 2005 9:41:00 pm  
Blogger James Waterton said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

Monday, October 31, 2005 9:51:00 pm  
Blogger James Waterton said...

Also, Antony, my dim-witted chum, don't you remember what happened the last time you tried to define "Austlaria"?

Monday, October 31, 2005 10:02:00 pm  
Blogger leftvegdrunk said...

James, how exactly does your ranting counter the juxtaposition between half of the people in a survey citing alcohol as a defining national characteristic and the manner in which German society celebrates literature? Each is seen as one way in which a national character is defined. Are you sure you read the post carefully?

Maybe you could name an Australian cultural event that is in the league of the Frankfurt book fair and which is celebrated by the media and society in general as a proud Aussie tradition. No, sport doesn't count, and nor does your half-arsed blog.

Monday, October 31, 2005 10:03:00 pm  
Blogger boredinHK said...

I nominate the Sydney Peace award.

Monday, October 31, 2005 10:07:00 pm  
Blogger leftvegdrunk said...

Oh, and cheerio, James, my narrow-minded pal. I hope you can get your rocks off somewhere else for a while.

Monday, October 31, 2005 10:08:00 pm  
Blogger leftvegdrunk said...

Boredinhk, how about the Adelaide Festival of Ideas? Or the Byron Bay Writers Festival? Certainly of a high calibre, but hardly celebrated by the media. Do you have any fair dinkum suggestions of your own?

Monday, October 31, 2005 10:11:00 pm  
Blogger boredinHK said...

The sydney peace award was a suggestion of my own I'll have you know .
Is there an Adelaide festival of ideas ? Last I knew it was an arts festival but I haven't lived in Aus for a long time.
What's fair dinkum mean these days anyway ? genuine ? Does this phrase have a touch of the vulgar about it in it's more common usage these days?
It is hard to think of a traditional event which is celebrated but which isn't sports based .Tamworth country music festival maybe .
Give up.

Monday, October 31, 2005 10:27:00 pm  
Blogger boredinHK said...

I could also suggest the australia wide phenomenon of agricultural shows.
They combine culture , agriculture ,some sports and are an allround celebration of aussie myths.
Plus drinking!

Monday, October 31, 2005 10:31:00 pm  
Blogger Antony Loewenstein said...

You'll be missed.
Enjoy those uni studies. Your life experience truly overwhelms me. Your blog is brilliant. In fact, you're brilliant.
I look forward to your life's work.
Tim 'please agree with my bigotry' Blair will welcome you with warm arms.
It's not as if him/you actually want to hear alternative views anyway...

Monday, October 31, 2005 10:31:00 pm  
Blogger leftvegdrunk said...

Boredinhk, yep, I meant "genuine" when I said "fair dinkum". No other meanings there. Ag shows - maybe.

Monday, October 31, 2005 10:48:00 pm  
Blogger Edward Mariyani-Squire said...

Attack US foreign policy and cop some incredulity. Attack Israeli occupation policy and cop some disgust. But for true outrage from the right, you must attack beer and defend books.

Monday, October 31, 2005 10:52:00 pm  
Blogger James Waterton said...

DBO - please explain why alcoholism rates as a huge factor in an "immature culture". And why a book fair is a huge factor in an assumedly "mature culture". Let's flip the coin over, eh, DBO? It's probable that alcoholism rates in Germany are actually higher than in Australia. They certainly consume more alcohol per capita and their culture of binge beer drinking is famous throughout the world. Now, last time I had a look at the Times Higher Educational Supplement rankings, we had more universities higher up the list than Germany. Egads! Look at the barren cultural desert of Germany compared to educated, abstemious Australia!

Is that a fair conclusion to draw? No. Well, that's exactly the same kind of conclusion Loewenstein drew from his ridiculous juxtaposition.

Maybe you could name an Australian cultural event

And the stupidity continues. Why should I? Explain how our culture is measured in the prestige of a high profile event - of which there are many. Loewenstein's hypothesis was that "Australia's cultural immaturity lives on." Why is this proven by the response of the media? I know that Loewenstein - who I'm sure puts down "journalist" on his tax return, but from where I'm sitting it's highly debatable - is liable to overestimate the journalist's role in society. So I can understand his delusion but you have no such excuse, DBO. Ordinary folk create culture. Do you know why the dominant American culture has been so successful across the globe? Because it's the first and only dominant culture in the world that has been created by ordinary people, for ordinary people. It hasn't, like dominant European culture, been created by aristocrats and emulated by everyone else. American culture is mass participatory. Unlike - oh no, don't say it! - the Frankfurt book fair. Big as I'm sure it is relative to what it is, I don't think it will pull in (or evoke the interest of) the same numbers of Germans as the World Cup will, eh? And who are you to say one is more worthy than the other?

Talking about sport, I note your exclusion of it in your "major cultural event" criteria. This is revealing. Is sport not a cultural pursuit in Australia - or even in Germany? I suspect it's just not high brow enough for you. You know what, DBO, you're just as much of an elitist wanker as Loewenstein. And you have the cheek to call me narrow minded. I'm disappointed in you. You've become a Loewenstein shill. I hope you sold out for a good price.

you must attack beer and defend books.

Another dimwit. Reading comprehension isn't your strong point, huh? I wasn't defending beer and attacking books. I was defending Australian culture against ignorant and fallacious generalisations. If you can't understand the difference, then you're just as idiotic as the author.

And lastly, for the biggest drongo of them all:

Your life experience truly overwhelms me.

What do you know of my life experience, you goat? Hang on, why am I surprised at such a statement from you? Complete ignorance has never stopped you from rushing to judge before. Why should your perception of my life be any different?

It's not as if him/you actually want to hear alternative views anyway...

Oh, please! Don't flatter yourself by thinking you're providing "alternative" views. You just peddle the same old crap of a million other DailyKos branded bloggers. I happily listen to alternative views. What you provide is just more of the same old, same old. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but self perspective isn't your strong point.

I'm sure Tim will appreciate the oh-so-witty nickname you've bestowed on him. What marvellous cadence!

All in all, yours was a typical non-response from an intellectual welterweight. Like I said, Ant, give it up.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005 1:29:00 am  
Blogger leftvegdrunk said...

Back already? Grow up, Waterton.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005 6:20:00 am  
Blogger Edward Mariyani-Squire said...

"I wasn't defending beer and attacking books. I was defending Australian culture against ignorant and fallacious generalisations."

Yes, [hand on heart] defending it from sea to shining seeeeeeeeeeeeea. Oh wait, wrong song. Then again, maybe not.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005 7:48:00 am  
Blogger TimT said...

0 Chloë, have you heard it,
This news I sing to you?
It's true, my lovely bird, it
Is absolutely true!
A biochemist probing
Has caught without a doubt
The Queen of Love disrobing
And found her secret out.

What drives the Bombyx mori
To fly, intrepid male,
Lured by the old, old story
Six miles against the gale?
The formula, my Honey,
Is now in print to prove
What is, and no baloney,
The very stuff of love.

At Munich on the Isar
Those molecules were found
Which everyone agrees are
What makes the world go round;
What draws the male creation
To love, my darling doll,
Turns out, on trituration,
To be an alcohol.

Poem by A. D. Hope, Australian. Cultural enough for you, Antony?

Tuesday, November 01, 2005 10:51:00 am  
Blogger Shabadoo said...

"A bottle of wine contains more philosophy that all the books in the world." --Louis Pasteur

Tuesday, November 01, 2005 11:26:00 am  
Blogger Comical_Ali said...


I spent almost two years in the UK. I was born in Russia and grew up among plenty of Russians. I have family in Germany and lived there for a short period of time. Ive been all over Europe and most of the world. I dont even know where to start...

Your average Russian, Pom, German can out drink your average Aussie any day. In russia, unlike Australia, alocholism is a part of life -- its the norm not the excpetion. Over there they dont drink vodka in shots, but in large glasses and can polish off a bottle like coke and drink non stop. People on the street walk around looking for drinking partners. Alcholoism is so rife, that even Russia's leaders are a bunch of drunks.

And you mention Germnay and its book fairs? Germany is also famous for another thing -- its drunken international beer festivals not to mention famous world wide street parties where people have wild orgies on the streets.

In Germany and the UK all the pubs are packed to maximum capacity on a day to day weekday would be lucky to see that on a busy weekend in Australia let alone on a normal monday or Tuesday. On a typical monday night (not saturday), its quite normal to see plenty of drunks and football hooligans stumbling out of pubs in the towns and cities of the UK...the weekends are another story.

In comparison to all these countries, with all their drunken yobs and football hooligans, Australians are quite civil...very civil. Euro trash -- are far worse when it comes to drinking and are far less inhibited...and literally have no shame.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005 12:24:00 pm  
Blogger TimT said...

The Arab's aren't bad at it, either:

A jug of wine, a loaf of bread, and thou
Beside me singing in the wilderness,
And paradise were wealth enow."

Omar Khayyam (from Fitzgerald's translation)

Tuesday, November 01, 2005 12:53:00 pm  
Blogger Caz said...

Elsewhere, within the cultured and elite quarters, of the Internet (we have a secret handshake and wear funny costumes and everything), we have been unable to address any of the following matters.

Suggested answers and / or elucidated discourse are welcome from all and sundry, but most especially sundry, and, of course the peons may join in as well. Novel contributions to the normal lexicon will be given due and careful consideration (but don't call us, we'll call you).

“Notice how he ignores the fact that 61 Australian publishers attended the Book Fair, which by any per capita basis is a lot of representative publishers from one little country. Notice too how he fails to mention that Australia continues to defy all predictions of “the end of the book” by continuing to be a country of vociferous book buyers and book readers.

Notice that the defending commenters on his site seem to be ENTIRELY oblivious to the nature of the Frankfurt hosted annual Book Fair. One commenter even tries to mock Australia by mentioning the Adelaide Festival, etc, which, even though it, and others mentioned, are literary festivals, not publisher fairs. Ant’s little friends would seem to be as ignorant as the man himself. They don't even seem to be aware that the Frankfurt event is unique and global in nature.


Why does this man persist in his asinine belief that Australia has no identity?

Why does this man persist in his dim-witted belief that Australia requires his help in obtaining an apparently absent identity?

Why does this man seemingly know nothing about Australia?

Is he a recent arrival to our shores?

Why does this man, who is culturally illiterate about Australia, persist with trying to write about Australian culture?

Why does this man only ever post vapid material on his own blog? (Surely one should save one’s worst material for lowering the tone on other people’s blogs?)”

BTW – there will be nothing but jeering and the naughty corner for the first bleedin’ obvious twit who tries to pick up on that last line. Do at least make the effort to use your own little synapses, rather than lamely appropriating from others.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005 9:46:00 pm  
Blogger James Waterton said...

I have nothing to add, except perhaps a resounding nicely put, Caz!

Over and out.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005 1:06:00 am  
Blogger Annabelle. N. Smith said...

Anthony is right! Australians are such redneck scum.
We need our moral and intelectual betters -people like
Anthony- to whip us into shape!

Wednesday, November 02, 2005 9:22:00 am  

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