Rod MacKenzie

Accusation and failure: The JM Coetzee – Paul Auster correspondence

In the correspondence between the writers JM Coetzee and Paul Auster in Here and Now (Letters: 2008-2011) we encounter a Coetzee largely unfamiliar to readers. Coetzee converses, even chats, in letters with another writer arguably of the same stature (certainly in Europe) in a manner sometimes bordering on the confessional. Coetzee is famous for his…

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Queers and men with blunt instruments

So I read the very short “Queer” by Courtney Bassett and was drawn to the “idea” of it, best expressed — I thought — through prim lips:   People tell me how lucky I am It was not forty years ago I was being declared Mentally unfit Never mind the lobotomy I would rather have…

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Turning 50…and full of bubbles

It amazes me how we give meaning with structures that have no intrinsic meaning. Take the idea of reflecting on the significant events of a millennium or poignantly reflecting on your life around the time of a “fiftieth” birthday. One thousand or fifty … mere multiples of ten. Why not have similar reflections on 857…

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If that was Madiba’s memorial – God help us all

I was deeply moved watching this video of Johnny Clegg with Madiba. Songs like these make me shiver. They reduce my feelings to ash, the kind of ash that sweetens and embitters you with the memories of the promises most South Africans held closer than the breath in their lungs in the heady days of…

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Paedophilia, paranoia and becoming strangers to our children

I stroll through the Now We Are Six woods not far from my home in Birkdale, Auckland. Any second Piglet will bounce out.  I shall ask him, ‘What day is it today?’ Piglet will squeak, “It’s today.’ And I shall exclaim: ‘My favourite day!’ The streams are laced throughout Auckland suburbia, with bridges over them and thickets…

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A beginner’s guide to dealing with smartphone addiction

Well done on having the courage to read this! Don’t be afraid. Think of why you need to abstain from (or at least minimise) using smartphones and other devices. Make a list of reasons. This will require a lot of honesty. But by being honest you are being kind to yourself and others. These reasons…

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Crossdressing and our ruling class (women)

Feminism has little or nothing to say about crossdressing. I would like to explore why.   Crossdressing can only be a masculine activity. But women can wear any men’s clothing. Male garb often makes them more sexy or striking. Men, when they wear women’s clothing, often look silly. Surely even to feminists. Women generally want…

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EFF off…and political moral vacuums

I don’t know if I am in a minority, but when I first heard a new political party was in the process of being formed in South Africa, and it was called EFF, I thought this was a joke. “Oh eff off,” I spluttered. More questionable names for a party are difficult to come by….

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Bloody hear me! Tantrums and novels’ striking openings

  “It was the afternoon of my eighty-first birthday, and I was in bed with my teenage gay lover when Ali announced the archbishop had come to see me.”   So snorts the opening sentence to Anthony Burgess’s Earthly Powers – almost. Instead of “teenage gay lover” St Anthony uses the word catamite. The sentence…

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The sacred art of listening

To spend time in silence deep in nature far from other people is to know that everything is listening. There is the profound sense that the world around you is deeply attentive, and by listening to that, you honour the presence of everything. The bruises in bark, stone, leaves, dust, the flicker of a tiny…

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