Kevin Murray on 16 Sep 2000 16:47:01 -0000

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<nettime> Opening ceremony

The Olympic Opening ceremony was a fraught business for those who patriotism
is conditional. A childhood of pedagogical nationalism leaves a legacy of
goosebumps and moist eyes at the sight of a dispersed nation coming
together. I would have never imagined that Australia could have been subject
to such a Wagnerian spectacle (Kathy Freeman as Brunhilde). It caught me by
surprise. But there was a familiar disappointment.

As a condensed history of Australia, settlement was reduced to a linear
sequence. The story of how indigenous was settled Australia showed how badly
we lack a treaty. It was a like a relay with where the Europeans had dropped
the baton. There was no meeting or dialogue between the two nations to mark
the transition. Until we have a treaty, to formalise reconciliation, this
will always be a problem in how we tell our story.

But the strangest aspect of the spectacle was the industrial dance that
ended the ceremony. Could the ceremony have received money from the mining
industry? If not I can't think of a story they would have been more pleased
with. It takes the wind out of the 'knowledge nation' vision that the ALP
are developing. It was an exhilarating performance, but it needed something
else to complement its raw machismo. What's the story behind such as retro
message? Curious that this would be the vision for the new millennium.

Walking around Alice Springs this morning, everyone seems very pleased with
the show. Tables are buzzing with conversation, in particular about the
lawnmower sequence -- it tickled because it seems a reference that only
Australians would know.

The Arrente people around town seem very proud that their 'ladies' were in
the ceremony. Apparently they demanded a kangaroo tail each for every night
they had to stay away from home. It's hard to get a frank opinion on it, but
the lack of any historical dialogue between indigenous and settler
Australians doesn't seem to have worried anyone.

Or maybe it will when everyone wakes up in two weeks time.

Weather Alice Springs Saturday 16 September
Sunny High 32  Low 10

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