Valkyries and fire

Tonight I've been listening over the ether waves to the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra with Nina Stemme and John Lundgren doing most of the final Act of Die Walküre. They were a bit short of Valkyries, but did pretty well all the same.

For me, this opera is as good as Wagner gets - the point where his revolutionary ideas about the Total Work of Art finally come together and grip. 'Revolutionary' is not a metaphor. The theme is, basically, the human cost of power politics - which destroy Hunding's family, tear the Valkyrie sisters apart, drive the surviving lover Sieglinde into exile as a refugee, and finally destroy the bond between daughter and father, Brünnhilde and Wotan. The great scene where the doomed god says farewell, fondly remembering her childhood, ignorant that she will destroy him and his world, gives me shivers from head to foot.

The famous Fire Music that follows is all too relevant. The city of Sydney, where I'm listening, has been choking in smoke from bushfires for five days. Last summer a good part of western and central Tasmania went up in flames. Australia's contribution to global warming has been to elect a right-wing climate-denialist government and push on with gigantic coal exports and new coal mines. Please bring the Valkyries back, we have a new job for them.

The Good University: Errata in first printing

On pp. 40 and 127, the Times Higher Education is mentioned as part of the Murdoch group. This is out of date: it was sold to a private equity group. It continued to cooperate with parts of the Murdoch group.

On pp. 119 and 126, Gaye Tuchman is erroneously called "Barbara". Apologies to Gaye! We got it right in the bibliography. Thanks to reviewer John Holford for catching this error.

Intellectuals & world society; and Gender in world perspective

I'm pleased to announce the publication of my booklet Intellectuals and World Society. This is No. 15 in the Dissenting Knowledges Pamphlet Series, published in Penang by Multiversity and Citizens International, and edited by Vinay Lal.

Intellectuals and World Society is an attempt to decolonize the discussion about the knowledge economy, intellectual work, and intellectuals as a 'new class'. I highlight the way intelligentsias were formed in the context of global imperialism, and have taken different positions in struggles over knowledge. I also point to new possibilities now appearing, a theme I have also taken up in my book The Good University.

This pamphlet series is an initiative in popular education, hoping to take sustained argument about key issues to a wider audience than academic work usually reaches. So it's done in a low-cost print format, in booklets that are nicely designed and easy to read. They could be used by NGOs, in adult education classes, in self-help reading groups, or in secondary schools or colleges.

There are now fifteen of these pamphlets. They cover issues ranging from the Zapatista movement to economics, organ trafficking, terrorism, indigenous knowledge, the Palestinian struggle, Afrocentricity, and more. Authors include Ashis Nandy, Nancy Scheper-Hughes and Claude Alvares.

The publishers of the pamphlet series can be contacted at, or Citizens International, 10 Jalan Masjid Negeri, 11600 Penang, Malaysia.

And in further news:

I'm also pleased to report the publication of the Spanish translation of Raewyn Connell and Rebecca Pearse, Gender: In World Perspective, 3rd edition.

Género desde una perspectiva global, published by Publicacions de la Universitat de València, 2018, is a careful translation by Arantxa Grau i Muñoz and Almudena A. Navas Saurin, to whom much thanks!

The book offers readers a contemporary picture of gender as a social reality. We explore the gender dimensions in the economy, government, and human relationships with the environment, as well as in personal life and intimate relationships. When they tell you "gender doesn't matter any more", this is the book for you!

Poetry in Spanish Translation

It's a great honour that someone would think my poetry worth translating into another language. This involves a lot of work and needs subtle thought. I read quite a lot of poetry in translation, and have often thought about the problems involved.

The translations are by Fernando Cuevas Ulitzsch, from Colombia, whom I had the pleasure of meeting in Bogotá, when he gave me these texts. Fernando has been, for more than 20 years, a creator, artist and professional scholar of the relationships between art, communication and aesthetics, with emphasis on the possibilities and capabilities of the Image, drawing and speech, associated with its digital and / or analog nature. I am deeply grateful to him for this remarkable gift.

The translations have been revised with the expert help of Jacqueline Buswell and Penny O'Donnell, working through a series of memorable poetry lunches. My heartfelt thanks to them for teaching me a great deal about Spanish, and about poetry.

The translations are in the "Free Papers" file on this blog, and can also be accessed directly, under the heading TRADUCCIÓN, here : 

Here is the first in the series:

Un lunes si, un lunes no, el municipio recoge residuos verdes
de los contenedores en el callejón.

Raramente recuerdo cual semana nos toca,
y mi basura es principalmente cucaracha marrón
o el gris de las ramitas muertas, así que agrego rápidamente, para alentarlos,
una capa de malas hierbas suaves, todavía fresca.

Verde, sí, pero ¿desperdicio? ¿Puedo confiar que este municipio de constantes recortes
apunte su camión basurero a un montón de compost?

Quiero que mis riquezas alimenten el verde nuevo, y no
el negro derroche de petróleo, el rojo desperdicio de la guerra.


Each second Monday the council collects Green Waste
from bins in the back lane.

I rarely remember which week is the one,
and my Waste’s mostly cockroach brown
or the grey of dead twigs, so I quickly add – to encourage them –
a layer of soft weeds, still fresh.

Green, yes, but waste? Can I trust this cost-cutting council
to aim its dump truck at a compost heap?

I want my wealth to feed new green, and not
the black waste of oil, the red waste of war.

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