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Monthly Archives: September 2012

Marcuse and the Sydney Swans

We are a football family. Our football of choice is Australian Rules, which makes our sacred turf the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG), our referees umpires and our ball an ellipsoid.

I know M1 and M2 should be free to choose if they are interested in football but at this point in their lives we’re not giving them any liberty. The clichettes have been members of the Sydney Swans since they were born. Actually M1 was a member before she was born – she was listed as ‘Baby’ Golland and she was a boy.

This isn’t to say footy is everything. However, from March to September each year, the Cliche and I do plan our outings around when our teams are playing¹ (mostly). In 2005 and 2006, before we met, I was so committed to the cause I would turn down social invitations which clashed with any Sydney Swans matches. I was either at the game, at a pub with a game playing on the big screen or at home in front of the television watching the game. Fortunately my friends understood (well at least to my face they said they did) this passion. A few who didn’t wondered why it couldn’t just be on in the background while we dined! I was so committed I even wore the same outfit to every match. They payoff was that one day in September. Since then, there have been travels, weddings, babies and still there is footy.

This commitment, love, passion, obsession – whatever you wish to call it – is a bizarre thing for me. A real juxtaposition. In 2001 I wrote a post graduate thesis based on Herbert Marcuse’s notion of ‘One-Dimensional Man’. As part of my ‘seminal work’ I considered that ‘societies generate artificial needs, giving the working class a false consciousness in which the pursuit of consumer goods distracts from the realisation [sic] of class interests’².

Marcuse was also concerned with people seeing themselves in the things they commodify. However, as he states, … ‘Geist and knowledge are no telling arguments against satisfaction of needs’³.

Hence, I understand my need for football is a distraction from needless wars fought in poppy-ridden countries – wars, personed by my working class colleagues. I understand football teams are sponsored by banking institutions which may not be looking after the best interests of my working class comrades, but rather the interests of those who can afford to sit in a corporate box.

I understand how three hours of footy watching could better be spent questioning government need to cut spending on community housing, education and the public sector generally, especially as a taxpayer who believes in these things. All these hours could be spent investigating the business practices of corporations where I spend my spare dollars, to ensure I am supporting those with good ethics.

Marcuse is right! No matter how much ‘Geist’ I put into it I am fully immersed in my commodification.

Maybe now is the time for change. Maybe I can start to work on greater realisation of class interests. But it has to wait until after this weekend. For this weekend, I will be devoting my time to the mighty Sydney Swans on Grand Final day. As I sit in my seat, high in the bleachers at the MCG, with my red and white layers and my words of wisdom for those dressed in green (or whatever ridiculous colour they put the umpires in this year) I will take comfort in the knowledge those with similar class interests sitting with me are also distracted.

And together, we can scream for our team over the heads of those in the corporate boxes.


¹ For the record, the Cliche and I support different teams.

² The Penguin Dictionary of Sociology, 2000 p.211, Penguin Books.

³ Marcuse, H. One-Dimensional Man, Chapter 2, Boston: Beacon, 1964.

Pretty dumb things

I’ve said some pretty dumb things over the years. Sometimes I have spoken before thinking about what I was going to say, and who I was saying it to – truth be told this happens all the time. Sometimes I have said the wrong thing and occasionally I’ve said the right thing, just at the wrong time.

I am sorry.

My first apology is for the earliest dumb thing I ever remember saying. It’s to the woman whose leg I grabbed at the same time as a preschool class mate (he grabbed her other leg).
‘Go away,’ I cried in despair. ‘This is my mum.’
‘No It isn’t. It’s my mum,’ he replied.
I looked up and he was right. It was his mum. Unfortunately she just happened to be wearing a similar pair of black polyester pull-on pants (it was the 70s) to those my mum had slipped on in the morning.

I would like to apologise to my Grade Four teacher whose glasses went flying as I hit her in the face in my haste to be the first to answer a general knowledge question. I was sitting on the floor in front of her and she asked, “Who is the current Prime Minister?”
‘Gough Whitlam,’ I shouted as my hand shot into the air, so proud and then ‘WHACK’.
‘NO!’ she screamed, in pain?
She was right, it wasn’t. Unfortunately I didn’t really understand ‘the Dismissal’. I still don’t.

I would like to apologise to my first boyfriend, at the ripe old age of fourteen, for telling everyone he was the worst kisser ever, when in fact I’d had no other kisses to compare it to and, in retrospect, it was a very good kiss. No wonder he only went with me for two weeks.

I would like to apologise to all those children whose mouth I anesthetised while practicing (not practising) dentistry. Yes, I did say I was ‘just going to put some sleepy juice next to your tooth’. To this day though, I think this sounds better than ‘I am just going to jab about two centimetres of sharp metal in your tiny mouth in the hope of getting somewhere near your trigeminal nerve and hopefully get you numb enough to drill all the decay out of your teeth without exposing a nerve. And stop eating rubbish.’ What I am apologising for here is potentially leading you to believe, as an adult, you can get a tooth restoration with some magical potion. It doesn’t exist. I just used a whole lot of topical anesthetic before putting the needle in very slowly (a service you can ask your dentist for as an adult. Just remember though, time is money).

You would think I would have learned a thing or two, but no, I still say dumb things. Just the other day I was recounting the story of the cliche and I sitting in a cocktail lounge watching a couple on their first or second date. The nervousness, the startled looks, the first touches all happening in a wonderful bubble.
‘I am so glad I am over all that,’ I said to end my story. However, who was I recounting the story to? A beautiful, young, single woman who is probably very much looking for this situation to pop up. I am sorry and I hope it pops up soon.

A few weeks ago I think I said the dumbest thing ever. I told a woman her son looked like his aunt. Not bad … except the child can’t look like his aunt because it’s an aunt by marriage. Dumb as! [What’s really crazy here was I really meant the child had the bubbly personality of his aunt but now I just look like I am making an excuse for saying a dumb thing].

For all the other dumb things I’ve ever said, I offer an unreserved apology.

Maybe identifying all of this makes me quite the hypocrite, particularly if you’ve read my blog on those dumb things people have said to me about long-term breastfeeding.

People do say dumb things. Maybe it’s built into our being so we can make other people feel superior to our naivety (or stupidity). It could be one of those natural response mechanisms … a way of submitting.

Maybe I shouldn’t be apologising. Perhaps I should expect ‘thanks’ for making others feel better about themselves (‘I would never say anything as dumb as that,’ I can hear them thinking).

And for those of you who thought ‘sleepy juice’ was real, ignore what I said earlier … it is.