A MAN believes he is going to get his deposit back from a local real estate agent.
Julian Cook plans to move in the coming weeks and told friends he will use part of his returned deposit towards a house-warming party.
Cook said: “Once my agent gives me my $2500 and my kidney back, no questions asked and without any attempt to try and keep them for even the smallest stain, then I’ll be good to go.”
“Sure, the apartment’s had a few knocks since I moved in but that’s just normal wear and tear, there’s no way the landlord will try and make out like I’ve somehow betrayed her trust just by living in it. That would be unfair.”
Real estate agent, The Eternally Puissant Annabelline Stealmore-Lifeblood said: “Of course I’m going to return his deposit, just like I definitely put it into that protected no interest deposit scheme thing in the first place. Just like I addressed the numerous issues with the property in a timely and courteous manner without claiming it was the tenant’s responsibility.”
“I am a real estate agent after all. We’re known for being easygoing, likeable people who are more concerned with helping others than getting our hands on their cash.”
Cook’s friend Emma Bradford said: “Maybe there’s a gas leak in the flat and it’s messing with his brain.”
Traditional Owners on the Gove Peninsula are at the forefront of the campaign to end domestic violence. The Rirratjingu Aboriginal Corporation, in partnership with the Northern Territory Police, held the first Indigenous Family Violence Policing Conference in Alice Springs in June last year.
During the closing of the event, the Rirratjingu invited the 2018 conference to be held in the Rirratjingu heartland – the remote community of Yirrkala in North-east Arnhem Land. The invitation was accepted.
For more on this and other articles on Rirratjingu in the January edition of Territory Q, click below and turn to page 62.
Beyond providing us with emotional access to objects and things from our previous and personal “lived” experiences, there are also aspects of today’s “retro revolution” that appeal to imagined experiences of a more distant past. This has been particularly evident in our desires to find inspiration when it comes to eating.
As we approach Christmas, it seems that our insatiable curiosity – and desire – for more real, more authentic, and more fun than even that which we are personally familiar with might mean looking past the Christmas dinner of our own memories to that of the ancestral memory instead.
Christmas dinner as the “real thing”
For many, the contemporary British Christmas dinner conjures up images of turkey, stuffing, roast potatoes, gravy, pigs in blankets, sprouts, pudding and, of course, the copious festive tubs of chocolates. The instantly recognisable blend of features of the Christmas dinner are so essential to the holiday experience that they have been appropriated by various businesses on the high street – whether it is Greggs’ Festive Bakes, Subway’s Festive Feast Sub or Pret A Manger’s Christmas Lunch sandwiches.
The very special, moreish (and mass marketed) nature of the contemporary “taste of Christmas” echoes the work of psychoanalytic philosopher Slavoj Žižek on the dynamics of “surplus-enjoyment” and insatiable, bottomless desire.
It is conceivable that Christmas dinner has become for many, what Žižek might call, “the Real Thing”.
It is not so much that the taste of Christmas dinner has become iconic, or that the food itself satisfies us like no other. It is what Christmas dinner represents – happiness, togetherness, material abundance. These are the “real” things which we can never have too much of and we are forever trying to fill ourselves up with.
As a consequence, people often find themselves always wanting more over the festive period. Ultimately, this insatiability culminates in the copiousness and lavishness of the Christmas Day feast. Though this often is not the end, thanks to the leftovers. And we are destined to recreate the feast without fail every year afterwards. Some might even wish that it could be Christmas every day, as it were.
The notion of a pure surplus of enjoyment surrounding Christmas dinner could mean that enjoyment of it is premised on a ceaseless quest to realise and quench abstract desires. While we might have everything and more right now for a great Christmas dinner, that is still never quite good enough.
Christmas feasting through the ages
The trappings of the modern Christmas dinner originate in Victorian England, between the birth of urban industrialisation and modern consumer culture. The prototype of what we eat now is captured in representations of the Cratchit family dinner in the Dickens classic, A Christmas Carol. Although Dickens did not himself conceive of what would become the modern Christmas dinner, authors such as Cathy Kaufman make it clear that “his story was a road map for middle and working-class pleasures at the precise moment when both meal structures and the nature of Christmas celebrations were changing.”
The changes catalysed by the Victorians are not just seen in their foods of choice but also in accompaniments they introduced to the dinner table (the Christmas cracker,for example). They constructed Christmas dinner as a way of signifying conviviality, playfulness and community – a way of staging desire.
Before Victorian times, feasting at Christmas served a more raucous and crude means of breaking up the hardship and scarcity of the cold winter months. In the late Middle Ages and Tudor England for example, the feasting during Christmas time may have often been organised less elaborately around various pies, whatever game birds were in availability, or the meat of livestock that could not overwinter and needed to be culled. There may also have been a great divide between what the rich and the poor ate during Yuletide Feasting.
A new old desire
To tap into consumers’ insatiable desire for more fun, more authentic and more real festive experiences The National Trust has promoted the opportunity to experience a historic Christmas where visitors can enjoy a period-specific “Tudor Christmas feast beside a roaring log fire”.
Various businesses provide full-service catering based on authentic Victorian-themed food, tea carts and props – and a host of restaurants now offer “Victorian Christmas” menus and themed dining experiences. Elsewhere, the BBC and The Telegraph each provide DIY guides “to making your very own Victorian Christmas”.
The taste of modern Christmas as we know it now certainly fills us up. But ultimately it never fully satisfies consumer desire. We forever want more and consumers might slowly be realising that this little bit extra might not be available to them in the present but rather lies buried in the past ready for excavation.
So, how long before Siri and a network of artificially intelligent successors (programmed to anticipate human needs and communicate with each other) usurp Santa and start asking the alternative question: is Virginia real?
In the spirit of the New York’s The Sun (which no longer exists, sadly) this reply from a newspaper editor (if they still exist in the future) to a robotic Santa is set in 2047, 150 years after Virginia asked the question that is part of Christmas folklore.
Your friends are wrong, affected by the scepticism of a sceptical age where they believe their “intelligence” can anticipate every thought and match it with an action.
It’s true that you machines, invisible but ubiquitous, have trumped our natural intelligence through your endless, silent buzz with each other. It began in the 2010s with Siri, and ultimately reached your level of apparent omnipotence.
But don’t forget. Somewhere (often remotely) at the end of every action, you are serving a human. In your case, it’s a little girl who wants to keep believing in the mystery and magic of Christmas.
So in answer to your question: Yes Santa, there really is a Virginia.
Don’t forget. The Santa whom children believed in has always seen all and known all – just like you.
He has always had helpers to create the gifts and magic of his story. Now, the workshops are run by bots, and the elves have become marketing assistants who no longer know how to wrap a gift, let alone guess what a little girl might want.
And the reindeer, freed from training for their annual epic flight thanks to your army of drones, have gone to fat. Even Rudolph with his nose so bright can no longer guide himself to the food trough, let alone a sleigh tonight.
Santa, you’ve asked what this is all about, what is your purpose? And precisely, is there really a Virginia or is she, as your robotic friends say, the toy of a personal bot she has had since birth?
The personal bot boom of the 2020s, then the development of belief and philosophy by your robotic predecessors in the 2030s, was always going to lead to you asking this question.
Fair enough. In earlier times, we humans would have asked ourselves why we were helping a machine think about its purpose in life. In fear, our instinct would have been to instantly cut off its power. Now we’re flattered you asked.
Thankfully, we accepted how machines like you could do the heavy physical and mental lifting that for centuries has been the burden of humans.
We regulated your limits but gave you rights. Now our minds and bodies have been freed from the strains of earlier times, sparing us to concentrate on living good lives, rather than productive lives.
But, Santa, the good human life well lived starts with fantasy, as one of our predecessors, New York’s The Sun, explained to children 150 years ago.
The power of fantasy describes where the work you do every year comes from.
But the fantasy does not belong to the other bots you talk to. The fantasy belongs to the child they serve. Such fantasy allows something unexplainable to create universal joy, an emotion you can understand but never experience.
And those fantasies are what will create new ways of meeting human needs. Such fantasies led people to dream of, then create, the first robots with only a fraction of your capabilities. Such fantasies found ways to power the planet without damaging it.
Your question about your purpose reminds us that such fantasies continue to matter – even to machines like you that learn effortlessly from us and each other.
But Santa, there is one fantasy you should not have. And that is that the little girl who craves a doll or a toy car like they used to drive in the good old days doesn’t matter. Or that the little boy who craves a toy kitchen or inflatable ball is subservient to the personal bot your “elves” listen to.
No Virginia, Santa? She is real – even if not to you. And you are real to her, not as a machine but as a magical figure that sees all and knows all – just as you always have, long before Siri.
She and you live forever. A thousand years from now – nay, 10,000 years from now – you and what you stand for will continue to make glad the heart of childhood and children like Virginia.
Thanks to veteran journalist Francis Pharcellus Church, who penned the original editorial in New York’s The Sun all those years ago.
The availability of affordable housing is absolutely critical to Gove’s successful transition from a cashed-up mining town to a tourism-based region populated by more realistically salaried families.
If it is not self-interest or downright greed running this region, it’s blissful ignorance, incompetence, apathy or a destructive combination of all.
“Say something,” you say?
One of the problems you will have with a public discussion is that too many of us value our jobs, many of which come with housing, subsidised or not and there are a few cliques within this outwardly idyllic society which would enjoy nothing more than your ultimate relocation interstate, should you feel the need to rock the boat.
Don’t get me wrong, I love this region and have no plans to leave but the wealth and power are controlled by a few at the expense of many; no different to any other purportedly democratic society, I suppose. I have worked in rural community regeneration and development and know from experience that my voice doesn’t matter one iota. However, everyone knows that many voices are capable of great change.
It is perhaps no coincidence that the library’s copies of the Fascist Manifesto, Mein Kampf and anything by Mario Puzo or with “Fifty Shades” in the title are permanently on loan.
In the years I have lived here, I have encountered many residents who see and understand the issues facing this town. Most agree with why it is so and agree with the way forward. The establishment of a community action group to address the issues this town faces has been broached on several occasions and received generally excited encouragement though sadly no action.
I won’t rant and bemoan the town’s woes without at least offering a suggestion on a way forward. If by some miracle several overly prominent members of this community who generally profit at the expense of the majority could be persuaded to relocate interstate, the town could start moving in the direction everybody but the privileged few, desperately want.
Here’s another suggestion, get rid of that DEAL quango and procure experienced and proven community regeneration and development organisations to make real and rapid change.
If that fails, well, I guess if you can’t beat them, join them.
Read more about Nhulunbuy in the NT’s Arnhem Land:
Did you know that this insidious government have already approached an elderly female occupant of Dhambaliya (Bremer Island), asking her to move into town and never return, in exchange for accommodation and Centrelink payments?
Fortunately, she has well water and solar power and was therefore in a position to tell them where to stick their salacious bribe.
I wish people would wake up to the sickening way in which people are being treated by the local authority and government in general. I am particularly disgusted with what I have learned about local social services. I am not, by any stretch of the imagination, a spokesperson for the Yolŋu and nor would I profess to be but I know bad smells and when something stinks.
I can safely say that if this was happening to white people, there would be bloody riots.
Tony Abbott wants to remove the rightful owners of the land because he believes living in these remote communities is an unsustainable lifestyle choice which should no longer be funded.
History repeating itself? Same shit, different stench!
Still looking for an extra special Christmas gift?
‘Why Warriors lie down and die’ is essential reading for anyone interested in indigenous peoples.
The book, by local author Richard Trudgen, offers valuable insights for those who want a greater understanding of the crisis experienced in Arnhem Land and Indigenous communities across Australia, where the situation is dire; health is poor, unemployment is rife and life is short.
Finding the real cause of this crisis requires the reader to look at it from the other side of the cultural/language divide – the side where the Yolngu people live. This fascinating book takes us to that side.
Normally $37.99 plus $5.50 postage & handling, as it’s Christmas I will hand-deliver them to Nhulunbuy residents for only $30 all up.
Proceeds from the sale of this book go towards sponsoring community development and community education work with Indigenous peoples.
“Many books have been written about the Yolngu people of Arnhem Land (NT Australia). This one is very different. It speaks about the real situation that we face every day, a reality that is hard for people of another culture to imagine.”
Rev. Dr. Djiniyini Gondarra OAM
Political leader of the Golumala clan
Executive Officer of Aboriginal Resource and Development Services Inc.
Member of the Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation.
“Why Warriors makes gripping reading … with increased understanding comes direction and hope for the future … It deserves to be widely read”
Phillip Carson MBBS, Dip RACOG, FRCS (Ed), FACS
Director of General Surgery
ROYAL DARWIN HOSPITAL