Archival adventures ~ theatre notes

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Archival adventures

A couple of bloggers have been digging into their archives and returning with some rich reflections. George Hunka at Superfluities Redux reposts a fascinating essay which considers Schopenhauer in history, with a little tour around Hegel, Marx and Freud as seen through the lenses of Shakespeare, Goethe, Brecht and Beckett. Had I but world enough and time, I'd probably trace a similar line from German Enlightenment philosophy through Coleridge (whose thinking influenced Emerson and, through Emerson, Nietzsche). I temperamentally prefer Coleridge's unruly brilliance to Schopenhauer's Teutonic pessimism; but then, I would, wouldn't I?

Meanwhile, David Williams, multi-hatted artistic director of version 1.0, has posted a piece he wrote in 2000 at Compromise Is Our Business. Here he analyses step by step the process of theatrical collaboration. "This section is a prelude to a description of the workshop stage of version 1.0's The second Last Supper (2000-2001)," he explains, "and as such is an interesting record of the early stages of us working out what the hell it was that we were doing, and our possible place(s) in the world of performance."

Which yet again demonstrates that if you want some sustained public thinking about art, blogs are the place to go. The news this morning suggests that any possibility of Fairfax sharpening its arts coverage is vanishing like an ox in a pool of piranhas: the board yesterday announced that the SMH and the Age will be shedding 550 jobs, including 60 journalists from the SMH and 50 at the Age. CEO David Kirk claims that this will not affect quality, a claim that is hotly disputed by the journalists themselves and also by the ghost of common sense.

Although Fairfax shares bounced up at the news, it doesn't take rocket science to predict that, in the absence of anything to read except lifestyle supplements, circulation will continue to spiral downwards. Former editor Eric Beecher rang the death knell on Fairfax back in May: "Fairfax is no longer a quality journalism company," he said gloomily. "It is a local newspaper/printing/online dating/internet trading ads company". Something Lynden Barber has no trouble in corroborating: as he points out, these days the SMH is all class.

Most people point the finger at the internet, although some of us think that's only part of the story, and that the decline has been fairly steady since the 80s. But it's bad news for culture, no matter how you cut it. As Nicholas Pickard at Sydney Arts Journo keeps pointing out, the first place to feel the knife is always the arts.

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

Age editor Andrew Jaspan has just been (finally) shown the door, according to the Age website.

Anonymous said...

They could sell Rod Usher for scrap too

sydney arts journo said...

One down - 549 to go.

ben said...

will robin be ushered out though? one can only dream. and ritualistically throw the voodoo doll.

Alison Croggon said...

Well, it's no use singing ding dong the witch is dead unless you're certain the witch will be replaced by something better...and in this case, the bets are not on improvement. At least Usher is an arts journalist. Sort of. And the Age has, nominally at least, an arts page.

sydney arts journo said...

Indeed Alison. As someone said to me yesterday - The really sad part about this is that the traditional media outlook is almost going to be Murdoch owned.

Think about that!

Alison Croggon said...

Believe me, I have been thinking about it. I don't know why Fairfax hasn't clocked that Murdoch is very savvy about the internet age; and besides investing in myspace et al, as a good media baron should, he's going for quality.

sydney arts journo said...

Speaking of which - Sydney's Daily Telegraph (who I once wrote for) - just changed their entire paper format - and it looks great and resembles the format of the UK's Independent with great link suggestions back to the homepage.

They are putting their money where their mouth is and investing in setting themselves apart by doing what the Herald should have done years ago.

sydney arts journo said...

The MEAA have set up a website and an online petition for anyone interested.

http://www.fairgofairfax.org.au/