Crabs cause extreme irritation, but Crab is a symptom, not a disorder. As nick said she certainly is the darling of the herald at the moment, which is so for a couple of reasons. The first is volume. Just as I like people who keep buying me beers and don’t expect me to buy a round in return. Things can keep on getting bigger. Like meringue, this is a fantastic thing. But imagine being sent to the world without content (canberra, but increasingly, australia) and being asked to write every day. Day-job indeed!
The reason this is possible, as the herald itself is well aware, is that it long ago left off on content. This is a publication so miserly, that it deliberately employs people to irritate, upset, infuriate and offend its readership. What we have to come to terms with is that there is no interest in provoking thought anymore. That was written off years ago. The best they hope for is to provoke a toothless rage now. The idea is, that if you assemble the biggest bunch of scumbags and give them as much space as possible – but explain that you demand nothing from them – you create the empty newspaper. The post-it adverts on the front of the paper are actually a metaphor for the rest of the paper. In fact the herald would be more proper to itself if it were composed entirely of post-its, and we could tear off each page looking for the real thing until we got to the crossword. (astute readers already read the herald in this fashion). There are of course all sorts of people who didn’t get the memo, and try to cram the goddamn thing with content, but they are in the wrong place. It’s like coming into a profiterole. Nobody wins. The newspaper doesn’t know what to do with itself since it has overseen the extraction of meaning from the public sphere. The only time I believe completely in Walter Benjamin’s description of linguistic form as being like a fruit and it’s skin, the content – attached perhaps – but most definitely encased within the skin, is when I read empty text in the herald. The apple eaten from within by the worm.
The telegraph is different, because the telegraph is always operating in or between one of two modes: firstly, that of spreading hate; secondly, taking the piss. The telegraph doesn’t pretend to fool anyone, but knows itself entirely as a kind of superficial (literally – all surface) hate-monger, and a joke. What distinguishes the telegraph, is that the writers and editors are laughing, as well as the readers. The herald on the other hand is a zombie. It is completely dead, its brain function has been invisible for a year or two and because of this it has no idea. It does, however, have the rage. It is hungry, and it eats everything. The old guard, when they appear, are parasites. Some have the disease but some are immune. Many jumped ship. But the remaining survivors are just heavy noise in a vacant soundscape. Why is Ross Gittins heavy? ‘Truthfulness’ gives no weight, he can be on the mark or off it. But he seems to still have content, which does have weight. Devine is fine because she’s out in the open. Her self-loathing is spectacular (who would write to be nothing other than an irritant? The difference that I would fabricate between irritating, and agitating, is that lots of people try to anger people in order to provoke some response, some thought, some anger, but Devine, writing for the herald, exists purely to irritate). She wants to be there only because she is not wanted. She is that person in high school who would turn up to a party they didn’t want to go to because they weren’t invited.
Crab’s a little worse because you have to run your hand along the text and knock at various points to hear that it is hollow. You see it sounds like satire. But satire is a means to an end, and her discourse is endless. Australian public discourse under K-Rudd is tinnitus after a gunshot. Nobody can hear anything or say anything, even though he is the most crude and useless populist, because we are not in a political era but rather in the wake of one. We have to pretend to get on with things because K-Rudd was unequivocally the best that we could do at the end of the Howard era. That is our collective shame that keeps us mute. He was the best that we could do and so we are going through a period of infancy (childhood/inability to speak). So Crab is as happy making fun of K-Rudd (but without critiquing) as writing forty pages of fluff about the Great Butternut Pumpkin. The two equal each other in an absolute index of individual sliminess. K-Rudd is like a newborn goat covered in afterbirth, where as the Great Butternut Pumpkin is starting to go bad in the crisper and slimy lesions have begun to come up. But if you are voiceless, incapable of bringing to voice any critique of either, what’s the difference between a newborn goat and a rotting pumpkin? That is precisely the public confusion in the world without content.