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The Past | The Previous

john birmingham's Leviathan and another essay of his that i read, both which deal with sydney (mainly the history of the place), both present this image of sydney as a violent, dark, horrible seething place of corruption.

he writes, in his essay 'the more things change', 'you have to squint to see past the dazzling light and understand that sydney does have a soul and that it is a very dark place indeed.'

it's all very dramatic. very edgy. perhaps a tad too dramatic.

he touches, in a sentence, the heritage of poverty in the western suburbs, but then runs off with hired killers, with racism and uglyness, trying, it might seem, to deliberately soil the tourist image of sydney. while this isn't such a bad thing, i have to say that this view of birmingham's isn't exact a fair account either. where as one is shiny and beautiful, the other is dark and ugly. there is nothing inbetween. for birmingham, the seething mass of sydney is not a place to raise children, but a place to make a fortune, to change fate, so to say.

which, for a lot of people in sydney, isn't happening. of course, birmingham is aware of this, but his whole approach to the subject is like a big budget hollywood film: dazzle everyone with the colour and style as if you're shooting from a 12 gauge; sadly, the content is occasionally be left behind.