I've an essay in the new Meanjin magazine, 'Check your entitlement'.
I'm looking into the ubiquity of entitlement: how luxury becomes a necessary part of a taken-for-granted universe of money and power. A sample:
We arrive in the world screaming, smeared in blood and shit. Small animals, abject and abraded by things. The inch between animation and termination is a few days’ warmth. And life is chiefly sleep anyway: a blur, a craving, then oblivion again. Our divinity is Ananke: necessity.
Then before long, this goddess bloats. We spend over four times average weekly wage on a single, short helicopter flight (‘because of…concern for the country’). We become belligerent when an RAAF trip fails to offer our special meal, then offer a weak apology (‘all of us are human’). We lament free, international, business class travel (‘No edible food. No airline pyjamas … I lie in my tailored suit’).
The ‘we’ here provides a nice rhetorical intimacy between infantile simplicity and adult sophistication. But we ordinary citizens do not command the perks of Bronwyn Bishop, Kevin Rudd or Bob Carr, or become livid or whiny when these are missing. We certainly do not spend more than the median price of a unit in Melbourne—on Australian flags. These are the priorities of an elite clique of privileged politicians.
Everyone begins life as a flimsy, clumsy animal, but soon expectations vary. Some get used to the commonwealth of averageness, while others are special: they need more money, security, kudos and power. And not simply need—they deserve.To read the rest, do pick up Meanjin at all good bookshops or online, or subscribe.
By the way, this marks the tenth anniversary of my very first essay for Meanjin, 'Facing Nietzsche's Demon'.