The Are We Ersatz? edition

“…Ah! You are a happy fellow,” said Mr Farebrother, turning on his heel and beginning to fill his pipe. “You don’t know what it is to want spiritual tobacco – bad emendations of old texts, or small items about a variety of Aphis brassicae, with the well-known signature of Philomicron, for the Twaddler’s Magazine; or a learned treatise on the entomology of the Pentateuch, including all the insects not mentioned, but probably met with by the Israelites on their passage through the desert; with a monograph on the Ant, as treated by Solomon, showing the harmony of the Book of Proverbs with the result of modern research…”

(extract from Middlemarch, George Eliot)

New Linear Perspectives is celebrating over a year of monthly editions. To mark this momentous occasion, we curate our first live arts & culture event on Saturday 13th August at Embo Deli NLP: Microsessions – a night of poetry, film, art & music. We also present our most ambitious edition yet. Welcome to the Are We Ersatz? edition.

In his second piece for NLP, elder statesman of Scottish literature and writer’s writer Allan Massie introduces an exclusive short story, ‘The Boy At The Door’. His mournful and cutting retelling of a young man in thrall to a great master and condemned to remain always in his shadow serves as a lesson for a world taken in by the ersatz. Massie’s rigorous description of a failed literary hopeful presents writers and readers with the polemic of truth, damning the “bad emendations of old texts” that Eliot’s Mr Farebrother finds so enchanting. However, the deeper circular nature of Massie’s Hemingway motif suggests an endless irony to any critique of the ersatz, and questions human reaction to the concept. With great pride NLP welcomes Massie’s famously incisive style to its pages and pities Massie’s “tall and gangling” cipher, who waits for a happy ending that never appears whilst mistelling the story he was born to write.

Sydney-based regular NLP contributor and artist Nicola Moir recently returned from a trip to her birthplace of Hong Kong with a fascinating photodiary of her time there. She documents the transformation of the police department into an exciting new space exclusively for NLP.

Nigel Holt’s first short poetry collection for NLP, Ice Yaqoub, both idolises and brutalises our Western perception of the Middle East. His beautiful, fearsome but always human figures from the United Arab Emirates speak in a guttural language that is the bastard polyglot child of both the west and east, and inhabit an ambiguous space that remains mostly unarticulated and sorely under-represented on these shores. Holt’s poetry may not be comforting or fit into an exoticised western view of the arabic world; his spiky, abrasive verse – rhythmic, captivating snapshots of Emirates life – reveals images that are thought-provoking and no-nonsense.

Suri Sumatra, the performance artiste alter ego of half-Scottish, half-Indonesian counterculturalist Heather Morris, comes ready to ruffle some feathers. Her deeply articulate and impassioned stance during her interview with NLP editor Andrew F Giles is impressive. Sumatra takes the word feminist and picks it up in her teeth, shakes it wilfully around and makes it appear other. Her choreographed celebration of the female form and her openly intellectual attitude to ‘performing her body’ is a stimulating affront to the current culture of brainless branded style.

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