Immanence of the Eater and the Eaten

Wednesday 1 April 2020

The scene starts in a charity shop in Echuca, where a young Australian man with sideburns and a Planet of the Apes t-shirt finds an Atari 2600 game console. When he plugs it in a crudely synthesised voice begins to stutter its way through Bataille’s ‘Theory of Religion’, with cryptic embellishments to the text. Inspired, the young man interprets the speech by setting it to a real rap beat on an 808 he naturally carries around with him at all times, but the instrument has been distorted by prolonged exposure to the Australian rural sun.

A paddlesteamer docks at the pier, and a sailor on deck commences to recite the exciting true story of the discovery of Australia. The waistband of his Calvin Klein undies is pulled up over the top of his breeches, revealing a message stitched above the crotch that reads “Escaped refugees welcome here.” A chorus of sailors join him in song, but no sooner have they begun than a freak storm capsizes the boat.

The location switches to Melbourne’s Federation Square development, where an emerging artist wearing a ‘Team Bataille’ baseball cap is installing an expensive piece of public art. An antenna connected to the artwork picks up the synthesised voice transmissions from Echuca, which directs a pivoted concave mirror to focus the sun’s rays into a powerful beam which incinerates the surrounding architecture in a pattern the shape of the Yorta Yorta land claim.

Back in Echuca, the sailors have struggled out of the river onto the pier and assess the damage to the paddlesteamer. An elegy to the twilight of colonialism is played by the Jindyworobak String Quartet: three middle-age men and a women in batik shirts saw slowly and sadly at eucalyptus saplings while domestic cats devour small native fauna.

An Australian Poet is reported dead in non-suspicious circumstances. The sad event is commemorated by a reenactment of the encounter of Flinders and Baudin, with the sailors dressed as Fran├žoise Hardy solemnly recounting the Poet’s demise to the accompaniment of twist music by Serge Gainsbourg. The town’s inhabitants gather for a wake, with a DJ playing a special dance mix of the music on a limited edition vinyl reissue on the Ecstatic Peace label.

As the stuttering voice of reconstituted Bataille dissipates the scene shifts to a carport in Glen Waverley. Two teenagers attempt to foment suburban revolution by channelling the ghosts of Robyn Boyd and Iannis Xenakis, then challenging each other to an apocalyptic game of pingpong. Their activity summons the ghost of Percy Grainger, who immediately devises a free-music machine in the form of a ping-pong table shaped like a three-dimensional Galton board, down which balls may continually cascade according to the laws of probability. After much exertion the local council rezones the block to light industrial.

(1 April 2002.)