Talking heads: STFU

29 Aug

While I agree that grief is certainly a state of consciousness that differs considerably from the everyday, I don’t think it’s quite another country as some would have it.

However, it does seem to have the capacity to throw everything outside its parameters into stark relief. Suddenly one sees that none of the emperors have clothes . For example, when I tuned into QandA on Monday evening I saw not a panel of distinguished and erudite guests, but a pack of braying, self-important, self-opinionated talking heads, about whom I could only think “Why? Why?” before silencing them with the remote.

Grief has severely curtailed my tolerance for talking heads. I have no idea why this particular group has become the target of my ill-will. I’m having the same difficulty with The Drum as I did with QandA.  Who are these people? I ask myself as I collapse, stunned and exhausted on the couch, looking for a bit of relief from the demands of living and dying. How did they come to be? Why are they everywhere? From what primary source have they metastasized? How is it that they manage to reduce the most intense, the most numinous, the most awful,the most terrifying, the most special of human experiences into highly articulate banality, just by opening their mouths about it?

Grief also disturbs one’s sleep patterns. The Dog and I sit alone in the lounge at 3 am, sharing Vegemite toast and drinking tea (well, The Dog doesn’t drink tea) and watching episodes of Breaking Bad. This comforts me. I need fiction like I need food and water.  I need story. I need a level of complexity and emotion that is absent in the clichés and sound bytes trotted out by the talking heads, who really, I’m beginning to believe, just want the chance to show everybody how clever they are. They’ll talk about anything. They aren’t required to have any expertise, or even to be particularly informed. All they need to know is how to talk.

I mean in what universe is it just fine for female genital mutilation to be reduced to a three-minute segment of  a talk show? Write about it, read about it, think about it, but chat about it?

In the midst of all my other troubles, there is the matter of my feckin’ Swedish chair. As some of you will know this chair has caused me injury in the recent past, to the degree that I put it out for the tip but was obliged by Mrs Chook to give it a second chance. Well, it has once again decided to throw its castors and land me on my arse on the floor. In the early hours of this morning I contemplated a trip to Ikea for a new chair. I imagined shopping in Ikea in my current state of consciousness. I see nothing to be gained by such an exercise, and much to be lost.

As I’ll be living in Sydney for a couple of months from next Monday, the chair won’t be an issue and maybe someone else will go to Ikea and get me a new one so I don’t have to.

The other thing is music. I can hardly bear to listen to music because so much of it makes me howl, and I mean howl. Not for me the quiet sob. I dare not use my iPod in public, for fear I will start to howl. As there is much of a practical nature to attend to , the time for the luxury of howling is not yet arrived, though I’m considering taking some alone time over the next day to close all the doors and windows, play music very loudly, and howl and thrash till I can howl and thrash no more.

Grief can be so alarmingly visceral.

On the whole, it seems to me from my admittedly jaundiced perspective, people talk too damn much. I could count on the fingers of one hand the people who have something interesting and substantial to say. Why can’t we have good story on our televisions instead of the crap opinions of professional talking heads? Who cares what most of them think? Who cares about their blah de blah de blah de blah? Who cares about their shallow pseudo analysis? Why don’t they all just STFU

PS: Sorry for the rant.

55 Responses to “Talking heads: STFU”

  1. Elisabeth Hanscombe August 29, 2012 at 8:21 am #

    I understand this rant and commiserate. There is much of the banal out there in all those voices that does not offer comfort to any of us least of all those like you who are loaded down with grief.


    • Jennifer Wilson August 29, 2012 at 1:12 pm #

      Thank you. As a culture, we do not seem to do well with these matters.


  2. paul walter August 29, 2012 at 8:21 am #

    Great to hear of Mrs Chook, truly the eminence gris by all definitions.
    QA is stale after a few seasons, and SBS is doing its second season of “all at sea in a leaky boat”, but most of us got the point the first time around.
    Grief, though. Grief has a life of its own, involves shock and depression and sometimes an incredibly sweet moment where memory kicks in and reminds a subject of why they are grieving in the first place and why it is necessary to stand sentinel for someone who has moved on, so shortly before a living joyful person like those remaining.
    The great unknown is a monumental mystery and its way of snatching those elements suddenly most necessary for a persons life now, disconcerting. In fact it seems a sort of amputation and takes a long while for a remaining person to come to terms with.
    Have been where you are, am shuddering with you and wish I could put my arms round you in a big hug to comfort you while you are hurting.


    • Jennifer Wilson August 29, 2012 at 1:11 pm #

      Yes I’m wondering what you all thought of Go Back last night, I haven’t watched it yet.

      The grief is not yet for death, but for the loss of the one I loved who is no more. My job is to watch over, a vigil,during which I remember everything. When I’m there beside his bed it’s as if there’s no other place in the world.


  3. helvityni August 29, 2012 at 8:42 am #

    I saw the Q&A panel, and thought; Good, no politicians. After five minutes I wished for Ms Mirabella to wake me up. Boring , Germaine was rude and silly, the American full of himself, the female writer did not want talk about anything, the actor is better on the stage…

    When you come to Sydney , Jennifer, you can come shopping with Gerard and me at IKEA, he knows his way to to the one dollar frankfurter stand…

    As for the Drum, reading sea mendez, seajae et others on asylum seekers, makes me sick…

    It will get better with time,Jen.


    • Jennifer Wilson August 29, 2012 at 1:04 pm #

      Well, I might give the Swedish hot dogs a miss, Helvi, but maybe a coffee one day…


    • Di Pearton August 29, 2012 at 7:04 pm #

      I enjoyed Sefi Atta, who seemed to be saying exactly what you’re saying Jen, STFU! But, being on a discussion panel, this did seem an odd position to be taking! I didn’t last the distance. We have had a terrible tragedy in our small community, with four young people killed, and it has cast a fog of dumbstruck. I can only think of Aboriginal communities who suffer so much grief so often. I don’t know how they cope. I really don’t.


  4. Forrest Gumpp (@ForrestGumpp) August 29, 2012 at 8:56 am #

    That was a good rant. It put me in mind of this post what I dug out of my OLO user history:

    If you scroll up the thread you will see Rose C’s post, but here is a link anyway: . Slightly different subject group, but to my mind not an unreasonable comparison. The Dog thinks so. Ask him.


    • ItsBouquet August 31, 2012 at 8:15 pm #

      Hi Forrest,

      I well remember those threads, although I see that I disagreed with Rose C’s take on things back then in a follow-up post. She was right, of course, the forum is a tad “rednecky” and I spend a good deal of time attempting to put them in their place.


      I loved your rant. It seems this trying time is bringing out the best in your expression. I think I may have asked you before whether you’d read Nuala O’Faolain’s bestselling memoir, “Are You Somebody?” Your writing reminds me so much of hers. I hope you catch up with it. I think you’d appreciate where she’s coming from – especially at this particular juncture in your life.



      • helvityni September 1, 2012 at 8:29 am #

        I remember that time when every woman on the bus in Sydney was reading Nuala O’Faolain, I think some were quietly crying…


        • ItsBouquet September 1, 2012 at 9:14 am #

          Beautifully put, Helvityni,

          Nuala had the ability to touch something inside us. I see the same quality in Jennifer’s writing – a kind of humility mixed with exasperation and emotional intelligence.

          I corresponded with Nuala for a while, in her slap-dash economical style.
          “I’m going back to Ireland. I can’t write a novel.” she wrote me once from upstate New York – only those words, no elaboration. She went on to write the novel “My Dream of You” and it became a best-seller.

          It’s people like Nuala,who feel they’re on the outer, who seem to have the ability to articulate a universal yearning within us all.


          • ItsBouquet September 1, 2012 at 10:29 am #


            Just wanted to add that, as you probably know, Nuala was anything but “slap-dash and economical” in style in “Are You Somebody?” where she plumbed the depths inside herself.
            The contrast in her letter-writing style was somewhat


            • helvityni September 1, 2012 at 3:41 pm #

              Its Bouquet, I have read two or three of her books, I was looking for them on my book shelves, but I must have given them away to friends as we down-sized, can’t find them…
              I admire her honesty , braveness and openness, as I do Jennifer’s. Their writing styles differ though, Noula’s has got what I call an Irish rhythm, you have to get used to it, Colm Toibin has got it as well…as do other Irish writers.

              You actually corresponded with Noula, how interesting..
              I wouldn’t mind getting Toibin’s book on gay writers From Wilde To Almovodar, very creative people…


              • ItsBouquet September 1, 2012 at 6:07 pm #


                I’m always meaning to downsize my books – that’s very disciplined of you. However, the first of Nuala’s books has gone walkabout. I loaned it out…”Only your friends steal your books” (Voltaire) – so true!


  5. hudsongodfrey August 29, 2012 at 9:40 am #

    Nil desperandum illegitimi non carborundum.

    That’s my motto at times like these.

    That and whenever you can get somebody else to go to Ikea for you, then let them!

    I hope you’re feeling better soon, and for the record it wasn’t just you who found the Q&A panel this week pompous. I mean really they all seemed that far up themselves that all you could hear were muffled echoes of arse speech. And Germaine, much as we love her, really does belong on Grumpy Old Women, she’s adopted an “I’m too old to give a shit” posture and as such shouldn’t be asked for a serious opinion on anything anymore.


    • helvityni August 29, 2012 at 9:48 am #

      I don’t usually mind Germaine, but all that talk about Julia’s jackets is so yesterday..(.and this from someone who obviously does not care much whats she puts on in the morning… and a feminist to boot)


      • hudsongodfrey August 29, 2012 at 9:59 am #

        As I said, I think these days she just tries to see how many fawning idiots she can piss off in one sentence for sport.


    • Jennifer Wilson August 29, 2012 at 1:03 pm #

      I don’t think I love her anymore. Sigh.


      • hudsongodfrey August 29, 2012 at 4:01 pm #

        Oh I dunno, we shouldn’t expect anyone to carry the weight of high expectations for a whole lifetime, but then I guess she could just not go on the telly if she doesn’t want to be the Germaine we expected anymore.


    • zerograv1 August 31, 2012 at 11:15 am #

      Greer lost me several years ago when she said “I suppose males are attractive when they are little boys”….ummm what?! For a more balanced list of quotes attributed to her check out this link, Some I can agree with, some are wise words of wisdom, some are blatantly well yep sexist and some are just really unsound advice to give to admiring women, You choose which are which!


      • Hypocritophobe August 31, 2012 at 12:05 pm #

        She seems to pay a lot of attention to insecurity.

        Protesteth too much, etc?


      • helvityni September 1, 2012 at 8:21 am #

        Zero,I have better things do than to google what you call Germaine’s Wise Words of Wisdom…


        • helvityni September 1, 2012 at 8:22 am #

          so sorry: better things to do…


          • zerograv1 September 1, 2012 at 8:29 am #

            Are your telling me this because…..?
            I touched a sensitive spot obviously


  6. Mindy August 29, 2012 at 10:39 am #



  7. Sam Jandwich August 29, 2012 at 10:57 am #

    Much like us wankers who comment on your blog really 🙂

    Oh well, on that note, I think you should feel free to howl in public. Not enough of that goes on. I always try to sit close to crazy people on the bus so that I can eavesdrop on their internal monologue, but similarly to your Q&A experiences I often find what they are talking about disappointingly banal. However I’m sure speech from a fragile heart would be much more interesting than speech from a fragile head – so go nuts!

    Or if you’d like the chance to spill your guts to a concerned party, perhaps we could do lunch some time, since you’re in Sydney!?


  8. ann odyne August 29, 2012 at 11:29 am #

    I cannot endure posturing personalities and their opinions, but TOAST is definitely the comfort food of all time. peace and love from Ms Limerance


    • helvityni August 29, 2012 at 11:53 am #

      ..yes, with Vegemite or with our locally produced Marmelaide, or fig jam.


    • Jennifer Wilson August 29, 2012 at 1:13 pm #

      Thank you xx


    • paul walter August 29, 2012 at 1:37 pm #

      And vegemite..


  9. doug quixote August 29, 2012 at 12:37 pm #

    Pompous Talking Heads : That is what they invented the remote control for, Jennifer.

    Take the axe to that chair, it seems to have a malignancy of its own. And you’ll feel better afterwards, trust me.


  10. Marilyn August 30, 2012 at 5:38 am #

    Watching Go Back while that racist moron was strutting around the Pacific lauding over the brown people as she threatens and bullies people who have left hell that she will trade and traffic them like tins of peas or bales of wool makes me sick.

    You lot can have her, I can’t stand to look at her – there was a boy in one camp in Kabul in the poverty, the goats and the living hell who looked just like Alamdar Bakhtiyari when he was deported so brutally – he is a young man of 24 now.

    The little girl who survived the bombing is the type Gillard is threatening with permanent exile on Nauru because the racist cowardly monster has never had a minute of hardship in her stinking life.


    • Macabre August 30, 2012 at 6:55 am #

      What are you talking about? Gillard is no racist.


      • paul walter August 30, 2012 at 11:58 pm #

        Maybe so Macabre. More a cultural thing somewhere, something we are not quite aware of, as we are habituated to ourselves, this including Julia Gillard.
        Just the same, it hasn’t been a good day for Australia’s soul, what with the troubles in Afghanistan and the boat going down off Indonesia.


        • Jennifer Wilson August 31, 2012 at 7:09 am #

          “we are habituated to ourselves” How true, and how an alarming personal event can catapult us out of that habituated state.


  11. Gruffbutt August 30, 2012 at 11:46 pm #

    Hi Jennifer,

    No need to apologise. I enjoyed your rant. It’s your blog. If you can’t indulge now, then when can you?

    I’m going through a bit of a morose time myself (nothing to compare with yours) and I felt much the same about Q & A. I rarely watch it and thought it worth a gamble as it was sans pollies and part of the writers festival. You’re right – fiction is the way to go. Come back to the ‘clevers’ later, if at all.

    On that note, I ignored my above advice and got sucked into (most of) ‘Go Back’ tonight. It was at least worth it to see Imogen Bailey (I liked her) do the perfectly reasonable and obvious thing and press Reith on children overboard at the appropriate place and time(and still getting a politician’s non-answer).

    Yes, toast and lunch and axing of evil chairs and such are all good things. Rant away. Whatever it takes. (And other cliches…sorry…)

    You’re always welcome to come share a cuppa if you find yourself in Melbourne.

    I’ll STFU now 🙂


    • Jennifer Wilson August 31, 2012 at 7:08 am #

      Hi Gruffbutt, I can’t be bothered watching people getting stuck into Reith anymore – it’s all too predictable. Not sure I can be bothered getting stuck into him myself!! That’s a worry.

      I hope things look up for you soon. And next time I’m in Melbourne I will take you up on the cuppa. 🙂


      • paul walter August 31, 2012 at 10:00 am #

        I tried and failed to stick with last night’s episode of “Send them back” and after a bit retreated to a Midsomer cocoon..
        I briefly watched Angry and Reith with their defences blown away, unable to cope with what they were witnessing, also the women of strong character, rocked but not thrown in their understanding of what they were seeing. One dark doco too many, the series will have to wait for another day for me although I promise I’ll get there.


        • helvityni September 1, 2012 at 8:40 am #

          …by the time I got to Midsomer, they were all dead, are there any living left in that place…it was soothing though after Angry and co..


  12. paul walter August 31, 2012 at 10:04 am #

    Just remembered, a beaut cartoon from Katauskas at New Matilda, the centrepiece being a caption where Reith slyly kicks Deveny overboard.
    I like Katauskas and Deveny,they are turning into strong, no nonsense, responsible people.


  13. Hypocritophobe August 31, 2012 at 10:58 am #

    Could watch STB,but won’t.There is no joy/justice or positives in watching Reith,et al, scream and squirm.
    It’s on my list of contrived,DILLIGAF programs,(Q&A,7:30 etc) which the rednecks don’t watch and even if they did it would not change their views/behaviour.
    I’d rather eat worms,(metaphorically-at least)
    Angry Anderson is the most insincere, narcissistic I have ever laid eyes on.
    (That’s what makes him a good little Liberal boot-licker)
    How could ‘he’ turn down an opportunity to bask in the limelight.
    He and Reith will individually (or as a team) profit from this in some way and turn the reality around to suit their own vile agendas.
    Anderson (the screaming Gobbledok), could not sing his way out of his own bathroom.
    Another FIGJAMer.


    • Gruffbutt August 31, 2012 at 12:52 pm #

      Nail on head.

      STB unfortunately will continue to preach to the converted, while the people who could (not necessarily would) benefit from watching it (however contrived it may be) will creme freche slumber forever through Z factor infomercials and five-second Abbott-pops, the treehugger stations deleted from their remotes. Then they’ll complain that I’m trying to shut them up when I disagree with their pre-packaged tabloid defence mechanisms that they bring to work. But enough about me…let’s talk about Angry…


  14. Simone J Green September 2, 2012 at 2:21 pm #

    I’ve just spent some time reading some of the rubbish on this site, you really do need to stand back and read what you write yourself and take note of it, if anyone writes/talks a load of crap it’s you;
    “people talk too damn much. I could count on the fingers of one hand the people who have something interesting and substantial to say. Why can’t we have good story on our televisions instead of the crap opinions of professional talking heads? Who cares what most of them think? Who cares about their blah de blah de blah de blah? Who cares about their shallow pseudo analysis? Why don’t they all just STFU”


    • ItsBouquet September 2, 2012 at 2:39 pm #

      It’s endlessly fascinating that some people take the time to sling merde just for the slinging’s sake.

      As for your erudite commentary above, Simone J Green – odium and vacuousness don’t make a good combination.



    • Hypocritophobe September 2, 2012 at 4:06 pm #

      Welcome back Steve.I see you still consider felching an art form.
      Gold medal for you.


  15. annodyne September 2, 2012 at 5:58 pm #

    to Simone J Green, author of the nasty remarks above, please re-read this blogpost carefully, and some of the early comments. The author is sitting a bedside vigil with a loved one who is DYING and this has ended her tolerance for silliness on TV. You sad cruel person.


  16. paul walter September 2, 2012 at 9:03 pm #

    Hypo, you reckon psychotic Simon Green J is actually
    Steve at the Drunk-Tank?
    About the same EQ, like?
    Hey Jennifer, your thread starters are sympathetic, substantial, rational and logically set out. and deal with real world issues.
    Comparing them to tantrum-throwing ad hominems is like comparing diamonds to wombat-chunder..


    • Jennifer Wilson September 2, 2012 at 10:05 pm #

      Well that’s an analogy I’d like to borrow sometime!


    • Hypocritophobe September 2, 2012 at 10:51 pm #

      Very possible PW.Neither would be missed if taken by a pelican in the dead of night,Both are trolls.Both are devoid of visitors to their blogs.Both believe comic strip heroes are real,Both have minuscule, unwanted penises,which had far too much self attention.Neither would squeeze their boofy cruets through an extra wide roller door.


    • Hypocritophobe September 2, 2012 at 11:04 pm #

      PW you will note that this cock-snap troll, aka Simone(not Simon) often pinches and distorts other pseudonyms,even yours as in the past,(when they changed the first letters to capitals).
      This is the usual blog-cancerous, fuckwit, dweeb-dicked, sad lonely, mummys-boy, troll from way back.

      Go back here to see where he/she played around.

      This fish knuckle is a great reason to have a cyber-bounty on trolls.
      A groupy of MTR.Guaranteed.
      And ‘looks like’ they are using fake sites as well.Who cares google search engine will crucify their future image.


      • paul walter September 2, 2012 at 11:34 pm #

        Hypo, you are a canny one. A transvestite in-house troll!!
        The little journey explains so much. Once have finished roflmao, which will take some time, I will try to get back with some observations on how Xtianity of a certain bent or colour works in our time and how closely it coincides with the spirit of the gospels…
        Haha haha haaaahhhaa…bwaahhaha !


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