From Brian Cox to burnout: Six things we learned at the Melbourne Writers’ Festival | Books

Brian Cox: ‘You don’t beautify with Logan Roy’

Brian Cox said that with Logan Roy, the menacing patriarch he plays on HBO’s hit series Succession, it’s not just about the words in the script, it’s about the pauses and the looks. “It’s as much about what he doesn’t say as what he does…you don’t embellish with Logan.”

Cox says he doesn’t think Logan is evil, but says the pain in the character’s life that shaped him is “great fodder for an actor… There’s depths in him. You realize he’s an abused person, so he develops that persona. That’s what makes Logan’s tough skin.

Logan is not based on Rupert Murdoch, he says, noting that Logan is a self-made man. Cox mused there might be similarities between the children – but then had the room bursting into laughter, adding: ‘I think Rupert is an angel.’

There had been disagreement among the cast as to whether the show was a comedy or a drama; Cox thinks Succession has a comedic sensibility, but he’s not playing it for fun. On which of Logan’s children he should leave his business, Cox gave the only answer he could: a long pause followed by the trademark “fuck off!” – Josh Taylor

Individual ambition is out; the collective ambition is in

The word ambition is normally used for personal or professional aspirations, but the current moment calls for something much bigger. On the opening night of the festival, the two jennifer down and Aileen MoretonRobinson called for action for a better world.

Down didn’t mince words. His wish list: Abolish racist police, justice and prison systems and replace them with community care, early intervention and rehabilitation programs (rather than just “pastel Instagram infographics”); investment in health care, housing, education and the arts; compassion for asylum seekers. She also expressed her solidarity with the workers fight for better pay and conditions at Readingsthe official festival bookseller – a theme that continued throughout the weekend.

From the Readings rally in support of the union-negotiated EBA this morning – Sally (shop steward and worker from Readings):
“All we’re asking for is a salary that reflects how hard we work to make a profit for Readings.” ❤️✊

— Beth Patch (@beth_a_patch) September 10, 2022

Moreton-Robinson focused on the ecological crisis caused by colonial and patriarchal forces. Covering history from the slave trade to the Industrial Revolution, the author of Talking Up to the White Woman highlighted the follies of humans along the way and called for the abolition of the ego.

Talking to the White Woman author Aileen Moreton-Robinson. Photography: MWF

“We need to ambitiously cultivate empathy for the earth which provides the life force that sustains everything. This requires accepting that humans are no more or less than any other living thing,” she said.

To put it succinctly: “It’s good – healthy, even – that our personal ambitions remain modest. Our collective ambition, however, should be limitless. – Giselle Au-Nhien Nguyen

Burnout was invented for healthcare workers

In a session on the Great Quit – an ongoing global trend of workers quitting their jobs – doctor and author Melanie Chen told us that the term “burnout” originally referred specifically to the difficult situation faced by healthcare workers. American psychologist Herbert Freudenberger coined the term in the 1970s to describe the stress faced by those in “helping” professions before it entered the everyday lexicon of general worker burnout. Panelist Emma Fulu shared that she didn’t have the language to name burnout when she experienced it in 2015 – she just knew she felt “broken”.

The brutal experiences of medical workers during the pandemic “exposed the flaws that existed to begin with,” Cheng said. One in ten healthcare workers now have suicidal thoughts; when the vaccination was rolled out, she saw a poster of a noose with the words “easy and effective” plastered on the wall of a doctor’s surgery and, for the first time, considered quitting the profession.

The pandemic has made burnout worse for everyone, healthcare workers in particular. Cheng encouraged nurturing creativity and spending quality time with loved ones like two balms, but stressed the need for structural changes to better support workers. – LARP

The internet is radicalizing us all

“I had Twitter for a few months and it was a horrible experience,” said Mohsin Hamid. The Last White Man author now avoids social media, likening the platform to a digital drug. “Its purpose is to make us performative versions of ourselves,” he said. “What I started to become was someone who played Mohsin, and ideally played Mohsin for likes…I felt like this addicted, shamelessly self-promoted, and also weirdly rigid person.

“When we think things through in a non-performative environment, we iterate our way,” he continued. “You are not defined by the position you have taken. The position you have taken is part of the inquiry that you are engaged in as an organization.

Mohsin Hamid addresses a seated audience from the stage at the Melbourne Writers Festival
‘I was this addicted, shamelessly self-promoted and also weirdly rigid person’: Mohsin Hamid at the Melbourne Writers’ Festival Photography: MWF

On social media, he says, it’s different: “You take a position and then, in a sense, you have to defend that position – which is a real change.”

Technological algorithms have encouraged essentialist categorization of people, highlighting “intolerable differences”, Hamid said. “Fifteen years ago they were talking about how young Muslim men were being radicalized by the internet. Now they talk about how old white pensioners in America or Australia are being radicalized by the internet. We are all being radicalized. – Donna Lu

Young people cannot solve gender-based violence alone

Almost 31 years after the American lawyer and educator Prof. Anita Hill testified about his sexual harassment allegations against then-Supreme Court nominee (and now Justice) Clarence Thomas, little seems to have changed — and public confidence in the U.S. Supreme Court is at an all-time low. The court’s recent decision to strike down constitutional protections for legal abortion set the stage for the curtailment of other civil rights, including same-sex marriage — but, Hill said, there are reasons to be concerned. hope. “The court is just a branch of government. We have Congress, we have presidencies, we have elected officials…and we have to be mindful of those to balance what the court does.

Hill watched in awe as a new generation kickstarted the #MeToo movement, decades after women inspired by her own testimony sent telegrams to Washington DC with their own stories of sexual abuse. But when asked by writer Sarah Krasnostein why gender-based violence persists among Gen Z and Millennials, she replied that nothing will change as long as powerful institutions and society accept it as normal.

“It’s not just a behavioral issue. It’s not just a mindset issue,” she said. “Millennials come and go in systems and institutions where the problem is accepted, where people are still not…taken seriously in [their] work places; where people’s allegations are not investigated in schools, where powerful people are protected,” she said. “And as long as these systems exist, no generation will be able to overcome this problem.” – Jane Lee

Older women need rent reform

“I actually really like being invisible,” said Michelle de Kretser, in a discussion of women and aging. “I think for a lot of migrants of color, invisibility is something we value, not…standing out in a crowd for the wrong reasons. For writers, invisibility is a fantastic thing. Do not look at me ; I will observe you.”

Women over 55 are the fastest growing group of homeless people, Jeanne Caro underline. “These women have … put their duty to care for others ahead of their right to earn an income,” she said. “The way our society rewards [these women] is to put them in very great danger, at the end of their life, of living without their car and worse.

De Kretser then called for stronger protections for tenants, citing tenancy laws in Germany and France. “How wonderful it is to be able to grow old, if you couldn’t afford to buy a property, and you know your rent won’t go up and you’re going to be thrown out on the streets.

“It drives me crazy that every day in…some media there is an article about housing being unaffordable…but no one is talking about rent reform.” – DL