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Issue 2, 2017

Issue 02

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News

  • MSD Proposal: What about Privacy?

  • We Can Tolerate This

  • (Long awaited) changes to domestic violence laws

  • PM fails test on drug test statistics

  • Fake News: Winston Peters and Tracey Martin speak at the university

  • Not so super

  • TEU survey suggests tertiary sector is failing Māori

  • Interview with Mike Joy

  • Voting age may be lowered

  • International Students affected by Travel Ban

  • Features

  • Ihumatao

    History Never Repeats: Steps to the end of a lie

    – SPONSORED – The Occupation at Ihumātao We are told, through the myriad of news outlets that create it, that ours is an age of post-fact. Competing powers vie for our attention, each with a different story about the world. In our feeds and on our screens we see lie after lie laid bare, “alternative-facts,” […]

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  • NEWTOWN

    Newtown Fest: Getting it right with girls and guitars

    – SPONSORED – Newtown Festival recently celebrated its 21st birthday but, unlike a typical 21st, its festivities were far less trashy, and didn’t involve any yardies or tactical voms (to my knowledge). In saying this, the organisers have had 21 years of practice to get things right — and they pulled through with this year’s […]

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  • ROB

    In quo puer mortuus est | In which a boy dies

    – SPONSORED – There is little doubt in my mind that I have made a terrible mistake somewhere in my life. As if possessed, I maniacally agreed to review these most horrific of times. When other students are huddling inside, locking their doors in an attempt to keep the wanton destruction of the outside world […]

    by

  • Ihumatao

    History Never Repeats: Steps to the end of a lie

    – SPONSORED – The Occupation at Ihumātao We are told, through the myriad of news outlets that create it, that ours is an age of post-fact. Competing powers vie for our attention, each with a different story about the world. In our feeds and on our screens we see lie after lie laid bare, “alternative-facts,” […]

    by

  • NEWTOWN

    Newtown Fest: Getting it right with girls and guitars

    – SPONSORED – Newtown Festival recently celebrated its 21st birthday but, unlike a typical 21st, its festivities were far less trashy, and didn’t involve any yardies or tactical voms (to my knowledge). In saying this, the organisers have had 21 years of practice to get things right — and they pulled through with this year’s […]

    by

  • ROB

    In quo puer mortuus est | In which a boy dies

    – SPONSORED – There is little doubt in my mind that I have made a terrible mistake somewhere in my life. As if possessed, I maniacally agreed to review these most horrific of times. When other students are huddling inside, locking their doors in an attempt to keep the wanton destruction of the outside world […]

    by

  • Arts and Science

  • Logan (2017)

    Director — James Mangold

    Good heavens above, I did not think that in March of the cinematic year, my two favourite films thus far would be M. Night Shyamalan’s Split and the tenth instalment of the X-Men franchise. Not bad, not bad at all.

    In Logan we find Hugh Jackman busting out his claws for an eighth round as Wolverine. Thankfully, even this late in a series which has always held as much potential to be brilliant as well as awful, the final product is outstanding.

    The opening scene sets a tone wherein we follow Logan on a path of redemption that starts with him in the darkest place Wolverine has ever gone to on film. It was a risky move for an otherwise bankable genre, and the darker tone is echoed perfectly by an increased level of violence that, though gory, does not detract from the quality of the film. In fact, it was refreshing to see a realistic portrayal of what happens when an insanely muscular man with six massively long blades in his knuckles is let loose on a couple of dozen baddies. The result undeniably falls into the category “metal as fuck.”

    Every action sequence is packed with tension and adrenaline and, unlike the majority of blockbuster content, you can feel the slicing and dicing thanks to the visceral direction of James Mangold.

    This would all be for nothing if we didn’t feel for the characters. There’s a colossal weight of the past upon Logan which comes through in more vulnerable moments, and similar regrets haunt the ailing Charles Xavier who Logan cares for. Both have lost people, and there comes a point when it doesn’t matter that those characters died in the two worst instalments in the series (The Last Stand and Origins: Wolverine) because you just want to give them a hug.  

    It’s basically icing on top of the cake when you add the fact that in 2017 the themes of X-Men are more relevant than ever — in the universe, mutants are still being treated as poorly as in the past. The film often pauses to make societal observations and grants a surprisingly comprehensive insight into xenophobia, ethics, and being a minority.

    Let me remind you that this a Wolverine film — about a cigar-smoking, cursing, indestructible man-mutant played by Hugh Jackman. Of equal note to Jackman’s home run as the title character is Dafne Keen, who plays Laura, a young counterpart who attracts a lot of attention from some seriously evil people due to her considerable abilities. She nails it in every scene. The only real problem with any of the characters comes in the form of the villains, in that one is really good, and the other is more of a C+. All in all, in a series that has had its serious ups and downs, this end to the penultimate chapter is both riveting and satisfying for fans of both its characters and action/superhero films in general.

    — Finn Holland

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  • Anna Faris is Unqualified

    Anna Faris — Hollywood actress of Scary Movie and The House Bunny fame — is “unqualified” to give relationship advice, but that doesn’t stop her from doing so in this warm and funny podcast. Named the best podcast of 2016 by Entertainment Weekly, the show features Anna and her producer Sim interviewing a new celebrity guest each week, and ends with calling a listener in need of advice.

    This is a great podcast because it feels real; the jokes, insults, and games make it seem like you’re listening in on the kind of conversation you’d have with your own friends. The show is recorded in Anna’s home, with husband Chris Pratt and four-year-old son Jack frequently interrupting. The guests — including Chris Evans and Jenny Slate, Jeremy Renner, and Seth Rogen — are often friends or colleagues of Anna, so the interviews are relaxed yarns peppered with not-so-rapid fire questions and improv games. The chemistry between old friends Anna and producer Sim is the foundation for these interviews. Their badinage is hilarious, with Anna lightly mocking an exasperated Sim trying to keep the show running to schedule.

    The podcast typically runs for an hour and a half, with the last third devoted to solving the problems of a listener. Most callers have relationship questions, but family, friends, and career issues are also featured. Anna, Sim, and the guests all chip in — sometimes talking over the top of each other — to try to help the listener. Again, this feels so familiar, and not unlike those late night deep-and-meaningfuls you have with your own friends. The advice is sincere and thoughtful, and almost always gentle, with the notable exception of The Big Bang Theory’s Johnny Galecki blasting a caller for her infidelity (who knew Leonard had such strong opinions?). Tune in to Anna Faris is Unqualified for a superb package of comedy and friendship that will brighten up your day.

    Start with: Episode 22, Jason Mantzoukas

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  • Very Good Lives — J. K. Rowling

    Do you remember a few weeks ago, when J. K. Rowling had a good laugh at the thought of Piers Morgan being told to fuck off on live television? She tweeted as such with gleeful irreverence, at the unique pleasure the universe had granted her without any warning at all.

    This event is the excuse I am using for writing a review on Very Good Lives — a small, thin book containing the illustrated transcript of Rowling’s 2008 Harvard University commencement address. You might notice that it is now 2017, i.e. nine years too late. I am claiming that it is a relevant choice because of said Twitter chaos lifting Rowling into the public eye, like an already-soaring cloud being blown slightly higher in the sky than before by a sudden breeze.

    It is also a relevant book for graduates about to run out into the world and desperately in need of some well-sprinkled magic to make that run a bit smoother and less trip-uppy.

    This isn’t the end of the school year for us, unfortunately. But it’s always a good idea to wonder privately to yourself, or loudly at your lecturing professors, what’s this all for? What’s the point?

    Well, the woman who created a world that we’ve collectively agreed is much better than our own, in so many fantastic ways (haha), has wisdom to offer. I won’t tell you what. That’s why I write these damn things, so you get motivated to do the hard work yourself. But if you’ve ever failed miserably at something you really cared about, or at life, then you’ve honestly got a truly sympathetic ear in Rowling. The most graceful, genius lady-writer ever whose words we’re lucky enough to have at hand when everything falls apart.

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  • Skymning — Nestled Between Vast Depressions

    Ex-Wellington resident Skymning has left for London and dropped his latest EP Nestled Between Vast Depressions as something of a parting gift. Skymning has been making music in Wellington for around five years now, with steady Bandcamp releases since his 2012 album 1993. A stalwart of the local scene, he’s collaborated with the likes of Race Banyon (aka Lontalius), Womb, and Aucklander Totems. Skyming’s music is quite unlike anything else around, a unique blend of acoustic/ambient instrumentation, scavenged percussion, and field recordings.

    The first and second tracks, “Hell is other people” and “I’m Up”, feel like relatively straightforward dance works, but their upbeat drum rhythms are beautifully countered by Skymning’s typically melancholic melody writing, and distorted guitar lines. “Collapse” starts the slowest, with a simple piano composition that cleverly morphs into a delayed, chopped dance track. “Fell Into Place” has a distinct shuffle to it, borrowing elements of Jungle but remaining subdued. The final track “Alone With My Thoughts” is probably the most unexpected. The title comes from a painting by Daniel Johnson (of Kurt Cobain t-shirt fame) and features Skymning performing a rare vocal part. It’s one of the more ‘songy’ songs he’s released, the autotuned hook beautifully fragile, the piano typically sad. It’s not particularly dancey but still carries the kind of driving rhythm that Skymning uses to hold down his ambient experimentation.

    Nestled Between Vast Depressions is a neat EP showcasing a few different aspects of the kind of sonic exploration we’ve come to expect from Skymning. It’s a good addition to an interesting discography and a cool place to start for anyone yet to hear his music. Hopefully he keeps busy in London.

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  • Memory is your image of perfection

    I can still feel your lips

    Memory takes many forms. “We always see with memory,” said David Hockney, insisting on our perceptions of the now as a layering of many pasts. “To come to one’s memory again” comes from the Anglo-Norman “revenir a sa memori” and has less to do with seeing and more to do with awakening, which is still not quite what I want to say. Memory-belief is that which is true but did not happen: an event remembered does not necessarily have to have occurred. Jenny Holzer made a work that claimed “memory is your image of perfection,” referring not to some lack of defects, but an alchemy — the potential for transformation. My favorite thing about memory is that it allows truth and untruth to coexist.

    I cried and cried

    Ruby Joy Eade’s skin on skin on dirt is only memory now. Exhibited as part of the Upstream Art Trail, the ten works lived in Central Park for four days and three nights. Found text in black, printed on white board, mounted by a wooden pole — the signs speak to remembered moments of teenage intimacy in public spaces. The signs can speak to or for the viewer: ‘you’ and ‘I’ existing in their most malleable forms. Part of the pleasure in encountering the works is the creation of narrative. Left up to the path you take, this story can take many forms, although none will end by way of conclusion, only mood.  So we are thinking about connections rather than closure: between the ‘you’ and the ‘I’, the ‘you’ and the work, the work and the work, the work and the place, the place and the ‘you’.

    together forever

    Maggie Nelson wrote that “fucking leaves everything as it is,” which is to say fucking does not equate to being together forever, even when we promise it does. Moments, and in turn memories, mark time but cannot define it. Similarly, language exists independently from what it describes, which is the crux of Eade’s work: her borrowed phrases resonate because they can never quite encapsulate the feeling they try so hard to convey. Sourced from the subreddit r/relationships, “I can still feel your lips”, “I cried and cried”, “together forever”, and “skin on skin on dirt” are phrases isolated from longer quotes. These are stories only glimpsed.

    skin on skin on dirt

    We can consider intimacy as central to loneliness, which craves that closeness, but it is more difficult to discern how these anonymous fragments can convey a feeling which surely requires a knowable identity. The intimacy of Eade’s work comes by way of transformation: the digital becomes reality and, in turn, reality becomes an act of imagination. What happens to reality as it enters the work? The trick is that the signs exist in the subjunctive until memory is activated, at which point their physicality is exposed as device. The “markers of memory”, as Eade has described them, are representative of a new kind of confession which has manifested in the digital age: knowing without knowing, intimacy without touch, an identity built on code. Our memories are, like the internet, built on a process of encoding. skin on skin on dirt plays with these associations. From within the park a new landscape is created. How long you linger is up to you.

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  • Horizon Zero Dawn

    Developer: Guerrilla Games

    Publisher: Sony Interactive Entertainment

    Platform: PS4

    Score: 4.5/5

    *Review copy supplied by publisher*

     

    I used to think Guerrilla Games were a one-trick pony, capable only of producing generic shooters that look pretty but have nothing else going for them. Seriously, no one is going to go out of their way to say Killzone is their favourite game series. Horizon Zero Dawn was a significant risk for Guerrilla, but it has paid off with one of the finest open world games of recent years.

    Set over a thousand years since a mass calamity caused human civilisation to collapse, giant fearsome machines control the land. The surviving pockets of humanity regressed into tribal societies, their technologically advanced ancestors passing into legend. Playing as Aloy, an outcast from the Nora tribe, you can explore the world, discover the secrets of the past and, of course, fight giant robots.

    Giant. Fucking. Robots. That explode.

    I adore the universe created for this game. Combining a primitive, tribal aesthetic with the mechanical, futuristic look of the machines is a masterstroke of design that ties the world together. Everything about the game world is an absolute treat for the eyes, with a ton of variety in the geography and plenty of colour to go around (which will look even better if you have a PS4 Pro and a TV with high dynamic range capability). The creature designs, most of them modelled after animals, are fantastic in that they somehow manage to fit right in with the landscape, and yet still stand out enough to be presented as a great threat. The anthropologist in me loves how the game world works, how the characters deal with each other and with the artefacts of the world left to them. Something that looks futuristic to us is, for them, a remnant of the ancient past; how cool is that?

    The nitty-gritty of the game’s story is about Aloy going on a journey of self-discovery, venturing beyond the only home she has ever known to find the truth about her past. You’ll be spending 30 hours or more with her, but there is more than enough intrigue to keep you going through the main quest line. Dialogue choices give you the opportunity to shape Aloy’s personality to your liking, though she retains a fierce sense of independence no matter what you choose. Being a female lead there are obviously high expectations, and Aloy surpasses them. However, while Ashly Burch does fine voicing our lead, some of the other voice acting is a bit dodgy, and it doesn’t help that the lip-sync makes it feel like I’m watching a bad anime dub.

    But oh my god, the combat! Stealth might be the key to survival in this world, but the weapons at your disposal don’t mess around when it comes to fucking up some robots. There is nothing more satisfying than sneaking up on a Watcher, shooting an arrow into its eye and watching it flop about, before doing the same to his mate. Or catching a Sawtooth with an electric tripwire, firing a flaming arrow into a canister on its belly and then watching as it explodes, killing everything in sight. Or circling a Corrupter as you fire ropes into its body to tie it down, then taking it out with a few fire bombs. Holy shit, there is just so much potential for awesome kills.

    Horizon Zero Dawn is a triumph for Guerrilla and a damn good reason to own a PS4. It doesn’t necessarily reinvent the wheel, but it does almost everything so well that it doesn’t need to. It is an early Game of the Year contender and well worth investing your time into.

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  • The Bell Jar — Sylvia Plath

    Forgive me, nerds! I know this is a cliché. I am painfully aware that this book is the lady-authored equivalent of Catcher in the Rye — a great book often let down through loud, obnoxious promotion by hipsters, teachers, and Buzzfeed lists. I also know that the synopsis sounds like a real bummer.

    Because it is: mental illness is not fun.

    Additionally, it’s everywhere. Cue spooky alien music.

    But New Zealand, while struggling with mental illness on a significant scale, does not want anyone to know. Shush your mouths, we say.

    The Bell Jar does not allow you to ignore mental illness. Even something as simple as the use of first-person perspective prevents that misstep, by shoving you right in there, into the guts of the chaos. Watch, it shrieks, and tell me then that this is just all in my imagination. Tell me to sort it out. Tell me to calm down. Tell me to buck up.

    We follow the life of Plath’s main character, Esther Greenwood, as she tries to figure out her existence as an intern at a New York fashion magazine in the early 1960s — think Mad Men era and locale. Since this novel is so widely read, you’ll likely know, or suspect, that Esther has a mental breakdown and attempts suicide. You might also know that this novel is semi-autobiographical. Sylvia Plath spoke about the pain of her life the only way she could, with her writing, as so many writers are compelled to do. She speaks through the years that this is real, this happened to her, and out of something many people couldn’t even understand, she created something brilliant and outrageous and furious.

    Just, everybody, especially university students, lovely doves you, be okay.

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  • Silence (2016)

    Director — Martin Scorsese

    Silence was not so much a movie for me, but rather a meditation on Western religion which meticulously deconstructs the dominant beliefs of Christianity by aligning them against those of other religions.

    The film tells of two 17th century Portuguese Christian missionaries, played by Adam Driver and Andrew Garfield, who are sent to Japan, a primarily Buddhist nation, to search for Father Ferreira. Ferreira, played by Liam Neeson, is on a mission to spread the faith, and is said to have been tortured and denounced by God.

    The response to their arrival by Japanese officials is less than welcoming, with their faith being tested rigorously throughout the film via torture and constant physical and psychological abuse — HOLY SHIT, the Japanese characters know how to torture and kill!

    Scorsese shows Christianity’s focus on an unseen God that judges without recognition, and juxtaposes this with a portrayal of the Buddhist faith in which God is everywhere and all around, there is not some far off kingdom in the sky, and paradise is Earth itself.

    Scorsese’s cinematography acknowledges this many times, as his composition portrays characters as small in comparison to or surrounded by the natural world, creating an illusion that the human will shall always be incredibly insignificant compared to the grandeur of nature. Slowly but surely, the viewer begins to recognise this as more acceptable, and begins to not only sympathise less with the missionaries but almost sees that their commitment to their faith is, at some level, selfish and futile.

    I don’t want to belittle the Christian faith; I myself was brought up as Catholic. However, this film did introduce me to a level of religious contemplation and development I have never experienced before. It made me think about the divine, not as a cosmic entity that I would join in the afterlife, but as something ever-present right now. It also made me think of the beauty and brutality of the natural world we live in.

    This film shows that we should not be expect a divine presence to tell us what to do as, for the most part, that entity most likely will not contact us. This is where the film’s symbolic title comes into play, as the work of Driver, Garfield, and Neeson falls on deaf ears and they seem to be praying to silence. Their suffering is not relieved nor do their efforts seem to be in any way productive to their cause. Silence is definitely one of, if not, Scorsese’s most artistic pieces of work both intellectually and visually. The images are basically nature porn with thick Japanese forests and beaches punctuating every scene. The film can be read from a religious angle with the tensions between Buddhism and Christianity, or a conservationist angle with the focus on people and nature. If you want to skip all of that, and just want a really good movie to watch, the plot is really good and the acting is very solid from both the celebrities and the unnamed Japanese extras.

    My advice for Silence is to go see it with someone you can have a coffee with afterwards because there is A LOT to talk about.

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  • About the Author ()

    Salient is a magazine. Salient is a website. Salient is an institution founded in 1938 to cater to the whim and fancy of students of Victoria University. We are partly funded by VUWSA and partly by gold bullion that was discovered under a pile of old Salients from the 40's. Salient welcomes your participation in debate on all the issues that we present to you, and if you're a student of Victoria University then you're more than welcome to drop in and have tea and scones with the contributors of this little rag in our little hideaway that overlooks Wellington.

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