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Issue 20, 2015

The Zeitgeist



  • Democracy returns to Uni Council

  • Vested interests and kamikaze presidents

  • The next morning will always be shit

  • 0800 Oh my God just let me add to my debt

  • Naughty Te Puni

  • Features

  • Bloodsport

    The DNA of public displays of punishment, retribution, and discipline can be traced back as far as we can, but stocks and pillories have been supplanted by tweets and poorly-considered Facebook posts


  • Tinder As a Laxative

    In the age of the sixth generation iPhone, I am just one of many who have found themselves unintentionally in love with their phone.


  • Fast Friends and Snail Mail

    Several of my best real life friends I originally met online.


  • Fashion Slaeve

    As a girl with the immune system of your average geriatric, who consistently ends up rampantly ill before every major exam and social event of her existence, it was only typical that I contracted strep throat two days before New Zealand Fashion Week. Especially after scoring a free front-row ticket to the first New Generation […]


  • Bloodsport

    The DNA of public displays of punishment, retribution, and discipline can be traced back as far as we can, but stocks and pillories have been supplanted by tweets and poorly-considered Facebook posts


  • Tinder As a Laxative

    In the age of the sixth generation iPhone, I am just one of many who have found themselves unintentionally in love with their phone.


  • Fast Friends and Snail Mail

    Several of my best real life friends I originally met online.


  • Fashion Slaeve

    As a girl with the immune system of your average geriatric, who consistently ends up rampantly ill before every major exam and social event of her existence, it was only typical that I contracted strep throat two days before New Zealand Fashion Week. Especially after scoring a free front-row ticket to the first New Generation […]


  • Arts and Science

  • Lam On Lam

    Sharon Lam is a local multimedia artist, with her work spanning across everything from pencil drawings to biro drawings. While an elusive figure, Salient was lucky enough to be graced with a rare interview.

    Lam: Hi Sharon, thanks so much for sitting down with me.

    Lam: No worries. Anything for the fans. Sharon waves like the Queen to an empty room.

    Lam: Recently you received some unflattering criticism for one of your projects, what are your thoughts on this?

    Lam: I knew this would come up! It was written by Bryce Galloway, on the national Zine Review website, covering one of my collaborative literary projects. He said I was “more self-indulgent than amusing”, I have absolutely no idea where this came from.

    Lam: Self-indulgent? Wow, completely left field.

    Lam: Yes, exactly. He also said that he wasn’t sure if I should “drink more, or try harder”, which is also ridiculous because I am always drunk and everyone knows that if you try, it doesn’t count.

    Lam: What projects are you currently working on?

    Lam: Absolutely no one commissioned me to do a comic series called Architecture School Bully, so I just completed that. Now I’m solely focusing on my moss photography.

    Lam: Finally, you also recently exhibited as part of a group show, can you tell me more about this?

    Lam: My photo-tees were part of Hers, an exhibit for VUWSA’s Women’s Week. I was flattered to be included in such a talented group, much kudos to the Women’s Group for organising the event.

    Lam: I believe you encouraged visitors to sniff the t-shirts? What was this about?

    Lam: The t-shirts featured photographs that I claimed had smells captured within them.

    Lam: Did they?

    Sharon attempts to wink.

    View Sharon Lam’s moss photography at


  • The End of the Tour


    There’s a moment in The End of the Tour when David Lipsky is about to say goodbye to David Foster Wallace. Left alone briefly, Lipsky rushes from room to room, dictaphone in hand, attempting to absorb every detail of the house. “Dogs, Alanis Morissette poster, a draped Barney towel in the bedroom. In the bathroom, postcards: the Clintons, St Ignatius prayer…” Into the writing room he goes, which, unlike the rest of the house, is without light—only the outline of a computer screen visible. He is fascinated by Wallace, and still perplexed, aware that an unseen life remains here, obscured in the dark.

    The End of the Tour, directed by James Ponsoldt, is adapted from the book And of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself, written by David Lipsky, a reporter for Rolling Stone, who spent five days with Wallace at the end of his release tour for Infinite Jest. Lipsky meets Wallace at his home in Bloomington, Illinois, and they travel together to Minneapolis, where Wallace gives a final reading for the tour. Lipsky (Jesse Eisenberg), also a writer, is both jealous and admiring of his talent. Wallace (Jason Segel) is guarded, wary of Lipsky’s ability to shape public perception of him.

    What results is an interesting, sometimes intense dynamic between the two central characters: the reporter and subject, the fan and the artist. But as the two travel together, they sort of become bros—riffing, smoking, driving, discussing relationships, America, the illusions of fame, the importance of authenticity in art. What makes that more compelling is that these are actually Lipsky’s questions, and Wallace’s words, the screenplay has been mainly adapted from the interview transcripts provided in Lipsky’s book.

    Infinite Jest, the 1079 page experimentalist epic Wallace had just released (and the novel he struggled to follow), looms in the background of the film. In the film, one of the contentions between Lipsky and Wallace is the author’s insistence of his own normality, which Lipsky cannot reconcile with the visionary work. Segel gives a subtle performance of Wallace—he is funny and compassionate, and there is a sensitivity to his silences. But Eisenberg is equally impressive. He brings a familiar, nervous energy to dialogue and behind that, a deeper emotional nuance. As Lipsky, he can be jarring in his persistent, intrusive questioning, and it may be his desire to understand the author that fuels this.

    The film is not a biopic of Wallace, a neat summation of his life. But it is the portrayal of a fascinating conversation between two writers, an exploration of their ideas. It’s also about writing, about the mysterious and difficult bond it can create.


  • Inside Out


    While the official trailer, movie descriptions and posters may present the film in a modest light, the Pixar-Disney film Inside Out proves to be such a worthy and significant animated film to its audience.

    The film is handed to us from the perspective of 11-year-old Riley, a devoted ice hockey fan and player, quirky, creative, and a family-orientated tween. The central timeline of the film revolves around Riley and her family relocating from Minnesota to San Francisco. While I initially describe it as Riley’s “perspective”, this word only scratches the surface of the film’s core. The heart of the film truly belongs to Riley’s emotions, the five manifestations that shape and mould Riley into her being—Joy, Sadness, Fear, Disgust and Anger.  

    The film can be looked at as a visual analysis of an individual’s mind, and how these five emotions equally contribute to the incremental progression of the human life. The characterisation of the five manifestations of Riley’s emotions educate us into accepting that the human mind is a sporadic battle of feelings and thoughts. We are left to ponder exactly what emotion, or who is it, that will determine how we create, envision and remember the memories that are hoarded in our head.

    Each characterisation of Riley’s emotions is each given a fitting vocal representation—Amy Poehler as Joy, and Phyllis Smith as Sadness being my favourites. They articulate themselves into what we may understand the emotions to comprise of—indeed, Joy adopts a pragmatic and creative persona, contrasted with Sadness, who is a pessimist and realist.

    The film ends on a high note, and the much more “experienced” and elderly members of the audience are given an inside joke. The film is implicit with the suggestion that our emotions become complex than what we have seen. The younger audience members are left to guess, while the more experienced audience members snicker at what Riley is inevitably to experience with her young teenage years.


  • 500 Reasons Why There Should Be a Black Widow Solo Film

    1) As Scarlett Johansson rightly stated, Black Widow’s history is rich, and steeped with great stories to tell. As a spy, she has been involved in so many organisations and this has been touched on by the MCU, which uses her as a bridge to connect HYDRA and the Red Programme, The Winter Soldier and S.H.I.E.L.D. Exploring her past in a more comprehensive manner would have the advantage of revealing her associations to each, as well as weaving a complex web of relations.

    2) Natasha Romanoff is a Russian woman. To have her star as a protagonist would be a huge leap for Marvel, as characters of non-American ethnicity, when featured, are generally played as villains or thugs, rather than with heroic story arcs. This is superbly illustrated by the fact that the woman that Marvel has picked up to title the first solo superheroine film is Carol Danvers, a white American woman with a military background, despite Natasha’s pre-existence as a popular MCU character.

    3) The Black Widow is very popular (and the lone Marvel superheroine). She has an avid and dedicated following, who would be more than willing to watch and applaud a solo film, as seen from demonstrations, tweets and general comments made since Natasha Romanoff first appeared on the big screen. Furthermore, there is no disagreement from higher levels such as Kevin Feige. It would be a very easy sell.

    4) There are already fan-made title sequences and trailers of the film! Beautifully made, one has tricked many an unsuspecting Marvel fan that a Black Widow film was on the table. In fact, given the quality of the trailer, if the film was made, it might outstrip the rest of Marvel’s creations so far. Additionally, there’s no shortage of actor, writer and director enthusiasm—a treatment of the film was written back in 2010, and many celebrities have been quoted as saying that they’d be on board with the enterprise.

    5) If a movie were to be made, it would give audiences the added pleasure of potentially delving into Hawkeye and Bucky Barnes’ histories as well, uncovering more backstory and spy shenanigans.

    6-500) Natasha Romanoff is one badass lady, and on top of that, she is a chameleon. She evolves, constantly. Wouldn’t it be awesome to watch those metamorphoses on screen? (The answer is a resounding YES.)


  • Reality Bites

    Films inspired by or based on true events are not reality, but another kind of fiction. Monetarily speaking, it’s another genre of film utilising people, dates and locations we are familiar with in order to generate greater interest in its performance. It sounds critical, and it is a bit, but it’s more observational because there seems to be an alarming increase in this. In fact, the Best Picture Oscar winners of 2010, 2012 and 2013 have all been films inspired by true events, however changed or played with. You could argue that Argo (geddit?) was an unrealistic, pro-American celebratory act of subverting Middle East foreign policy, or say that 12 Years a Slave was really a devised experiment in traumatising your average film audience. These prove that we have such an ingrained notion that every film should treat us to yet another overcoming of adversity. In terms of the biopic, this means fading or cutting to black over a sombre orchestral backdrop whilst displaying text that says for example: “Billy learned to overcome his real life adversity and pass legislative law declaring the end of this 100-minute running time. He died in 2013.”

    This ending clause is essentially the same as any other ending of a crafted narrative, and it is inescapable to accurately portray events of the past without embellishing certain aspects of it as well. Watching George VI overcome his oratory stuttering problem in The King’s Speech also makes way for a light-hearted drama with comedic elements concerning the contrasting socio-economic backgrounds between his own and that of his speech therapist. Similarly, seeing the painstaking detail with which the filmmakers recreated the sets and studios of the 1960s in the Brian Wilson biopic Love & Mercy, while contrasting that with the familiar love story which is at the same time separate of all that reveals more of a transparency in the filmmaking process, as we cannot watch the Beach Boys founder simply drop LSD and befuddle musicians and bandmates alike for the entire duration of the film. In short, it’s unreal.


  • Beach House—Depression Cherry


    Returning after three years, dream-pop duo Beach House have released their new album Depression Cherry. Like most albums released this year, it’s an extremely layered album with the theme of love and loss being present throughout. On first listen, my interpretation of it was that it focused on the themes and emotions of a short-lived romance, and one party getting over their infatuation with the other. But after listening to it a couple more times and analysing the lyrics, I’ve instead found that Depression Cherry tells the story of a couple falling madly in love, getting married, dealing with the realities of marriage, and ultimately finding these challenges difficultthe whole shebang.

    The album opens with the sparkly track “Levitation” that effortlessly merges a jangly, bubbly keyboard and simple drum melody with Victoria Legrand’s harmonies, to climax at the end of the song making for a white-wash of sound to cleanse the audience’s perception of what they may be in for. The following track, “Sparks” (which was the initial release from the album), totally hits the listener over the head with Alex Scally’s guitar. Powering through the synth loop that begins the track, it continues to pummel the audience for the first part of the song until the things calm down with Legrand’s soothing voice, until picking back up for the bridge and continuing in this manner till the end.  

    The second half of the album is interesting because the songs transition the mood to an almost enlightened state, and a strong use of metaphor begins building on the narrative of dealing with love and its pitfalls. “PPP” ends with a cosmic orgasm of energy as it opens up beautifully from a lulled beginning. “Wildflower” comes next and sees Legrand and Scully delving deeper into the story they created, as the initial awe of their love wore off and left them reassuring themselves of the feelings they still have for one another. “Bluebird” is another realisation song, dealing with the couple coming to peace with themselves and their relationship. The song itself is steeped in shoegazey electronica and sounds like it could have dropped off a Rhye album, carrying the same depressing realisation of the subject’s worlds. The closing track “Days of Candy” finally gives the listener some closure. Legrand’s voice drones on throughout the song, with bubbly synths wafting in and out as she finally sums up her thoughts on loverevealing the metaphor that the album’s title is based on.

    Depression Cherry is ultimately an album about love. It flows through all the melancholy areas of the emotion and gives a real look at the fading spark all couples experience as their relationship wears on. The metaphor that the album’s title is based on pays homage to this idealike a cherry, the initial feeling of loving someone is sweet and joyous, but even the greatest emotion of all, love, fades to reveal mediocrity and melancholy. This may be quite a pessimistic view on a topic so heavily touched on in music, but I think that’s what Beach House were trying to do. They weren’t trying to make some sappy, sad love album, but make something that had some teeth and gave an accurate depiction of what they see love as.


  • Interview: Anna Coddington

    Kiwi songstress Anna Coddington is back for a nationwide tour kicking off right here in the capital. Music editor Kate caught up with her to talk collaborators, new music and the rapidly changing industry.

    Kate: You’re touring the country this month with Lips, how did that come about?

    Anna: Steph from Lips and I have been friends and collaborators for a really long time. I asked Steph to play keys on some of my new material and she was talking about how they really wanted to tour here. They’ve won the Silver Scroll and Steph’s a Kiwi, but they’ve never toured here. It’s quite hard to organise from overseas so I offered to help. From there it just kind of transpired that secretly I wanted to tour with her and she secretly wanted me to do it with her, but we were both sort of too shy to say anything. When we realised we were like “Let’s do it!”

    K: So touring is an enjoyable process for you?

    A: I enjoy the shows, but I don’t really like organising them. It’s a lot of effort and a lot of stress and a lot of detail, but I also happen to be quite good at that side of it which helps! Touring is a funny thing because it’s a really fine balance between doing it too much and not doing it enough. If you go to the same town too many times they’ll get sick of you, but if you don’t go at all, it’s like, two years is a long time between gigs. So I’ve wanted to get back out there for a while.  

    K: The video for your new song “Slate” is pretty fierce. Where did that song grow from?

    A: Oh awesome! I’m glad you thought so. That’s kind of what we were going for, but it’s always hard with performance videos because they rely on exactly thatthe performance. For me “Slate” is quite personal and does come from real experiences, but I think the chorus really sums up the intention of that song. It’s about clearing the slate to start again and letting go of things so that you can move forward. I went through some stuff, had a bit of a breakup, just stuff that’s hard for anyone. It’s not a unique emotion. So “Slate” was just me processing that. It’s hard to go through things and then get to that point where you just have to stop letting them affect you in the present because they’re gone. You have to put an end to it so you can move onto bigger and better things. Quite full on I guess!

    K: I guess everyone can relate to that, there’s a reason why it’s such a universal theme!

    A: Yeah and I hope that’s how it comes across. Like it’s not about me, it’s about you [laughs].

    K: When you are coming up with new stuff, do you find the songwriting process laboured at all?

    A: I definitely wouldn’t call it laboured because it’s my favourite thing to do. Some of them come easily and others not so much. I’ve got one song from my new album that I just couldn’t quite get to work. I worked on it for about eight months and just kept coming back to it and trying different things, so I guess that was laboured in a way, but I still enjoy the process. You have to be happy with your work otherwise why would you put it out there?

    K: So a new album is in the works?

    A: Yes! Next year. I’ve still got quite a bit of work to do on it, but there will definitely be another single coming this year.

    K: Do you find it difficult getting your music out there when most of our radio stations are so commercially driven?

    A: Yeah, definitely. Ever since I started I’ve always been one of those artists that just falls right through the gaps. I’ve been finding quite a lot of support for “Slate” on the bNets which has been great, but even they have formats to work to. For an artist like me, the mainstream music climate is not in my favour at all. Unless you’ve got ravey dance music, it just won’t get played. So I hope people will hear my music and connect with it on their own accordnot because a radio station is telling them to. I think of winning people over one at a time rather than “I’m gonna release a song and win thousands of fans”. Even now compared to what I put out in 2013 the environment’s just changing so quickly that it really is hard to cut through the noise. But having said that, I think when people do hear and connect to it, it means so much more now.

    K: Finally, I saw you tweeting about the upcoming Silver Scroll Awards the other day, who’re the Kiwi artists that you’re really digging right now?

    A: Ooh, there are loads actually! Everything that Top 20 is exceptional. The new SJD album is brilliant, the new Unknown Mortal Orchestrathese are full albums of just brilliant material. Lips are also incredible and their songwriting is next level. I’m genuinely so happy to be doing this tour with them.

    Anna and Lips will be playing at Meow on Thursday 10 September.


  • National Poetry Day

    Crouched on a stepladder near the crowd, with a zine tucked into my hands and my camera at the ready, I got that feeling I get when I’m part of an audience who are hanging on every word. The stool grew increasingly uncomfortable, and the noises of the Vic Books café soundtracked the event, but as I was pulled into different spaces by the words of each poet, these things simply lay the foundations, the distinctions, of the Vic Books National Poetry Day event.

    It’s very rare that I find myself spending an hour and half, straight, listening to poetry. National Poetry Day, in its eighteenth year, had once again given us an excuse, the country over, to indulge in the beauty and musings that poetry inspires. As the poets read, the crowd grew slowly around the audience, as people collected their coffees and scones from Vic Books, captured by the energy of the crowd, and there they stayed. The audience was entranced by the words that people had crafted, laboured over, or words that had poured out of them in a late night, last minute moment of clarity.

    The Vic Books National Poetry Day event focused on fostering those poets who were students at the IIML. Students of the Master’s poetry or creative nonfiction programmes were invited to take part, along with several ex-students, and current teachers. Their teacher Cliff Fell shared his poems, and one in particular he had written in honour of the students during a workshop he took them on. His students sat behind him as he read, and their faces showed cautious embarrassment, and appreciation.

    Each poet had their own style, and each was distinct from one another. Every poet made me laugh, or smile; a wit and power of the form was present in everyone. Jane Arthur’s work dealt with neuroses and anxieties in hilarious and beautifully meaningful ways. Sam Keenan’s poems were driven by the correspondence between her mother and father, and featured Mansfieldian floral imagery.

    Anna Jackson read thematically appropriate poems from her recently published collection I, Clodia. Alex Hollis’ works were intelligent and entertaining, comments often drawn from pop culture, with a poem dedicated to recycling—a topic she cares deeply about (as do I). Nina Powles’ poems expand upon a theme from her previous collection Girls of the Drift, as she explores lives of historical women from Wellington.

    Ashleigh Young read several works, one inspired by a walk stuck behind two men who walked at a glacial pace. Her ability to draw beauty and pause from moments like these is, for me, the charm of her work. Sarah Webster’s poetry was a moving mixture of love and punctuation—her images were intertwined with grammatical language.

    Louise Wrightson’s work was dedicated to food, and food that she has eaten in different countries; her words are inspired by senses and the places she sees. Faith Wilson, who was recently published in Sport, packed a punch; full of money and whakapapa, her poems truly are “slicker than your average”.

    Harry Ricketts, a lecturer at the IIML, as well as for the English Department, was a particular favourite. He is a regular customer of Vic Books, he can be regularly seen marking essays and reading notes as he drinks his flat white. He is a part of our shop. Most of the poems he read were from his most recent collection Half Dark. His poems in this collection are technically driven, but are informed by his life.

    “A modern creed” was, as he tells the crowd, inspired after a Saturday morning ritual he shares with his wife and a few friends, wherein they play a game of ping-pong at the rec centre, and then recover at Vic Books, where they muse and meditate and discuss. “I believe in God the mother, sharer of crystals and echinacea, and in all things organic and gluten free.” His other poem, published in the zine, was written for his stepson, who passed away recently. This poem reconnects them through maginations on a page; shared memories through words, and what one might have meant. After the reading, the poets milled about, talking to their friends who came along, and I saw Harry sit down with one of his students to go over some things.

    National Poetry Day is a wonderful occasion to support those who have found a home in poetry and dedicated to it, who have revealed little bits of themselves. I saw my friend after the event, our eyes were glassy with excitement, and without saying so, we knew, the light had gone on.

    Poetry is not a commercially successful profession to pursue, for the most part. Poets do it out of love, or need. Poetry books also range from $20-$30,  and make exceptional gifts, or a weekend treat to whet your wandering mind.

    Jayne’s top Five NZ poetry collections:

    1. Half Dark—Harry Ricketts $25
    2. This Must be the Place—Annabel Hawkins $30
    3. How to be dead in a year of Snakes—Chris Tse $24.99
    4. Girls of the Drift—Nina Powles $20
    5. Failed Love Poems—Joan Fleming $25

    All available at Vic Books.

    Thanks to the organisers of National Poetry Day 2015—NZ Book Awards Trust and Booksellers NZ.


  • Confessions of a shopaholic

    I have three “interesting facts about myself” stockpiled for those awkward tutorial introductory games and/or rare boozy truth-or-dare sessions when I am not feeling up to streaking through somebody’s apartment building.

    1. I’m a natural blonde (tame enough for tutes, with sufficient shock value. My hair is waist-length and jet black for the uninitiated).
    2. I have a scar on my butt from drunkenly falling through a glass table (less suitable for academic settings as proof is relentlessly demanded). 
    3. Last semester, I spent 1/3 of a scholarship on lingerie.

    This is in no way an exaggeration. I am incidentally the owner of 12 Lonely bras. (Lingerie game is impeccable, bank account is crying.)

    My #1 priority in flat-hunting is whether or not the bedrooms will accommodate my four wardrobes.

    I am an obsessive shopper. 

    When faced with surviving off expired miso soup and limp carrots for a week vs acquiring a new shiny thing, I will always choose the shiny thing. (My flatmate accurately summarises my diet as “deficient in everything, except maybe vitamin C from all the G&Ts she drinks”.)

    I emotional shop. I drunk shop, procrasti-shop, shop to relieve stress, when I’m on break at work, bored between lectures. There will be a boy in my bed, an unfinished essay due in two hours, and I’ll be online shopping.

    This is simply dandy if you conveniently happen to be a trust fund baby or trophy wife, however for the starving Arts student, it tends to come with some rather scary fiscal repercussions. So, why is it that I willingly endure financial ruin, cheap alcohol and perpetual malnutrition for the sake of a new black mesh thing to add to my plethora of black mesh things?

    The acquisition of new objects of desire releases endorphins, otherwise sought through gross drunk-food, sexy times and whatever it is one does at the gym. With your fabulous new thing, comes instant gratification; the world is temporarily an ecstatic blur of rainbows and kittens. The object of desire then slowly loses its novelty as you become accustomed to its glory, and is eventually replaced with a new want, thus restarting the cycle. Life is meaningless, climate change will destroy humanity, but think of all of your wonderful, empty opulent things.

    I have hypothesised that the only rational, Adult™ way of coping with this phenomenon is either to marry extremely wealthy, or become incredibly successful, very early in your career. (I shall keep you posted as to how these well-considered financial plans work out for me.)


  • 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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