The Unknown Terrorist, Richard Flanagan, 2007
A searing novel gives a look at Sydney in the new Millennium age of the fear of terror and that fear’s exploitation by the powerful. By the author of Gould’s Book of Fish a fantastical tale of the Tasmania prison colony in the early 1800s, The Unknown Terrorist may be for modern day terror stricken Sydney what Tom Wolfe’s Bonfire of the Vanities was for greed crazed New York of the 80s.
Here are truth impaired television journalists, shock jocks, mindless media frenzy, corrupt politicians and corrupt police and national security forces aided by draconian anti-terror legislation fascistic enough to put George W. Bush to shame. Reading this novel one wonders if Australia, birthplace of Rupert Murdoch of Fox and New York Post fame, might be in the cultural forefront of media and power elite fear manipulations:
Power and money were to be admired as life atrophied: except at the beach, beauty was to be despised and the contemplation of the world decreed as a sickness, depression, maladies… Power and money were to be all that remained, and politics was what ensured their primacy. Politics places man at the centre of life, and in permanent opposition to the Universe.
On Jesus and Nietzsche as pioneers in the age of terror:
Jesus, who wanted love to such an extent, was clearly a madman, and had no choice when confronted with the failure of love but to seek his own death. In his understanding that love was not enough, in his acceptance of the necessity of the sacrifice of his own life to enable the future of those around him, Jesus is history’s first, but not last, example of a suicide bomber.
Nietzsche wrote, “I am not a man, I am dynamite”. It was the image of a dreamer. Every day now somebody somewhere is dynamite. They are not an image. They are the walking dead, and so are the people who are standing around them. Reality was never made by realists, but by dreamers like Jesus and Nietzsche.