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Editorial: Semester 2, Week 8 2019

Mystical banality meets subterranean possibility

Image of planter box on Eastern Ave with pipes coming out from underneath in vibrant colours Artwork by Angela Zha

A new life form came to Eastern Avenue. They turned up in the middle of the night. Large and grey, they were heavy-footed things, filled to the brim with clay, silt and soil. In each, a small tree took root. Now, those charcoal tree pots or ‘planter boxes’ are fixtures of Eastern Avenue. They simulate a bizarre game of Cube Runner as student feet press to libraries, ducking and weaving amidst arbor and SRC campaigners in this caffeinated time of the year.

With mid-sems and exams drawing near, it feels instinctive to walk with pace and minimise distraction. The days feel short, and the exams, heavily weighted. But spare a moment, temporarily reduce your sensitivity to public embarrassment and examine those pots for yourself. Gently press your cheek against the uneven cobbles of Eastern Avenue. Look underneath.

My theory is that those pots are planted much deeper than they appear. You might assume that’s because the pots serve obvious practical functions. They must, after all, amount to much more than cosmetic additions to one of the busiest thoroughfares on campus.

You may say the pots are defensive bollards and that they are fixed to the underbelly of Eastern Avenue by some 20-metre metal strut. I wouldn’t dismiss that possibility. But underneath I have imagined a fever dream of pipes and speakers, surveillance and eyes peeking out from darkened interiors.

Editing Honi Soit is a little like imagining these subterranean possibilities: formulating questions, finding answers, stumbling in the dark and reimagining the scope of possibility against reality, all in the name of pursuing that which is often romanticised as truth.

But, no lead ever takes you to precisely what you expect. Most times, the end of the road is far more banal than mystical.

At the beginning of this year, I balanced a thesis with this role. After a stress-induced breakdown, I turned to the honours coordinator.

He told me that three people would read my thesis in total. Each would be a faculty academic, and each would do so because they were required to mark it, rather than natural interest. The thesis would then go into the University’s thesis library, where few, if any, would subsequently gaze upon it. Honi, on the other hand, will live on, digitised online, archived by Fisher’s Rare Books Collection, and in the memory of this year’s readers.

The banal can be mystical, and at Honi, it often has been.

Spring is here now. Happy reading.