Although ACT Labor's TV advertisements for the present election appear to be intelligence-insulting, it may be (although one seriously doubts it) that there is a hidden sophistication about them.
Some of them are "attack" ads that instead of troubadouring Labor's praises, try to present the Liberal Party, federally and locally, as something nightmarishly menacing.
So for example one ad seems, shamefully, to ask us to blame the Liberals for bushfires. There's nightmarish footage of towering, roaring flames with the implied message that there will be more of this if we go on electing those arsonists, the climate-change-denying Liberals.
Then, still nightmare-mongering, there is a Labor TV election ad that harps on the ugly arch-conservatism of Liberal Party celebrities Zed Seselja and Eric Abetz.
Again, trying to be charitable, one looks for some deep, psychological sophistication in this ad that has these two Liberal brutes lurking in it, like ideological monsters one would hate to meet on a dark Canberra night in a walk down a dark alley of the soul.
Another factor in the intelligence-insulting feel of these Labor ads may be that I am being insulted by them when they pop up to interrupt fine TV dramas I am binge-watching via the miracle of SBS On Demand.
When one is watching TV dramas that are beautifully shot and scripted masterpieces of drama, Labor's interrupting mawkish, clunky, fib-telling ads seem especially dull and feeble. For me, Labor's ads have been interrupting the beguiling, heartbreaking Spanish series El embarcadero (The Pier).
The best TV dramas, as well as having the continental flair always somehow imparted by subtitles (Labor's TV ads would have more impact if spoken in Icelandic with English subtitles) have the quality of persuasiveness. Everything about El embarcadero is utterly, tragically plausible... while Labor Party TV ads are all fakery and implausibility.
And yet, if there is an artfulness about those ads it may lie in a voter-scaring, nightmarish quality they have that I referred to above.
At a recent séance with them, I found Walter Burley Griffin and Marion Mahony Griffin rejoicing at the West Basin news.
Dreaming is much on your columnist's mind. Always a vivid dreamer, I am presently dreaming vivid dreams that play, surreally, with themes generated by the mind-curdling ACT election campaign, now on all waking and sleeping Canberra minds.
Coincidentally, ABC Radio National's All In The Mind program has just sported an illuminating program about dreaming and dreams and about how our pandemic experiences may be tinting them.
It offered new and scholarly ideas about what dreams do and what they may actually be for. Hitherto they have bamboozled.
But on this All In The Mind, Dr Jennifer Windt, a senior research fellow in Philosophy of Mind and Cognition at Monash University, modestly offered some possible debamboozlements.
She suggested some good evolutionary reasons why we may be a dreaming species. One of her suggestions seems to explain, at last, why so many of our dreams teem with people even when, in our waking states, we may be shy folk who do as little shoulder-rubbing with others as possible.
"One theory," Dr Windt mused, "is that dreaming is involved in the simulation and perhaps the perfection of social skills and social interactions."
"So a very common finding is that in dreams we don't just have a self interacting with the world, but we are also experiencing vivid social simulations. And dreams actually abound with a number of dream characters that are experienced as distinct from the self. These can be people you know in waking life, or these can be kind of hybrids of different people you know, partially made up and partially realistic people.
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"But if you look at dream reports, you actually find that social interactions and also the occurrence of dream characters described as distinct from the self are more frequent than in randomly timed waking reports. So we are socially interacting more often in our dreams than we are in reality."
What a big, big idea it is (and ABC Radio National's current motto urges us to let the station's shows enable us to "think bigger") that our dreams may be rehearsals for the parts we play in the daily dramas (all the world's a stage, remember) of our waking lives. Quite how our nightmarish dreams (triggered by Labor's TV election ads) of socially interacting with Zed Seselja and Eric Abetz fit into this formula is not immediately clear, but is deserving of deep thought.
And, still on the subject of fanciful nightmares, a feverish, catastrophist letter in Tuesday's The Canberra Times argues that Canberra's proposed filling-in of an unemployed West Basin fraction of immense Lake Burley Griffin is an unthinkable wickedness. The writer says it is a wickedness comparable to London filling in ALL of its exquisite little recreational lake, the Serpentine.
The letter is silly but it does have the important virtue of mentioning the two lakes in the same breath. This is a virtue because the happy, inner-city, beloved-and-embraced-by-recreating-Londoners Serpentine is a role model for those of us who want to see unhappy, orphaned, never-allowed-to-play-with-Canberrans Lake Burley Griffin at last introduced to the city it has for so long been shunned by. The West Basin development (under way at last!) offers a promise of a beginning of this process.
At a recent séance with them, I found Walter Burley Griffin and Marion Mahony Griffin rejoicing at the West Basin news. Though compelled by competition rules to design a city with "ornamental waters" they never meant those waters to be purely, only ornamental, estranged from their dreamed-of city's frolicking folk. Walter and Marion are beaming, now, although of course my séance with them may only have been a dream.
- Ian Warden is a regular columnist.