Welcome back, election corflutes!
Although some Canberrans (and especially the miserabilists who dominate the Letters to the Editor pages) deplore the festoonings of the city with portrait-posters, I welcome the corflutes with the enthusiasm with which one might welcome the arrival of an attractive, all-too-seldom-seen migrating bird species.
That is not one of my best analogies (for example it begs the question of where the migrating corflutes have been all this time and where corflutes fly away and disappear to when it is not the election season), but it does mawkishly express the joy the posters give me.
Quite apart from the way in which they enrich and break up the usual sterile and manicured monotony of the city's roadside looks, the very concept of the portrait corflute bristles with interest.
So, for example, there is the presumption of candidates and their organising parties and svengalis that a portrait of a candidate's smiling face (corflute faces never do anything but smile) is bound to be a vote-winning thing for the person portrayed.
But where does this assumption come from? Is there anything, anywhere in political science that supports it? After all, one's experience in everyday life is that the contemplation of different faces triggers different feelings (or no feelings whatsoever).
And so posters of faces seem unlikely to do most of those portrayed any electoral good, although corflute posters of senate candidate David Pocock (suddenly everywhere in my niche of Canberra, almost as numerous as the trees of this leafy bailiwick) have a strange appeal about them. I cannot quite put my finger on what it is but it may be that his shaved head and skull are very suggestive in their size and shape and leathery look of the rugby football with which he is so fondly and admiringly associated. Can his canny political advisers have deliberately gone for this subconscious effect on all of us?
But still on the question of whether one's face is generally a good advertisement for oneself and helps single one out (for there is a general sameness about all human heads and faces) I think that when I run for office, I will use a corflute portrait that is somehow memory-makingly different.
Perhaps, beside my prominently-displayed name, I will imitate one of those strangely unforgettable portraits painted by Rene Magritte in which the face below the bowler hat is obscured by a big green apple or in which there is no face at all beneath the hat but only sky.
MORE IAN WARDEN:
In other Magritte "portraits", the head that emerges from the collars of the suit belong not to a man, but to an animal, in one case an eagle. I might do this with my corflute, having the head of a Gang-gang cockatoo (the ACT's popular faunal emblem) emerge above my collars.
Then, still on the extra mystique imparted by portraits that do not show a face, my corflute portraits might imitate the work of contemporary photographer Luvia Lazo.
She often portrays her subjects concealing their faces behind great big bunches of flowers. I am a passionate flower gardener and so, in a sense, a portrait of me with my face hidden by my sunflowers, my dahlias, would be telling a revealing truth of who and what I am. There would be a sincerity about that corflute that is surely sometimes lacking in the corflutes of those who have pulled a smile just for corflute purposes.
And while on smiles, one wonders why every face on every corflute has to be a smiling face.
All poster candidates are radiating a kind of toxic positivity, as if there is something about the experience of being a political candidate that fills the candidate's bosom with a pentecostal rapture.
Some corflutes show the candidate actively laughing, which surely raises questions about what it is they are laughing at. So, for example, those of us who dislike Liberals for their prosperity gospel callousness towards the disadvantaged have to wonder if a laughing Liberal is laughing at the unemployed, or for joy at the good news (good for a heartless conservative) that the UK Supreme Court has just refused to allow Julian Assange's appeal against extradition to the USA.
What if ultra-Christian Liberal senator Zed Seselja, looking buoyed as anything in his corflute posters now springing up everywhere, is smirkingly happy at yet again thwarting those pesky Godless Canberrans who want the ACT to have its own right-to-die laws?
Again, when and if I need a corflute portrait and if the electoral commission refuses me permission to show a Gang-gang's head and face rather than my own, I think I will go for novelty with a portrait that shows me with a facial expression other than a smile.
It just so happens that I am by nature a deep, brooding, philosophical person so that a portrait of me looking deep in thought and/or tormented by life's horrors would not only stick more firmly in voters' memories but would be a sincere portrayal of who and what I really am.
I'm sorry, but as I have written before I find the uniform cheerfulness of 99.9 per cent of those in the corflute posters suggestive of a happy clappy shallowness and reminiscent Gary Larson's classic cartoon The Many Moods of an Irish Setter in which each of his dozen portrayed setters has an identical expression of mindless, tongue-lolling rapture.
I love Irish Setters (and vastly prefer all dogs to politicians) but in this case find unsettling candidates' faces that suggest the elected may take a puppy-like approach to the serious matters of government.
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