Reservoir 2012, Paris 2013
I reckon Foucault rocks. When I was staying in Paris recently (as you do), I shaved what was left of my hair in his honour. Actually, it stemmed from me first trying to trim my stubble with a woefully inadequate Gillette safety razor. I ended up giving myself that ‘cancer survivor’ look. My partner took one look and suggested I go the full baldy.
Likewise, this song is the result of a chance meeting between whimsy and error. I actually consider it one of my proudest songwriting achievements. It’s not every day that a leading social theorist visits the outer northern suburbs of Melbourne, at least in song. The closest we’ve had of late is Beyonce dropping in on Brunswick, but that was in real life.
Because, I hate to admit it, I don’t think Michel ever made it to Melbourne. I don’t know for sure, but a Google search for “Did Michel Foucault visit Melbourne?” came up shiny and hairless.
That doesn’t take anything away from the fact that South Morang is the centre of the civilised universe. The 23 kilometres that separate South Morang from the Melbourne CBD is the difference between greatness and nyah. Need proof? The former Epping train line, which includes Reservoir (where I wrote this song), is now called the South Morang line. If Michel hadn’t died in the 1980s, he would have gone there, I can guarantee it.
All that aside, the song is a serious attempt to bridge the conceptual divide between the proletariat and academic class-power discourse. Our barely-there three-person troupe of greying, balding idiots, the Stavros Brothers, has form here (vis-a-vis songs like Dialectics and Signify/Signified). But this song is the shining crown of our creative achievement. You can glean this from the first verse:
Dang, South Morang
It continues with a rousing chorus, designed to lift the morale of the underclasses:
Getting’ down, South Morang
The second verse descends, as De Certeau would put it, from the tops of the shopping centre spires down into the gritty streets:
Down, in town,
The next line offers poignant and biting social commentary on the beauty culture:
Hawkins*, not Dawkins
It finishes with a hint of a violent undercurrent, of urban alienation and discontent:
Bang, South Morang
But not without a hint of final redemption:
Ooh whoo hoo
And there you have it. A thesis in E Major. An endlessly complex piece of work that reveals that, like Didier Eribon said of Foucault, “under one mask there is always another”.
© Stefan Schutt. Steffan works at Victoria University, Melbourne. He has a passion for old painted signs and for dishevelled rock bands like Guided by Voices and the Grifters.