The Snake and the Falcon

Autumn 2015

The Snake and the Falcon is an adapted version of Emma Goldman’s 1933 speech ‘An Anarchist Looks at Life’, edited to conform to contemporary parlance and inclusive of contemporary political references. Goldman’s message of believing in a freedom unencumbered by dogma and financial servitude remains relevant nearly eighty-five years later and inspires anew. A work of personal reflection and political quotation, this new text cannot easily be characterised as art or scholarship, but nonetheless exists as labour in the present and begs for continuity with such labours of the past. Readers are challenged to imagine whether they, as artists and intellectuals, are the snake or the falcon in the twenty-first century parable suggested by Goldman’s ongoing speech act, itself an appropriation of Gorky’s poetics. If the snake represents an acceptance of the world as-is, and the falcon is the image of a risky and idealistic drive towards a better future, the text asks: What work does our collective labour perform? What work does criticism do? What can art be?

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AS Vol 23 No. 2