Will the real Francis Geyer please stand up?

Annie receives an anonymous email. It reads

You remember the recent story about Primary Colours, a thinly veiled account of the Clintons which was published anonymously. Wasn't the author, later revealed as Joe Klein (no relation to Timothy) interviewed on the Internet? Troy helps you set it up.

To Annie: What questions do you ask?

This isn't quite what you bargained for. Let's hear a selection from a log of the computer interview.

The Friends of Gaia [now spelt G-A-I-A] can now reveal that the subject of the biography did not in fact exist but was constructed by a group of individuals who dedicated their lives to the restoration of a natural justice in the affairs of this planet. Back in the 1960s, when the name Francis Geyer first appeared in print as the author of some remarkable poetry, didn't he exist? In the west, poetry is the bleating heart of identity and the kernel of everything that is precious about human feeling. But does it really exist when it is so easily mimicked. Didn't Francis Geyer have real feelings in the minds of his readers? When we finally realise that human identity is simply a construction of language we will then begin to question our deeply anthropocentric focus. Why is it that only humans are heard in court? If we can represent fictional authors, then we are on the way to developing a truly just legal system where all the beings on this planet can be heard: the animal, plants, mountain, valleys and skies that suffer so much from human selfishness. We demand then, that Archipelago magazine publish the Supplicant under its original and true name, Francis Geyer.

To Rodney: Would you agree to their request?

To Margaret: As a friend of Gwen Harwood, how would you respond?

To Leigh Sealy: A trusted friend of Archipelago magazine, they approach you for legal advice. Do you think the friends of Geyer have a case against the magazine?

Annie, you were clever enough to have at your side during the course of the online interview the wunderkind hacker, Troy Blair. He put a trace on the IRC channel and sourced the correspondent to a computer bulletin board called Vandemonium. Troy explains that Vandemonium is a haven of ecological terrorists with links to animal liberationists and home to Five Monkeys, a group of `queer greenies' known to advocate radical destabilisation of culture through art terrorism as an alternative to mainstream political action.

Archipelago coverTo Rodney: The time comes to writing the editorial. The story has come out and people look to the magazine for some response to their actions. Is there a place in Green politics for this kind of prank?

Meanwhile, David, you receive an email yourself from the Friends of Gaia demanding the display of Francis Geyer's work under his own name. This is countered by a request from the originating artist John Dekker to be credited. Then from out of nowhere comes Troy Blair, as the person who physically constructed the work, seeking authorship.

To David: How do you negotiate between these different claims?

To Lindsay and Leigh: What do others think?

The moot point

Dede Pol 1996
Last modified 27 Apr 2003
This product is assisted by the Commonwealth Government through the Australia Council, its arts funding and advisory body.