Two news stories have recently caught my interest. The first is the story of the Australian PM granting $1.3 million dollars to the search for an Australian warship sunk 64 years ago during WWII. The other story I heard on TV last night - the Tasmanian government is apparently planning to sink a ship off the East coast of Tasmania to lure scuba divers to the state in an effort to increase tourism. Curiously, today I can't find any references to this latter story on any of the news services. Anyway, I can't stop thinking about these reports announced 24 hours of each other.
What intrigues me about these stories has something to do with the absurd - in the case of the search for the sunken HMAS Sydney II, the absurdity of spending significant amounts of public money to benefit a small group of Australians in order that they can obtain "closure" about an incident that occurred over half a century ago while at the same time the government is drastically reducing funding to public services. Of course, this announcement by the Federal government was designed to convey a message to a much broader group of Australians - to make sense of war by summoning notions of meaningful sacrifice and the solving of a national mystery (literally bringing to light decisive evidence of who was to blame) to redress the growing public dis-ease about the senselessness of a war on terror (where there is no clear and decisive enemy.)
I think the absurdity might also have to do with the coincidence of these announcements (I'm just trying to work this all out so pardon the rambling thoughts). It is absurd to spend public money on the search for a sunken ship and then spend more money to sink another ship. Yet, would these events be absurd if they were not announced on the same day? I have got so used to the Federal government announcements appearing to have a coherent and unified front that the appearance of these two stories by different arms/heads of the government (State and Federal) appears as a rupture in the usual smooth orchestration of the media by the Federal government. The coincidence reveals an official image more akin to the Greek mythological figure of Hydra with its many heads competing in strange and contradictory ways. What is disturbing is how hard it is to to detect these disturbances in the rythmns of the daily news? Of course Hydra is frequently exposed by media commentators and bloggers but it is rare to experience Hydra first hand - to see two of its heads emerge from normally unruffelled waters. Would I be being overly conspiratorial to suspect the sudden disappearance of the story of Tasmania's plans to sink a ship, submerged like an old wreck, its meaning lost to the world?