There’s something about a new literary endeavour that suggests tilting at windmills. Longevity can be a harsher measure of success than sales or quality. The journal that achieves all this and political influence to boot is a rare beast indeed, but this month, with the publication of Anna Goldsworthy’s Unfinished Business: Sex, Freedom and Misogyny, Black Inc’s Quarterly Essay reaches its 50th edition since the periodical was launched almost 13 years ago.
The mission statement in the front of the first issue declared its political non-partisanship, its commitment to "truth-telling, style and command of the essay form" and the intention – which has since been borne out to satisfying effect – to carry correspondence to previous essays in the back of each new edition. Launched by Paul Keating, surely nobody ever truly believed in the Quarterly Essay as an organ of impartiality, but that was beyond the point: an independent Australian publisher was taking a chance on the discussion and dissemination of ideas.
There’s a certain poetry to that first issue being about denial and silence. It feels appropriate that it was by Robert Manne. By aiming its attentions right down the barrel of the culture wars and calling out a failure in our dominant cultural narrative, publisher Morry Schwartz and founding editor Peter Craven announced the Quarterly Essay’s arrival with a pugnacious confidence. This was neither News Ltd nor Fairfax; this was not a publication beholden to a university or think-tank: this was political and cultural commentary with literary knobs on.
Here was an essay on Indigenous politics and the stolen generations that straddled sorrowful outrage and forensic condemnation of the prevailing orthodoxy. Craven’s introduction showed ambition and hyperbole in equal measure, quoting TS Eliot to underline its rhetorical flourishes.
Here at last, it declared, was a periodical for those Australians who measured their lives in latte spoons.
Those first few editions felt rich with possibility: John Birmingham on Timor, Guy Rundle on Howard, even, improbably, Don Watson on John Updike, Rabbit Angstrom and Australian/US relations. Eccentricity and literary ambition served the publication well, and each new QE – a naming tradition that’s always made the Essays sound vaguely like a cruise ship – redefined the possibilities for the series. The great ones have been cultural moments in and of themselves, reliably setting off skirmishes and brush fires.
The partnership between Schwartz and Craven was dissolved in a flurry of public indignation and divergent visions (the editor wanted a more international, more cultural outlook; the publisher had a preference for the local and the political). The editorial reins were handed to Chris Feik, the softly-spoken George Clooney of Black Inc: tall, wry, perpetually amused, Feik brought a book editor’s sensibility to the periodical; drawing thoughtful, original work from his authors while remaining less visible than his predecessor.
In its adolescence and into its 20s, as the backlist grew, so too did the QE’s confidence. If some of its youthful swagger and strut had become more muted, in its place came an air of authority. A resolutely left-leaning response to the Howard era, observers might reasonably have expected the precision and urgency of the Essays to diminish somewhat without a conservative government to rail against. The opposite proved to be the case: increasingly it felt as though the QE took as its mission articulating an agenda for a nascent Labour government more comfortable with spin than substance: climate change, sustainability, the Northern Territory intervention.
The 50 back-issues read like a roll call of the past decade plus of Australian political discourse and cultural preoccupations. Reading the late John Button on the challenges and threats facing the Labor party, Gideon Haigh on the cult of the CEO, or Gail Bell on depression, there’s a timelessness to their contributions. Either Australian life simply hasn’t moved on, or these essays (and others) have managed to capture some essential points about our public and intellectual lives.
As far as influence goes, the Quarterly Essay has an impressive track record of profiling political leaders in the period immediately preceding their demise: as well as David Marr’s notorious takedown of Rudd, Annabel Crabb filleted Turnbull, Margaret Simons put the squeeze on Latham, and a cavalcade of editions parsed the Howard legacy before Judith Brett performed the post-mortem. Nothing but a coincidence and historical curiosity, of course, but it’s a marker of the Essays’ influence that the announcement that David Marr was to profile "political animal" Tony Abbott, was met with a frisson of anticipation. What does it say about a publication that we might find it remarkable when it doesn’t bring down an opposition leader?
None of which is to say it’s had a spotless record: eight issues was too long to run before the publication of the first female essayist (Amanda Lohrey on the Greens). With the benefit of time, those essays with an international focus feel like less significant contributions to the conversation than their domestic shelf-mates. But, all said, it’s a remarkably consistent backlist of publications.
A new Quarterly Essay is an event. A 50th Quarterly Essay is an occasion, and a significant one at that. It is, you’ll be unsurprised to hear, erudite, thought-provoking and provocative. It’s also a cracker of a read. Fifty issues in, Morry Schwartz’s vision has become an institution and a tradition.
Grab yourself a copy. There, under the big letter Q in the top left hand corner of the front cover is the promise for issue 51: David Marr on Cardinal George Pell. As ever, the Quarterly Essay gives us a tantalising glimpse of what we’ll all be talking about next. Long may it last.
The 2013 NBA Playoffs were the postseason tournament of the National Basketball Association's 2012–13 season. The tournament concluded with the Eastern Conference champion Miami Heat defeating the Western Conference champion San Antonio Spurs 4 games to 3 in the NBA Finals. LeBron James was named NBA Finals MVP.
The Miami Heat headed into the playoffs with a franchise-best 66 wins, topping the league in the regular season. Their 2012 Finals opponents, the Oklahoma City Thunder, topped the Western Conference with 60 wins, making it the first time since 2006 that the two teams who faced off in the previous year's finals topped their respective conferences in the next regular season.
The New York Knicks entered the playoffs with their best regular-season performance since 1997, finishing atop the Atlantic Division for the first time since 1994. The Indiana Pacers won the Central Division for the first time since 2004, while the Los Angeles Clippers made franchise history by winning their first Pacific Division title and having a 56-win season, tied with the Memphis Grizzlies, whose 56 wins were also a franchise record. The Denver Nuggets earned the West's third seed and headed into the playoffs with a franchise-record 57 wins.
The Brooklyn Nets and Golden State Warriors made their first playoff appearances since 2007. This also marked the first time that Barclays Center hosted a playoff game. The Houston Rockets made their first playoff appearance since 2009, while the Milwaukee Bucks appeared for the first time since 2010. The Bucks were the first team since 2011 to make the playoffs despite finishing below .500 in the regular season.
The San Antonio Spurs continued the longest active playoff streak at 16 straight appearances. The Dallas Mavericks missed the playoffs for the first time since 2000, ending the second-longest active streak of playoff appearances, which stretched 12 years. The Orlando Magic also missed the playoffs for the first time since 2006, ending the longest active streak in the Eastern Conference.
Game 7 between Chicago and Brooklyn marked the 14th straight postseason with at least one Game 7. The 1999 NBA Playoffs was the last time that a Game 7 was not played.
Further information: NBA Playoffs § Format
The six division winners and 10 other teams with the most wins from each conference qualified for the playoffs. The seedings are based on each team's record; however, a division winner is guaranteed to be ranked at least fourth, regardless of record.
The tiebreakers that determine seedings are:
- Division leader wins tie from team not leading a division
- Head-to-head record
- Division record (if all the tied teams are in the same division)
- Conference record
- Record vs. playoff teams, own conference
- Record vs. playoff teams, other conference (only in two-way tie)
- Point differential, all games
If there were more than two teams tied, the team that wins the tiebreaker gets the highest seed, while the other teams were "re-broken" from the first step until all ties were resolved. Since the three division winners were guaranteed a spot in the top four, ties to determine the division winners had to be broken before any other ties.
— = Did not achieve
— = Did not achieve
Teams in bold advanced to the next round. The numbers to the left of each team indicate the team's seeding in its conference, and the numbers to the right indicate the number of games the team won in that round. The division champions are marked by an asterisk. Home court advantage for the playoffs does not necessarily belong to the higher-seeded team, but instead the team with the better regular season record. Teams with home court advantage are shown in italics. If two teams with the same record meet in a round, standard tiebreaker rules are used. The doodle rule for determining home court advantage in the NBA Finals is head to head record followed by record vs. opposite conference.
* Division winner
Bold Series winner
italics Team with home-court advantage
- All times are in Eastern Daylight Time (UTC−4)
(1) Miami Heat vs. (8) Milwaukee Bucks
- Regular-season series
|Miami won 3–1 in the regular-season series|
This was the first playoff meeting between the Heat and the Bucks.
(2) New York Knicks vs. (7) Boston Celtics
TD Garden, Boston
- Regular-season series
|New York won 3–1 in the regular-season series|
This was the 15th playoff meeting between these two teams, with the Celtics winning eight of the first 14 meetings.
|Boston leads 8–6 in all-time playoff series|