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Biography

Roger Flensing's hatred is not personal. He holds no grudge against any individual or group, of whatever race or creed. It's all much deeper than that. Roger loathes existence itself. His diatribes against some fundamentals of living - hair, eating, reading - will brace you for a pointless day in a useless universe.

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Roger Flensing is a fictitious character created by Australian writer Stephen Gard. Roger spoke in a sardonic and curmudgeonly tone on a number of matters, cosmic and trivial, in nine radio lectures, first broadcast in 1991. Flensing's material has since appeared on several Internet radio stations, and numerous podcasts, and in 2006 was included in Sydney 'student' radio 2SER-FM's breakfast schedule.

During mid-1991, Gard presented a breakfast program on community radio station 2WKT-FM, located in Bowral, New South Wales. Gard often included comedy spots in his shows, but due to a shortage of suitable material (the station was volunteer-run and donation-funded, and had only a tiny record library) he was eventually forced to create his own.

Gard says:

"Flensing's character is based in some respects on 'Marvin the Paranoid Android' the terminally depressed, morose robot - 'A sort of electronic sulking machine', as he was described - in Douglas Adams' Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy. I'd known a couple of people like that, persons whose loquacious disgruntlement made them simultaneously unbearable and highly entertaining. Flensing's character also owes something to the 1950s bombastic Sydney radio journalist Eric Baume, to Basil Fawlty, even to Winston Churchill. Roger's dicta and idiom, however, are entirely invented by myself, though Flensing's opinions and viewpoint are not necessarily those of his creator."

The recordings were voiced, mixed and produced by Gard in the studios of 2WKT-FM, using open-reel tape recorders. Gard slowed his voice down slightly to make it sound deeper and glummer.

The nine talks by Flensing, in the order in which they were created and broadcast are:

1. Literacy
2. Eating and Drinking
3. People
4. The Telephone
5. Cynics and Sceptics
6. The Weather
7. Hair
8. Love
9. Life

Sample Flensings:

"Cynics and sceptics are the unsanctified saviours of the world."
"Love is a many-splintered thing. Touch it, and you bleed."
"The telephone was invented to inflict and refine the reception of pain."

"Food is best described as 'something dead' - it once moved about and made noises, or remained rooted, absorbing manure…"

"Finally, what has the cosmos to show for itself? A miserable and purposeless phenomenon - life."

The first 'Flensing' went to air in July 1991. Community radio 2WKT-FM had a tiny audience share, perhaps five hundred listeners at peak times, so response to Roger Flensing was modest: the word 'nil' would describe it. In 2005, Gard digitized the taped Flensing talks and uploaded them to the Internet for free download and dispersal.

Flensing's satire is a mix of subcollegiate sarcasm, mild farce, and tongue-in-cheek pessimism. At best, it is amusing, occasionally quotable, and, since it tackles no serious or sensitive issue in any inflammatory manner, rates as 'Mostly harmless.'

The phrase 'Hate Brace' comes from Brian Aldiss's short science fiction story "All the World's Tears", which appears in the collection The Canopy of Time. A 'hate-brace' is an insulting, fury-inducing 'pep-talk' that businessmen of the far future receive from a counselor before meeting and (verbally) trouncing a competitor.

The photo of Roger Flensing is a close-up of Stephen Gard's face, Photoshopped so as to create an apoplectic complexion and a third eye, implying an individual with vision beyond the ordinary, or else someone who just can't see straight.

The word 'flensing' comes from the vocabulary of whale-butchering, and refers to the stripping away of the blubber with a large, scythe-like knife (Danish flensen). Roger Flensing seeks to 'strip away' the blubber of human pretence, revealing human folly. Gard's other radio comedy character, created during the same period, was the nerdy Australian 'media naturalist' Kingsley Buddle.

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An unrecorded Flensing diatribe: Roger Flensing Speaks of Aesthetics

It's time once again for Roger Flensing, with today's Hate Brace

Hello,

Beauty is in the sigh of the beholder. Or perhaps thigh.

I have a son somewhere; his aesthetic education cost me some pains. As a tiny child I took him rambling through museums and galleries. If he stopped and smiled in front of any work that I considered kitsch, I would strike him over his ear. If he paused to stare at anything I considered Art, I would slip a little bit of Turkish Delight between his tiny pink gums. We followed a similar regimen at symphony concerts and the cimema.

Today, my son's artistic tastes and judgement are sound, wherever he is. He has a small problem with hearing and dental caries, and a twitch that shakes his entire torso… but such an acute detector of the spurious, the specious, the egregious and the trite! As a critic of music, for example, his deafness leaves him free of prejudice, able to write and speak of the latest works, by the greatest living composers, without bias or the slightest understanding. For my son, fine music has the flavour of glucose; it renders him speechless.

I suggest you do the same. Examine paintings from behind a blindfold. You should only ever smell a ballet. Plays should be seen but not heard - shriek loudly when anyone tries to speak. Fondle statues, taste fugues.

Aesthetic pleasure is yet another form of drivelling self-love. Does a sunset please you? That's merely because you recognise yourself in it: ochre, violet, umber, and waning.

May your waking hours be empty and your dreams inconclusive.

Have a lovely day etc.

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