Final Summative Entry

“If the doors of perception where cleansed everything would appear to man as it is, infinite” (The Marriage of Heaven and Hell, Plate 14). Our study of works by Blake, Whiteley, Malouf and White has helped me to understand the need to cleanse the “doors of perception”. It has been a wild and confusing ride and I am certain that I have only seen the tip of an unimaginably huge iceberg. I have long suspected that there is more to our existence than what meets the eye and these artists have added more sparks to a flame that has been growing for a while now.

Our journey began with the mind-bending poems and illustrations of William Blake. At first glance they seemed to be indecipherable to me, but as has usually been the case with my literature units, the lecturer and my fellow students helped me peel away the layers and find ever deeper meanings. So much content in so little time! Blake urged us to put away strict doctrine and find our own connection with the divine. He exposed us to the bizarre contraries that not just exist, but are essential to our human experience; you cannot have light without dark.

With his poem Auguries of Innocence he asked us to;

To see a World in a Grain of Sand

And a Heaven in a Wild Flower,

Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand

And Eternity in an hour.

This could pretty much be Blake’s motto; his desire for us to take a much deeper look, not just at the world, but within ourselves. We exist in one moment in time in a world of infinite wonder. We must attempt to embrace as many of these tiny moments as possible in order to find the true beauty of life. We must strive to really experience every second instead of stumbling blindly through our lives. Blake urged us to explore and relish in our creativity and imaginations, not just for the joy of it, but in order to strengthen our connection with the divine.

Next we entered the dreamlike world of Brett Whiteley. His painting “Alchemy” blew me away with its mesmerizing stream of consciousness flow. The inner and outer life of this fascinating artist laid out in all its beauty, ugliness and confusion across two walls of a gallery. Once again I was confronted with the perpetual perplexity of our lives. The longer and closer I gazed at this massive artwork the greater the mystery became. Every answer was met with two more questions. To be able to witness the subconscious workings of another human being was quite profound.

More mystical wisdom was to be found in the novel Riders in the Chariot by Patrick White. We were introduced to four misfit characters that each held a connection to a greater awareness. Sadly this did not result in a happier life for them. They seemed to constantly struggle through their forced co-habitation with people who refused to see a deeper meaning to life. They each fell victim to the indifference, criticism, and outright violence of these shallow and selfish creatures they were fated to live among. I believe that the suffering and tragedies of these four characters were meant as lessons for the rest of us to take away from the novel. Maybe Patrick White wanted the readers out there who empathized with these four “Riders” to know that they are not alone. It can be a lonely and even treacherous life searching for a deeper meaning, but it is comforting to know that there are others out there taking the same journey.

Finally we were introduced to David Malouf’s novel Remembering Babylon. This was a story about yet another outsider seeking some kind of connection with people who mostly refused to accept him. Gemmy Fairley was trapped between two worlds; the world of the indigenous Australians and the world of the new settlers; he never truly fit into either. I think that this novel demonstrated that although he was a misfit he still was able to make a very deep impression on certain individuals in the small town he ended up in. The story never explains exactly what happened to him, but it alludes to Gemmy going back to his indigenous life maybe because the natives treated him like less of an outsider than the whites. However, many of the people he touched during his time among the white folks would remain changed for the better. Gemmy Fairley played a significant part in awakening a deeper connection to the world around them and their inner world.

These remarkably creative people attacked my consciousness from so many different angles I had no choice but to open up to them. Were my “doors of perception opened”? I think so, but only for brief glimpses. I am now even more committed to my quest to find that relation to the deeper consciousness, or dare I say it, divine. My yearning to be creative has been given a new lease on life. As this unit draws to an end the need to cleanse the “doors of perception” is something I am much more aware of thanks to these intriguing artists.


Week 11: Faulty First Impressions

I was new to the depot so I didn’t know who was who, but one bloke stood out more than the others. His face seemed locked in a permanent scowl. His jaw eternally clenched and his neck and shoulders so tense he seemed he might snap at any moment. A big bald headed man, he stormed around the depot like a Grizzly Bear looking for prey. Every conversation I saw him in appeared to be a heated argument.

I soon made the mistake of placing something in his area that didn’t belong there. He pounced like a Puma on a meal; “That doesn’t go there!” he exclaimed. It was more assertive than aggressive, but his voice was like a foghorn! I was super quick to correct my error and move on. I was certain that I didn’t want to spend any more time than was absolutely necessary with this surly fellow.

I didn’t know his name so I just referred to him as ‘The Angry Man’. Not surprisingly everyone knew who I was talking about. It turns out he was our union delegate and his seemingly threatening demeanour was “just the way he is”.

As I got to know him myself I would joke that he would look menacing commenting on the weather or offering a compliment. I ended up getting on very well with him and never hesitated to see him if I had a problem. He was always eager to find a solution and never afraid to fire up if it was necessary. He was a clever man with a great sense of humour.

I discovered the secret behind the exterior of this furious looking man; he really cared. He was genuinely concerned about the workers and their working conditions. He was forever butting heads with incompetent bureaucracy trying to create a better environment for the rest of us. This seemingly disagreeable man was frustrated because he believed things could be better if only management would co-operate with the workers.

He wasn’t a ‘screw the company’ kind of union rep. He knew damn well that the company had to run efficiently for us all to keep our jobs, and he was continuously incensed by poor leadership decisions that lead to poor performance and therefore poor customer service. He really did care. Maybe he cared too much. In the end I started to think he would be better leaving and going elsewhere. His care factor versus the borderline sabotage of bad management could end up driving him insane or giving him a coronary.

At the time of writing he is still kicking and still fighting the good fight.



Peer Review 8

This was really helpful Dave! I read the novel before semester began and although I enjoyed it and found the characters fascinating, I have struggled to find that common essence that binds the story together. You have given me some very useful food for thought.
I am not great with grammar myself, but I don’t think you need the semi-colon in paragraph six. Best to check with an expert though.
Thank you for your insights.


Week 10: Bullies and the Mob Mentality

The mock crucifixion of Mordecai Himmelfarb deeply disturbs me on two levels. The first is the obviously detestable thought that people are capable of such horrendous behaviour. The second haunts me with the question of what I would do if I were present during this display of unmitigated cruelty. Would I possess the courage to step in and try and stop the wild mob?

We are raised on a stable diet of heroes that swoop in and save the day. These noble feats are usually performed in a rather black and white world of good and bad. The valiant hero strides in and defeats the obvious villain, most often with a swift act of violence ending in death or arrest for the bad guy and life quickly returns to normal.

This is rarely the case in real life. What happens if the people you spend most of your time with, the people you identify with and consider your friends, become infected by a misguided rage? They decide to join a vicious horde and partake in an extremely misguided act of cruelty on an innocent human being. Can you alter your feeling towards them from friend to fiend swiftly enough to follow your own inner ethics? Do you need to? Maybe you can restore sanity to proceedings. Maybe not. Maybe you will get hurt. Maybe you will become an outcast. It will probably happen so fast that you have no time to ponder your personal moral standing at all.

I am ashamed to admit that I have witnessed bullying and done nothing. I have also been on the receiving end of it and felt my heart break as someone I considered a friend did nothing to help me. “It wasn’t that bad” the friend would say. “I was just mucking around” the bully might explain later. The mental scars are real though. Mordecai Himmelfarb fucken died!

Moral courage is a priceless thing. For a person to know their own principles and be willing to stand by them takes magnitudes of courage; not just to be willing to die physically, but to be willing to die socially. Not just to refuse to participate, but to have the fortitude to call out your peers, or even your mates, and openly express your loathing of their malice. This is true courage and most of us will never know if we truly have it until we are placed in such a hideous situation.

I hope we can summon it.


Peer Review 7

Your affection for your Grandma really shines through wonderfully in this piece! It is really mind boggling to imagine that every single stranger we pass on the street has their own unique collection of stories and relationships that make up their individual self. You describe your Grandma’s ‘inner humanity’ very well.
Just one suggestion; “The way her soft brown eyes look loving at you framed by purple glasses reveals an imbedded sense of love” I think “lovingly” would sound better”
I’ll try and remember this writing the next time I want to get around “Another slow walker that is in MY way as I hurry through life.”


Week 9: And so we meet…

“Ohhh look at this fucken thing!” Mick thinks to himself as the flamboyantly dressed man approaches the bus stop.

The heavily intoxicated man flops on the bench near Mick. “You don’t have to sit so close mate” Mick grunts to the newcomer.

“Don’t flatter yourself” the man slurs as he slides along the seat.

Irritated at this remark, Mick cannot help himself “see that’s why you blokes get bashed.”

“Excuse me?”

“You walk around dressed like poofters and you make smart ass remarks to strangers at bus stops and then you wanna whinge when you cop a hiding.”

Mick’s companion straightens up on the bench “are you threatening me darling?”

Mick stares straight ahead “Don’t be a gronk, I’m just offering some advice.”

“You picked the wrong night buddy” snarls the other man as he unstably gets to his feet and positions himself in front of Mick in a boxing stance. Mick quickly gets to his feet and puts his hands out in front of himself in a placating gesture. “Settle down tiger” Mick says flatly.

The man begins to bounce on his feet; surprisingly nimble, although wobbly. “I was a Golden Gloves champ as a kid smart ass”.

Mick wants no part of it “good for you mate, congratulations.”

“I boxed out of the Newton Police Boys.”

Sensing an opportunity to catch a liar, Mick asks “me too, around what year we talking?”

The man starts throwing out some feint jabs “eighty five to ninety two”. He staggers badly and nearly trips.

“Bullshit” says Mick “now sit down before you fall down”

“Don’t bullshit me!” the man screams as he moves in for the kill. Mick slips a worryingly fast left jab and is forced to sidestep while he parries the straight right that swiftly follows it. His assailant is now off balance, but is clumsily preparing for another combination. Mick quickly moves in and grabs the sloshed pugilist tripping him just enough to sit him back on the bench. If this bloke wasn’t so hammered Mick could have a real problem on his hands.

The drunk straightens himself in the seat and glares up at Mick “I trained under Johnny Roberts”.

“Me too” says Mick.

A silence settles between them as they take a closer look at one another. Mick sits down beside the inebriated boxer and stares at his face. “Mathew Simpson?” he mumbles.

Recognition flashes across the other man’s face “Mick Caulfield you black bastard!” he announces.

Mick struggles to find his voice “Wh…What happened to you? You just disappeared” Matthew waves his hands over himself in display. Mick laughs out load.

“Newtown was a little different back then” Matthew says solemnly.

“Yeah, rough as guts?” Mick remarks and then chuckles as he says “you’d fit in perfectly now but ay?”

Matthew laughs and notices his bus approaching. “This is me” he says and awkwardly adds “maybe we should catch up for a beer”.

“Yeah sweet, as long as you don’t show up dressed like that” Mick replies.

Matthew hands Mick a business card and jumps on the bus. He hangs his head out the door and blows Mick a kiss “See you later sweet heart” he calls.

“Fuck off” is Mick’s reply as the doors close and the bus pulls away. Mick sits back on the bench and takes a look at the card in his hand. It reads “Mad Matt’s Stunt Services: All your action needs served. Jumping, falling, fighting, driving, riding, crashing, and burning. Performed and/ or co-ordinated”.

Mick giggles to himself “Matthew fucken Simpson”.