Blog 3: “Bailed Up” by Tom Roberts

For me this painting offered a light hearted look at the practice of robbery at arms. I am pretty sure it was hardly anywhere near as relaxed as it seems here. The idea of having a loaded gun pointed at me makes me shudder regardless of how polite and gentle my robber’s legend may make them out to be. How would you even know they are who they claim to be? The slightest mistake and…

Alright I’ll stop there, I understand about Australia’s love affair with bushrangers. Also, I thought it would be fun to write a poem in the romantic and adventurous tone of the picture.


G’day ladies and gentleman

We’ll be your bushrangers for today.

We’ll keep this painless as we can

Then we’ll be on our way.


Pay no attention to our guns

Or the carnage they can cause.

We are the working man’s hero sons

We just do not like the laws.


What we do is not for greed

But a fairer share of wealth.

The rich have much more than they need

While we scarcely have our health.


So if you please would be so kind.

To hand over cash and jewels

Let fear of violence leave your minds.

We need not use these tools.


This deed shall end, we all shall live

And go our separate ways.

The tale of this a gift we give

To tell for all your days.


The time you met those roughish lads

So wild and tough and game,

To your mystique this drama adds

And you all may share our fame.


Peer Review 2

Hahaha! Reading your post I was reminded of my impatient bewilderment waiting for my bacon and egg sandwich in a general store down the south coast. The bloke really was in no hurry at all. People wandered in and had a chat as I sat hungry and bemused; “how can it even take that long? Has he not turned the hot plate on? Do the laws of physics function differently in this place?”

My mate had moved down to Culburra Beach many years earlier and every visit was like stepping through some kind of vortex into another dimension where time has slowed down. My mate grew up in housing commission flats in Marrickville and lived in Sydney until his late twenties; he is no stranger to our fast paced and stressed city existence. After many years de-compressing on the south coast, he laughs at our hectic behaviour whenever we enter his realm. It seems he has exorcised the constant desire for activity and distraction we are addicted to in the city; and no he is not sitting glued to a smart phone or computer, nor is he on any drugs.

Maybe that same discomfort at a lack of action and stimulation is why “Tree of Man” is so difficult for us to get through. We have been conditioned to need perpetual drama and Patrick White denies us of our fix. However, if we stick around long enough we find ourselves immersed in the harmony and mystery of it all. We shake off the static of our hustle and bustle city lives, at least for a while. There will be withdrawal symptoms, but it is definitely worth the effort.


Blog 2: Musings on Violence

This week I chose to delve into a couple of choice quotes from Patrick White’s “Tree of Man” that didn’t belong in my essay. There  are still so many more I would love to explore!

“Across from him, in the window of a cottage, an old man was taking elaborate precautions to wrap up a roll of notes and hide it at the bottom of a tobacco jar. That old bugger’s head, breathed the watcher smokily, would split open like a cob of corn. Then he shivered for some uneasiness of soul, some suspicion that he too could be easy money”. (White, 383)

What a marvellous observation! The unnerving moment when the hunter realises that he could so easily become the prey. The intoxicating power Ray felt at his ability to dominate and even destroy another human being, left him oblivious to his own vulnerability. The realisation that somewhere or sometime there may be a predator stalking him in much the same way must have been an extremely sobering and terrifying idea.

Nobody has a monopoly on the use of violence. It could savagely strike any one of us at any moment. However, if a person chooses to live a life immersed in the use of assault and intimidation, the chances of becoming a victim oneself rises very rapidly. The path of violence is always a treacherous one and unfortunately for Ray, like most who choose the path of brutality and crime, his story did not end well.

“Souls unite in the face of violence, if only on the common ground of frailty” (White, 247). This quote has a slightly different flavour. It reminds me that there is an intimacy to violence. Wether to partake in it or to witness it is a disturbing and humbling experience. It forces us to face our mutual potential for destruction; both the ability to inflict it and to suffer from it. The smallest and most sheepish man or woman possesses the aptitude to inflict severe damage on anyone they choose if they want it bad enough.

It is good to keep such things in mind before venturing down the path of violence. Once it has been unleashed, just like the start of a bushfire, we very quickly lose the ability to keep it under control and run the risk of being engulfed by its fury. It is not glorious and well choreographed like in the movies. It is dirty and fast and very ugly. I believe action movies do for violence what porn does for sex; it distorts and oversimplifies the emotional repercussions of such intimate acts.

We still have much to learn.

Peer review 1

Nice to see that I am not the only one who got sidetracked. These poems seem to trigger our inner philosopher or scientist; and I use those labels for their genuine purpose, not the arrogant know-it-all sense that they sometimes get hijacked by. A true philosopher or scientist relishes the mystery and understands that hard and fast facts are almost never permanent. It is in our nature to ponder and meditate the enigma of our existence. It should be a source of joy, not competition and pompousness.
Just one possible correction. I think you meant to write lightning, rather than lighting.
The last photo is great! It’s so cool finding these oasis’ in the city.

Blog 1: Interpreting Our Sensual World


For the sake of brevity I will focus my writing on a couple of lines from Judith Wright’s “The Five Senses”.

This poem throws me right into my philosophical mind. What is ‘out there’? And how do I know that what I perceive is reality? “Some pattern sprung from nothing”; my senses are presenting me with information and my ‘mind’ is organising this into a format I can understand. The jumbled sensations entering my brain through my various preceptors become “thread for that weaver” which informs me of my surroundings and allows me to function within my environment.

What is the “weaver”? A scientist or materialist philosopher may see it simply as the brain functioning like a super-computer. This analytical explanation may be acceptable, but I would like to escape the dry rational realm for a while.

HOORAY FOR POETRY!!!! I can relinquish the unwieldy shackles of cold hard logic and dive deep into the rabbit hole. Some things may never be explained by sensible deduction; sometimes we need to go beyond our rational minds and adventurously explore a more profound province. Leave our deliberate thinking brains behind and journey to the subconscious, the unconscious, the sensual and sacred.

So what is the “weaver”? Dare I say God? When I read this poem I cannot help but connect the mind to God. Does this make sense? Probably not. Can I explain it? Maybe; but even thousands of words will be just a paltry description of an internal experience. So even if I get to take a ride on a mystical train for a brief moment, how can I share that trip with others? Wittgenstein explained that philosophy suffered from the frustrating limitations of words; tragically it appears even the seemingly free domain of literature and poetry suffers from this crippling impediment. DAMN!!!

Visual art, dance and music can touch our psyches from another angle, but again the pure idea will be diluted in translation. A brilliant filmmaker can merge all these art forms and still fall short of transferring their unique reality to the audience. Each person will be ultimately alone with their unique interpretation of what their private “weaver” has put together for them.

Maybe we can take solace in the idea that we all recognize the “weaver” and this is one thing we all share. We can revel in our earnest attempts to impart our exclusive perception of the world around us.