Peer Review 4

A fascinating take on that multi-layered final chapter Eleanor! ” Patrick White has rooted and linked human nature with the rest of the natural world”. Such a wonderful line that goes so well with the pictures you have used. I love the idea that we are all linked, not just to each other, but to all of nature.
Death is the great equalizer and forces us all to pause and ponder our existence.
I can’t help but imagine the grandson as a kind of young Patrick White. He has inherited his grandfather’s spiritual inquisitiveness and just may also have the literary gift to be able to put those musings and meditations into writing, so as to share them with other people and maybe create a spark in others.
I look forward to more of your blogs.

Blog 4: Blue Collar Pub Etiquette

Last week I was fascinated by Stan Parker’s inability to communicate with his peers in the local pub. Having spent a massively disproportionate part of my time in pubs I understand this problem very well.

“In spite of moments of true knowledge that came to him, animating his mind and limbs with conviction, telling him of the presence of God, lighting his wife’s face when he had forgotten its features, bringing closer and closer a trembling leaf till its veins and vastness were related to all things, from burning sun to his own burned hand – in spite of this, Stan Parker had remained slow with men. It was a kind of unrealized ambition to communicate with them. But so far he had not done this.” (Patrick White “Tree of Man”)

This passage makes me laugh and sigh at the same time. I sigh because I know the yearning to discuss these deeper ideas with my fellow patrons; I laugh because I know how ridiculously out of place said conversation is in a working class pub. I have been on both sides of the table.

When I was a piss head I had very little interest in deep and meaningful discourse with my drinking partners; keep it light and easy thank you very much. I’m here to get drunk, not to be enlightened. The very purpose of my presence here is to think less! If I do think, it is merely to come up with a witty response to someone else’s comment or to recall a funny or interesting story. Other than that all interactions should be limited to a few general stock responses: “She’ll be right”, “fuck that”, “well there you go”, “bullshit”, “you get that on the big jobs “or “none of my business”.

Conversation topics also need to be confined to a few simple themes: Work (usually how shit it is and how useless everyone you work with is), Sex (Smut only, and no sentimentality will be tolerated around here buddy). Sport (there will be one main sport of choice depending on the area you are in; it may be rugby league or AFL. Extensive knowledge in the primary sport should be accentuated with general knowledge of the secondary one along with a selection of others if one wants to appear well rounded; other options may include rugby union, cricket, boxing, golf or tennis). Failing this, one may demonstrates one’s intellectual prowess by discussing horse racing and punting in great detail.

Local gossip usually revolves around who is rooting who and who recently bashed whom. Any news or current affairs must be dealt with using the simplified solutions and responses agreed upon by the majority; no logical debate or searching discussion will be entered into under any circumstances what so ever. Keep yourself well within these boundaries and you will have yourself a nice evening of automatic responses and non – intellectual chatter; all aboard the sweet train to wondrous oblivion.

As Stan Parker walks into a similar pub with a head full of spiritual and existential questions, he knows damn well he best keep them to himself. I’m not sure he really has a problem communicating as much as he understands the audience he would be speaking to. He knows his uncertainty and inquisitiveness will at the very least cause awkwardness amongst his beer swilling companions. Being that this scene takes place after the announcement of the war and the general consensus is that a true Aussie bloke would join up without any qualms, it would be most unwise to question the logic of signing up to go and kill other men on the other side of the world. Ostracisation or a severe beating could very well be the result of such sacrilege.

The funny twist to all this is that once everyone in the pub has a nice bellyful of beer, all bets are off. At this time of proceedings it is almost expected to speak of things ridiculous and profound. At the exact moment it is almost impossible to collect one’s thoughts properly or speak a sentence correctly, this is the window for patrons to express their inner most epiphanies and meditations. Emotions also have a habit of spilling out at this time of the evening. Tears, assertions of love, anger and unfortunately violence are very likely to spring forth from even the most reserved sober person after they have imbued enough of the amber liquid.

Like myself, I think Stan Parker would find himself more than able to join in a lively discussion of philosophy and things spiritual if he were to find a group that actually wanted to do this. Who knows, there are probably a few other patrons of this pub secretly wishing they could delve a little deeper than the mundane surface chatter that maintains the status quo of mind numbing and unthinking.


Peer Review 3

“They couldn’t help you or save you because they simply couldn’t hear you.” Wow, such a creepy idea! It’s amazing how our imaginations can turn a simple walk into a treacherous adventure. I remember as a kid we would dare each other to walk through the dark tunnels of the local water canals. Logic assures us that we will be fine, but a child’s mind can conjure up all types of horrors; rats, snakes, a crazy homeless guy! The concern of being washed away by a raging torrent that came out of nowhere was always a good one.

This blog gave me an eerie sense of “Picnic at Hanging Rock”. It is truly a chilling thought to be in peril and have your salvation so close, but just out of reach. The horror movie cliché of struggling to get the keys in the ignition as the psycho killer approaches works on this principle I think.

The blog may not be exactly related to what MG’s question asked, but I agree with you that you have drawn on a connection between the inner and outer realms of a person. Intriguing.


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.


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.