Summative Entry, Reading Australia
This Semester I undertook a course entitled Reading Australia. This was not merely reading literature of the land but learning that there is more to this land than what is on the surface.
Judith Wright was a poet who besides writing wonderful poetry about nature, made some analogies with nature to human life. The patterns of life, similar to the patterns in the landscape, the seasons, which come and go, and come again.
We also studied an incredible man who even though locked up in a mental institution, or locked also within his own mind, his own prison, could see past the bars and the fences and free his spirit to write some incredible poetry. I made the point about Francis Webb, to my lecturer, that I struggle not just to understand the poetry of Webb, but also the complexity of the person himself. My lecturer told me that he had done a Phd on Webb, and till says the same thing himself. Is this a man who was meant to be understood?
Tree of Man by Patrick White was the first novel studied in this course. It is a story about the pioneers in the bush on the outskirts of Sydney. The book tells the story of the Aussie equivalent to Adam and Eve; a couple who were the first to clear land and build in the bush, to plant, to raise milk cows, and hens. It is the story of one man’s spiritual and actual journey of life as he discovers who he is and indeed who God is. The patterns of life again put in an appearance.
I also looked at Patrick White as being a transcendentalist, and linked him with the writing and philosophy of Ralph Waldo Emerson.
In the course, David Malouf again made an appearance, and I must say that this being the last course of my undergraduate degree, I shall miss studying the work of David Malouf, at least at a classroom level. I have a number of books and collections of his short stories that I haven’t even tried to study yet. I can do so in my own time. The book from Malouf this time was Conversations at Curlow Creek. This is a tale of the capture and subsequent hanging (or is it) of a young bushranger. The book uncovers the conversations between the captured and the executioner, in a hut, in the middle of the bush, the night before the scheduled hanging. The executioner has come to find out information about a sibling that has possibly gone missing and rogue in the bush, but leaves with a lot more information, about himself after spending the night in this bush hut. I really enjoy David Malouf writing.
After the class went to the Art Gallery for a visit, I decided to do an expose piece on the painting Bailed Up by Tom Roberts. I looked at how the painting was done, as well as a history behind the famous Cobb & Co coaches, that travelled through the bush here in the 1800’s. It was these coaches that were subject to the robberies by bushrangers, and thereby the subject of the paintings. I think studying this painting also gave me an appreciation of bushrangers and coaches when I studied Curlow Creek.
My place is the book written by the indigenous author and painter Sally Morgan. Sally starts this book as a first-person narrative, then moves on to tell the story of other people who are prominent in her life, through their own eyes. Sally interviewed these people and they all told their own stories about what it is like to be aboriginal. There is some reminiscing until Sally finally takes her mum back to the station where the family or the mob come from. We learn that Nan, is aboriginal not indeed Indian as was thought by Sally as a child. Nan has a deep connection with the land and with nature. She may deny her skin colour and her heritage, but she can not deny the land which owns her soul. Nan passes on hints and her love of nature to Sally. In my blog, I have looked at the bush medicine and old remedies from the bush. This is a book of discovery. Sally discovers who she is, as an aboriginal woman. Our class discussions around this book led to people discussing their own culture, and the place where we as individuals belong. We each discovered My Place.
This was a lovely course and one that I really appreciate doing. The course was not needed for me to pass my degree, but it was a subject that I was interested in. This course showed me the spirituality of the indigenous peoples, the complexity of humans in general and how important it is not only to care for the land in which we live, but care for the custodians of the land. Those whose ancestors were slaughtered and whose bloodline was almost lost because of the atrocities of colonisation. It confirmed in me the underlying message that was prevalent throughout my journey in my degree. That being that each person is an individual, each person has value. The lesson here is that God loves us not just collectively, but individually. God has a plan. Trust him…and hold on, it may be a bumpy ride.