Category Archives: Visionary Imagination

Underthis heading, you will see all the work that I did in the subject Visionary Imagination. It has blog posts on aspects of the work of William Blake, Patrick White and David Malouf. It also has peer reviews of some of my fellow students work, and one or two creative posts that I thought relevant. Please enjoy.

The Day the Earth Stood Still

Describe a moment in your life, where, like Janet or Jock, time has stopped for you and the world takes on a completely new, vivid aspect. (For readers of my blog that aren’t students in my class, Janet or Jock are from a book called Remembering Babylon by David Malouf).

The year was 1990. It was late May. I had just come back from a a short term mission trip to the Phillipines. I was serving in the poorest city on the poorest island in one of the worlds poorest nations. The people I was serving called themselves the Warai Warai people. Translated it means the Nothing Nothing people. They considered themselves worthless. They survived day after day on the rice and bananas they grew, then hens and eggs that wandered around, and the small fish that they could catch. There was one telephone in the city. You needed to book 3 days in advance if you wanted to use it, and then wait in line for 6 hours.

While there we are able to save the life of a baby with a $2 tube of ointment. I made friends with so many. We bought a fishing boat for the church, to better provide for its members. We bought a rickshaw type bicycle for a family so they could operate a taxi style service for any foreigners who might come to the village.

I came back and again started my night shift job, working with the  underage prostitutes and drug addicts of Kings Cross, attempting to find them accommodation, provide counselling, a coffee, a referral to a doctor or other service that they may need. It was raining, a quiet night on the streets.

I was sitting at my desk and started praying. “God, why am I here at this job, when I could be over in the Philippines doing so much good? Anyone can do my job here.” That’s when God decided to teach me a lesson.

Suddenly, there was a knock on the door. One of the regular boys was there.

“Dave, Come quick, Celia just tried to commit suicide!”

I grabbed some bandages, locked the door to the refuge with 15 sleeping people inside, and ran to help Jason with Celia. Underneath the Coke sign, on a bench seat, sat Celia with both wrists slashed and losing lots of blood. I was able to quickly wrap both her wrists and encourage her to return to the refuge with me so I could call an ambulance. When the ambulance arrived, Celia panicked and started to pump her fists to encourage the blood to flow once again. She was determined to die, but we were able to calm her again, and she agreed to go with the ambulance and then later to rehab where she got the long term help she needed.

Later another boy came to the door suffering hallucinations from a drug he had taken. I was able to calm him down until the effects of the drug wore off and I put him to bed in one of our detox beds.

Still later a heroin addict was found in the back alley, having overdosed on a bad batch, I was able to revive him and call an ambulance and so save his life.

At that stage I realised what was happening. God was speaking to me. I prayed again. “Ok God, you know what you are doing. You have me in the right place, at the right time”.

I grew that night in my trust in God, and my realisation that He knows far better than I ever will about whats going on.


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Visionary Imagination: Summative Post

In this course, we have looked at the writings of William Blake, Patrick White, and David Malouf. We also looked at the art of Brett Whiteley.

I have discovered a theme which runs through the whole course.

God can mean different things to different people, but it is essential to life to find your spiritual journey and to follow it wherever it may lead.

Do not be discouraged by others on your journey. They may say “You Shalt Not”, but you shall, just not in their church, or on their journey.

When it comes to things spiritual, some find comfort having a set of rules and dogmas to follow, where others like to be free in their worship of God as they know him/her or it.

Do not be scared of people who are different. Blake and Whiteley may have been scarey to those who knew them. Blake with his fervency and passion for religious freedom, and Whiteley with his passion for all kinds of mind altering substances. Whiteley’s mind scares me somewhat. How many things can one think about at once? Whiteley wanted to express all that was inside him in a sort of urgency, that caused things to often looked disconnected and muddled.

White showed in his novel, Riders in the Chariot, that there are people in our own community, in suburbia, whom we consider different; all on their own spiritual journey. it doesn’t mean one is wrong, and we shouldn’t treat them with anything other than the dignity that should be afforded to every human being. This novel exposes the maliciousness of seemingly everyday people when the are exposed to people or ways that they themselves are uncomfortable with. White himself had an epiphany, which eventually saw him leave the church., but it wasnt until he saw Billy Graham in 1979 that he gave up on Christianity. In his final days, it was said he had a new testament by his bedside. He was asked if he was reading it.He said no, but went on to say, “Well, I will soon know”.

Malouf focuses his novel on a man who is different, but the same as those in the society into which he stumbles. We all must seek to try to understand others, before we start to criticise, ostracise and demean. These different people can add to our lives. Gemmy added value and meaning to the people of the community he stumbled into.

Patrick White was a well known homosexual in our community, who lived with his male partner as husband and wife and nobody blinked an eyelid, except the church. David Malouf is also openly gay. He writes about spiritual issues but himself is not religious despite having a staunch Christian as a father and a mother who gave up her Jewish heritage to be with the man she loved.

Whiteley was raised in a Christian home and school, but turned against the traditions to follow his own spiritual path, along a journey that led him into a world of drugs and alcohol. His paintings were sometimes very sexually explicit.

Blake was a man who fervently followed the Christian teachings but who was not one to be restricted by the church concerning matters sexual or anything else.

These men freed themselves from the restrictions that the world would place on them. It gave them freedom to express the visions they had.

Ones visions and imagination are our own to enjoy, but if we wish to express them, they can be restricted by people or the community in which we wish to be a part.

The people that we studied were pioneers, bravely expressing what was on their hearts. I pray that I too might have that courage.

I have been encouraged on my own spiritual journey. I feel that I am closer to God now than I have been for years. I feel closest to God when I sing about Him, about our relationship with him and how good it is to be comforted by Him who walks with us along life’s journey.

This course has challenged me. It challenged my values and my belief structures. In doing so, it made me release some, to throw off the shackles, and embrace and strengthen others. I have enjoyed studying this course.




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The Beauty of the Untamed:Remembering Babylon.

There is a beauty in the untamed. 

What one may perceive as ugly can be quite beautiful when the layers are stripped away.

Aesthetic beauty or ugliness may only be skin deep. Peel away the top layer, that which we let others see, to what lies beneath… the true self, that is where real beauty or ugliness is.

True beauty or ugliness is revealed when one is blessed to look at the soul.

The bees which covered Janet were stripped away to reveal a beauty not immediately recognised when looking at her, but she was indeed changed. She had grown from a girl with some childish thoughts into a person who then was able to perceive people beyond the outer layer to the soul.

Gemmy proved to be a very beautiful person, but you wouldn’t know it by looking at him. He was an outsider. He was different.His thoughts were not of himself but on others. This is where his beauty shone.

It is not until the outer bark is stripped off that the beauty of the Rainbow Bark tree is evident


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Theories of Patrick White:Riders in the Chariot

I think i have just had an epiphany. I would love for other students in my class to read this and see whether you think I might have something here.

Patrick White himself said that all his novels are an exploration of man’s relationship with God.

In RITC, we see that God again uses the simple to confound the wise. Miss Hare is said to be simple but seems to have a vision, when sick, in which she envisages a chariot, and the four riders are revealed thoughout the novel.

My revelatory thought (if there is such a thing) is that Xanadu is perfection. Where God dwells,  and people like Alf Dubbo, Mordecai Himmelfarb and Mrs Godbold, who are all seekers of the truth, come to Xanadu at one stage or another and have an encounter with Miss Hare, the messenger of God.

With suburbia encroaching, it means that God, or Xanadu and Miss Hare, are being pushed out, made to look odd, out of place in ‘normal’ lives.

In real life; Are people in suburbia pushing God out and treating people who are fervent after him as outsiders who do not belong? Do people crucify believers with their tongues, piercing their sides with harsh words.

There are four elements of a spiritual life at play thoughout the novel.

  1. The innocence and purity of Miss Hare, who knows things that she doesn’t let on.
  2. The deep spirituality of Alf Dubbo, who seeks to understand and reconcile his heritage with his faith.
  3. Learning and books of Himmelfarb, who is wise and learned but seeks to assimilate with those of no faith.
  4.  The grace, mercy and forgiveness of God as expressed in Mrs Godbold, who continues with her work and stays with her husband even though he abuses her., Does not God stay with us, even though at times we abuse and neglect him. Why? Because he loves us, the same reason that Mrs Godbold stays with her husband.

OK, so there it is folks, my interpretation of Riders in the Chariot.

Comments and Peer reviews please.



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Blake, Contraries, and the modern day.

A while ago I wrote a story about a farmer finding God. I reread it today and thought how it ties in with what we have learnt this semester about William Blake and Contraries. About black and white, good and bad. This story shows that but also shows a man seeking God on his own terms, finding God where he is, not in a church. I think the nearest church to this bloke would have been a few hundred kilometres away. Read it for yourself and see if you can see the connection. Please feel free to comment ( or peer review if you are in my lit class)


Prayer from the heart of the land

©Dave McGettigan 2 August 2011. Edited version may 2013.


Well God, I really don’t know how to start. I have heard of praying before but I have never done it, so I don’t know the right words to say. I will just say what’s on my mind.

I never believed in you before. You were never mentioned in my childhood home, except when dad lost on the horses, then he was heard to yell out your name.

I just got on with life here on the station. There was work to be done, so we rounded up some of the hands and did it. We rode the boundary fences, and sometimes didn’t come home for weeks if there were repairs to do.

Every once in a while, we mustered a few hundred head, and sent them off on trucks. A few weeks later, our bank account swelled so we could pay our tabs and workers, and save a bit for a not so rainy day.

The stationhands had their own ideas where we came from and how everything came into being. There was a story for everything; including how we got the space between the clouds and the Earth when Yondi pushed up the sky.

Some of the tales I found quite credible; but I always thought there was more to it.

When the droughts came, I heard other farmers over the UHF cursing you. Men would sob over the airwaves telling us how they didn’t have enough feed and the bank wouldn’t extend their credit any further. I listened while they unashamedly wept because they had to shoot cattle so emaciated that their legs wouldn’t hold them up any longer. The women would do wonders with what little food they had in the pantries; and cry when they didn’t know where the next meal was coming from.

More than once I had to tell the aboriginal workers that they were free to wander the property to search for food and water and to take care of themselves and their families as they could no longer rely on me. I would tell them they could shoot a bull or cow if they couldn’t find any other tucker. We couldn’t afford to feed the cattle anyhow. Often during these times, I would open the door to an unexpected knock, to find a slaughtered kangaroo or emu, given as a gift from a grateful farmhand.

We couldn’t go to the city. We wouldn’t survive there. We don’t know the ways of the people in the cities, and growing beef cattle is all I know.

I was thankful that the kids were in boarding school. The school offered the boys a full boarding scholarship so I didn’t have to worry that they would starve. They would also have hope and wouldn’t see the despair in my eyes. At best, with the learning, they could get work and live in the city; if the station failed and they couldn’t take over.

Then the rains came. The station flooded, but we were prepared and had dug extra dams in anticipation of promised rains. All the creeks and rivers overflowed and dams that had been empty for quite a while now broke the banks.

The stationhands returned and claimed credit for the rains stating they had been to see Uncle Bert and he calls water from the sky. There was dancing in mud puddles by all and sundry. The men all stripped to their shorts, grabbed some soap and had a welcome shower. The women dressed in summer frocks also welcomed the drop in temperature as the water began to cool everything by a couple of degrees.

The grasses grew, and trees sprouted new shoots. The birds were quick to return. Their songs once again woke me each morning and I was grateful that I had no further need for that wretched alarm clock.

I rode out to see the extent of the damage the drought, then the floods had caused. When I was a couple of miles from the homestead, I saw no living cattle. White bones were the only evidence that cattle once roamed these plains.

I realised I would have to take the chopper out to do a major muster. Then we would know exactly what financial position we were in.

We had to buy more stock from the south and with the rains, the banks would extend us credit and our accounts would swell with the rivers.

Last night I looked up at the stars. There is no possible way that they were all set in place by the ancestors of our stockhands.

I think about all the beauty in the world around me. The red earth, the green grass and the blue sky and I know there has to be someone responsible. My wife says a bloke on the telly talked about you and how even when we stuff up, you still look after us. I think that’s great. Fair Dinkum.

Well, I just wanted to say thanks God, for everything. You know, I think without the hard times, we wouldn’t know how good we got it. I reckon that when I am out on the land, fixing fences or whatever and I get a bit lonely, I can talk to you because you are always there.

So… well, see ya. Talk soon.


Oh yeah…Amen.

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Riders in the Chariot

I am currently reading Riders in the Chariot, and I can relate to so much of what is in the book. I grew up not in Sarsaparilla but in Marayong. There were few houses in our section. We lived on property and I watched the development over the years, as the cucumber farm became Niranda Drive with all of its tiny little houses and tiny little yards.

I can relate to so many different types of people with their cultures and traditions. Most of my friends and neighbours were true blue Aussies. This was a time when there was no such thing as political correctness. Frank was the Maltese guy. Mr Sartori was a wog, and Mr de Sousa was a black guy. That’s just the way it was.

Unlike Riders in the Chariot, we didn’t discriminate against others who were different. We were certainly curious, but we were young and bold and asked the questions that one would surely not dare to ask now.

Neighbours helped each other out. We had bush fires every summer. Most of the property was just grassland. We always had a supply of wet hessian bags ready in case a flame was seen leaping up the embankment from the creek.

Us boys were always the first to spot a grass fire happening. More often that not we were out in the back yard pretending to be Dennis Lillee or the Chappell brothers. I bowled spin so I was always Richie Benaud or Rick McCosker. Derek de Silva couldn’t be an Aussie cricketer though, and Sri Lanka hadn’t become a world team at that stage, so we always picked out Indian cricket names for Derek and his brother Cliff to be.Image result for backyard cricket

We played in the yard, or later in the back streets (those that were developed to butt our property) until the street lights made a halo for the moths to circle round. Then Mum would open the back door and call out and we know we had little time to say goodbye to our friends and get in to wash up for dinner.

We had a small strip of shops. There was the bottlo, owned by the Swans, who were my friends grandparents. I got to work there in my teens, in the store room. The heavy work made both my muscles and those of my friend Brad ripple as the sweat glistened. We certainly earned out cokes. Next door to that was the Milk Bar where you could buy clinkers for a cent each, redskins for 5 cents, or chocolate buttons and freckles for 2 for 1 cent.

Mr Fullers butchers was next door to the Milk bar, then the chemist, Franklins supermarket and the post office. Mr Fitzgerald’s Newsagency, who I worked for as a paperboy, was the last in the line for a few years. Later, a hardware store, a hairdressers and a takeaway built on the end of the strip.

We knew the names of all the shop keepers, and the lady on the railway station who checked our train passes as we got off the train after school, or later put holes in our little green cardboard tickets to ensure they weren’t used again.

We had our share of eccentric people too. Across the bridge was old Wally, whose wife had left him because of drinking problems. Father Burns was the local priest who shouted at us from the pulpit. We were too scared to sin, not because of the threat of Hell, but because of the terror of telling our sins to Father Burns who would give us 900 Hail Marys to say or else we would never be forgiven.

In the house on the corner lived an older lady and her 2 girls. That’s right, Mrs Ferguson. Her daughters were redheads and we always liked pulling their hair. It was so thick tied in the ponytail, it was just like a pony’s tail. Their house was made of wood. The floor went down a slope to the kitchen, and up again to get to the girls bedrooms, where we often played dressups.

Mrs Ryan was my kindergarten teacher at St Andrews Catholic School. She was old when she taught me, but even older as she walked past our house each day coming home from the shops when I was in high school. She never failed to give me a smile and say hello.

Mrs Hope lived 2 doors up from me. She also had 2 daughters. one was away at University, and the other was my age, but I am sure she didn’t go to my primary school. They were well to do people. When you walk in their house you can smell the old money. It had a number of highly polished ebony furniture pieces. I often went there just to play the pianola. The house was draped in Wisteria vines and smelled wonderful on a summers day. Hers was a house with plenty of exotic shade trees that cooled the house in summer. It was unlike my own yard which was full of Gum trees, and paperbacks and tea trees. They offered greenery, but it was harsh. The shade was way up high and provided little relief from the dusty heat on the ground.

We had blackberries. They bordered the property between our place and the council land next door. Mum would send us out to fill a bucket for pies and jam. We would fill her bucket, but also fill our tummies. The quickest way to get blackberry stains off your fingers is to rub an unripe one on the stains. You had to be careful in the patch. That’s where the redbelly black snakes lived. We never thought to kill them though, we were just respectful. It was their home after all.

Image result for blackberry bushes

We made tree houses and cubby houses. We had vegetable gardens and ducks and chooks and dogs, and sometimes turtles. I would go to the chinamen’s garden at the top of the hill to ask them for some worms to feed my turtles.

Besides playing in the creek next door and having camping adventures down there, where we sat up all night catching carp, we also had a little sewerage creek where we caught tadpoles and small frogs. or we caught tadpoles with legs that would soon become frogs. We often found frill necks, blue tongues or common eastern skinks.

The birdlife was pretty ordinary back then. There were no scavenger birds that you see now. There were magpies, big ones. There were cockies, and the occasional crow, but that’s about it. We would sometimes catch eels down the creek. We didn’t like the eels, you couldn’t eat them. So we always left them out for the birds to eat, or put them on the road and watch the trucks run over them. We were cruel I guess. Kookaburras filled the trees when a storm was coming. We knew that when they started singing, to run and help mum pull the washing off the line and get the animals fed before the rain came.

It’s all gone now. The house is still there, but all the land is built upon by medium density housing. People live in each others pockets. They don’t know who their neighbour is. They don’t know the names of the shopkeepers and I don’t think the train station even has a person working there any more.

There is nothing rustic about Marayong any more. It’s Polished, prim and proper. Each house has at least one car and children are not seen playing or riding bikes on the streets. Nobody walks to school. The scout hall is long gone. The creek now has cement where once there were banks of green grass, that somewhere along there was  hidden the treasure that the bank robbers stole in 1928. We searched but never found it.

Is it progress? People moved to Marayong to get a share of the good life. But too many people came, and now the good life has moved out with the original landholders. Nobody can leave their doors open anymore. nobody sits in the doorways of their garages, with the lawn chairs out, sharing a beer with all the locals while listening to the footy on the transistor. Those days are gone with the Mr Whippy vans.

We were all riders in the old VW that we drove around the back yard. It was our Chariot. We all had our dreams and visions of the future, but there was no real divine revelations. Now that chariot is gone. We mourn the days of our youth and the freedom it offered. Gone are the days when the biggest decision was if I wanted a choc top or a fairy cone. We lament regarding the loss of the bushland and space but instead buy our own McMansions with their 4 square meters of lawn to mow.

I guess its time to grow up and move on.




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Peer Review: Audrey

Audrey, thanks for sharing your thoughts on our Mr Blake. I find your claim to “understand his dark humour” interesting. When I first thought I understood it, he changed his style from Sarcasm to deep truth. I think maybe that Mr Blake had periods of great depression. These occurred straight after a vision or indeed while he was still in it.
You write with great style and your descriptions are wonderful. I can’t wait to read some of your creative blogs to see what you come up with.

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Peer Review: Sara

Something that just occurred to me. Blakes Use of the second person “Thee” when speaking of the Tyger infers that he knew the Tyger more personally than one would normally refer to a tyger. Or was it just the language of the time? Is it in fact a desire expressed when he spoke of the Tyger as Thee. Intriguing.

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Peer Review Alex

Great poem Alex. Could you fix the typo that says “sweat” instead of sweet. The anger we feel at our pets is only because they will not conform to our will. though when we sometimes rebel against authority we ask it to be applauded. I guess it depends on perspective. See through your puppy’s eye. he finally is allowed to run free, to experience life to the full and you are trying to stifle his freedom.
Well done.

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Peer Review: Anne-Marie

I wonder if we can truly claim Whiteley as a prophet when most of his visions were given when he was under the influence of drugs.
I do believe he was highly intelligent and frustrated in trying to put onto canvas what he in his minds eye saw.
A prophet is able to foretell the future about a person or place keeping in mind the changing spiritual condition of the person or place.
Hmm. Having just written that, I won’t elaborate further in writing here as I may use it in my essay… however you can ask me personally what I meant.

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