Archive for August, 2009

… it's much clearer now

August 13, 2009

lawson bushAfter the lecture and the tutorial on Tuesday, it all became much clearer… Lawson uses his immediate wordings to help the reader in exploring the inner conditions of Australians. “The bush undertaker” hereby wants us to get to know how individuals attempt to find a way towards themselves and their identity. “The loaded dog” is an example of the author’s black humor and maybe also a glimpse on the humor of other Australians. However, what fascinated me is how quickly (after the incident of the dog carrying dynamite) people got back to routine and behaved normal towards Andy. Other cultures are often a bit more vengeful…
In “Brighten’s sister in law” Lawson several items Lawson tends to deal with can be observed. For instance he mentions the inherent strength of a human being, gives a glance at relationships between individuals and deeper insight in the father-child constellation of Jim and his dad. Although using little descriptive elements Lawson renders a broad insight and good understanding possible. Humans are well represented within a universal story nearly every reader can be hooked with. For the same reason he,” the man of the people”, uses idiomatic expressions (e.g. 103) and explicit wordings (e.g. 104).

Lawson is able to stimulate my imagination within little text, so that I grasp a picture of the bush, the concrete setting and its poor living conditions, rendering me a new insight into Australian everyday life. He appeals to my senses, rising emotions to a greater understanding of the harshness the outback offers and hence minimizes the romantic view on this part of the country.

In relation to the poems we read (e.g. Dunlop) and by reading  the book “The secret river” by Kate Grenville, I became even more aware of the inequity Australian Aboriginals were faced with and how wrong it actually is to complain as non-Aboriginal about the bush’s harshness, as it was to some extend the free will or ambition of Europeans to settle down in this area and to earn a good living.

Literature Journal Week 2:What I got while reading Lawson

August 8, 2009

The early days and Henry Lawson

Before enrolling in this course my knowledge about Australian history was pretty basic. Yet, while attending the course it got deepened. Therefore, reading the first short stories of Henry Lawson’s was quite difficult. Due to lacking knowledge about the author it was hard to read between the lines.

However, now being aware of him being a son of Scandinavian invaders and being brought up in the bush, it became clear what he is dealing with in his short stories. What made the understanding of his work very hard was the usage of vernacular English, which makes him “the man of the people” (http://www.cultureandrecreation.gov.au/articles/lawson/; 14.10.09). Moreover, he does this at a very stripped back level, yet you can get an essence understanding of his descriptions as well as of his odd view on things happening.

Being referred to the Australian “realism” ( http://www.nzetc.org/tm/scholarly/tei-StaMaor-t1-body-d3.html; 14.08.200), he tends to show how things in the bush are and to avoid delivering a romantic view on the outback (as Banjo Paterson for example did). However, the harshness as its depicted is a bit striking to all the connotations I have with this part of Australia, as I  imagine its peace and silence being very relieving and inspiring for me, yet I have to admit that I haven’t been there yet and it feels kind of strange to think of spend ing one’s whole life there – outside in no where’s emptiness…

The short stories I read deliver a certain point of view on the Australian outback. It seems to me that Lawson always refers to former times and sometimes approaching these times  with a positive attitude, yet sometimes very judicial. Nearly all take place in the context of digging, as this is where Lawson was brought up.

In “Drifted Back” the Drifter is connected to a time where communities among neighbors have been very strong, in contrast to modern tendencies of living in social isolation in large cities. Likewise “In a dry season” shows the monotonous but harsh life in a rural village, where only death might bring some variety.”Death is about the only cheerful thing in the bush” (Kinsella 2009, pg. 38). In contrast, he claims the social injustice people are exposed to and therefore being obliged to live in the bush under certain circumstances. “An old mate of your father’s” shows that individuality might not have been important as all the people are not mentioned by name. From my point of view this story wants to raise awareness that friendships in former times might have been different in terms of being more close-knit, “[…]afterwards we got thinking […] whether those ancient friends of ours were, or were not, better and kinder to their mates than we of the rising generation are to our fathers […]” (Kinsella 2009, pg. 57).

Some of his short stories are called “sketch” (http://gutenberg.net.au/dictbiog/0-dict-biogL.html#lawson2; 14.10.2009) as they hardly convey any plot, instead mainly describe people and hereby leave more imagination for the readers.
“Hungerford” is not just the name of a short story, but also a place at the boarder of NSW and Queensland, where not much happens, so that is why Lawson uses this village to describe the drought in that area and locals’ monotonous life. He was exposed to this town while walking 200km from Bourke through the peaceful bush (http://gutenberg.net.au/dictbiog/0-dict-biogL.html#lawson2; 14.101.2009).
“Rats” shows the normal life of ordinary people, strongly shown by using their dialect and offering their typical rough social behavior to the reader “It’s a funny lookin’ feller […]. He don’t seem to have no head. [… ] They must ha’ clinched on the ground.”.
“On the edge of a plain” the main character Mitchell is a recurring figure Lawson uses in his stories, who travels (mainly on his own) through Australia. This appeals to me as I experience myself that the wideness of this country really inspires you to travel around and try to explore as much as possible.
On the other hand Mrs Spicer, a major character in “Water them Geraniums” grows geraniums in her garden, symbolizing some beauty in the otherwise lonely and monotonous life in the bush. The title is the last sentence she says to her daughter while dying, showing that this is the only thing she was really concerned about.

However there have been some stories that I couldn’t grasp. Such as “The bush undertaker” – is it just about Australian weirdness? Or “The loaded dog” – is it that Australians can get back to routine very soon? “Brighten’s sister in law”- is it about raising awareness for more important things like caring about social life (family) more than economical status and worrying about money?

week 1:The mountain has its own meaning…

August 7, 2009

I want to share my impression concerning the session on “The Mountain’s Own meaning” with you…!

While reading the poem of Judith Wright called “Rockface” it became clear to me how we as our modern generation, and our ancestors as me being European have, always tend to manipulate nature and just value it, if it’s being cultivated or processed.
In contrast to Aboriginals who “have no wish to chisel things into new shapes”, the early settlers were eager to convert the land according to their habits. Convicts were brought over to the “Terra Nullius”, starting to take over the Australian soil without paying attention to the traditions and values of the Australian inhabitants.

Probably this shows one typical European attitude; they tend just to take at face value what resembles their opinion what things have to be like. This can also be read between the lines of the poem “Invasion day January 26-indigenous Australia 1993” by an unknown Aboriginal poet, “[…] Invasion, Discrimination, Dispossession […]”. Within this poem it is dealt with the dispossession of the Aboriginal people by European settlers like a duck takes to water. This seems to be a constant European behavior, also to be seen during Imperialism, Apartheid and the “Third Reich”.

Yet this has also found its way into music as the band “Midnight Oil” published their song “Beds are burning”,

[ <script type=”text/javascript” src=”http://embed.magistrix.de/lyrics/embed/11242/19009.js”></script><a href=”http://www.magistrix.de/lyrics/Midnight%20Oil/”>Songtexte von Midnight Oil</a>]

which refers to the campaign of proving the belongings of former Aboriginal families and the connected trials.

“The time has come
A fact’s a fact
It belongs to them
Let’s give it back”

To me it seems like as if there still have to be some changes done in people’s minds. To general extend, it is the awareness of respecting everyone’s individuality which has to be raised and in the same manner the respect for nature has to be broadened. Only on account of this, we will be able to except diversity among our ever growing multicultural society.
This is also true for every question about art, literature or other issues – we need to be aware of individual opinions and values. As Margaret Wolfe Hungerford already wrote “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder”.

While David Malouf’s piece of work “Fly away Peter” deals with his admiration for the unfinished and non-artificial character of the Australian landscape, D.H. Lawrence claims in “Kangaroo” that Australia has an “invisible” beauty, which needs to be detected by the oneself and hence has no certain guidelines, but rather appealing to  your individual senses and schemes of beauty.

Concerning today, a successful globalization and a peaceful world can’t take place without respecting each other. That’s how we have to transfer our knowledge about the past into the future.

However, what is most striking to me is the fact that European settlers concealed their behavior under the cover of Christianity. Having always claimed themselves as the “God chosen people”, they took this as justification for the humiliation of the Aboriginals. Hence it is obvious in former quotations how little they appreciated the nature and culture of Australia. William Charles Wentworth called the vast landscape of Australia “Useless sterility…”, whereas I regard this void as a kind of present.
In comparison to tiny and narrow Europe, Australia offers a wide range of opportunities and its blankness enhances your creativity and relieves your mind from barriers. Even large cities like Sydney are very spacious and offer more than enough space for everyone. Comparing the numbers of inhabitants it becomes clearer. The population of whole Australia (~20mio) is nearly the same as Bejing (~16mio), while living in such a crowded place there is hardly any space for calming down, developing one’s individuality neither opening your mind for new things, experiences or impressions.

With regard to the fact that the Australian citizenship has just been offered recently to the Aboriginals and that peacemaking has currently started it is hard to imagine that 250 years have passed since the first settlers have set their feed on Australian ground…  It’s a pity that such a huge damage has been done to them and they didn’t bear the chance to revolt against the European invasion. Luckily their self-esteem has grown until today, so that they are proud of their heritage.

See:  “Proud Murri”
from: http://www.creativespirits.info/aboriginalculture/arts/aboriginal-poems.html

[…] My father, he Kukuyalanji, my mother Baradah woman.

But all we are family, we are all one of many men.

I’m proud to be a Murri, I’m not ashamed of who I am.

I’m not one of those gammon Murris who think they’re only half.

When I hear people talk like that, I just look at them an laugh.[…]

just to test..

August 7, 2009

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August 7, 2009

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