Archives

The Cool Green

From tutorial, we only looked at one poem, but this poem was quite an interesting one.  Needless to say, it was about the dangers of money and the relationship it has with people.

Several things from the poem stuck out to me.  Particularly how at first I thought money was a catalyst to human greed.  It is a factor that can bring out the worst in people and give nasty results, but it is unaffected.  Or is it? Money is considered attention-seeking in the poem, and there is a questioning line of who is more dominant in the relationship with lines such as “Money too can be starved/but we also die for it then,/so who is the servant?”

The third last and final stanzas are what really captured my interest the most.  For a while, there was a discussion in the tutorial on what the third stanza even meant.

“If I were king, how often
would I come up tails?
Only half the time
really? With all my severed heads?”

By the end, I do just think it is left to individual interpretation.  It can be seen as how like a coin, there are two sides to wealth: those have the money, those who do not.  One suffers while the other lives in luxury.  For others, they see it as something more literal where usually in a game of heads and tails, there is an equal chance to win the game.  But more coins, the ratio for winning changes.

“How did money capture life
away from poetry, ideology, religion?
It didn’t want our souls.”

This final stanza reminded me of a song.  It’s called The Judgement of Corruption and is part of a series of seven songs: each a tale about someone who is corrupted by one of the seven deadly sins.  The song is about the vice of greed.  The song’s tale is of a judge who gets corrupted by his greed and will hand out innocent or guilty verdicts for the right price.  At first, he wanted the money to help his daughter who is in a wheelchair, but his greed and love for money twist him into a horrible individual with no morals.

Personally, the final stanza made me think that as long as you have the money, nobody will care about your ideas, beliefs and whether it’s right or wrong.  Simply because you can buy your way out of the situation, which is exactly what happens in The Judgement of Corruption.  The Cool Green by Les Murray appears to be a cautionary piece highlighting the relationship between people and money.  Who is the one really in control here? Is money truly a catalyst, or is it also affected, too?

To end this entry, I decided to leave some translated lines from The Judgement of Corruption.

“Even if it’s the most atrocious scoundrel,
as long as he pays up, I will gladly spare him.
After all, money makes the mare go.

I couldn’t care less about
their looks, age, ethnicity, or gender.
What’s important is whether or not they have enough money.
That’s all that matters.

Your life is in my hands.
If you wish to be spared, then cough up the coins!

That’s right, your charges are at my discretion,
at the mercy of my judgment of corruption.
If you truly wish to be saved from the swamp of false charges,
then hand over more of that money!

I need money
to cure my daughter’s handicapped legs.
At today’s court, too, where misgivings unfold,
the evildoers snicker while the innocent weep.

That’s right, your charges are at my discretion,
at the mercy of my judgment of corruption.
In order for my own long-cherished wish to come true,
I must continue wielding my gavel of injustice.”

(Translated lines:
– “Akutoku No JAJJIMENTO – Judgment Of Corruption”. 2016. Animelyrics.Com. http://www.animelyrics.com/doujin/mothy/akutokunojudgment.htm.  Anime Globe Productions.  Web.  19 May 2016.

Song:
– Mothy.  “The Judgement Of Corruption.” 2010. Audio Recording.

Image:
– Tomotoshi, Kitano. The Judgement Of Corruption.
http://vignette3.wikia.nocookie.net/theevilliouschronicles/images/6/6a/JoC.jpg/revision/latest?cb=20130614174842)

Advertisements

Ordinary and Extraordinary

“But at the same time, I wanted to discover the extraordinary behind the ordinary, the mystery and the poetry which alone could make bearable the lives of such people, and incidentally, my own life since my return.”

Patrick White’s essay titled The Prodigal Son is a more personal recount.  Here, White describes what inspired him to write and ultimately stay in Australia.  Rather than going back to England or even moving to another place like Greece.

The Prodigal Son bears the important message of how the ordinary may be more extraordinary than initially seen.  Unsurprisingly, this would go against the view at the time in England where those with riches seem to be favoured far more.  And because Australia was colonized by England, the views of that society would be transferred over. From White’s essay, he writes this particularly interesting statement of both riches and status being “important” factors so you could be viewed favourably in society:

“In all directions stretched the Great Australian Emptiness, in which the mind is the least of possessions, in which the rich man is the important man, in which the schoolmaster and the journalist rule what intellect roost there is, in which beautiful youths and girls stare at life through blind, blue eyes, in which human teeth fall like autumn leaves, the buttocks of cars grow hourly glassier, food means cake and steak, muscles prevail, and the march of material ugliness does not raise a quiver on the average nerves.”

Noticeably, the last part of the statement on how material ugliness does not elicit a reaction from the nerves of an average person is a standout.  This is to highlight how these citizens were supposed to not at all question these views.  Earlier on in his essay, White had written that the attitudes of English society he once followed without question were an existence that was “distressingly parasitic and lifeless.”  And only had he “began to grow up and think my own thoughts” did he realize this.

His text, Down at the Dump, probably demonstrates this mindset the most.  Primarily with the character of Daise.

Daise is the deceased aunt of Meg, and the sister to Mrs. Hogben.  Daise was considered a strange and scandalous individual in society.  Even her own sister did not seem so fond of her as she seemed more absorbed with herself.  This is demonstrated with the line, “Although it was her sister Daise who had died, Mrs. Hogben was crying for the death which was waiting to carry her off in turn.”  

Through the eyes of Meg, the daughter of Mrs. Hogben, and Daise’s niece, we see how Daise is considered quite different to society.  She was an ordinary woman with extraordinary views and tastes that were different to everyone else’s.  Meg describes Daise’s house in quite flowing and flattering terms and feels at peace with it.

“How the mornings used to sparkle in which Aunt Daise went up and down between the rows, her gown dragging heavy with dew, binding with best the fuzzy flowers by handfuls and handfuls. Auntie’s voice clear as morning.”

 The very scent of it even captivates Meg.

“And the clovey scent rose up in the stale-smelling car, and smote Meg Hogben, out of the reeling heads of flowers, their cold stalks dusted with blue.”

There is a certain kind of view that these middle-class people have that comes across as snobbish and pretentious.  This is in order to try and pretend to be part of the circle of the upper-class residents, yet obviously not being part of it.  At the same time, there is this indifference towards human nature and emotions.  This is particularly seen when Ossie starts crying at Daise’s funeral.  Councillors Hogben and Last mock him for displaying thus ordinary human emotion.

‘Never knew a man cry at a funeral,’ Councillor Hogben complained, very low, although he was ripe enough to burst.

If you could count Ossie as a man, Councillor Last suggested in a couple of noises.

White’s main inspiration from his essay and his own personal experience seems to be to look for the beauty and extraordinary qualities in the ordinary.  Though complex in some patterns, human emotion is considered ordinary since everyone experiences it.  Ossie’s involvement and Daise being more expressive is thus a stark contrast to the pretentious views of society where people are more formal, strict and even rigid with their material wealth and the airs they put up.

White relays that people seem to be so obsessed and interested in the finer things in life, or simply following blindly the opinions of those higher up, that we forget the beauty in the ordinary.  That there is something far more that you are not seeing or experiencing.  All you have to really do is look closely, and perhaps try to think outside the box.

(Image:
Lonely Daisy On Stump. Web. 19 May 2016.  http://vividscreen.info/pic/lonely-daisy-on-stump/18001/)

Frame and Order

“The frame and order of the world.”

In order for this to be understood properly, let us split the statement first.

The most important words obviously are the nouns: “frame”, “order”, and “world.”  However, that belies another question.

What exactly is that? What is the frame of the world? What is the order of it?

Looking at the poems “The Orange Tree” by John Shaw Neilson and “End of the Picnic” by Francis Webb can give different meanings and interpretations to that statement.

For instance, “The Orange Tree” is spoken in the first-person perspective where an adult is talking to a little girl.  The subject of matter of their conversation? An orange tree.  At first, it appears to be a harmlessly amusing little conversation with the girl’s childish annoyance at the adult’s mature speculations.  But looking closer at the poem, there is an underlying tone that contrasts the innocence of youth to that of adulthood’s weary experience.

Noticeably, as the conversation keeps on going, the adult makes a bunch of speculations that can only be discovered by experience.  Yet when you look at the events he speaks in order, it can be interpreted as chronological in the love life of an adult.

  • “Is it, I said, of east or west?
    The heartbeat of a luminous boy
    Who with his faltering flute confessed
    Only the edges of his joy?”

The first stanza can be seen as an introduction to the protagonist (the adult persona) who is cheerful and innocent as a boy.  Seeing the first love, there is a beat of his heart, and feeling something so beautiful, he expresses himself with his flute: playing a happy tune which confesses this lovely feeling.

  • “Was he, I said, borne to the blue
    In a mad escapade of Spring
    Ere he could make a fond adieu
    To his love in the blossoming?

Spring is usually a season associated with growth, fruition and was also usually linked to the mating season.  Perhaps due to circumstances, either he or the one he loves must leave, which would force him to say a “fond adieu.”  Either that or he must say goodbye to these feelings that he has since he was “borne to the blue” during “a mad escapade of Spring.”  Blue is usually a colour associated with calmness, but also sadness.

  • “Does he, I said, so fear the Spring
    Ere the white sap too far can climb?
    See in the full gold evening
    All happenings of the olden time?

This one was admittedly harder to interpret, but I took it as him expressing his fear at laying his feelings bare.  Hence, why he would “fear the Spring.”  Because once he does this, there is a risk of no longer going back to the way things were with this person, it seems.

  • “Is he so goaded by the green?
    Does the compulsion of the dew
    Make him unknowable but keen,
    Asking with beauty of the blue?”

He becomes more determined to express his feelings to this person.  “Goaded by the green” would be associated with Spring, and Spring, I assumed, was to do with being twitterpated.  “Make him unknowable but keen” was a line I initially thought could mean that he has these feelings that aren’t known, but he’s keen to express them.  But after some thought, it could also be interpreted that he has these feelings that are keen, but he would rather not say them in risk of possibly losing a relationship.

  • “Is it, I said, a waste of love
    Imperishably old in pain,
    Moving as an affrighted dove
    Under the sunlight or the rain?”

Continuing from the previous stanza, I do think now that perhaps he chose to not tell his feelings.  Hence, why he calls it “a waste of love.”  “Imperishably old in pain” would refer to the notion of unrequited love, which is a concept that would date back thousands of years ago.  An ageless concept that continues.  “Under the sunlight and rain?”  Having these feelings will either make or break him.

  • “Is it a fluttering heart that gave
    Too willingly and was reviled?
    Is it the stammering at a grave,
    The last word of a little child?

Sadly, it seems things have not worked in favour with the protagonist.  Though the last two lines can be taken quite literally as someone died and the child is paying respects, if it were to be taken in the concept of a man’s love life, it can be interpreted as something else.  That he is no longer a child, which is why a little child would give “the last word” and be the one who’s at a grave stammering.  It is a goodbye to the innocence of a child as the boy is now a man.

Still, the very different perspectives of the little girl and the man can be seen as maintaining the frame and order of the world.  Why? Because both perspectives are legitimate, and they balance each other.

From this analysis, the adult’s experience is highly contrasted with the little girl’s who is far more simplistic and straightforward.  She is to the point, and, because she is a child, she has that simplicity and innocent perspective that adults lack or had to give up.  It is also another point that she focuses on the tree itself whereas the man’s recount involve experiences that happen at the tree.

The maturity and experience of adulthood are needed to ground the radical imaginations youth can have, yet at the same time, this creativity that youth has is needed to lighten up and remind adulthood of the innocence and simplicity of one’s own surroundings and the world.  They may contrast, but they are also used to balance and bring out the best of each other.

Without the simplicity and straightforward innocence of youth, then adulthood would be wistful and may even become cynical due to experience.  Or perhaps even become arrogant.  Likewise, if adulthood is gone, the lack of experience can also cause arrogance in youth, and there is no guiding hand.  Frame and order in the world are thus maintained with the balance between youth and maturity.

Contrasts

During analysis between both poems during the tutorial on Friday, the idea of contrasting was very present.

The use of contrast in a work of literature tends to vary.  Sometimes it is used to highlight a point by demonstrating the differences between two things.  Other times it’s used to try and make the reader ponder over things.

Both Mary Gilmore’s “The Measure” and Bernard O’Dowd’s “Australia” include contrasting two very different things.  However, the use of contrasts is used for different effects.

For instance, in “The Measure,” contrasts are used to highlight the sense of needless brutality and chaos.  The first four lines of the first two stanzas contrast against the remaining four.  Let us take a look at this stanza as an example:

“These are the days of all men’s tears–
Tears like the endless drop that wears
The rock, and rusts the steel, and frets the bones
Of dead men lying under stones:
And yet, the stars look on the earth
As in the hour of Christ His birth,
And see, not friend and foe, but man and man
As when these years began.”

During the tutorial on Friday, I personally thought that the “tears” and “drops” being mentioned in the first two lines was the rain.  With the use of celestial bodies (stars and the sun), I thought that the rain could be considered “the tears of Heaven.”  In works associating more divine aspects, such as the story of Altair and Vega, rain is used to describe the celestial being’s tears.

Plus, it contrasts well with the second part of the stanza.  Tears are usually associated with sadness.  Considering the stanza’s grim and serious line of imagery, tears being used for sadness would fit.  However, at the same time, tears can be cried in happiness.  This would also fit with the second part of the stanza where a child is born (the birth of Christ being a joyous event in particular).  Conclusively, the stanza highlights the contrasts between a time of mourning and a time of happiness, but at the core, the one who experiences both are still people.  To the very core.

In “Australia” though, the whole poem consists of contrasts.  Take these lines in the first stanza for example:

“Last sea-thing dredged by sailor Time from Space,
Are you a drift Sargasso, where the West
In halcyon calm rebuilds her fatal nest?
Or Delos of a coming Sun-God’s race?”

A Sargasso, as explained in a glossary during the tutorial, is a fancy word for a piece of seaweed.  The first three lines describe something minuscule and ineffective.  Just a floating mass that is floating along in a world filled with dangers.  But the last line mentions Delos.  Delos is a Greek island that is associated with the Delphic oracles who were under the Greek sun god, Apollo.

These contrasts are used to describe the country of Australia itself.  They fluctuate between describing Australia as a treacherous land of dread, to a land of promise and fruition.  This can be seen to reflect the attitudes of the European settlers who came to Australia.  Some were interested in the land and saw its potentials (albeit for utilitarian needs) while others were homesick when they saw a barren land.

Something that struck me while reading this poem again was this.  There is a huge contrast with O’Dowd’s interpretations himself.  What does he truly think of Australia? Another question that got to me is what was his point of writing this poem? It could be seen as him genuinely questioning what Australia really was, or it could be him purposely just writing the poem in amusement since it seems to combine both aspects.  That yes, it is dangerous if you do not have any knowledge or care to bother knowing about it, but it also has much potential.

That saying so, when it comes to the future of Australia itself and whether or not any prediction O’Dowd made are fulfilled or not, will need further analysis.

Where O’Dowd makes a sort of prediction can be primarily seen in the last four lines of stanza one.

“Are you for Light, and trimmed, with oil in place,
Or but a Will o’ Wisp on marshy quest?
A new demesne for Mammon to infest?
Or lurks millennial Eden ‘neath your face?”

Mammon is associated with the vice of greed.  It is the embodiment of the evil influences and coveting of wealth.  These last four lines place forth the question on whether Australia is a land of growing potential that will be a paradise, or if it is simply an illusion and simply become another piece of land run by wealth and greed.

That leaves the question: is Austalia a place of greed and wealth? Is O’Dowd correct with this prediction? How about whether or not Australia can be considered a land of potential and promise? A paradise, even?

Well, yes and no.

It all truly depends on the individual and where you go to.  It is true that wealth and money tend to run the world, but it does not necessarily dominate a person’s mind.  Give a person the option to choose between either the self-beneficial or benevolent choices, and again, you will have to consider other factors.

(Image:
=> https://brightlearning2012.files.wordpress.com/2013/04/anzac.jpg)

Expressing Through Art

When it comes to expressing themes, thoughts and themes, art is one good way to showcase such.

A constant theme in regards to Aboriginal literature is the notion of people’s feelings and views towards the land.  As time goes on, however, and depending on the viewer, the expression and thoughts towards the land tend to change.

(John Glover, Patterdale Farm)

For instance, in the painting above, it conveys the artists (Glover’s) piece of Australian property.  A very far shot conveying a fertile, green land where animals graze, and the skies are blue.  In many ways, it is quite similar to that of the lush greenery of that in Europe.  The trees are also willowy and elegant – nothing at all like how the eucalyptus trees appear.

Compare such a picture with this one.

(W. Lister, “The Golden Splendour of the Bush”)

Here, we see that the tree is no longer long and sleek, but rather twisted and more gnarly.  The trunk is wider, and it appears strong instead of soft.  It is also the central focus of the painting – commanding the viewer’s eyes to fix it.  Also in contrast to Glover’s paintings, the landscape shows that the earth is in disarray with twigs and scattered branches, and there is not much great light.  The tree is shrouded slightly in the shadow.

However, if we go by the name of the piece, the artist is shown to have admiration for this tree even calling it a “splendour” whereas the previous painter seemed too homesick to try and appreciate the bush with its own beauty.  With the tree being in shadow and the painting having an overall darker light, it conveys the message that the bush and wilderness is not as safe and can even be dangerous.  However at the same time, within its own differences and dangers, there is an allure to it.  A different kind of beauty to be admired.

In effect, this reflects the views of the European settlement in Australia.  At first, many were dismissive of the harsher terrain and were pining for their own.  Hence, why we see in Glover’s painting a more lush, green and even soft land for comfort that is not only “beautiful” for them to look at, but also useful for cattle.  However, as times go by, the land’s own unique beauty starts to get admired as shown in Lister’s painting that presents the gum tree as a strong, tall and proud subject for the viewer to peer at.

Recollection from Weeks 1 & 2

Utilitarianism.

First and foremost, cannot forget that word considering how useful it is to describe plenty of things in the texts.  It’s been used in both tutorials so far to describe certain views and a character, even.

What does the word mean, though? Utilitarianism is the view that justifies an action as long as it is useful or necessary for the majority.  Considering the type of literature that’s being read (i.e. Aboriginal literature), it’s highly expectant to see these views.

For instance, in the excerpt we were looking at during the tutorial last week in Week 2, we were looking at 4 different perspectives.  The first was that of Chaine, who had a totally utilitarian viewpoint in regards to the land that Wooral was showing  to the white men.  Chaine is pretty blunt and harsh in his descriptions of the flora: “leaves were like needles,” and “flowering spears.”  He also attributes and compares them to everyday items that most people find useful: such as “candlestick-shaped flowers” and his admiration to the mahogany only because it’s a rare wood used for creating furniture.

This is in direct contrast to Wooral who refers to the flora “as if he were walking through a crowd of diverse personalities.”  This personification of the plant-life gives a good sense that Wooral is closer to the land, and there’s a spiritual sense of connection.  Such a view is in direct contrast to utilitarianism since it is more personal.

(Image:
https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/5/5f/Banksia_in_the_Blue_Mountains.jpg)