Cry me a river

Steven_Smith_speaks_to_the_media

‘Cry me a river: tears of the clowns grate like sandpaper’, Patrick Smith, The Weekend Australian, March 31-April 1, 2018

‘Watch the so-called leaders of this nation and you will see only this: a group of gluttonous men and women who flip and flop, not on principles but the search for power. Vanity and self-importance. Two days in the news.

All this is creating a very ordinary nation. Timid, without vision but prepared to get what they want with no consideration of the ramifications. That is the Australian cricket team; perfectly shaded representatives of modern Australia.’

***

A.A. Phillips, The Cultural Cringe, Melbourne University Press, 2006

2 ‘a disease of the Australian mind…the Cringe Direct or the Cringe Inverted.’

61 ‘The swing between submission and assertiveness has lost its extremism, but the final conquest of the colonial problem has not yet been achieved…We are still not quite sure whether to be proud or ashamed of ourselves.’

62 ‘The Australian temperament is essentially pragmatic – a quality which is sometimes mistaken for materialism. In truth the Australian does not ignore spiritual values provided they are plain, direct and assessable. His limitation lies in an obstinate bondage to the positive, a preference for the sum with an answer verifiable in the back pages of the book. He turns aside, scornfully and yet timidly, from the glories and terrors of the incertitudes, from the exaltations of the mysteries. Such a conception as Andre Gide’s Return of the Prodigal is scarcely imaginable as the product of an Australian mind. Consequently we escape that cooling and thinning of humanity which afflicts the Gide type, but we cannot achieve Gide’s kind of depth and reverberation. Yet the incertitudes and the mysteries, the excitement of the sum which never comes out, are the food and wine of the artist, whatever his country…Only when the contour-smoothing erosions of time have reconciled us to the acceptance of mystery will the colonial dilemma be finally solved.’

From the Notes

1 ‘It is perhaps relevant to quote here the opinion of Professor A.G. Mitchell of the Sydney University that Australians are the only Anglo-Saxon community which is ashamed of having its own way of pronouncing the English language.’

***

Donald Horne, The Lucky Country – Australia in the Sixties, Angus and Robertson, 1965 (first published in 1964)

56 Horne paraphrased the diary entry of Mrs. Marcel Dekyvere, chairman of the Black and White Ball Committee (in 1964) in response to a sermon titled “I Have a Dream” ’ – ‘We must all keep our dreams, even if sometimes they don’t come true. Don’t you agree?’

Martin Luther King gave his ‘I Have a Dream’ speech on 28.08.1963.

83 Australians are suspicious of all idealism: ‘ “What’s in it for him?” ’

88 ‘In the past Australia has also displayed the other side of provincialism: the boastfulness and arrogance of the liberated province, parading its very provincialism as if it were homegrown.

136 ‘the things modern Australians are really interested in – getting homes, raising their children, going on holidays.’

Horne went on to add: ‘What one does witness in Australia is…”the institutionalisation of mediocrity”…established rhetoricians and ideology makers’

146 In certain senses, Australia is a province of two external powers (the UK and the US).

177 ‘if intellectuals wish to walk down the corridors of power in Australia they must leave their intellectuality at home. As in business, to pretend to some stupidity is safest.’

190 Against the justification that ‘we are only a small nation’:

Horne, quoting Irving Kristol’s review of the first edition of The Lucky Country, emphasised the importance of leadership that could enable a people to create ‘better than they know’ and of appreciating their creation, without which that people would not only be far poorer in their self-definition but would be blissfully unaware of their poverty. Leadership enables the discernment of a promise and a potentiality that becomes integral to their way of life.

I_love_Australia

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