Saturday, September 30, 2006

Op-Shop Book Corner

As the Twig is Bent by Terry Lane (Dove Communications, Melbourne 1979)

This book (ex Aquinas College, Ringwood) was actually a genuine find. In it, Lane presents interviews with sixteen prominent Australians about their childhood. One of them is the historian Manning Clark of whom Lane writes:

…Manning Clark has become an outspoken critic of Australian Society in his books, articles, speeches and broadcasts, expressing a profound pessimism about the future. The events of November 1975, ‘that year in which the money-changers and accountants – the men with a passion for interest rates as dionysiacal as the passion of some men for "other things" – were to have their terrible day of triumph’, have left him deeply disturbed. Because of his defence of the Whitlam government … there was a storm over his commission to broadcast the Boyer Lectures on the ABC in 1976. An attempt to censor the lectures before they were recorded was thwarted when it was made public.

Of course that sort of thing couldn’t happen in these comfortable and relaxed times. On to an excerpt from the interview – Clark’s gloomy concluding remarks:

Perhaps my childhood was always at my elbow, as it were, helping me to dream the dream that one day I might put down on paper the story of why we are as we are and why, wherever I am, whether in Moscow, London, New York or at Harvard, I know deep down where I belong and that Australia is always for me the ‘shire for men who understand’.

But it is also a place where many people seem to belong to a different world from mine. Some of them are provoked to great wrath by what I try to say. That too has been part of what Henry James called my ‘complex fate’. There is one side of me which believes all those shouters and mockers will gradually fade away, but another part tells me they are with me forever in Australia – that Australia belongs to them.

Some days I feel the same about the blogosphere. Others, I’m embarrassed to find myself counted among the shouters and mockers. That’s just part of my ‘complex fate’.

(Cross-Posted at Larvatus Prodeo)

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