Archive for the ‘Frontier’ Category

Empty land? Empty hopes

September 25, 2011

The country itself had no travel-established identity for white people, and its quality as a blank slate was internalised by the immigrants as a basis for their own reconstructions. Those anxieties were also projected on to the land, as Paul Carter has argued in his profound book The Road to Botany Bay. Carter shows how places were named for whites and their ideologies, from Melbourne and Sydney after peers of the governmental realm to places like Mt Disappointment and Mt Misery where the explores’ noble hopes were dashed. More than that, naming and interpreting the land were forms of fictionalising, rewriting the alien land mass into a familiar fable of Europeanicity.

Page 154 of Stephen Knight “The Selling of the Australian Mind”

Arena 109: the meaning of frontier…

June 22, 2011

Response to Gillian Cowlishaw
Les Rosenblatt
Bruce Pascoe in Convincing Ground, referring to the early Australian frontier, says: “The frontier was a place confused by the grandeur of liberal theology coming out of London and the chaos of malice, greed, and opportunistic racism at the coal face. The present is afflicted by all those things but with the added retardation of apathy and profound ignorance.”

In The Gauche Intruder, Jennifer Rutherford is ‘interested in the ways that fantasies of the good provide a camouflage for aggression at both a national and local level: an aggression directed both to an external and an internal Other.’ This aggression in Australia – and its associated guilt – is perhaps being presently displaced onto ‘boat people’…

It seems to me that Zizek’s fanciful question in opening up a non-nationalistic and non-owning possibility of attachment to place is what is so terrifying to the national imaginary evidenced in Australian national responses to the few thousand boat people seeking refuge here.

Frontier as a Not Very Nice Place

April 2, 2011

Les Rosenblatt in Arena 109…

Bruce Pascoe in Convincing Ground, referring to the early Australian frontier, says: “The frontier was a place confused by the grandeur of liberal theology coming out of London and the chaos of malice, greed, and opportunistic racism at the coal face. The present is afflicted by all those things but with the added retardation of apathy and profound ignorance.”

A review of Convincing Ground is here (as a pdf)

And from the blurb on a book I bought yesterday,

The Real Matilda: Women and Identiyy in Australia 1788 to 1975 by Miriam Dixson ($1.99)
“Miriam Dixon turns to our colonial beginnings and finds a past steeped in negative feelings about women. She argues that we must, in the first instance, look at the males who were our founding fathers – the puritanical and self-doubting elite, the convicts, the working class and the depressed Irish. To make up for their own feelings of emptiness, these men tried – largely unconsciously – to ensure that their women felt even less complete as human beings than they did.”