EcCentric Visions: Re Constructing Australia by Gaile McGregor

By Gaile McGregor

What this booklet represents is, particularly actually, a “slice” of (white) Australian existence. through noting the styles and parallels that emerge in a random sampling of social phenomena of largely various forms, from cleaning soap operas to political behaviour, Gaile McGregor has built a version that, in its problem to uniformitarianism, is a try out case in ethnographic conception. utilizing equipment starting from the hermeneutic during the structuralist to the psychoanalytic, McGregor deploys the self-evidence of communal lifestyles and language to set up not just that every one cultural phenomena are “patterned,” yet that this patterning is exclusive to and constant around the complete method.

additional, it not just affects yet constrains the way in which the Australian conceptualizes, codifies and expresses his/her existential place. therefore the Australian predilection for icons of intermediacy: the verandah in structure, the bush in literature, the seashore in people tradition, the center floor in panorama portray, the pub in daily life. This identity with buffer zones among inside and out not just mimics the Australian’s genuine bracketing among desolate tract and ocean, yet embodies his/her feel of disablement vis-à-vis either tradition and nature, artwork and techne, super-ego and identity, all of that are coded as female.

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Extra info for EcCentric Visions: Re Constructing Australia

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CLASS, E D U C A T I O N , AND S E L F - I M A G E 43 A corollary to this thesis is, of course, that the disadvantagement is deliberate. Just as the state inculcates passivity in the populace through its manipulation of media imagery (see "A Quick History of Australian Film," pp. 209-15 below), it also "educates" the working class in such a way as to keep it both quiescent and ignorant. Retrospective examination of the education system reveals much to support such a claim. Even apart from such obvious factors as the historic reluctance to establish a free secondary system as an alternative to the private schools (as late as 1900 there were no state secondary schools in Victoria), the curriculum in the state schools, as Richard Selleck points out, was from the beginning narrow, utilitarian, and vocationally oriented.

Actually, the Australian case is strongly reminiscent of, if exactly inverse to, the situation in Canada, where it is a feminine symbolic ego that dominates the communal sense of self. It is predictable, therefore, that just as in Canada it is the inappropriately modelled male protagonist who evinces the most marked signs of psychic stress, in Australian literature it is the female who goes through the most profound identity crises. This is not always apparent on the surface. Given the endemic lack of self-consciousness among both writers and their characters, it is often unclear that what's going on is a search for identity.

Richardson's chronicle of Richard Mahoney (see next section) is the prototype for this genre, but deteriorating heroes abound throughout the entire corpus, right from Clarke's For the Term of His Natural Life through Penton's Landtakers to Sydney's The Return and Wilson's The Mulga Trees. Religion, art, love: anything that depends upon "feminine" intuition and sensitivity tends to be treated ambivalently in Australian literature not simply because it is undervalued but because, like the anima herself, it is both desirable and intimidatingly alien.

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