TEXT WORDS DISCOURSE
In the beginning was the word, or so the story goes … most stories rely on words - to describe, tell, inspire, transform, mislead or even lie . . . we know the world mainly through words and pictures. As well as sound, aroma, taste and touch of course.
But the world exists without us. Birds sing, tides flow in and out, trees crash in the forests as they did long before we came here, and all such things will continue long after we leave. This world gets along nicely without our words for language is a human invention, a social construction to help us belong with other people. But then, with language, we also seek sense from the world. We create meaning . . .
As Alberto Manguel said in The City Of Words : . . . with the passing of the years my ignorance in countless areas . . . has become increasingly perfected
Long ago and far away on the edge of the city where the orchards began, his mother took his hand to walk him down the path to the little weatherboard hall with its corrugated iron porch. Clear and warm that first day of school. A row of high silver gums marked the sky above the hall and the church.
In a flat sunburnt country with flooding rains and long dusty droughts, things not washed away fade in the sun as much as in the memory. Priests in black cassocks sway slowly down a long aisle with incense and white lilies. Gravel voices intone earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust. The boy did not understand but knew to keep quiet. He just wanted to get out of that dull hall they used as a church and kick his little football down the hill.
I am looking at a photograph called Haymarket Newsagency, by David Moore, circa 1948. I was then circa two years old. But I feel I know this scene. A man is looking out of an upstairs window, a man in overalls and cap. The windows fold inwards, as in France. The bright early sun lights up the facade and illuminates the man, a white figure in a dark window space. The cap shades his eyes.
I watched from an old upstairs window just straining on tippy toes to see. To see my mother crossing the street way down below. She said she’d be back soon and the nice wide nurse said that too. She’ll be back soon. She’s not leaving, don’t worry, just going to get something. Be back soon. But she didn’t even look up as she walked away.
There's a lot of uninformed ranting going down right now about "Australia Day" #InvasionDay and #ChangeTheDate. Personally I don't want to "change" the date - I want to understand it and ask why have national days at all? In the interim, consider this contribution from Alexis Wright . . .