I don’t usually remember my dreams, but I slept later than usual this morning and consequently remember a bit of the dream I woke from. Chronology, setting and character have rules of their own in dreams, so it is unsurprising that this one was set during World War 1 in Glebe in an Alexandra Road house I once really lived in, but 1978-9, not 1914. Michael Xu was there too, which is pretty unlikely. The nearby Chinese temple does not feature. I was in uniform and setting off to join the war… And that is pretty much it!
Glebe: Sze Yup Temple
That’s not a bad segue into the next bit — the impressive fellow-blogger. (The note on this blog can wait.) I refer to Russell Darnley OAM, who is also a former colleague from Sydney Boys High where, in the early 2000s, he was in Social Science (Economics, Geography) while I was English/ESL. Here he is today, literally, looking much better preserved than I do.
He currently lives in Singapore. The Order of Australia Medal came from his efforts in Bali after the tragedy of the first Bali bombings of 12 October, 2002. Many more details of Russell’s life — and why he is also Maximos — may be found on his blog.
Aside from the fact he has said nice things on Twitter about some of my posts, including yesterday’s — and I am coming to that — it is a major book (five stars in Goodreads) he has written that got my attention yesterday because of the following video which I had not seen before.
There is a section of the blog devoted to it.
Australian engagement with Asia and Melanesia spans a vast time. Aboriginal Australians are descendants of a diverse group of people who journeyed through the region at the very dawn of human awareness. Western historians have sometimes been reticent in their willingness to accept the evidence of a long and varied Aboriginal contact with the regions to our north, but time will reveal more of its extent. Such ancient occupance is already clearly inferred in such things as the rock art sites of Arnhemland and the ancient trade in intellectual property manifest in the emergence of the dugout canoe. Their presence and custodianship is everywhere present and their customary land rights affirmed and undeniable. They are the very foundation of modern Australia.
Those Australians, and their descendants, who have arrived since 1778, at first largely of European heritage, have completed a far shorter journey. Some still must return to the lands of their origins to make sense of their place in the world. Many continue to look directly to Europe, but as a quest for identity, this is as if through a glass darkly, a glass full of the muddied waters of a self that, in a sense, belongs elsewhere but is now grounded in Australia. Such quests can serve to obscure the subtle yet compelling forces that shape us and offer us new meanings of self, here in our region….
My own time in Asia and Melanesia has had a significant impact on the way I see the world. It has brought me into contact with the practices of the region’s primal religions and also the more recent expressions of Buddhism, Hinduism and Islam. It has allowed me to step outside Western paradigms. From this place and subsequent encounters with Egypt, Turkey and finally Greece, I have found my way to Orthodox Christianity and a point in life where I’ve come to acknowledge that the mystery of creation cannot be fully expressed with the tools of western scientism.
Perhaps the following two quotations sum up best where I stand in my approach to this body of work.
. . . there is an invisible dimension to all things visible, and a beyond to everything material. All creation is a palpable mystery, an immense incarnation of cosmic proportions. 
All things worth knowing about the world, in fact, came in incompatible pairs: position and momentum, energy and time, wave and particle. Knowledge of one somehow destroyed the possibility of knowing the other. ….
There is another sense in which I’ve used the unseen world, this is its application in the political domain. During the Howard years, and central to the Howard Doctrine, were several basic beliefs that could only be held as reality if one was to completely ignore the elephants in the room.
For me the Howard Doctrine rapidly unravelled post Bali Bombing. This was a period in which any last challenge that it might have presented to my sense of reality was totally dispelled. My own involvement in the relief effort following the bombing of October 2002, was a watershed experience. Ironically it crystallized much of this work in my mind. Such was the impact of the bombing that I’ve written two pieces on that time and one set in the immediate aftermath.
I begin this journey in 1914 with the story Sid Thompson and D Company the story of a little known Australian Naval and Military Expeditionary Force (ANMEF). This was the first Australian force to engage the enemy during WWI, undertaking landings in the Bismarck Archipelago. I’ve concluded this part of the journey with a work Headland that reappraises sacred space in Australia.
So happens that my father’s cousin, Norman Whitfield, was part of that same Expeditionary Force, later going on to service in Gallipoli and the Western Front where he earned a Military Cross and Bar.
I really commend Russell’s work to you. There is also a volume of short stories.
Now to this blog which did by its standards quite well yesterday. Here is where viewers came from:
I usually have a fair number of US readers, including one or two regulars who quite often hit the “like” button. Not yesterday though. Their usual form suggests they would not have been over-offended by what I said about Donald Trump.
I am wondering if it what I said about Norman Vincent Peale and The Power of Positive Thinking — and incidentally there is a clear link between Peale and the Trump family. Could it be that is a hot button issue in the American psyche? Mind you, two truly great American writers — Scott Fitzgerald and Arthur Miller — were the reason I renamed the phenomenon the Gatsby Disease or the Willy Loman Syndrome.