Saturday, November 16, 2013

Saturday Morning Musings - storylines, the outback with a dash of history

This morning's post meanders through some of the offerings from my fellow bloggers, starting with Gordon Smith's lookANDsee. Nearly every year, Gordon heads west from Armidale on an outback tour, posting photos as he goes. Gordon is a good photographer, and his photos take you to iconic places that are now largely unseen by most Australians.

Cameron's Corner on the sign below is where the state boundaries of New South Wales, South Australia and Queensland meet. Here you can have three new year's eves if you feel so inclined, for this is the junction of three time zones!  20130703-iconic-outback-names

To follow Gordon's trip, go to the first post in the series, and then follow through by clicking newer entries. While doing, take some time to browse by following some of the links. It will introduce you to a new but also very old world.

Australia's Aboriginal peoples use the term storylines to describe the way that that the world around and within is populated, integrated, through story. We all do it, Stories make the world real, they help us to remember and to relate present and past.  

As an example, over on Freedom and Flourishing, Winton Bates' Why seek out the statue of Adam Smith when visiting Edinburgh? is a story. It centers on Winton's pleasure at finding a stature of the economist Adam Smith on the Royal Mile. Smith is one of Winton's heroes. He puts it this way:

I went looking for Adam Smith because he is the father of modern economics and because his views on the benefits of specialization and free trade have contributed to a vast improvement in living standards over much of the world over the last couple of centuries. But I suppose that is the kind of thing that might be said by anyone who views himself as a disciple of Adam Smith.

Winton goes on to reflect on Smith's views. The story reflects Winton's current interests, but it also links Winton's present and past, from his student days at UNE through his work and personal experiences that have formed his own views.

This brings me to another point. We all read things in different ways. Because I have known Winton for such a long time, I interpret the piece in a particular way. Winton is part of my own storyline. This provides a particular context. Then, too, I happen to love the Royal Mile, That's another small part of my storyline. So I listen to Winton's story in my mind from a number of perspectives. It's not just the words, but the way I interpret the words.       

Moving right on, I enjoyed marcellous' Feelings high in Yunnan, but another story Living dangerously left me feeling uncomfortable and a little sad. Sometimes there are things I don't want to know.

On The Resident Judge of Port Phillip, Janine Rizzetti's short post Uplifting Quotes for the Uninspired Historian #18 quotes the words of June Philipp on the writing of history. I hadn't heard of the Melbourne School of ethnographic history, but since my history honours thesis was an ethnographic piece, my attention was caught. The short quote is worth a read. It captures something that I support.

The writing of history is not about the progressive reinterpretation of the past in light of the present, although that is inevitable to some degree. I do it myself! Putting it in storyline terms, we always interpret in ways that fit with our own stories. Still, to my mind, the core of historiography lies in the attempt to understand the past stripped of the present, to get inside the minds of those past actors.

I was going to finish this post with a visit to Michael Pettis's China Financial Markets, and then this warning came up.  

You attempted to access:

This is a known malicious web site. It is recommended that you do NOT visit this site. The detailed report explains the security risks on this site.

For your protection, this web site has been blocked. Visit Symantec to learn more about phishing and internet security.

Good lord!  I think that Michael's site was hacked at one point, but I was looking at it yesterday. Now I need to find out what is happening. I am cautious enough not to want to access in the face of that warning. It's a pity because I wanted to use his latest piece to explain something about the basic arithmetic of international economic activity.  

No comments: