Sunday, November 22, 2009

Sunday Snippets - driving licenses, cultural clash and Prokofiev

I woke thinking this morning just how kind people are. Every day I see or experience little acts of kindness that remind me that there is good in us despite the sometimes horrors.

Clare (youngest) has a three-line whip out in a desperate drive to get to fifty hours driving time before she passes the cut-off point and then has to do 120 hours. Both Dee and I are very busy; this makes it hard for Clare. Friends with licenses, friend's parents with licenses, are all being called in to sit with her in our car to make up time. She still has twenty-one hours to get.

I was told yesterday that the NSW Government had decided in the context of the 120 hours required that hours with a driving instructor should count as three. I have been unable to confirm this.

I found Neil's Tony Parsons “My Favourite Wife” (2008) an interesting book review. This is not the type of book I would normally read; perhaps I will.

In The Promises and Perils of Mining Will Owen explores the interaction between mining and Aboriginal life. Seeing the reference to Quentin Beresford really took me back; I haven't seen Quentin since we were researching together at the University of New England. It is quite remarkable just how pervasive the UNE connection, direct and indirect, is in Aboriginal studies. Quentin wasn't writing on Aboriginal issues when I knew him, yet there he is.

Will's posts are always thoughtful and good value. The central problem underlying his post is conflict of cultures. Putting this in my words, Will may disagree, the more successful an agreement between a mining company and the Aboriginal traditional owners is, the more likely it is to affect Aboriginal culture.

The book that in many ways best captures this conflict is a science fiction novel, the third in Harry Harrison's Deathworld series.

Unable to directly overcome the warlike highland nomads, the hero Jason dinAlt facilitates the nomad's conquest of the urbanised and much wealthier lowlands, knowing that this will, in turn, destroy the central elements on which the nomad's power depends.

The dilemma involved was well put at a session I went to of mentors and Aboriginal mentees. We had gathered outside for a smoke. My mentee, a women from whom I have learned much, put it this way: our culture must change, but we want to control the change.

This is not Aboriginal self-determination in the way this phrase is so often meant. It is, in fact, a very different concept. To explore this now would take too long. I will return to the topic, because it is actually central to problems that are present globally.

Marcellous's SSO – “Russian Magic" deals in part with a Prokofiev concert. I will pass this part over: I find Prokofiev quite indigestible; and I hate Shostakovich! But what Marcellous does do in passing is provide a word picture of life in modern Sydney.

To really understand this, you need the visual backdrop to the post.

In front of you as you walk towards the concert are the brightly lit sails of the Opera House, with the Australian Idol pretend audience drifting around. To the left across the dark water dappled by light is the huge floodlit arc of the bridge. Turning slightly and looking back across Circular Quay, the office towers with their lights stand out. The Manly ferries pass, their white wakes reflecting the pattern of city lights.

It is a warm night. Tourists and locals throng the walkway. To your right, the cafes and bars along the promenade are crowded with a mixture of diners, visitors and those still just having a drink after work.

I must finish here. I have to water the garden!  

No comments: