Problems and Solutions
Chapter 2

Rachel went off to the reference library at the Art Gallery on Wednesday morning. Patrick stayed home to think about artefacts. But first he phoned the “qwik-print” shop on King. How quickly could they do business cards? No, black and white; all print. 200 would be fine. Yes, he could bring a laser print. Two hours if they got the sample soon? Thanks.

He typed in:

Patrick Scott Hollister

Attorney at Law

and (at the bottom) address flush left; phone and email flush right.

He printed it out, looked it over and delivered it. Right after noon, they told him. While Patrick strolled home, he thought about the two different aspects of what the vendors seemed to be thinking of: modern works, which seemed to sell as a type of cultural appropriation (cultural appropriation occurs when a dominant group uses the art, cultural or religious symbols, ideas and expressions from long-marginalized groups for its own benefit or enrichment), and archaeological objects, which might actually transgress on tribal or religious beliefs or tabus.

Might there be a problem where modern works were concerned? Probably not. But alchuringa stones, bone-pointing equipment, kurdaitcha shoes had to be out-of-bounds. Why? How?

Respect.

How did one explain respect? It was clear (to Patrick) that James Cook’s declaration of terra nullius in 1770 was a dramatic instance of lack of respect: an estimated 750,000 Aboriginal people inhabited this island continent in 1788, at the time of the first fleet. The colonists had no regard for them.

It was over 200 years later. The government’s estimate was under 700,000 in 2011. The Europeans hadn’t cared about tribes, bands, languages here nor in Africa nor the Americas. Could it be explained to the dealers?

Back home, he started by pulling the books by Josephine Flood from the shelves. The three they owned, that is.

Was this the way to do it? Actually, what was it? He was running off before he had a job or a job description. He was preparing for a chore he’d made up from what his father had said on the phone. That was his fantasy life, not the result of a client’s instructions.

Patrick went out, stopped at Dumpling King for a quick lunch, and picked up his business cards. He stopped at home to deposit them, fetch a string shopping bag, and walked down King to FoodWorks, where he purchased materials for dinner and a variety of fruits.

He then returned home, stowed his purchases and settled down with Asimov’s Foundation, one of his all-time favourites.

Clearly beginning her thesis and the “conference” he’d have in the morning were important in their histories. Were they at a Seldon crisis? Was this the right time and place to set up a new society? Or at least a new household for them? Gordy had effectively moved to a new planet. From one on the periphery to the center. He dozed off.

Rachel found him asleep with the paperback on the floor. Closing the door, however, roused him.

“Sorry.”

“S’OK. I shouldn’t have dozed.”

“If you dozed, you needed to. We’ve lots going on.”

“True. I got cards printed. And I bought stuff to eat. But I was day-dreaming about us.”

“And?”

“I was dreaming about directions. You’re embarking on a new piece of life and it appears that I’m shifting, too. Your formal university time is past and your internships at the Gallery were effectively apprenticeships, as were my periods at the journal and my six months at the Ministry.”

“Well, we’re not going to sit in the bedroom and wait for a hologram of Seldon to utter mystic portents.”

I laughed. “You got it right away. The changes, Asimov on the floor.”

“Yes. It wasn’t hard. Though I’ve never been as gripped by the Foundation series as you have. It’s too far from reality. No women to speak of, for example.”

“Veering off-topic, did you have lunch?”

“Sandwich and tea at the Gallery. What did you buy?”

“Barramundi, hakusai, a piece of fresh ginger. I thought we’d have rice and you could either stir-fry or steam everything.”

“Good. Is there garlic?”

“Sorry. But there is a bunch of green onions.”

“That’s fine. I’m going to change and wash up. Then we can talk. It’s too early to cook dinner.”

I rinsed some peaches and nectarines and put them on a plate. Then I put up water, so Rachel could have tea.

“OK, tell me,” I said when she reappeared.

“I’ve been looking at recently published dissertations in fine art. None was helpful insofar as what I want to do.”

“That sounds good. Your ideas aren’t ordinary nor stale.”

“Thanks. But will it make what I write unacceptable or unpublishable?”

“‘Unacceptable’ depends on the sort of advice you get from Dr. What’s-his-name.”

“Garshin.”

“Right. And publication will depend on you and luck.”

“Luck?”

“You know Heller’s Catch-22?”

“It’s a World War II novel? Never read it.”

“It’s a painfully funny book. But Heller’s agent carried a piece of the manuscript in her purse trying to get publishers to read it. Apparently it was rejected nearly two dozen times before someone stood up for it. She was also the agent for Roth’s Goodbye, Columbus and Pynchon and I don’t know how many others. People said she was an ‘appreciator’ – she appreciated what the authors were doing. You might need someone like that. But now you need to do an outline and a bibliography.”

“I suppose. But what do I do?”

“You tell me about it and then write it out.”

“But I don’t know where to begin.”

“Remember Carroll. ‘“Begin at the beginning,” the King said, very gravely, “and go on till you come to the end: then stop.”’ [Chapter 12] For example, tell me what you’re writing about.”

“I think that both Dupain and Williams were depictors of the Australian landscape. They employed different media and were influenced by different things, but they each executed his vision of this island.”

“Well, there you are! If you elaborate on all of that, you’ll have your dissertation.”

“Elaborate?”

“Well, you’ll need to write a biographical sketch of Max and of Fred. Then something about landscape and Australia. Then the different media. Then the influences. Then the similarities and differences of the two visions. And then you’re done.”

“You make it sound easy.”

“In some sense, it is easy. Coming up with the idea, having the vision – that’s the hard part. That’s where the folks who don’t earn a doctorate stop. The execution takes persistence and effort. But having ideas is far beyond most people. Even recognizing ideas is beyond most – that’s why you had trouble selling at Sydney. Those you spoke to couldn’t even recognize a non-traditional idea.”

“And it’s why you’re unemployed.”

“Only till tomorrow, most likely.”

The steamed fish and cabbage over rice was delicious.

It took about 20 minutes to get downtown in the morning and I walked only a few minutes to get to George Street.

I was met by two men, one older, well-dressed with grey hair; the other was over 100 kilos, sun-weathered and near two metres tall. He said he was from Bourne.

“Pearls?” I asked.

“Nah. Fossicker. I cover the area from Carnarvon to Wyndham.” [Fossicking is a term found in Australia and New Zealand referring to prospecting. This can be for gold, precious stones, fossils, etc.]

“That’s quite a distance.”

There is more of this chapter...

For the rest of this story, you need to Log In or Register

Story tagged with:
Fiction / School / Workplace /