Problems and Solutions
Chapter 5

That one sentence from Flood’s Rock Art stuck in Rachel’s mind: “Explanation of the landscape and everything in it has always been a prime focus of Aboriginal people in Australia.” That was what she had to focus upon: the Western and Far Eastern trend towards depiction vs. the Australian drive to explain. And within that, she would employ Hauser’s “Children’s drawings and the artistic production of contemporary primitive races are rationalistic, not sensory: they show what the child and the primitive artist know, not what they actually see; they give a theoretically synthetic, not an optically organic picture of the object.”

So the Rock Art and the child’s compound view result in Williams’ work via Picasso. It wasn’t going to be easy to express.

But in some ways, there was a similarity in Dupain’s POV. Again, it would be hard to express. She’d need to acquire the vocabulary of the documentary cinema (Grierson!) as well as that of the black-and-white photographer. Margaret Bourke-White as well as Ansel Adams. Maybe Steichen. Who was that French photographer? She’d have to look at history there, too.

This was going to be more extensive than she had planned. In fact, every time she thought about it, the project got bigger. What she’d do, what she’d have to do, it make the outline as extensive as possible and then prune it mercilessly. Like her mother with bonsai. But while the dissertation would be trimmed, it wouldn’t be a miniature.

“Hey! Are you asleep?” Patrick’s voice broke in.

“No. Thinking.”

“Good thing to do. Do you do it much?”

“No. It upsets others. It hurts them to do it and it makes them feel inferior.”

“Bet most of them are inferior!”

“No bet.”

Patrick ran his hand down her back and patted her a bit.

“Hey! You know Olwen ran her hand up my thigh last night!”

“Really? What did you do?”

“Nothing. So she stopped. I hope she was – uh – satisfied at the ARQ.”

“I hope she survived it.”

“Do you think there was really any danger?”

“No. Nadine would have warned dad. But there must always be some lurking for fresh meat. I didn’t get any feeling for how naive or sophisticated Olwen was.”

“I guess the ARQ would give her a rapid education.”

“If necessary. As I said, I got no feeling. I read what was there, but sex wasn’t what the serpent revealed.”

“So there might not have been anything to reveal.”

“Or nothing the serpent deemed important.”

“Well, we’ll find out tomorrow. If Olwen calls after seeing Madam Minister, we’ll know.”

“And if she doesn’t call till evening or Thursday morning?”

“Right. We’re not responsible.”

“True. But we may end up with some sort of responsibility.”

“Perhaps morally, but certainly not legally. Anyway, I wanted to ask you about Grierson, I’ve never heard of him.”

“Neither had I until I read that someone gave Grierson on Documentary to Dupain in 1947. The book defined the need for photography without pretence. The slogan was ‘the creative treatment of actuality’. Grierson was a maker of documentary film, in fact he coined the term in a review in 1926. ‘Art is not a mirror, ‘ he wrote, ‘but a hammer. It is a weapon in our hands to see and say what is good and right and beautiful.’ I got a copy of the book at that shop near the university. It smells mouldy.”

“All their books do. But he sounds interesting. Let me look at the book when you’re not using it.”

“Right. I’ve a real problem with this stuff. Everything I look at broadens the scope.”

“That’s your fault. You’re enjoying the by-ways and alleys. You’ve got a lifetime to explore those, if you want to. But right now – for the next few years – you’ve got to narrow your focus. Trim those branches. You mentioned bonsai, think of the material as a tree. You’ve got to trim and shape it the way your mother would.”

“I didn’t say that. I was thinking it.”

“Well, I know you too well. I thought I heard it.”

“You’re weird!”

“You’re discovering that now? After more than twenty years? You must be slow!”

“I’ve got to go grocery shopping. Do you want to come and we’ll lunch out?”

“I’ll come, but I know this is a ruse to get me to pay for lunch and then carry parcels.”

“If you know, it can’t be much of a ruse.”

They went out for dim sum and then shopped. Patrick ended up paying and carrying, as expected. When they got home, the agreement (in triplicate) was in their mailbox. While Rachel stowed the groceries, Patrick read through the document, signed two of the copies, and placed them into an envelope to go out in the mail. They each spent the remainder of the afternoon reading and writing, taking a ‘tea break’ at 16:00.

Patrick decided that he’d begin by writing pieces of what would eventually become the pamphlet.

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