Problems and Solutions
Copyright© 2017 by Peter H. Salus
“Cut out two of the Flood books and one Zdanowicz. And Pritchard’s book on cameras. Maybe Fine Houses of Sydney, too.”
“Are you kidding?”
Patrick had just finished reading the final (Rachel hoped) version of her proposal for Dr. Garshin. He’d suggested only a few tweaks to the text. But this was nearly a quarter of her bibliography!
“Be realistic. Your future adviser has to show power. It’s important to him to find fault. Two or three years down the road, he’s going to take credit for the excellence of your work. And he’ll preen even more when the book is published. So, you’ve got to provide opportunities for him. Otherwise he’ll pick things you’ve not prepared for. So the Grierson book that influenced Dupain is vital, as is that history of photography from the Museum of Modern Art. So Garshin can point out the camera technology.”
“That’s me. I could never research or write your thesis. I’d never have thought of paralleling Dupain and Williams. It was Gordy who noted that drawing of Williams and the Dupain photo in Canberra, not me. I see ways of doing things.”
“And I try to execute.” Rachel laughed. “OK. Let me edit this and send it off. What should I say in the cover note?”
“‘Dear Dr. Garshin, Attached find my dissertation proposal and brief bibliography. Please let me know when it would be convenient for us to meet’.”
The next day brought Patrick two pieces of mail, both from the “State of New South Wales.” Patrick must have opened them in the “wrong order”: the first brought a cheque for $500.00 with “legal services” in the “memo” space; the other was an “Agreement” between the Ministry and “Patrick Scott Hollister, Esq.” for legal consulting services to be invoiced individually for the period 1 Feb. 2017 to 31 Jan. 2019. There were two originals, both signed by the Minister. There was also a note: “Thank you for your efforts in Milbrodale. Please sign and return one copy of the Agreement. SM.”
“Well,” he said to Rachel, “It’s not a lot, but it’s something.”
“It’s more than was necessary. You’ve only received the agreement post hoc.”
“True. I’ll sign this and mail it back and go past the ATM to make a deposit. Any errands?”
“Buy something for us to eat for lunch.”
Rachel received an email: “My office. Next Tuesday at noon. G.” So she spent a good part of the weekend fretting. Then she spent Monday hoovering, dusting and marketing. Tuesday at 11:00, Patrick offered to drive her to UNSW and wait for her. He parked in the UNSW Village and told Rachel he’d be on a bench, reading Flood’s Rock Art.
Patrick was reading about the cave discoveries in the Mount Gambier area (South Australia) when a shadow disrupted him. He looked up to see and extremely pretty young woman.
“Are you a student here?”
“You just like sitting here?”
“Are you anti-social?”
“I could give you a real good time.”
“Possibly. But my wife wouldn’t approve.”
“Yes. I’m waiting for her.”
“Oh. Er. Bye.”
She vanished down a path, and Patrick tried to go back to Flood’s descriptions of finger markings and incised lines. He’d never thought of himself as prey. He’d have to talk to Rachel about it.
She arrived about 15 minutes later, wearing a big grin. “My personal nungungi!” she began. “You were right on target!”
“Could you elaborate?”
“Dr. Garshin thought my precis and my outline were ‘Quite good’ (his words).”
“And he thought the bibliography needed some expansion.” Patrick burst out laughing.
“Well, let’s go have lunch and you can think about it.”
“How did you know?”
“People need to feel important. Academics make themselves important by imposing constraints. Forcing undergraduates to take weird courses at strange times. Making animals jump through hoops. As you go up the scale, the ordeals get sillier, more trivial might be better. What you did was dig a punji pit for him.”
“A very sharp bamboo stake that is concealed at an angle in a hole. The prey impales itself. Anyway, you deleted items in your bibliography and so Dr. Garshin fixed on those gaps and ignored other things.”
“Not quite. He thought there should be background on Australian landscapists, too.”
“I suggested Hans Heysen, but said it would be extra as it was out of my period.”
“You taught me all I know!”
“And you didn’t mention the drawing catalogue?”
“It’s in my resume. He’s got that.”
They were in the car.
“Anywhere in particular?”
“Something quick on Anzac Parade.”
Later, Rachel remarked: “I’m going to revise my outline, too. But I think I’ll leave my precis alone.”
“OK, but why?”
“I’m going to include Drysdale’s ‘Drover’s Wife’, in order to show how the human figure fits into the landscape. Then I can add Dupain’s Australians to the later section.”
“Clever. If you want, you can even insert Lawson.”
“Maybe. But that would get me into lit. And I don’t want to get tangled up in the literary descriptions of landscape! But I may want to get more into Hauser.”
“Yes. The fourth volume of his Social History is Naturalism, Impressionism, The Film Age. And what I’ve read about his sociological slant on art is very good.”
“Won’t Garshin hate his Marxism?”
“Totally unknown. Volume Four came out in 1951. That’s before any of our parents was born! And Garshin might like the inclusion of cinema.”
Patrick’s phone rang.
“This is Roy Ah-See. I’m the chairman of the NSWALC. We met a few years ago when you visited the ALC in Parramatta.”
“Yes. I recall meeting you.”
“I’ve been told that you have been of great assistance recently in Sturt N.P. And at the Baiame cave.”
“It has been my privilege.”
“We have another potential problem. Might you come out to our office to meet and discuss the issue?”
“When would be convenient?”