michaelgriffith (michaelgriffith) wrote,

David Malouf visits homeless Clemente students at Mission Australia

David Malouf- my old teacher at Sydney University in the early seventies- agreed to come and speak to the handful of Clemente students studying "Remembering Babylon" as part of the Sacred Australia unit that I am teaching at Mission Australia in Surrey Hills. The book is such a beautiful celebration of the real importance of the marginalized to the health of the nation as a whole. Gemmy Fairley- as a result of his complex and traumatic experiences- brings to the coastal community of North Queensland an insight and understanding that many of us are in need of. Sadly the novel shows that only a few are capable of understanding and learning from Gemmy. The epigraph to the book - from William Blake- "whether this is Jerusalem or Babylon we know not"- is a sobering reminder of the key question we might ask about contemporary Australia: is this a place of potential harmony between human beings of all races ( a potential Jerusalem), or is it the place in which cacophonous voices of misunderstanding and hatred will continue and grow???? Malouf's answer to this implicit question is ambiguous. In a real way he leaves it up to the reader to decide whether the outcome of these events will be positive or negative. It is ultimately up to us whether it will be a Jerusalem or a Babylon. Here we are, arrayed around the literary master. Thank you all for taking part and for so eagerly bringing your questions to the exchange with David.


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