David Jones, artist and poet (1895-1974) begins his PREFACE TO THE ANATHEMATA :

'I have made a heap of all that I could find.' (1) So wrote Nennius, or whoever composed the introductory matter to Historia Brittonum. He speaks of an 'inward wound' which was caused by the fear that certain things dear to him 'should be like smoke dissipated'. Further, he says, 'not trusting my own learning, which is none at all, but partly from writings and monuments of the ancient inhabitants of Britain, partly from the annals of the Romans and the chronicles of the sacred fathers, Isidore, Hieronymous, Prosper, Eusebius and from the histories of the Scots and Saxons although our enemies . . . I have lispingly put together this . . . about past transactions, that [this material] might not be trodden under foot'. (2)

(1) The actual words are coacervavi omne quod inveni, and occur in Prologue 2 to the Historia.
(2) Quoted from the translation of Prologue 1. See The Works of Gildas and Nennius, J.A.Giles, London 1841.


12 July 2009

Words and Silk: The Imaginary and Real Worlds of Gerald Murnane

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In recent months there have been revival celebrations for two Australian films: Bert Deling's Pure Shit (1975) and Ted Kotcheff's Wake in Fright (1971).

Adrian Martin lists Philip Tyndall's Words and Silk : The Imaginary and Real Worlds of Gerald Murnane (1988) in his top 10 Australian films. Despite this, and despite this film receiving awards at several festivals overseas, it has never been screened at any major Australian film festival.
In the recently published Oxford Companion to Australian Film (Oxford University Press, 1999), Philip Tyndall's Words and Silk: The Imaginary and Real Worlds of Gerald Murnane (1990) - one of my all-time favourite Australian films - does not rate a mention. This is sadly symptomatic of how strange, unique, unclassifiable works tend to go underground rather speedily in Australia.
Adrian Martin, March 2000 : full article here
Gerald Murnane has been nominated for the Nobel Prize; has received the Patrick White Award (1999); a Special Award at the New South Wales Premier's Literary Awards (2007) and an Australia Council Emeritus Award (2008).
Murnane has been the subject of a film and various critical studies but his work is better known in Sweden than it is here. He is an advocate for both the prominence of Australian Literature and the Australian landscape within it and his work can be read as one large story that folds upon itself, seeking always greater and greater detail. His fictive terrain is called ‘the plains’ – an imaginary place that exists simultaneously at the edges of his sight and deeply inside his mind.
Extract from the Judges' Comments at the 2007 New South Wales Premier's Literary Awards.
It seems worth noting therefore that Words and Silk has just received it's first ever Sydney screening
, at the unreviewed avoiding myth & message: Australian artists and the Literary world (below) at the Museum of Contemporary Art.



Also in the exhibition, for Murnane fans, are the script and poster ticket for the 1990 performance The Literature Club.

1990_The Literature Club_poster ticket _400w

Gerald Murnane in a scene from Words and Silk.
(photo by David Petersen)

Gerald Murnane looks at a mini racecourse_310x473