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Sunday, January 13, 2013

A History Talks issue 4 Vol. 1 by John Tognolini

Quotes from David Ireland, Australian writer 1927-

David Ireland is a three time winner of the Miles Franklin Award for The Unknown Industrial Prisoner, 1971, The Glass Canoe, 1976 and A Woman of the Future, 1979. A Woman of the Future, also won the Age Book of the Year Award 1980

The Chantic Bird 1968
If there is no other life, why is this one so lousy?

The Unknown Industrial Prisoner 1971

We know that man is alienated from his true function, but what is he? What is his true function? That is the hardest question. What should he do? What should he try to be?

The purpose of a job is to keep you off the street. It’s still a penal colony. All the thousands of

"Your push is what makes the wheel turn. Without your shove there is no system....


A pay packet stops you form dying, it doesn’t teach you how to live....

Now take my case. I’m twenty-nine and have two brothers—one in the Liberal Party and one serving six years for rape and arson. My sister Peg is on the streets and Dad lives off her earnings. Mum is pregnant by the boarder and because of this Dad won’t marry her. Last night I got engaged to an ex-prostitute and I wish to be fair to her: should I tell her about my brother in the Liberal Party.

Be not led into the wretchedness of right conduct.

The Glass Canoe. 1976

Never be ashamed of being Australian’ he’d say. ‘There’s plenty just as bad as you in the world. The Australian just wants to be left alone, he doesn’t want to hear nasty things or be bothered by politics, he’s not ambitious, he doesn’t want to much fun, look at the bar.

We started of in chains, we do our best when we are not pushed, we pay back a good turn, say no to authority and upstarts, we’re casual, we like makeshift things, were ingenious practical, self reliant, good in emergencies, think we are as good as anyone else in the world and sympathise with the underdog.

And on the bar, as at the edge of an ocean or the banks of a river, I saw empty rows of glasses being filled; those frail glasses men commit themselves to, some days floating calmly out into broad reaches of water between sympathetic shores and willows and friends and waving picnickers on the banks, and other days whipping dangerously around a sudden bend towards nervous shallows and sharp aggressive rocks.

And now and then, as they drank deeply, they saw in the bottom of the glass, not the face of a man they knew, but the monster that was within waiting and all to willing to be released.

Democracy is not for people who just want to be left alone, so long as they do what there told and don’t answer back. The key people in the democratic process are the critics, dissenters, reformers. If their sealed off from the political process, the system grows tired and sick, and turns into something else.

She’s not a bad little thing the Queen. I wish the sluts round here could hold their grog that well.




A Woman of the Future, 1979


It is a continent of dreams we inhabit, a waiting continent. All who have set foot in the bush, its lonely places, know the silence. The continent is dreaming. We have felt it and been afraid, and turned to trivial things, and retired to the outer rim as if to depart. Everyday the quiet tides darkness roll over us from the menacing interior…

They take refuge in tight settlements on the least inhospitable edge of the continent. The interior remains unsubdued and empty because they don’t know what to fill it with; they neither have the energy or the fierceness to subdue it….

I speak to you, because you will be the future citizens of whatever class. Where is your sense of achievement? Where is your sense of responsibility? You act if you must work because penalties await you if you don’t,you speak as if today was unbearable, and tomorrow will hopefully, not exist . You have no dream just a national sleep.

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