Nothing Is Simple

16 December 2008

Barbara Campbell wrote about the performance/time entry below, quoting this part:

Or those times in performance where you think for a moment that time has stretched or slowed, or that time was somehow stopped or had been forgotten but that now, in this moment only, it has started again, remembered.

She wrote:

Best thing on Australian television when I was growing up in the 1960s was a children’s program called The Magic Boomerang. I’m hoping (cause I wasn’t watching out for this as a kid) that the said boomerang was owned by an Aboriginal boy but what I remember well and loved most was that the performance of the world did stop when the boomerang was thrown, spinning seemingly endlessly in the air. And boomerangs being what they are do indeed draw a magical arc in the sky, a parabola where you seem to hold your breath until you see the forces of physics? spirits? take hold and turn that spinning thing around at which point you can exhale. The world would stop for everyone except the hero boy boomerang-thrower who was able to act quickly enough to get the good guys out of danger. Long live the deus ex machina.

Just more romantic remembering.

I wrote:

That’s a lovely image. Is all remembering romantic? No, I guess not. But there’s something about the fixed-ness of the past that lends itself to that – the past always allows us to fetishise the particularity of what was – in its beauty, force, awfulness or other qualities. I’m not sure that that’s romantic – strange the force of things we feel that we witnessed – even if it’s just the trope of a children’s TV show. these things have such presence in us. psychic landscape and all that.

She wrote:

Isn’t it this fetishisation of our memories (a very particular version of the past), childhood ones especially, that tends towards the romantic? But only if we never allow ourselves to challenge those memories. In this case, with the Magic Boomerang, it certainly needs challenging. Since writing to you about that show I’ve checked the website to find out more. As I half-suspected, the boomerang-throwing hero was not a young Aboriginal boy. From the synopsis: “Tom Thumbleton, a 13-year-old boy who lives with his parents on a sheep farm near the fictitious town of Gunnaganoo, finds a boomerang among some Aboriginal relics his great-great-grandfather left in the attic of their homestead.” Such a lot of brutal history barely hinted at in those simple sentences; it makes my stomach churn. The 45 episodes were aired in 1965-66, ie just months before the landmark 1966 referendum that gave Aboriginal Australians full enfranchisement. Before then, they were allowed to fight and die in our wars but had no voting rights nor were counted in any census. And this was the least severe of the injustices.

“strange the force of things we feel that we witnessed” – indeed. And the things witnessed as a child go beyond the psychic – encompassing the somatic, guiding us consciously, unconsciously, subconsciously towards what/who/where/if we will be.


Can I quote you on the boomerang? I’d love to add that text to the notebook.


Yes but given what I’ve said above, it would be necessary to include the qualifying background don’t you think? I know it rather undercuts the simple beauty of the magic boomerang but nothing is simple where Indigenous politics or history is concerned.