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The Accommodation of Ada Cambridge single work   criticism  
Issue Details: First known date: 2007... 2007 The Accommodation of Ada Cambridge
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'The reading of Ada Cambridge's fiction described in this paper is part of a pursuit of an undercurrent in Australian self-representations of what I can perhaps best describe as a strain of ontological doubt - doubt not about what it means to be Australian so much as about what it might mean, in Australia, to be. As is to be expected, intimations of this uncertainty - not quite an idea, nor yet an emotion, nor a self-consistent state - emerge first in colonial writings, often around the figure of disappearance, or of being invisible. They concern the intersubjective European response to Australian space, the sense that to live in the antipodes was not merely to live, in the world's terms, an eclipsed and therefore insignificant life - that much was obvious - but was to be silent, invisible, not to signify: semiotically speaking, to cease to be. One associative consequence of this sense is the thought that antipodean space is itself liminal, para-real, otherworldly. Such an imaginary landscape is of course both constructed by and significantly constructive of any sense of being-yet-not-being in the world. The doubt of which I speak is ideological only in the sense that it emerged in the colonies as part of the imaginary relation to the real condition of inhabiting Australian space, as an element in what we might call the colonial imaginary. It was never programmatically imposed to serve hegemonic interests; to the contrary, it served no interest at all. Its emergence can be compared to the formation of a national accent, in that both are more or less apparent but quite unintended and uncontrolled consequences of establishing a new society. Perhaps, in the context of our conference topic, this idea might be imagined as the shadow of the fear of meaninglessness, stretching itself across colonial attempts to make newly claimed spaces, and lives in those spaces, meaningful.' (Author's abstract p. 71)

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