'Cultures and worldviews are inscribed by means of "writing" or what Derrida calls "the perdurable inscription of a sign" (Of Grammatology). A sign is the union between signifier and signified. The signifier may be natural (clouds indicate that it is going to rain) or artificial.
All cultures are made up of relations that stay at the level of signs, that is, everything that belongs to culture is empirical and conventional. In this regard, both Aboriginal and Western culture remain at the same level. Moreover, both cultures produce objectivity by means of contrast and experimentation, in the design of a sharp object, for example an arrow or a knife. In Ancient Greece, Havelock contends that the invention of writing dramatically increased the possibilities of objective thought (The Muse Learns To Write), but it also created a logic of binaries that transcended the objectivity of science and transpired into the ideology behind colonialism.
In this context, the role of writing is analysed in David Malouf's Remembering Babylon. How does writing affect Gemmy all throughout the book? Already in the first Chapter, the teacher and the minister of the colony analyse Gemmy "in writing". Gemmy knows what writing is but hasn't learnt its 'trick': he does not know how to read or write. All he can see is that what he tells about his life, all his pain and suffering, is translated into marks and magic squiggles on the paper: only the spirit of the story he tells is captured. But little by little, the cognitive effects of writing get hold of Gemmy, until he starts to understand his life within the framework of the logic of binaries and identity upon which all reflective thought and science rest.
All in all, this deconstructive reading can be seen as a critique of Europe's modern idea of the autonomy of reason, in the name of a heteronymous rationality in the form of writing.
In this text we analyse the leap that goes from orality to writing in the context of postcolonial Aboriginal Australia. The thesis is that the transformation that goes from myth to logos, or from primitive to civilised cultures is a linguistic revolution: the discovery of writing and, more particularly, of alphabetic writing. The theoretical standpoint from which we are going to carry out this analysis revolves around Havelock's The Muse Learns to Write, which is a study of the role of writing at the origin of Western philosophy and science, and Derrida's Of Grammatology and Speech and Phenomena. In the light of these authors, we are going to analyse some passages that deal with writing in David Malouf's Remembering Babylon. In the course of our analysis, we are going to ask ourselves some questions about the essence of language and about the role it plays in the construction of the physiognomy of cultural identity.' Source: Carles Serra Pagès.
In English, Catalan and Spanish
Catalan version Translated by Bill Phillips
Spanish version Translated by Laura López Peña
'This is the transcription of an interview with Gloria Montero, recorded on May the 20th, 2008, at Gloria’s home in Barcelona.' (Introduction)
'L.K. Holt does not wear her learning lightly, and unless her intention is simply to impress with evocative terms and exotic references, she presumably expects her readers to do some heavy duty investigative work on Google. The first poem in the collection, “Man is Wolf to Man” depicts man’s bestial violence, a violence that seems biologically determined, or divinely ordained: “A man hangs / like an amulet. His death to counter- / weight the deaths by his hand, / assuming God has a sense of balance.” The enjambment of counter- / weight dividing His death from deaths by his hand, although predictable, is nonetheless effective, but the following line, “The skeleton in the sand of Ash Sham” sends us scurrying to discover that Ash Sham is another name for Damascus. Further enquiry reveals that in the twelfth century there was indeed a man of violence, Reginald of Chatillon-sur-Marne, a Frankish crusader, known as “The Wolf” by the afflicted Damascenes. Is this what she is referring to? But surely a crusader would not have worn a “Shirt unbuttoned / to show a cage of sand, the blindfold / blown off his three eyeholes.” No, she must be referring to the murder of a hostage by terrorists, or perhaps the victim of a CIA operation. Who knows? Is this our task as readers, to try and find out?' (Introduction)
'‘Australia and Galicia: Defeating the Tyranny of Distance’ aims to fill a niche in scholarship of Australian and Galician relations. It includes contributions from authors from both antipodes, focusing on a variety of themes, in order to demonstrate their common past, present and future. The prologue, by Secretary of Immigration Manuel Luiz Rodriguez Gonzalez highlights a primary goal of the book, to inspire further conversation and knowledge. The historical and contemporary perspectives attempt to highlight the extensive relationship between Galicia and Australia, to demonstrate that despite great distances and differences, collaboration between cultures is possible. Together with the literary views, they highlight common experiences, values and characters, despite their contradictory and shifting identities and contexts.' (Introduction)
'The Good Parents (2008) is Joan London’s second novel. Her published works include two collections of short stories, Sister Ship (1986) awarded with the Age Book of the Year, and Letter to Constantine (1993), winner of the Steele Rudd Award and Western Australian Premier’s Book Award for Fiction. Her first novel, Gilgamesh (2001), also won the Age Book of the Year for Fiction in 2002. With these credentials, one expects to find in The Good Parents a fine novel, and London does not disappoint us.' (Introduction)