Di Morrissey deals with factors which contribute to the construction of Australian identity and our self concept.
Morrissey is an Australian author who deals with factors which contribute to the construction of Australian identity. The old challenges of the bush are contrasted to modernisation of the Australian world as she highlights issues that come with progress and how this underscores their effect on the way we live in Australia and abroad.
A well travelled woman, she is a much loved and well known Australian author. Many people listen to her books and some even act on the insights they gain from the narratives.
She is a skilled author whose power comes from skillfully easing the reader towards thinking about the history of Australia. Building from a place of empathy, she scaffolds through a series of insights to delve a little at a time into Australian self-conception of ‘place’ as it nestles within the broader International global economy.
The Subtlety of Di Morrissey’s Narrative Constructions
If you listen to Kimberly Sun, (2017) you will realise that the narrative steps the reader through issues such as family relationships, bonds built on connection with heritage and personal and family, history (and herstory) as it applies to White Australia, Indigenous Australia and the experience of Immigrant and Refugee Australia. As she does this, she provides glimpses of Australian history that offer a sketchy explanation about why things are as they are.
Here is an example of the way that Di talks to the reader about the concept of refugeeism without ever telling the reader what to think.
In Kimberley Sun, Morrissey builds a small sub plot around Farouz a camel driver. The friendly, loving old man is the perfect symbol of relating. The image of this character can be held close to the Australian heart, as the old Afghan Camel Drivers were loved figures of the settling Australian
bush. What works in the context of this novel is that the camel drivers were not only loved but they symbolised the bringing of much needed goods to the outback on a slow but regular basis. Farouz symbolises a contribution to Australia valued by all.
As the story unfolds, Farouz takes Sami, an inquisitive young Australian art historian, to meet an illegal refugee called Lila and in this way the scene has been set for a friendly old Australian didactic bush yarn.
Seek First To Understand
Lila’s story is entwined within the plot of the larger novel. The most instructional scene closes with Sami, a young woman who is a ‘bit over’ looking at the family history (at least up until now) bewildered and bemused ….
“But tears rolled down Sami’s face. It was the first time in her life that she had been so close to a personal story of such incredible agony. And she knew it was one of many. Something cracked in her. Some shell that had been protecting. a soft part of her inner most self was crushed, exposing her feelings to a fresh reality. Nothing in Sami’s own life now seemed so hurtful ,nor did she feel so vulnerable after hearing this story”.
The story has moved Sami away from needing someone to understand and sootheher own small hurts and she felt herself becoming more compassionate. As she listened she began to want to “give all she could” and her motive was to only “lessen the anguish on Leila’s face.”
How to Use This Material in the Classroom
Little wonder then, that I have chosen to use this didactic for classroom projects in the context of Global Citizen a Creative Arts Text soon to be released as an e-text book. It contains small class projects which can be of interest to History and English classes. They have been designed within the context of a Creative Arts structure.
As the resources build around the concepts outlined in Global Citizen, other resources such as Journey to Artistic Expression of Freedom will complement and augment the work that MS Morrissey has inspired
Although this project is didactic in nature, it is empowered by a spirit of inquiry rather than by a desire to preach. For at the end of the day – who really knows the right and the wrong of it all?
Dr. Demartini would call the confusion refuggeeism engenders “the self-righteousness and self-wrongness of it all.” (2002) The journey that Sami took in the course of one conversation was from a feeling of personal hurt towards a better more realistic placement of self into the matrix of a much bigger and seemingly
overwhelming problem. Paradoxically, through the ‘working around’ that occurred during the conversation, which on Sami’s part was an occasion of active listening, the problem became less
overwhelming. It moved from a bigger overwhelming situation of complexity to a simple act of kindness. This concerned act involved saying …”What can I do right here right now to be a positive player in this unfortunate International mess?” Resources:
- DeMartini,J.F. (2002) The Breakthrough Experience – Kindle eBook
- Morrissey,D. (2007) Kimberley Sun. (Kindle Edition.)
- Murphy,J. (2012) Journey to Artistic Expression of Freedom
- Murphy,J. (2012) Back Where You’re From – really?
- Murphy,J. (2011) Disturbing Cardboard Installations of Terry Summers
Copyright Jo Murphy