Month: August 2015

Be Happy: Leunig, Authenticity & Reality

Happy Clappy

Each time we discuss illusion and reality we return to the notion that money and success will not automatically lead to happiness. Which is all fine and well…but what, then, does lead to happiness?

Be Happy, an article on ‘Less Wrong’, which describes itself as a ‘blog community devoted to refining the art of human rationality’, brings together, in a nutshell, some thoughts on Materialism and being happy.

Cheerful to a Fault, by Alfie Kohn who writes widely on human behavior, education, and parenting, explores the negative implications of always being positive and cheerful. It echoes Leunig’s feelings in Lest We Forget: in “nicey-nicey land you must be happy-clappy and positive all the time – bad news is taboo.”

Living the Dreaming: Time, Authenticity & Leunig’s String of Pearls

It is always nice to come across a piece of writing that supports something I’ve felt and tried to convey to you all in class.

The other day, during our reading of ‘Grasping For Sacred Particles of Joy’ in The Lot I raised the notion of ‘time’ and we discussed the difficulty in thinking too much about what it is. But, essentially, in our lives we see time as linear. It moves from left to right, from the beginning to the end, from birth to death. The ‘passage of time’ idea feeds directly into the ‘life is a journey’ metaphor that dominates our reality.

Leunig explores and challenges the traditional view (the dominant view) that life, like time, is a journey that only travels in one direction, like a river. He creates the metaphor of the string of pearls – our lives end up becoming like “the coherent story of a life that might have looked good in a book or newspaper obituary” – and suggests that a good life is one that “has a pleasing lack of storyline.”

At the time I referred to the Indigenous Australian’s Dreaming and suggested that it deals with a completely foreign concept of time – there is no ‘back then’, but more of an ‘always was, is, and will be.’ I think I also referred to the ‘Glory Be’, which is part of the Prayers of the Rosary and conveys a similar concept:

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit.
As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.

Kurt Vonnegut, who Leunig refers to in Xenophobia and Memorabilia – and who you can find a little more about HERE – once said in an interview: “Nothing in this world is ever final – no one ever ends – we keep bouncing back and forth in time, we go on and on ad infinitum.”  In his novel Slaughterhouse Five Vonnegut often writes the phrase: “So it goes.” It is a nod to existentialist philosophy and the inevitably of death, especially amongst the backdrop of war. See if you can find Leunig’s homage to this phrase in one of his essays!

I thinkg that Leunig is trying to connect with the sense of infiniteness with his words: “There are no outskirts; it goes on and on,” (The Lot, p159) And it is a concept that is discussed in the article Is Your Future Already Decided?

But what do we make of this? What I want to do is simply draw your attention to an idea that is out there – one that Leunig draws upon, and that links to his view on the importance of Australian Indigenous culture.

But coming back the Dreaming. Some of you will be drawing upon Leunig’s view on the importance of nature and understanding our place in it, and so this piece, LIVING THE DREAMING, might be interesting.