Patrick White, Prodigal Son

To Patrick White

Did you find your roots?
You say Australian life ‘aquired a meaning’ in 1958, but the issues you describe are still present.  Most pockets of our society are infected by a tall poppy syndrome. We cherish the ‘bloke,’ ‘the underdog’ and cast aside the ‘intellectual’. As you believed  ‘in all directions stretched the Great Australian Emptiness,’ you were not talking about empty landscapes, but empty humans. As a writer of conflicted allegiances perhaps at this time, you did not think to scratch past the surface? Even I, an Australian born and bred, can see the ‘exaltation of average,’ but often I understand this to be humility or a surface value, and as you did say, we must strive to find the extraordinary behind the ordinary. You found the extraordinary in the world of plants and music and silence. But did you find the extraordinary in Australian society and in yourself?

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