Describe in a short paragraph the single most important insight or understanding that has come to you from your study of literature this week. If you can, say also, why your personal history has led you to this insight or understanding. Enjoy the challenge!
The different perceptions of what “beauty” is and the personal meaning that a landscape can have for an individual is a concept that became a significant part of my study of literature this week. The reason the word “beauty” is in quotation marks is the simple fact that there is no true meaning- it is completely subjective and dependant on ones own ideas, experiences, and the meaning they place upon a person, object or landscape.
The concept of perceptions of beauty is portrayed in Judith Wright’s Rockface (The Shadow of Fire: Ghazals, 1985) when she states, “I’ve no wish to chisel things into new shapes,/The remnant of a mountain has its own meaning.” This declaration demonstrates the significance of a landscape in itself rather than what can be taken from it, what its utilitarian purpose is. The word “chisel” is seemingly out of place in the poem, which focuses on nature and spirituality. Through this, it becomes clear that to “chisel” in this case, would be to interupt or destroy the beauty of the landscape in the same way that the word itself does not match the rest of the poem. The final line of the poem is also a reflection of the stories lost when European settlers destroyed much of the natural landscape, a large amount of culture being destroyed also. This idea is further explored through Kim Scott’s That Deadman Dance. The phrase that really resonated with me from the novel was when Bobby states, “We learned your words and songs and stories, and never knew you didn’t want to hear ours.” In a similar way that the the alteration of the mountain from Judith Wright’s poetry destroys the beauty, the goal of replacing Aboriginal culture with European culture that the settlers had, left Aboriginal peoples with disconnection and at a loss for meaning.
The perceptions of beauty in relation to the Australian landscape, somewhat surprised me as I have always held an appreciation for Australian flora and fauna due to the fact that my father grew up in the Blue Mountains and as I grew up, he took pleasure in taking my family bushwalking and pointing out the different features of the landscape. In fact, our front yard is the home to various Australian flora which greets me as I come home everyday. In the same way, I was incredibly surprised when out of the whole lecture, I was the one person who had heard of a scribbly-gum before! This just goes to show that, while on an incredibly smaller scale to that of Rockface and That Deadman Dance, the beauty of the Australian landscape is seen (or not seen) by each individual in a dramatically different perspective which leads to the creation of meaning based upon experience and opinions.