Batty Broad Blathering

Germaine Greer’s just-published Quarterly Essay, Whitefella Jump Up, adds yet more credence to my theory that Greer has metamorphosised into a Barry Humphries creation: the eccentric old bluestocking aunt who loves to blather on in a colourfully opinionated, slightly shocking way about the great issues of the day. These, oddly enough, seem to always come back to the single greatest issue of all – herself. It’s kind of like a literary Tourette’s Syndrome aligned with the hectoring knows-bestism of a suburban domantrix – complete with nudie pix. The sort of rich, layered caricature that makes Edna Everage look one dimensional.

In Whitefella Germaine argues that Australian salvation can only be achieved through adopting “aboriginality” – or at least her somewhat unique interpretation of same. Greer’s aboriginality has less to do with race and genetics, it’s more about mindset – her’s, lest there be any doubt.

To precis, Anglo-Celt invaders disrupted the Edenesque idyll that was Australia and have separated people from empathetic communion with the land ever since. We are meant to be a hunter-gatherer culture according to Greer, nature thus intended it and thus it must be. We will never find peace, enlightenment or relief from buffle grass invasion until we accept that basic fact. Nor will Greer herself return to live amongst us permanently until we make it so. This was possibly the only encouraging insight offered.

Greer’s is an equal opportunity assault. Aboriginals themselves aren’t “aboriginal” at all in the Greerite sense. They’ve lost it in a misguided attempt to escape their destiny. Greens need not get excited either. Their’s is a foolish crusade to evade Mother Nature’s dictatorial will. Australians of Asian ancestry – and indeed any ancestry other than Anglo-Celtic – will find an equality of sorts in their utter absence from Greer’s narrative. They simply don’t exist. In fact I was left with the distinct impression that Greer’s vision of Australia ceases to evolve around 1960. Her major focus (if I might over-generously term it that) is on the Anglo-Celtic ascendancy that has tried – and deservedly failed – to create the sort of modern, urbanised nation-state that is anathema to hunter-gatherer culture aficionados everywhere.

This is the sort of self-indulgent “natural man” nostalgia-wallowing that makes Jean-Jacques Rousseau look uberhip, cutting edge. Here’s Germaine on her “adoption” by Kulin aboriginal women:

Though I can claim no drop of Aboriginal blood, twenty years ago Kulin women from Fitzroy adopted me. There are whitefellas who insist that blackfellas don’t practise adoption; all I can say is that when I asked about the possibility of assuming Aboriginality, the Kulin women said at once, “we’ll adopt you.” “How do you do that?” I asked, hoping I wouldn’t be required to camp in some bleak spot for a month or two and be painted or smoked or cut about. “That’s it, ” they said. “It’s done. We’ve adopted you.”

You’d like to think that the Kulin women laughed like drains when Germaine drifted off but they were probably more likely to have been moderately despondent at the bewildering behaviour of whitefellas…..as usual.

Here’s a link to Greer’s interview with Jana Wendt on 9’s Sunday

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EvilPundit
2022 years ago

It almost saddens me to see the great misandrist humiliating herself like this.

Almost.

Dave Ricardo
Dave Ricardo
2022 years ago

Get to the point Geoff. Is her essay any good or not?

Jim
Jim
2022 years ago

Geoff,
That’s given me a good laugh on an otherwise tedious Friday afternoon!
Well done!

Patrick
2022 years ago

I heard her being interviewed on Radio national, and came to the same conclusion.

She seems to think that modern Australia is exactly the same as when she was growing up in the 1950s, and hence it is 50 years behind England where she now lives.

And that 20 million Australians should now become hunter gatherers.

Yobbo
Yobbo
2022 years ago

I’m interested to find out what role Germaine herself would play in this hunter-gatherer utopia. From what I know of primitive societies, old boilers who didnt wish to cook or clean and were incapable of bearing children weren’t of particularly high value. We’d probably have to leave her to be eaten by dingoes.

James Russell
2022 years ago

Yobbo! What a horrible thing to do to the poor dingoes!

Scott Wickstein
2022 years ago

She’s not very appetising, is she?

Geoff Honnor
Geoff Honnor
2022 years ago

Well she’s profoundly anti-modern and in that sense I guess she’s following a logical trajectory – of sorts. Her broad theme over the last couple of decades has been relentlessly backwards looking to a more natural golden era where, for instance, women were fecund, baby-making machines: kind of Mother Earth incarnate. Her detestation of innovation – IVF etc – probably has a natural culmination in the sort of crackpot nostalgia she advances in her Whitefella agenda.

I find her treatment of modern aboriginal aspirations – as being somehow “wrongheaded” – every bit as offensive as her insistence on “discovering” aboriginality – and defining it solely in her terms. Her apparent lack of insight into that is truly bloody breathtaking.

There’s nothing brave or particularly innovative about advocating a return to the past, though few would argue for the sort of revisionism that involves the erasure of 2,000 years of human development. The fact is, it doesn’t work in practical terms. Human engagement is evolutionary, not static. The challenge is to adapt, not to retreat into fantasy.

Graham
2022 years ago

Mutant Message Redux, anyone?

Nick Short
Nick Short
2022 years ago

Firstly I ask how many people on this message board have actually read Germaine’s article? I admit I have not, but what I read here is a personal attack on the woman not a critque of her argument.
What Greer has done is address probably the most important question for Australia. Rather than comment, argue and formulate alternatives to Greer’s thesis people are keen to attack her and worse hide behind these attacks instead of addressing the needs of real people in an exciting country. Why? Greer is an Australian and pround of it. This is the reason I suggest she feels the need for Australia to come to terms with itself. Is Australia pround of the slogan,’the country that got away with apartheid’ that many in the rest of the world give it?
Far from Greer being stuck in a mindset of the 50’s or 60’s it is those people believing that Australia is politically comfortable that are. Surely it is time that the (westernised) country grew up and took the opportunity to become a republic where everyone is treated the same with the same potential in life despite there race, colour, religion or background being a hindrance. So far Germaine Greer’s paper (even with its few faults) is the only piece of sensible discussion I have heard of or read that puts a case forward to how a free and fair Australia should be.

Norman
Norman
2022 years ago

The problem is, Nick, that if you restricted yourself to discussing greer’s worthwhile “ideas”, with some of her efforts, you’d do what I have till this post, i.e., say nothing. I’ve occasionally posted a defence of SOME of her suggestions but, even with the best of goodwill, there has to be a limit.

Nick Short
Nick Short
2022 years ago

What I’m am trying to get across is that yes perhaps some Greer’s arguements in this case are a bit extreme and possibly unworkable(I don’t know, still yet to read the article – currently in UK and not due out here until June) but that doesn’t make them invalid when trying to find away forward for Australia in the 21st Century, which desperately needs to happen.
And since the media in Australia is so one-sided (including the ABC which is not allowed a completely independent voice) we need people like Greer and other non ‘mates’ to be included in the debates and influencing the future of Australia rather than just rubbishing them on a personal note. This will give credibility as there will a balance in views rather than the same old Murdoch/Packer/Govt spin on how things were and should be in the future. The current climate seems to be one of following the ‘mates” views and therefore dismissing the likes of Greer et al as ‘mad’, ‘extreme’, ‘disloyal’, ‘unAustralian’ as this is what the ‘mates’ smear anyone who disagrees with them as.

Geoff Honnor
Geoff Honnor
2022 years ago

Nick, you do need to read the Quarterly Essay at issue. Germaine is the definitive Great Contrarian and her Whitefella Jump Up contribution is entirely indicative of that approach – one that’s ultimately non-productive. The, “I really hope I’m shocking you now,” approach is mildly entertaining in the immediately post-pubertal. In sexagenarians, it’s tragic.

And no worthwhile Australian critique of her that I’ve read goes anywhere near allegations of “disloyalty” or “unAustralian.” it’s entirely her own self-indulgent fantasy. Australians don’t resent expatriation per se. It’s been a fact of life in this country since 1788 and it’s a fundamental feature of our culture.

She romanticises her claimed ‘permission’ from indigenous Australians to return here: no such entitlement has been sought or received, nor has she ever been able to substantiate her absurdly overblown pretensions to kinship with indigenous people. Those who do live here and who do deal with the mind-boggling challenges that confront indigenous people find her, Rousseau-meets-Lady Bracknell, posturing, mildly offensive – if they can be bothered noticing it at all.

I put her Australian sociocultural analysis into the Robert Hughes box: “I’ve lived most of my life outside Australia but given my celebrity, I claim the right to interpret latter day Australian realities largely through the prism of my unsatisfactory adolescent experience.” Yeah, well whatever……

Norman
Norman
2022 years ago

Comparison with Rousseau, Lady Bracknell and Robert Hughes in one brief item, would normally be seen as somewhat unkind, Geoff; but in this case, you’ve let her off kindly.

Nick
Nick
2022 years ago

Having now read the essay and attended Greer’s lecture at the RSA last night I really cannot see what the problem is with her thesis. She is only commenting on the people she knows about – her own, the Australia ‘whitefella’. She genuinely seems to want to improve the country from where it is currently. She even accepts that people may disagree with her but all she seems to want is a mature discussion on the subject. Greer isn’t all that interested in mulling over the past either, she in fact wants to look at the future rather than debating what has happened. She is starting from an angle of this is where Australia is, what can be done to improve the nation and the peoples’ lives from what it is now. Let’s sit up and take notice of these arguments I for one agree with her, but the debate has to be taken seriously and others must step up to the mark to discuss in an adult way. Lets’ hope that Whitefella Jump Up becomes as seminal to Australia’s future as The Female Eunoch was to the future of the sexes was.

Ken Parish
Ken Parish
2022 years ago

Nick,

If you genuinely think Greer’s hypothesis is worth taking seriously, you’re probably beyond rational debate. But just in case I’m wrong and you’ve merely been temporarily taken in by the mass hysteria of the occasion, you might like to read this longer post I wrote about “White Fella Jump-up”.

Ken Parish
Ken Parish
2022 years ago

Actually I just re-read Greer’s interview with Andrew Denton, and I find myself mostly agreeing with this statement she makes about whitefellas and Aborigines:
Well, I’m saying, “Think.” Think about different ways of doing things. Think about a different set of priorities. We keep raising”

trackback
2022 years ago

Give them Enough Rope and they’ll show their colours

THOSE of you unlucky enough to catch Germaine Greer on Andrew Denton’s Enough Rope on ABC TV last night must read Geoff Honnor’s preemptive strike on the batty broad before it is too late. As an aside, Denton’s choice of interviewees is an instructive …

trackback
2022 years ago

Our Germs gets a gong

Australia is such a small country that, whenever any Australian gets noticed for anything we all tend to feel a glow of vicarious achievement[1]. So I was pleased to see that Germaine Greer was ranked second in a Prospect…

trackback
2022 years ago

Our Germs gets a gong

Australia is such a small country that, whenever any Australian gets noticed for anything1 we all tend to feel a glow of vicarious achievement. So I was pleased to see that Germaine Greer was ranked second in a Prospect magazine…