Friday, July 29, 2011


I've always been intrigued by manifestations of an everyday concept that can only be called relativity… although it has nothing to do with Einstein. I'm talking of the fact that an individual X might consider such-and-such a thing as important, whereas an individual Y might consider the same thing as trivial. That's to say, the thing is, or is not, important/trivial depending on the identity of its respective viewers. And that's why I suggest (rightly or wrongly, at a language level) that it's a case of relativity.

Ever since the inception of my Antipodes blog in December 2006 [display], its spirit has evolved constantly around the concept of an upside-down world in which certain folk seem to be walking on their heads… when viewed, that is, by folk on the other side of our conceptual planet.

I'm amazed whenever the ordinary universe reveals itself (above all, in the domain of quantum physics and cosmology) as extraordinary. Inversely, I'm amused when I see that dull phenomena (such as tourism in my native land) can be interpreted by their beholders as objects of planetary contemplation. I ask myself constantly: Why can't we all agree about what's important (and what's trivial), what's amazing (and what's run-of-the-mill), what's beautiful (and what's dull), what's precious (and what's cheap), etc.

Today, I'm convinced that this theme of everyday relativity is all-important, because it determines whether or not we're talking on the same wavelength, or even talking about the same issues. Back in 2006 in Sydney, I shall never forget the experience of describing with enthusiasm, to my uncle Peter and his wife Nancy Walker, the reasons why it was so fundamentally important for me to make this pilgrimage from France, back to Australia, to visit our ancestral Braidwood. After listening to my profound explanations, Peter said to me: "William, you must realize that nobody gives a screw about all that you've just been saying." I remember, above all, the term "screw", an euphemism for "fuck" (since Peter never used bad language). He was right, in his tiny narrow-minded way. But, in most ways, Peter was utterly wrong, for he had sadly misjudged (underestimated) what makes the world go round. In a nutshell: Our constant challenge of evaluating what went wrong in the past, and trying to improve things for the future. That, my dear ignorant uncle Peter, is what people have been giving countless literal fucks about for the last few billion years.

Sadly, I never saw Braidwood, because there was simply nobody to take me there. For me, this was a gigantic disappointment... which accounts for much of the distaste I now express for that silly sunburnt country and its people that I used to love.

This relativity theme is so huge that I've lost steam (in criticizing my uncle) before I even got started. I'll get back to it in later blog posts...

I've been talking on about anything and everything for years, in this Antipodes blog, designed to evoke interesting responses from those around me, particularly my genetic relatives. Well, in all that time, I continue to find it utterly amazing that this blog has never recorded a single instance of a significant reaction from any individuals in that "genetic relatives" category. It's as if they all signed off as soon as they saw the first words of Antipodes. In fact, I don't give a screw.


  1. Awesome post, thanks for the great read. I am bookmarking your blog. Love the layout by the way.


  2. Obviously, the comments of this Ricky robot are bullshit. I'm leaving them there to see if Google can catch the rodent.

  3. I think it's inevitable that there will always be relativity in what individuals value and hence regard as important. That's why the only person responsible for our prioritized wish-lists is ourselves. I'm bewildered why your priority in Oz was getting to Braidwood but you regard it as the fault of others that you didn't get there....Why not complete what was your mission not theirs by car/bus? an indifference to another's priorities is a human condition not a national one.

  4. Dear Cassmob: I'm happy to receive the comments of a genuine Queenslander such as yourself, deeply involved (like me) in genealogy. The fact that you're apparently settled in Darwin enhances the pertinence of your reactions, since I can hardly imagine any more Antipodean environment. Well yes, I can, but I'm sure you understand what I mean when I suggest that it's a gigantic gap between the Northern Territory and France. Which of us happens to be located in "the right place"? Now, that's such a ridiculous question (an unquestion), even when expressed rhetorically, that I hope you'll understand that I wasn't really serious in posing it. All I'm trying to underline is that, between the universe of our "grassroots Queenslanders" (my father was born in Rockhampton, but he didn't become a grazier until his married existence in Grafton, NSW), and that of my present existence in France, there are gigantic relativity challenges. Concerning my genealogical research, the allusion to Braidwood is explained at length in my monograph entitled A Little Bit of Irish [access]. Although I'm not basically a bitter individual, I realize that my failure to visit Braidwood, back in 2006, has stuck in my memory as a sad non-happening. The truth of the matter was that nobody was available to drive me there and back (although my sister had once promised to do so), and that public transport between Sydney and Braidwood didn't seem to exist. Now, concerning my present impressions of my native land, it's a fact that I find it difficult to "digest" (but nobody's asking me to do so) the overall complacency and lack of dynamism. But that's another huge subject…

    PS: I've been an admirer, for decades, of Mary Durack's marvelous Kings in Grass Castles.