Faces of My Neighbour: Three journeys into East Asia
Collins, 312 p., $30.00
On page eleven of this book, Australians are called an engagingly innocent people ‘splendidly unthinking of anything but the simplicities of affluent living.’ On page twelve, they are called ‘lazy and uncreative’. On page 311, the author writes: ‘Yet in spite of a widespread belief (mainly self-generated) that we are a nation of yahoos, we have as much capacity for some unique kind of greatness as the people of any other race and nation.’
Maslyn Williams is a generous-spirited writer and an able observer of the Asian scene. I am not hunting for contradictions, and the thing is more subtle than I present it, but I cannot see how the lazy and uncreative, the splendidly unthinking materialists, can have a capacity for some unique kind of greatness. But I heartily agree that the concept of our yahoohood is a stupid and self-generated belief: having travelled perhaps no less widely than Mr Williams I have found no measurable difference between one people and another in this respect.