Whitefella Jump Up: The shortest way to nationhood (Quarterly Essay 11)
Black Inc., $12.95pb, 120pp
Peter Craven calls up an echo of W.B. Yeats’s ‘The Circus Animals’ Desertion’ at the conclusion of his introduction to Germaine Greer’s highly charged and instantly controversial essay Whitefella Jump Up. ‘It is an essay about sitting down and thinking where all the politics start,’ he writes.
Clever, because with that, suddenly, there we all are, caught in one of twentieth-century poetry’s most powerful injunctions, to sit – or lie – down, in Yeats’s foul rag and bone shop of the heart, in the place where all ladders start. This is not a place for disputes about footnotes, or for finessing modes of reconciliation. This is the place where we start again, from the ground up, start to rethink the way blacks and whites in Australia imagine their connection and their future together. The ladder? Built out of wits and a radical change of mind and heart.