Many thanks for Ben Bland’s judicious and trenchant review of Hidden Hand: Exposing how the Chinese Communist Party is reshaping the world by Clive Hamilton and Mareike Ohlberg (ABR, September 2020). Sober but informed voices are acutely needed in this debate.
Kyle Wilson (online comment)
Thank you, thank you, thank you, James Ley (ABR, August 2020). I was beginning to think that nobody else could see the doom ahead with the changes that are escalating under the current federal government. I am in my late seventies, and my heart cries for this country as I watch it being decimated socially, culturally, and, it must be added, physically with fires and the absence of action on global warming.
The ignorance of those poor souls who consider their insistence on baring their faces during a pandemic greater than the need to have compassion for others is surely an early sign of what things will look like in the long term with the disintegration of critique and creativity in our society.
Lindy Warrell (online comment)
Music as a gateway
In Australia, the perception that classical music is the music of privilege has a genuine basis in the cost borne by parents for either private music lessons or private school fees. Instrumental music is the gateway for lifelong engagement with music as participants and audience members. The fact that it hardly features in our state school system, that there is nothing like the government support provided to sport for children, and that there is so little public pride in the achievements of our musical heroes leaves us behind many other developed countries, including both the United Kingdom and the United States.
David Malone (online comment)
In the United States we find ourselves with music education budgets being cut regularly and an emphasis on the STEM curriculum (science, technology, engineering, math). Efforts to add arts (STEAM) have not made much progress. We are ‘educating’ a generation whose only goal is to learn ‘useful’ skills and get a decent job. Arts and humanities are too often considered frivolous.
Al MacDonald, Denver, USA
A necessary fillip
It was heartening to read in your commentary ‘Thinking in Headlines’ (ABR, September 2020) that during the pandemic you are beginning each day with a different poem by Wallace Stevens – ‘a necessary fillip’, as you put it.
In my trauma practice, I have used lines or whole stanzas from poems to help repair people who have been traumatised. We learn how tender language generally improves information flow and enhances the chance of rational decision-making. I am not familiar with Stevens’s poetry, but some of his lines clearly offer a fork in the road and might lessen the focus on their trauma.
Similarly, your reference to Frank Kermode’s notion of banalisation (‘How many times can we speculate about what Covid clings to without going mad?’) challenges us to disrupt our gloom and to develop a more constructive, if not alternative, way of thinking. This is what poets such as Rosemary Dobson, David Campbell, David Malouf, and Peter Rose do endlessly. As Seamus Heaney wrote in his poem ‘Fosterling’, ‘So long for air to brighten, / Time to be dazzled and the heart to lighten.’
Roger Rees, Goolwa, SA