Glenn McPherson – Guest Editor
There you are on the beach; a summer holiday like no other. Your children play in the water, deciphering the messages of waves by weight, noise, and that colossal size which accompany cries of excitement-filled terror. In the cove, where you sit, there it is safe. The surreptitious whimper of the water could be placatory or sinister.
Your children find, here, a mass of small jellies, drifted in on the current. At first they are cautious, maybe even scared; but once curiosity takes hold and the brave one reaches out to pick one up, they are assiduous in discovering its language; what it eats, where it lives, what it’s super powers are. An older guy, a stranger, ambles over to you where the children are playing. ‘Salps’ he says. ‘They eat the phytoplankton blooms…’ You meet a new person and share in the joy of communication.
John Donne famously states:
No man is an island,
Entire of itself.
He wrote these words nearly four-hundred years ago. During his time there was British Civil war on the horizon, religious factions that were steeply divided. Later in the century the Bill of Rights and the glorious revolution would legitimise Parliamentary oversight. What a time to be alive! It is astonishing to consider what the current draws in. All these years later, we have so much communication; so much ‘knowledge’ at our fingertips. There is perhaps an occasion to pause for thought and consider if anyone is listening. Isolation allows for permanence. This is an historical truth. What do we keep hold of? What do we cast adrift? How do we communicate with the unknown? How important is listening? These are questions of communication. We will listen well for the beauty of their utterance in this edition.
The first piece here, aims to create something multigenerational – from younger to older. We are all included in the communication process and not ‘islands’ unto ourselves. The opportunities for truly integrated communication are rare and I wanted to highlight what was once commonplace. Factionalism and tribalism are the ‘taste du jour’. We have age groups, in the classroom context; churches are often demographic based, and social identity represent markers of allegiance. Where is the individual’s voice?
I also wanted a physical dimension (as opposed to online communication) to concrete the piece and to consider – how much of a person needs to be present for a conversation? The young children are hyper tactile and physical, the older gentleman more circumspect and distant, but still friendly. Including the short descriptive piece, followed by an historical connection, invites us to consider the immutable challenges of communication for all concerned; and the different strengths of communication we each have, if one is perceptive enough to find them.
Finally, the forms are very different; so too, communication. How has language changed through time? How important is context and should the form of communication weigh heavily upon its interpretation? Whether this brief discourse prompts these ideas or not, one cannot help but to sense the value of the words of John 1, “In the beginning was the Word…” Words, and communication in all their forms are of primary importance!
In This Edition…
In Conversation With Dr Mark Tredinnick
Dr. Tredinnick has published over two-hundred written works, won many prestigious literary prizes, has taught poetry and expressive writing at the University of Sydney, and has become a passionate teacher of literature and advocate of ecology.