Literary

The following essays were written in 2002 and 2003 for the Rocky Mountain Modern Language Association (RMMLA), a peer-reviewed scholarly conference. I presented these papers as an Independent Scholar on a panel on Australian Film.

Abstract 1 is a summary of The Aussie Battler: An Australian Myth or Fairytale a paper that explores its premise within the context of the hilarious Australian film The Castle.

Abstract 1

Since the Aussie battler is so often represented in Australian film–from Crocodile Dundee in the outback, to The Man From Snowy River in the bush, to The Castle’s Darryl Kerrigan in the urban center–it would seem Australians identify with the average working class bloke struggling to get ahead. Where myth tells the story of ostensibly historical events, the narration of which serves to keep the cultural identity alive, Australians’ association with battling makes sense. This is so because the colloquialism, “Aussie battler” encapsulates Australia’s ancestral struggle born out of convict beginnings, disproportionate losses to war, the emigrant ethos, and the largely inhospitable climate. However, transferred to the screen, the Aussie battler myth metamorphoses into virtual fairytale. This analysis will focus on The Castle, a satiric portrayal of the archetypal Aussie battler and his family. Darryl Kerrigan, the protagonist, becomes involved in a constitutional legal battle to save his home from compulsory acquisition. An unlikely legal outcome ensures that the classic fairytale happy ending results for our Aussie battler whose dream to save his home comes true. Where a fairytale is a made-up story, marked by luck, and or happiness, I will thus argue that the Aussie battler is a fast-fading mythical hero, who in reality is being decimated by the global corporate economy. The Castle as a virtual fairytale makes us feel good because Darryl appears to be safe from the instruments of capitalist power, yet the reality is the natural result of capitalism is that it eats its own.

Abstract 2 is a summary of  Innocence: Can a Septuagenarian Woman Embrace Forbidden Love Without Consequences? a paper that explores its premise within the context of Innocence, a Paul Cox film.

Abstract 2

Innocence is a thought provoking and confronting tale of love lost and found again.  This Australian film bravely veers from today’s bankable, box-office type by casting as its lovers a couple not in their lusty, gorgeous, youthful prime, nor even in their well-preserved mid years, rather Andreas and Claire are seventy-something with serious wrinkles and critical health conditions.  Claire’s heart is weak and Andreas has cancer.  Their love affair is thus all the more poignant with precious little time left. Not only is Innocence brave in casting two of Australia’s aged though great veteran actors as tender, passion-filled lovers, but Claire’s character also challenges deeply entrenched rules that have kept women of her generation in place and unhappy.  Claire is dissatisfied with her marriage but resigned.  Then she re-unites with Andreas, the lost love of her youth.  Andreas now widowed courts her again persuading Claire into a beautifully romantic, yet illicit and adulterous love affair.  Claire willingly embraces love again, but suffers the accompanying smorgasbord of conflicting emotions one might expect of a septuagenarian woman flagrantly defying the rules and roles which have defined her life.  Fortunately, or unfortunately, Claire does not have to suffer long the confusion her affair with Andreas causes her because her heart fails and she dies. Is Claire’s death a convenient screen solution to this love story made complicated by the generation of its lovers?  Or is Claire’s death the only way a woman of her age can find peace from the pain she has caused her husband, and from the poisonous guilt she thus carries into her love affair with Andreas?  I shall argue the latter suggesting that Innocence is indeed a brave movie that explores with dignity, poignancy, and great tenderness the ramifications of living life in one’s fragile years to the full.

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Pride and Joy: The Lives and Passions of Women Without Children by Terri Casey, is a collection of interviews with 25 women who have chosen not to have children – my story is one of those twenty five.

Review:

“This is an important, fascinating, and brave book. Women have been told how they must have children to be happy. Now here comes a book that shows how happy women can be without children. All of the women profiled are innovators, thinkers, risktakers who have listened hard to hear their own voice through the cultural din and not followed convention for convention’s sake. Each tells us that there are many ways to make the journey of life worthwhile.” — Pepper Schwartz, author of Love Between Equals: How Peer Marriage Really Works

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In 1990 I completed a graduate degree in Jungian Psychology, writing a Master’s Thesis titled, Clarification of Jung’s Concept of the Archetype. A hard copy of this document is filed in the library at Naropa University, Boulder, Colorado.

Thesis Abstract

A careful reading of Jung’s collected works reveals that his description of the archetype has four basic components:

1) The archetype occurs universally in humans with normal brains. Universality can also be inferred by the world-wide occurrence of symbols, myths, images and rituals.

2) The archetype is a metaphoric representation of the inherited facilitated emotional pathways. The symbol is not the archetype.

3) The archetype contains a necessary emotional reference which is in response to the existential issues of life.

4) The archetype is experienced in consciousness as projected affect-laden symbols or symbolized emotions.

Difficulties arise when one tries to identify specific examples of archetypes using Jung’s interpretation of his definition. Jung himself presented examples which contradicted his own definition thus confusing his theory and leading many to reject his entire notion of the archetype. Using only his basic definition, research from other schools of thought suggests that Jung’s notion of an innate archetypal structure is a valid and useful concept. In addition, by applying logical consistency, a fundamental principle of research methodology, to Jung’s fourfold definition, it is possible to identify archetypal references with universal significance. With the identification of non-cultural, and thus universal, examples, the clarity which has evaded Jung’s theory is granted.