The call of salt: white Australian writing and anxieties of landscape. A creative writing Thesis.
2017-02-27T23:43:44Z (GMT) by
‘The Call of Salt’ offers an account of the tensions of belonging experienced by white Australians. It follows the story of the people of the fictionalised Chesil Island, set off the southern coast of Australia. The novel is written from the perspective of Hannah, a local to the Island. A teacher, Hannah is forced to witness as a young girl in her class falls pregnant and is heralded by the local priest as the Virgin Mary reborn. As the Immaculate Conception, her pregnancy provides an opportunity for religious tourism which is taken up by the locals. Now living in the city, Hannah reflects on the events that followed. Implicated as the silent onlooker, Hannah writes in the attempt to come to terms with Mary’s eventual disappearance; but also with the death of her own mother and the redefinition of self thus provoked. Serving as the centre-point for the narrative, Hannah’s voice moves into and re-imagines multiple other points of view, an act which both appropriates and reconfigures events from the community’s past as central to her own relationship with the island as a place. Creating a disjointed and fragmented narrative, the novel attempts to contrast the anxieties of landscape felt by white Australians to the power of the social structures of rural community, pointing to an ongoing heritage of colonial development. My writing is deeply concerned with white Australian constructions of landscape and the predominance of the subject-object relationship in representations of land. The exegesis situates this novel against a reading of landscape in contemporary white Australian literature. It asks questions of how as a white Australian author I utilize poetic language to express a connection with landscape, and highlights the philosophy of Etienne Souriau. Souriau’s existential pluralism provides a potential avenue for a writing style which moves outside the subject-object relationship, taking up a non-reductive understanding of the modes of existence present within the creative work. The exegesis picks up on his concept of instauration as suggesting the ontological movement into being and therefore describing the creative process. It illustrates the manner in which the writing of ‘The Call of Salt’ has been shaped by this philosophy and draws attention to a strain of Australian cultural studies attempting to move in a similar direction.