Love can be many things, and there are We can bypass the rationality of thinking many dangers. Holding hands may not be or feeling and operate on impulse or love all the time, but a picture of George emotion—but more of that later. W Bush hand-in-hand with a Saudi prince It’s clear, in any case, that in this techno- caused some consternation recently. Per- logical age, communication is a byword. haps the US President is expected to model Mobile phones, iPods, laptops and the like a more circumscribed, tougher view of life. foster impressions of ceaseless activity and While this behaviour is culturally approp- exchange of ideas, or words and images, riate in the Middle East (much as express- at any rate. Advertisements encourage the ing laughter, but meaning disapproval, in successful business person to be plugged an Asian courtroom; or the disapproval of in or otherwise connected in taxis, patios emotion in courtrooms just about every- and aeroplanes. where), hearing about these things on the Somewhat curiously, Australians are now radio might be fraught with danger, as far lauded as hard workers, whereas a decade as understanding goes, at least. ago we were excoriated for sloth. So far, Not everyone has that aim, of course, for no-one has sought to explain this apparent a variety of reasons. The same can be said contradiction, nor to suggest that working of the visual media, particularly in this age hard might not be a good idea in terms of of ‘celebrity’: a title that one can acquire real productivity, as criteria other than long pretty quickly these days, irrespective of hours and sweat come into play there. other characteristics. We are also considered the Lucky Country One of the curiosities in the reporting of and the Clever Country, notwithstanding the last days of the arch-celebrity Pope the sardonic origins of the former, and the John Paul II was the differing levels of introduction of the latter as something for knowledge of what the Pontiff and his Australians to aspire to, not something we organisation actually do, and what they might already be. believe in. This resulted in some uneasy With regard to these labels and their real on-camera moments for some reporters, meanings, perhaps that’s where the phil- clearly sent to Rome with no knowledge osopher Harry Frankfurt comes in (2005). or ability other than standing in front of Bullshit may be the opium of the day, an historical landmarks. Their information obfuscatory practice that treats all inform- was limited, and sometimes inaccurate. ation the same, in that it’s only useful to Information does not necessarily lead to defend your turf. facts, or to truth for that matter. And facts The scandal concerning the practices of are not necessarily of interest—not even the surgeon Jayant Patel at Bundaberg for sensing types—unless they fit with Hospital appears replete with collusion and conscious experience. For intuitives, well, Peter Geyer (INTP) researches and avoidance, and even denial of facts, from there’s the vision. teaches personality from an MBTI people presenting as STJs, from what I’ve and Jungian perspective. Knowledge and development overlap these read. Of course, if conventional behaviour approaches. For information to make sense is to obscure and hide, and even to bullshit, there has to be a context in which the facts then other principles such as responsibility are recognised and decisions can be made. and duty can go by the wayside. For some people, idleness appeals more Perhaps it’s also like being on the phone, than productivity or running around being or at the airport, particularly the latter, when active (Hodgkinson, 2004). Whatever one a disembodied voice thanks you for your might think of that (and Tom Hodgkinson patience. This statement seems to magic- points to the moral opprobrium heaped on ally absolve the organisation concerned idlers of various sorts over the past two from meeting basic standards of efficiency, centuries or so), a non-idle world is with- fixing the problem quickly, or providing out reflection and contemplation. Action some sort of meaningful assistance to without ideas seems rather meaningless to customers or clients. me, and I would think it unhelpful in gen- Implicit in this sort of thing is the presump- eral. But there are other views. tion that one listens and accepts what has The 24/7 world conjured up by technology been said, and doesn’t look for facts, or also has its leakages. Recently, commun- principles. One opinion might be as good ication between my iMac and hp printer as another, something that would confuse was halted by something called Error 87, both Isabel Briggs Myers and C G Jung the provenance of which was unknown to were they around today, as both showed both my available information and the an intense interest in facts, expressing that mysterious call centre I had to contact in interest in their writing and work. Bangalore, India, in order to get help. Asking for evidence seems a vexed quest- I rang up the genial men and women of ion these days, and it’s easy to get into Bangalore several times over an afternoon, trouble. The recent re-ascent of Gallipoli providing opportunities for them to practise as a defining myth for Australian identity their English and discover differences in is a case in point. Participants in this mili- cultural etiquette. Regrettably, the various tary event are now presumed to have fought bits of advice I received failed (essentially for altruistic and noble reasons such as lib- the same advice recycled), until one call erty, rather than for the reality of Empire, after 6pm provided the unwelcome news much as Australians did in the Boer War. that the centre was only available between You can check this out by taking a cruise 8am and 6pm Monday to Friday, as was along country roads to seek out memorials the online help. All this seemed incompat- to the Boer War and the Great War, even ible with hp corporate vision as expressed of Gordon at Khartoum, and read what they in their advertising. say. This is not to deny notions of military My problem was mysteriously solved just bravery pro patria sua—simply that the by being out of the office, as the printer reasons for being brave, or simply serving functioned perfectly a few days later. But in the armed forces at that time, are different I’m none the wiser; there seems to be no from what is currently expressed. They list of errors and their descriptions, which are consistent, though, with what has been seems strange to me. You see them on your said by centenarians and others who were computer quite regularly. Some have four veterans of these long-ago events. numbers, so there must be a lot of them. In purveying the modern myth (sometimes You’d think that if the system identified celebrated complete with music video an error, it might be able to describe it in entertainment), excursions to history texts some way, and a solution would follow. to discover facts are necessarily avoided. But the best recommendation I had was to In popular English history, the myth of ‘Google it’ and hope someone else had the Charles II as the ‘Merry Monarch’ con- same problem and had solved it. I found tinues, notwithstanding the reality of a someone with the same problem—but no cunning and devious man not wishing to solution. I can’t believe that a major ind- go on his travels again, as he had been ustry has the temerity to leave people in forced to following the execution of his the lurch in this way. It seems unprofess- father (Harris 2005). ional, but maybe it’s all about money, or something more arcane. The saga of Dan Brown and The Da Vinci sumption that we mean well, for instance, Code is similar in some ways. A ripping and that we are a generous nation. All that yarn takes on such plausibility to the un- can be true, but just as true is the brutality ! " # $% & ' ( ) * +, wary, or to those unable to distinguish expressed at various times and places; the % ! - between a tale and reality, that it has the ‘compliance’ and detention associated with ) form of fact. And it’s not easily disabused, immigration; and the varying perspectives ! & ! . /0 even when the experts and proponents are on aboriginal people from pioneering days, ) ! $) examined closely (Robinson, 2005). from ‘pests’ to valuing their hard work (Waterhouse 2005). Much of what is true /1 2 34 4 1 3 +5 / To be fair, it was a seductive tale when I has been wrong, or unacceptable, but it’s 6 7 $7 read in the area decades ago, and there’s no less true for that. 89 34 4 1 /+3 something appealing to the unconscious : ; $2 ) about the mythical. But some seem to want to have it one way, 2 2 and argue we can withdraw our favours /0 0 1 The American interest in Marlo Morgan’s when we feel spurned, or express moral * 6 $* 2 Mutant Message Down Under (1994) a outrage at the notion that Australians might 2 11 < 9 decade ago is apposite here, a story con- 34 4 1 84 +81 be drug smugglers. Yet history over several cocted on the idea of mystical aborigines, decades at least, shows that Australians * 6 = a variant on the noble savage theme pop- 6 6 34 4 8 are over-represented in this activity, often ularised by Rousseau in the 18th Century engaging in it for a lark without care for ) > 2 ! (Geyer 1995). I met several Americans in ? 6 @ consequences, which seems part of the the type community who wanted the story % /0 3 Australian mythos, no matter how repre- to be true, and were disappointed when ) > 2 ! ! hensible it might be to some (McCoy 1980). informed it was not. ? 6 @ % /0 4 Historically, too, Australians have been One of the reasons stories like Brown’s world leaders in the consumption of drugs 2 2 " become popular is that, although we may 6 : /0 0 1 in general, from the early days of the gen- know the names of some of the people * % # eral availability of heroin a century ago, involved (Jesus, Mary Magdalene, etc), we )"! *A 30 2 1 9 to analgesics, like the now faded cultural know very little about their stories at all. 34 4 1 > * & 34 4 1 icon Bex, but more particularly aspirin, It’s a version of public/private: we know % > paracetamol and the like. them; there’s not much on record about 7 ! B & them; we don’t know them. And so that Alison Cameron recently reported on the " 34 4 1 makes speculation all the more easy. You use of such drugs by some Australian have to know something about history, and mothers to placate or otherwise control C ! 9 : ; perhaps theology in Brown’s case, in order their children. Perhaps it’s done in order & to query the romance, as it were, and risk to avoid engaging with them as human & being identified as a killjoy. beings, but who knows? But it fits neatly " & into a lengthy documented pattern of & The search for an Australian identity is an Australian behaviour, as consistent as ongoing process, helped and hindered by success at sport and other endeavours. a general lack of knowledge and informat- ion about the facts surrounding Australian In the end, perhaps it’s better to see things history, and the paradoxes inherent in hav- as tensions between opposites. Whether ing key players, at one and the same time, you are nominally after the facts or the hero as well as villain. Fairly normal in vision, searching out facts is hard work. some sense, but there seems a tendency to And the facts may not fit your logical or go for one or the other, rather than recog- personal perspective—or mine, for that nising both as part of the whole. We have matter. to take Mr Hyde along with Dr Jekyll; Redmond Barry and also Ned Kelly. ‘Un- But it’s a challenge that’s necessary in order Australian’ has to be jettisoned in terms to understand the presentation of inform- of ‘what kind of Australian’ ation in our time, and the emotions that often accompany it, like a cloud from the Without that perspective there is only a unconscious. naiveté, an unconsciousness even, about the complexity of Australians—the pre- Something like Error 87, really.