Recommendations for a Western Australian Coastal Pastoral
By Caitlin Maling
| 4 May 2016
- I am thinking about limits.
- The gaps between limits. Liminal, littoral spaces.
- The most fundamental part of ‘human’ consciousness is defined by lack of limits.
- Unless it is limited by life and death which are themselves littoral rather than literal
- The beach, we say, is a littoral zone. Do I repeat myself? I repeat myself.
- In WA the beach is our playground, where our children grow.
- A playground is a fenced space.
- Putting a fence around the yard strikes us as being the easiest way of achieving order out of chaos, says Wallace Stevens.
- When we grow into our consciousness we find our own limits and no longer need the playground.
- But Stevens is, of course, talking about America.
- In the language of early settler Australians, there was no way to describe the landscape. Even the colours were limited.
- To paraphrase early accounts, yellow, yellow, yellow, desert, death, where is the green?
- Unsurprisingly, the fields in the WA wheat belt are many shades of yellow, none of them green.
- The most obviously green thing of WA is the ocean.
- So it rolls like fields and is most fertile.
- But there are no sharks in the wheat fields.
- Flaubert says that thing about being ordered in our dailiness to be violent in our art.
- He is also not Australian.
- The US shore lyric is defined by Bloom as one of confronting limits of existence through the impassable borders of the ocean (death).
- WA literature is defined by being in the ocean, out past where your feet can touch the bottom.
- After the second fatal shark attack at Gracetown, people stopped putting their head under.
- If oceans are fields, then when you dive under the surface you are in essence burying yourself.
- At the panel on sharks, the audience was asked who among them had ever had a profound experience in the ocean.
- Everyone put their hands up.
- The beach must be protected, said the Premier of WA, it is our way of life. It will be our children’s children’s way of life.
- 11. On a clear day with your head under water everything looks green.
- On a less clear day, it’s the more familiar yellow.
- From space, two things about Australia are visible: the clearing line–a yellow chevron through the wheat belt, and the Barrier Reef–dark green in lighter green.
- The Reef is slowly lightening.
- In the 1870s whipping was outlawed in WA, the wheatbelt was cleared and Australia entered the age of enlightenment.
- A man’s soul might be disciplined separately from his body: rational man can be relied upon to protect his own.
- Aborigines continued to be whipped, often for not recognising fences.
- After failure to assimilate they became subject to the Flora and Fauna Act.
- A man can beat an animal any which way he likes.
- A country built on genocide is not going to preserve its intact ecosystems says the poet from the wheatbelt.
- The colonial Australians we are led to believe suffered from an exile consciousness.
- The ocean bought us. It is how we try to get back.
- To catch a shark you bait a drumline and wait.
- If the shark is three metres: shotto to the head.
- Drag it past the limits of where the shore.
- Sink it.
- Pregnant sharks do not feed for months. A green moss grows in each of their seven rows of teeth.
- Around our bays we will place shark nets.
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