Day 282 | 45km from Menzies: and the skies continue to look threatening

104 km | Heading west total: 13,366 km

At the Leinster Telecentre I loaded up some First Person podcasts from Radio National that I missed in the static. No other punters and I unleash the full satellite bandwidth.

I learn the story of Hunters and Collectors, a Melbourne band that never really cracked it, as related by Mark Seymour. (I saw them a couple of times: in a sweating throng in the dangerously overcrowded Rec Centre at Auckland Uni later in my university career and again at the Town and Country Club in London when the mainly expatriate crowd really went off. My first paid offsider Nick now works, or worked, for Geoff Crosby, an early member of the band, who I remember for his sharp green suit from Church Street and my brother’s band Cough, Cough days.)

But it’s Don Walker’s ten excerpts from his book ‘Shots’ that rate more highly on my playlist, his slow, laconic drawl slicing up the full smorgasbord on alienation. I never listened to Khe Sanh, (Australia’s 8th best song apparently JJJ tells us from its millennium survey), or Star Hotel and it all seems a lifetime ago but I guess I’ll end up listening to ‘East’ now, they are all his songs.

There’s not many books that have sufficient density to connect with me, Richard Flanagan, some Pyncheon, David Foster Wallace, mostly they seem to be just a narrative, written for someone else.

Don’t think that this is an episodic tale of a band, it’s the quest for something else, somewhere else.

Walker’s initial reading remembers a childhood where they lose the family farm after another flood.

‘The banks take what they will, eat their fill of lives and long labour, and overnight we’re left with no right to live on the ground my grandfather ploughed. … Having to explain each bag of seed to some fat five day a week bank man with soft white fingers, up from the city doing his time in the heat of what he sees as this god forsaken country town, hating what he sees as the hay seeds. Having no soul, how could he be expected to recognise another …’

I have an affinity with one who has spent his lifetime in contemplation of life’s meaning, or not.

Later Walker travels across Australia again and thinks:

The emptiness beneath the galactic plain, infinity. … What sets us apart from the stars and all else between and beyond is our ability to know. In contemplation we carry within our eddy of waves and events a dark reflection of all, where each of us, a witness, a lens, the fields of god projected onto a tiny pallette. And though both lens and pallette are imperfect, though this reflection may be distorted by the limited window of our senses and by the asymmetry of an image that cannot include itself, still we are unique in this capability to contemplate the whole Other. The more clear that reflection, the more true that reflection, the more we hold of all there is within, the more we resemble god. In this we are fearsome little tornados, armed with the power of our knowledge as we drill our brief path, foolish in our blindness, driven to encompass that which is not us, a futile path, then extinction, leaving no trace on the everlasting cyclone. Love exposes .. any border as an illusion … we are one with all else.’

There’s one bookshop in Kalgoorlie but it hasn’t got ‘Shots’.