Wednesday, September 17, 2003

Return from the Black Lagoon

My blog has been nagging me: when I started it, I wondered if I would just let it peter out, through lack of time or energy, and for the past few weeks that looked likely. Thanks to those who have asked me when I was going to start it again - one is never sure whether these things are read. So here I am again. Since finishing The Riddle, I have just been a sad blob, incapable for at least a month of writing anything (or even stirring out of a chair). I don't think I have ever felt so depleted; maybe it's because I'm getting older, or maybe it's because I am working harder. Or maybe both.

And then I went to Alice Springs for the Alice Springs Festival. Maybe the best thing I could have done was go to the desert, although it made me even more wordless, and filled my head with huge spaces of light and ancient seas, so that I felt kind of stoned when I returned, and the clouds and rain over Melbourne seemed like walls, a cap on limitlessless. I watched the landscape from the plane on the way home: it was like flying over a vast modern painting, full of colour and nuance and motion, and most of all time: the work and erosion of rivers, their beds like dark veins, the delicate white of the salt lakes, the miles and miles of rippling red dunes, the incredible colours. Well, I'm not saying anything that hasn't been said before: shamefully, I've never, after three decades of living in this country, seen the Centre before. And it's impossible to represent what it's like to be there, to stand underneath the huge oxidised cliffs of Simpson's Gap, with their strange geometric formations, their polished red stone: you could paint it, you can describe it, but nothing can quite give the sense of its bigness and thereness. Maybe that is the problem with all representation, of anything, but it seemed to me a problem writ large and dramatic there.

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