The Weekend Australian - Review - - Front Page -

ROSE­MARY Sorensen’s ar­ti­cle on writ­ers’ mo­ti­va­tions ( Re­view, Novem­ber 3- 4) seems caught up in the tra­di­tional di­chotomy that in­ter­nal mo­ti­va­tion is good and ex­ter­nal forms of mo­ti­va­tion are bad. Stud­ies of mo­ti­va­tion in the arts and sci­ences have shown, how­ever, that ex­ter­nal forces such as dead­lines, eval­u­a­tion, com­pe­ti­tion and, yes, the pur­suit of money and fame are also ex­cel­lent mo­ti­va­tors. As long as we recog­nise that cre­ativ­ity is hard work and that writ­ers of­ten need to work hard to be­come ac­com­plished, does it mat­ter what mo­ti­vates them? El­iz­a­beth McIn­tyre Hamil­ton, NSW I AM pleased Vivi­enne Kelly uses the word myth when dis­cussing Aus­tralia’s famed lar­rikin ir­rev­er­ence ( Re­view, Novem­ber 10- 11). What may have ex­isted early last cen­tury does not ap­pear to ex­ist now. We seem to have be­come a fear­ful ( about ter­ror­ism and rate rises, for ex­am­ple), docile, obe­di­ent, sub­ur­ban peo­ple. Politi­cians tap into this by fo­cus­ing on our greed and fear: they of­fer us more hand­outs and prom­ise to keep us safe. A visit to an­other cul­ture, where peo­ple smoke un­der no- smok­ing signs and be­come im­pa­tient with fel­low mo­torists for ob­serv­ing the road rules, con­trasts with our gen­eral obe­di­ence. Not that this is a bad thing, of course, but per­haps we should get over some of the images some of us have of our­selves. I hope I don’t get into trou­ble for writ­ing this. Ian Pol­lock Maleny, Queens­land THERE are other el­e­ments of the story of Aus­tralia’s role in World War I that our chau­vin­ist his­to­ri­ans ig­nore in ad­di­tion to those men­tioned by Stephen Matchett ( Re­view, Novem­ber 10- 11). The Bri­tish army that went to France in 1914 com­prised five di­vi­sions. By 1917 this had ex­panded ten­fold. All th­ese had to be com­manded and staffed as well as manned by sol­diers, all of whom had to learn on the job. Com­mand and staff was the hard part and it’s lit­tle won­der that many did not come up to scratch. It’s also worth not­ing that the Aus­tralians did not shine un­til late 1917. There was a very bloody learn­ing process and, by that time, the Bri­tish — and the rest — were scrap­ing the bot­tom of the phys­i­cal bar­rel. Many Bri­tish writ­ers com­mented on the su­perb phys­i­cal spec­i­mens that were the Aus­tralians, Cana­di­ans and, even­tu­ally, Amer­i­cans. This was a prod­uct of their much health­ier home en­vi­ron­ment. Th­ese fac­tors are al­most to­tally ig­nored by our his­to­ri­ans. Michael O’Con­nor East Don­caster, Vic­to­ria I AM amazed and very dis­ap­pointed by Stephen Matchett and Vivi­enne Kelly’s ar­ti­cles ( Re­view , Novem­ber 10- 11). Any­one who stud­ies World War I can­not fail to un­der­stand the sac­ri­fice of the French, the Bri­tish, the Amer­i­cans, South Africans, Cana­di­ans, In­di­ans and oth­ers who con­trib­uted to the vic­tory on the West­ern Front. How­ever, that should not dis­count Aus­tralian writ­ers fo­cus­ing on the cult of the Dig­ger. As for the lar­rikin story, the only way some Dig­gers can deal with war is to be a lar­rikin, to let off steam. I saw it in Viet­nam, where any sort of carry- on was a means of lift­ing the spir­its. Tony Blake Welby, NSW

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