The Weekend Australian - Review - - Viewpoints -

ROSE­MARY Sorensen’s The Over­flow col­umn is a breath of fresh air, can­did, in­sight­ful and amus­ing. It was great to see her chal­lenge the Mac­quarie Dic­tionary ‘‘ in­ven­tive, sen­su­ous’’ word of the year, pod- slurp­ing ( Re­view , March 1- 2). Slurp­ing has never been sen­su­ous. Judi Cox Spring­field, Queens­land BILL An­der­son’s let­ter sets out suc­cinct rea­sons for the de­cline of pop­u­lar in­ter­est in Aus­tralian po­etry ( Re­view , Fe­bru­ary 2- 3). Let’s ex­tend his ob­ser­va­tions to po­etry crit­i­cism. Justin Cle­mens’s re­view of David Malouf’s se­lected po­ems ( Re­view , March 1- 2) is a good ex­am­ple of ‘‘ in­com­pre­hen­si­ble and in­con­se­quen­tial stuff not read by the pub­lic’’. In fair­ness to Cle­mens, he is ad­her­ing to a prac­tice ac­cepted by most po­etry re­view­ers in most jour­nals: self- in­dul­gent, es­o­teric ob­fus­ca­tion. What does he mean by ‘‘ bind­ing the writ­ing of the life to the va­garies of time’’ or ‘‘ tee­ter­ing for­ever on the verge of dis­abused reve­la­tion’’? Po­etry is re­ward­ing partly for the lay­ers of mean­ing and emo­tion it can evoke. It is the critic’s job to clar­ify th­ese mean­ings and help ex­plain their beauty and com­plex­ity, not to muddy them with ver­bose pom­pos­ity. Bar­bara Baker Bris­bane I WAS ab­so­lutely in awe of So­phie Staughton’s story ( Re­view , March 1- 2) of life in Wa­narn. Please pass on to her a mes­sage: You’re a bloody beauty mate, a su­perb sheila and, most im­por­tant, a great Aus­tralian. Gail Austen Wind­sor, Queens­land THE more I tried to con­cen­trate on Erin Hel­yard’s piece on cas­trati ( Re­view , Fe­bru­ary 23- 24), the more I was re­volted by the hideous 18th- cen­tury prac­tice of cas­trat­ing young men with promis­ing voices so they, and their fam­i­lies, could pros­per. All be­cause St Paul de­creed that women should re­main silent in church. I find it very hard to un­der­stand how any­thing worth­while could em­anate from such a cruel prac­tice. Why would males to­day strive to em­u­late the high- pitched tones of the cas­trati, why try to keep the style alive? Why is it not treated with dis­gust, why do mu­sic con­nois­seurs, par­tic­u­larly opera lovers, still ap­par­ently re­vere the mu­sic of the cas­trati? In 250 years will we be ad­mir­ing Olympic drug cheats for their feats and try­ing to em­u­late them? Mind you, judg­ing from what I’ve heard on Aus­tralian Idol au­di­tions in re­cent years, is it just pos­si­ble cas­tra­tion still oc­curs, with the young cas­trati screech­ing for at­ten­tion as they strive for the high­est of notes? ( Ei­ther that or, in keep­ing with other bar­baric 18th- cen­tury prac­tices, cats are be­ing stran­gled in the back­ground.) Crispin Wal­ters Chapel Hill, Queens­land PLEASE tell Imre Salusin­szky ( Re­view , March 1- 2) Cole’s Book Ar­cade was in Melbourne’s Bourke ( af­ter the good gov­er­nor) Street, not Burke ( the hope­less ex­plorer). John Larkins Kyne­ton, Vic­to­ria Write to re­view@ theaus­tralian. com. au

Cas­trato Farinelli

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