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The Weekend Australian - Review - - Contents - Yourview@ theaus­

CHRISTOPHER Allen is suf­fer­ing from the very short-sight­ed­ness and lack of fo­cal depth that he sees as per­haps ‘‘the ori­gin of cer­tain national char­ac­ter­is­tics’’. In his as­sess­ment of Philip Wolfha­gen’s re­cent work (‘‘Dis­tant vis­tas’’, July 20-21), Allen de­scribes the artist’s love of the far hori­zon, with its ac­com­pa­ny­ing sen­sa­tion of ‘‘still­ness and si­lence’’. For him then to to write that ‘‘this is not an ex­pe­ri­ence com­monly en­coun­tered in Aus­tralia’’ makes my blood boil: this is the place of si­lence, the great still­ness, once felt never for­got­ten. Fred Wil­liams knew how to change the face of Aus­tralian land­scape paint­ing by us­ing that won­der­ful flat­ten­ing ef­fect, show­ing us the si­lence and the still­ness. Sid Nolan knew how to break with Western tra­di­tions and throw the hori­zon up like a stage cur­tain. To­day, painters such as Idris Mur­phy, Elis­a­beth Cum­mings and Sally Ga­bori can stitch to­gether this colour, this light, this si­lence and still­ness to bring their ex­pe­ri­ence of coun­try back to us, the viewer. It is in the re­turn of th­ese val­ues that this place can teach us some­thing — how to ‘‘see’’. Cather­ine Cassidy Cronulla, NSW

CI­VIL­ITY is the so­cial con­tract we have with the wider world. Richard King re­it­er­ated its util­ity in his re­view of John Hall’s The Im­por­tance of Be­ing Civil: The

Strug­gle for Po­lit­i­cal De­cency (‘‘Let’s agree to dif­fer, civilly’’, July 20-21). Re­la­tion­ships are ge­o­graphic, shaped by their own fea­tures, con­tours and bound­aries; they flow from the fam­ily, to friends and on to strangers and are thus mod­er­ated by dif­fer­ing be­havioural re­sponses. Ni­cole Bil­lante and Peter Saun­ders have ar­gued an Aus­tralian case (‘‘Why Ci­vil­ity Mat­ters’’, in Pol­icy). Civic virtue is the so­cial cap­i­tal that re­plen­ishes our lives. Mike Fog­a­rty We­ston, ACT To be con­sid­ered for pub­li­ca­tion, let­ters must con­tain an ad­dress and tele­phone num­ber for ver­i­fi­ca­tion. Let­ters may be edited for length and clar­ity.

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