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The Lot : In Words - Michael Leunig

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Published: 27th October 2008
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Musings from a truly original thinker on eveything under the sun and many things over the moon.

There are few aspects of existence to which Michael Leunig has not turned his renaissance mind, as a bemused and committed member of the human plight. From his cartoonist's sensibilities comes a peculiar journalism made of parable, memoir and soliloquy, on subjects ranging from the sublime to the subhuman.

From the fragile ecosystem of the spirit to the brutalisation of the modern world. From the joy of primal epiphanies to the wretchedness of the violence we unwittingly commit against each other and our deeper selves each day.

To hypocrisy and dispair in the political order. Military madness and the media. To violins, artists and newborn facials. The value of the mundane. Emotional mysteries and the night sky. Light and darkness in the national character. The wisdom of the innocent. The sadness of the brain-ridden. Humanity's redeeming pathos and our exquisite inseparabilitiy from the natural world. . . The lot.

Even in the smallest, simplest things, Leunig finds the eternal key. And no matter how confronting the topic, he awakens and upholds the funny side. The uplifting side. The side you'd forgotten about - or didn't realise was there.

About the Author

Michael Leunig has been drawing and writing for Australian newspapers since 1965. He was born in Melbourne and now lives on a farm in north-eastern Victoria. His work has been widely published overseas, and has been adapted in Australia for television, theatre and radio. His many titles include The Penguin Leunig, The Travelling Leunig, Ramming the Shears, Everyday Devils and Angels, You and Me, Short Notes from the Long History of Happiness, Why Dogs Sniff Each Other's Tails, Goatperson and Other Tales, The Curly Pyjama Letters, The Stick, Poems, Strange Creature and The Lot.

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The Lot
 
4.0

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4.0

Resonates with my life experiences.

By booklover

from Perth

About Me Everyday Reader

Verified Buyer

Pros

  • Deserves Multiple Readings
  • Dry Wit
  • Well Written

Cons

    Best Uses

    • Gift
    • Older Readers

    Comments about The Lot:

    prompt delivery. pristine conditiion

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    Hello, Welcome to our Drought

    Signs of new life are not easy to find in the midst of great bushfires and drought, but when some improbable little bud-burst is suddenly encountered, the effect upon the soul is so exhilarating that yodelling for the first time in one's life becomes possible, and indeed seems the best way forward.

    But sometimes ? like when you find a newborn foal in the corner of the paddock on a hot summer's morning ? the shock of delight is so powerful that the paralysis of gratitude occurs, and a beam of light mixed with eucalyptus vapour lifts you up and carries you silently over the dry stubble towards the shady place where the chestnut mare is glaring, her first foal, just a few hours old, standing bright and beautiful by her side.

    From a respectful distance you behold the miracle ? but what creature is this? It is like no other foal. Its coat is a strange pinkish tan colour, chaotically speckled and spattered with white dots and patches. Your eyes cannot grasp or make sense of such disarray, except that all this divine irregularity stands on sensitive gangling legs, staring at you in wild innocence. You are the first human to enter into its gaze.

    It doesn't look like a horse, it looks like some freak of nature, some rare creature from the plains of Africa ? perhaps a giraffe crossed with a zebra crossed with a small antelope or gnu. Its camouflage coat has obviously evolved over millions of years to bamboozle the lions and leopards. Its tail looks like a ferret in a taxidermist's shop, and its mane is like an elongated toothbrush. Along its back is a dark dorsal stripe. It is entirely fantastic.

    The mare, at fourteen, is a late-life mother but has obviously made her debut with great courage and grace in the dead of night. Now she stands strongly with her coppery chestnut coat gleaming in the sunshine, a large smear of dried blood on the ground nearby marking the place where she lay down alone in the darkness and gave forth her gift to the world. whatever was she thinking?

    Well done, noble mare. welcome to the drought, little antelope, we are blessed by your arrival here. Sorry we have no green hello, welcome to our drought pastures to offer you right now, but we offer our utmost respect and adoration.

    I have been reflecting upon this rare little foal since her birth, and she leads me to contemplations about our individual peculiarities and what we make of them and do with them as creatures on this earth. Living and wandering about in the bush, through the radical abnormality of drought, gives rise also to thoughts about beauty, symmetry, uniqueness and authenticity in nature.

    The drought is such a distinctive and extreme natural experience for the land and its creatures: all-powerful, utterly uncompromising and absolutely uncontrollable. Gradually you must submit to the facts, yet paradoxically you enter into a mild hallucination as you go about your days. A type of natural weirdness prevails and you give over to this and become part of it. when you live close to the earth, drought induces a kind of trance ? a kind of letting-go and a brokenness. You let go of many things: garden plants, various hopes about life itself, and most of all, your remnant and pathetically human notions of normality and perfection. they wither and die in the heat. Good riddance.

    Yet strangely, a spiritual vibrance radiates between your senses and the land. A bud-burst within, if you like. The absolute truth of the situation begins to gleam, and the idea that truth is beauty becomes very real, and is not only consoling and enlightening, but a sensuous pleasure also. Never before have change and death seemed more natural, or the wild irregularity of an animal's coat seemed more beautiful and astonishing.

    This foal is so outrageously and gladly herself ? or so we dream. If she reminds us of anything at all, it is one of those insurgent American Indian war ponies seen in films. Nature and breeding have deemed classical regularity unnecessary in her case, and thus she has been born to present a spirited challenge to orderly eyes and conservative sensibilities. The god who made this foal has strongly suggested that she will never be a police horse or a show pony ? not with a larrikin gypsy jacket like that!

    Her entire body is a spectacular birthmark that makes her priceless to some yet useless to others, but because of this she tells my senses of freshness and beauty beyond comparison ? of beauty unto itself.

    Even though she could be properly known in the horse world as a 'red dun buckskin paint', she is best described to me as a 'divine and joyous revelation'. If only I could be like her. If only I could wear my true coat.

    The drought looks at me accusingly ? the drought that shrivels egos, affectations and falsehoods ? it looks at me knowingly.

    To be indelibly splattered with one's own uniqueness and irregularity and to let it show and live by it is to court a difficult life ? but not to do so is to invite a feeble existence filled with a big, stupid silicone implant to keep it up.

    We mostly encounter a world that wants us to be pleasantly regular and presentable in some way or another ? a stale, default personality in fact, but with an impressive gloss. Whether we be a sports hooligan or an ABC radio presenter, we must be slavishly acceptable and attractive according to the implicit code of our group. Whether we are delivering a bon mot or a head-butt, we want to be admired for it. Oh, how we love to be attractive.

    In the tightening vortex of mass culture, the various model humans and formulas for personal success are held aloft like never before. We have a huge choice of beguiling little fascisms and false selves readily available ? a sure sign of prosperity. get rid of yourself ? and get ahead!

    Democracy, with its implied respect for and dependence upon difference and diversity, now includes mob rule and totalitarianism by stealth in its process through a tawdry, media-based popularity contest spun around superficial appearances, catchphrases, and the modern art of instant mass deceit. We may well wonder if the true self of modern man has gone secretly mad with fear and exhaustion and is too weak and frightened to emerge. We have fantasy and delusional versions of individuality but do we have the stomach for the real thing?

    No realms of human endeavour seem immune from this gently flowing falseness and conformity. Pop stars, politicians, cricket buffs, critics, comedians, actors, academics ? craven and crawling ? desperately impressing the world with charm, symmetry, toughness, quickness, grooviness, goodness, aloofness, happiness, wit: all the pleasing and dazzling things, the cultivated forms of attractiveness, but somehow moribund.

    The absence of the intelligent, peculiar and irregular sensibility in public life is becoming conspicuous. The unintelligent version, alas, is everywhere to be found.

    Strange that we spend so much time concealing our outlandish beauty when, even under benign and healthy conditions, it takes at least a lifetime to gradually discover it ? and embrace it as we die.

    And if we can't value our own inconvenient natural difference, then how can we respect it in our neighbours? The vitality we deny or crush in ourselves, we bomb or torment in others.

    I heard somebody say that we must always be prepared to consider that the outer man might be directly the opposite to the inner man. I heard somebody say that they would rather have a clash than a polite conversation. I heard somebody say that they love art that is outrageously itself. I like what these somebodies have said, but even more, I am greatly inspired by what this wildly peculiar, dear little foal is telling me as we stand staring at each other in the heat and the drought.

    January 2007

    ISBN: 9780670073023
    ISBN-10: 0670073024
    Audience: General
    Format: Paperback
    Language: English
    Number Of Pages: 336
    Published: 27th October 2008
    Dimensions (cm): 22.1 x 15.2  x 2.9
    Weight (kg): 22.1

    Michael Leunig

    Michael Leunig has been drawing and writing for Australian newspapers since 1965. He was born in Melbourne and now lives on a farm in north-eastern Victoria. His work has been widely published overseas, and has been adapted in Australia for television, theatre and radio.

    His many titles include The Penguin Leunig, The Travelling Leunig, Ramming the Shears, Everyday Devils and Angels, You and Me, Short Notes from the Long History of Happiness, Why Dogs Sniff Each Other's Tails, Goatperson and Other Tales, The Curly Pyjama Letters, The Stick, Poems, Strange Creature and The Lot.

    Visit Michael Leunig's Booktopia Author Page