Monthly Archives: April 1997
Note: Another of my scanned essays turned in for my unit in Contemporary Australian Literature at CQU, Australia, Semester 1, 2007.
Topic Question Being Addressed: “Myths and legends tell us something about ourselves that we might not be prepared to say straight-faced. And yet, if Benedict Anderson is right in suggesting that our sense of any community is only ever imagined, a contemporary re-imagining of Australian myths and legends is not only an improbable reworking of the past, it is also a rnis-recognition of the ways in which identity functions.” Discuss with reference to My Life as a Fake and one other text.
One of the more fascinating theses to come out of relatively recent modernist history studies is that proposed by Benedict Anderson (1983) as he considers the rise of global ‘nationa1ism’. The by-product of the Industrial Revolution, with its emphasis on the technological and technique, combined with the rise of secularity, and the universal establishment and dissemination of “print-capitalism”, nationalism arose as an articulation of a more mechanistic consciousness. A nation “is imagined,” Anderson argues, “because the members of even the smallest nation will never know most of their fellow-members, meet them, or even hear of them, yet in the minds of each lives the image of their communion.” (1) This image is a composite of the vernacular fused with – more national legends and myths that together form an approximation of objective identity on a par, even exceeding at times, the power of subjectivity. In addition, says Anderson, a nation is not only “imagined”, it is imagined as a community because “regardless of the actual inequality and exploitation that may prevail in each, the nation is always conceived as a deep, horizontal comradeship.” (2) Of more specific literary interest, Anderson sees the novel as having a central role in the formation of that imagined national affinity, being a principle vehicle for the re-telling and reiteration of the image boundary, and thus helping vested interests reinforce the manufactured mantras of Mammon.