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Melbourne University Press, 1998 - History - 235 pages
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The erotics of reading for meandmdash;its moments of trembling pleasureandmdash;lie in those times when I realise that what I am reading is just what I was about to say. Reading is a dance on the beaches of the mind, writes Greg Dening. His reading-dances are about the pain of cross-cultural encounters, of loomings beyond the horizons of discipline, gender and race, of the pleasures of a hundred texts. In Readings/Writings his aim is to cultivate our imaginations so that we might see further, understand more deeply and hear more acutely. This book opens with Dening's extraordinary piece, 'Memorial', a deeply moving reading of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, DC. The V-shaped, angled, polished, black stone wall bears nothing but the names of the thousands of American servicemen who died in the Vietnam War. Dening's profound yet lucid reflections on the meanings contained in this stark, simple memorial set the tone for the book. The subjects providing the matter for Dening's reflections are varied indeed. Dance with him as he writes of Paul Gauguin's painting Riders on the Beach; of Vasco de Balboa standing in the tidal mud of the Gulf of San Miguel and claiming the South Seas for his master; of a book about Simpson and his donkey and the making of myth; of stone axes and ethnography; of the Endeavour replica, of 'discovery', and of books about Captain Cook. These inspired and inspiring meditations on the meaning of the acts of both reading and writing demonstrate, as does all Dening's work, his generosity of spirit, his sacred sense of the past, and his willingness to make himself vulnerable. His writings are as much performances as are his readings. Tears, laughter and the resolve to change the consequences of the past will be their applause.

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About the author (1998)

Greg Dening is Adjunct Professor at the Centre for Cross-Cultural Research at the Australian National University, Canberra.

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