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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An Ethnographic Essay
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Aboriginal Adam American anthropology asked Atuona Australian beach Bernard Smith blinkered Botany Bay British called Cambridge canoe Captain Cook civilised cliometrics Cook's creative cross-cultural cultural David Porter Dening derring-do discourse discovered Donkey duel Dufresne empire empower encounter ethnography European experience explorers eyes famous far-fetched facts Fletcher Christian French Gauguin Geertz Hawai'i Hawaiians Herman Melville historians Hokule'a horizon human hundred imagination island James Cook John Joseph Banks journal killed land language laughter living looked Maohi marchlands Marquesas Melbourne Melville memorial metaphor native navigation navy never Pacific History painting past Perouse Pitcairn political Porter post-modern readers reading realism Review rituals Robarts Sahlins sailing savage scholars seen sense ship silences social society sort South Seas story Tahiti Tahitian terrible theatre theatricality things thought translation Truganini University of Melbourne University Press Vaitahu volume voyage William word writing wrote