Seen and Unseen: a century of stories from Asia and the Pacfici

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Interactive Publications, Dec 8, 2015 - History - 303 pages

 Malaria, cockfights and magic are confronting realities in the Asia-Pacific region, yet beyond these more remains unseen and misunderstood. These cultures also exert an unacknowledged influence far beyond their borders.

Inspired by one family’s experience over three generations these tales are cradled in real events. Frailty of memory, the natural passing of people and the need to protect others, has rendered some into fiction. 

Central to this work is the idea that interactions with people from outside our culture challenge our expectations. Meanings and understandings must often be negotiated in intangible, non-rational and unseen ways. Foucault’s notion of the third space has influenced this work, as has the Balinese belief that reality is an interaction of Sekala (the Seen) and Niskala (the Unseen). 

The unseen also has a political dimension here – “the elephant in the room”. Choosing not to see, comforted by one’s own culture alone, is to ignore that regional and global events are unfettered by such introspection.


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Sid Thompson and D Company
Camphor Silk and Ivory
Joss Sticks and Cracker Night
First Landfall
From the Sublime to the Horrific
The Dream
Magic Polygamy and Triangles
Looking Backwards and Forwards
The Pig and the Cockfight
A Day of Departures
Pemilihan Umum The General Election
An Unusual Kind of Thunder
In the Charnel House
Baby Boomers and Japan
Years on

Siberut and the Simple Life

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About the author (2015)

 Born in 1947 Russell Darnley had grandparents who were children at Federation, lived through World War I and struggled as parents through the Great Depression. His parents had their first jobs as World War II broke out.  Growing up in Sydney with a seafaring father gave him an interest in what lay beyond. His childhood saw the birth of multicultural Australia, which he embraced, and ended with Conscription and the Vietnam War, both of which he resisted.  As a young adult he travelled the world and discovered that his interests lay in South East Asia. 

Working respectively as teacher, administrator, researcher, director of a field study centre in Indonesia, consultant to the Australia Indonesia Institute, educational writer and digital education pioneer he was awarded the OAM for his voluntary work after the 2002 Bali Bombings. Russell’s outlook is eclectic and interdisciplinary, passionately scientific, yet profoundly spiritual.