War Memorial Director Brendan Nelson at the Press Club: speech or performance art? Centenary Watch update

David Stephens of Honest History analyses last week’s National Press Club address by the Director of the Australian War Memorial, Dr Brendan Nelson. The speech was called ‘Tragedy and triumph – 1917’ and looked at Passchendaele and Beersheba, two key military events of 1917.

The speech had good and bad points. Stephens concluded:

While the 19 September effort obviously tugged at the heartstrings of those present – there was a standing ovation, after all – it  also brought to mind the strictures of philosopher Raimond Gaita, writing in the latest issue of Meanjin about ‘truth in the time of Trump’. ‘To think well’, says Gaita, ‘ we must … develop an ear for tone, for what rings false, for what is sentimental or has yielded to pathos and so on’. Without such a sensibility ‘we are easy prey for demagogues’. It is imperative also to be able ‘to distinguish … grief from maudlin self-indulgence’.[3] Indeed.

The post links to an extraordinary set of photographs on the Inside Canberra website. There is also a note about the Polygon Wood commemoration of this week.

Read more …

28 September 2017

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