I like the fact that Sue’s Tower, Montsalvat sits squarely over arches. Not quite the arches
Miller photographed in the Middle East but arches nevertheless. In sighting Millers enlarged photographs, in a private collection on another rainy Melbourne day, I was intrigued by the obsession for arches, columns and trees – but particularly the tonal trunks. Whilst architecture was his first profession there is more to this focus – it is as usual about the observation of lines and curves but also something more I think. Perhaps beyond form, arches are both openings and supports of potentialities. Trunks of trees are texture, line, growth and direction. The observation of small scale things that suggest growth are detailed in his letters. He shifts with ease from large scale to small but focuses on specifics not scale. So neither the small nor the large carry more or less prominence or truth. Miller moves his attention from Grecian column to the feel of grass under bare feet with equal reverence.
In the mail last night I received Godfrey’s mother, Isabella Miller’s, birth, marriage and death certificates. It is exciting to receive the evidence and then disappointing when not all details are complete. She was born, Isabella Duthie, 15/3/1867 at Brougham St, New Plymouth, NZ. The age of her parents Mary Ann and John are not listed. Her marriage, 24/4/1891, In the Church of St John, Willis St, Wellington both her parents and her groom, Thomas Tripney Miller’s parents are listed: Jane Miller Tripney and John Miller. This side of the family detail is largely missing to me. Isabella’s death certificate, 12/11/1896, Pleurisy/Phthsis, her age at the time of her death is incorrect in one section but correct at 28 years in another. Her place of burial is Karoni. Her death, when Godfrey was only a toddler and my grandmother only a baby, is significant in Miller’s story. Whilst her sister, Eliza Jane later married Thomas, Godfrey refers to her in adult letters as Lewis’s mother, not his own. This of course is biologically correct but in the repeated statements it seems to be also a feeling, a knowledge of very early loss. Somehow this did shape the sensitivities of Godfrey both as a boy and a man. He writes of his mother’s artisitic abilities and strong character in the face of businessmen in the community. How does he ‘know’? Is this to do with the knowledge of mankind held within or a matter of personal interpretation?
This is all starting to come out in my Writing Practice which I do intend to update tomorrow as I have shifted through a decade now. Today I also returned to an old Meanjin on Biography, 2002, Vol 61 No. 1. There is an article titled ‘Lives of the Poets’ by David McCooey which discusses the form ‘biographical poetry’. I’m thinking if I return to my writing practice and provide it with shape or form it may become part of that genre. I will look through the poetry archway, once I know Miller better.
Returning to observation, as I move about my project practising the imagery of Miller’s islands skipping with ease between subjects, I attended a talk last night on authenticity. The speaker was Robert Rabbin and the evening was arranged by Kate James, Total Balance. It was a talk that resonated with my Miller readings of both Tagore and Krishnamurti and offered the audience 10 words
that Rabbin has formulated as the context from which we can all work at being authentic. I know I have to work on this thinking being flawed and marked by my distilling of Catholicism’s notions of guilt and selfishness. (On my drive home this evening, the ABC Encounter program, discussed authenticity as the new paradigm informing the West, interesting the principles are from the East.)Yet this is all part of the journey and late today I felt elated as the first and second principles, ‘Be Present’ and ‘Pay Attention’ struck me physically as I sat and watched the Montsalvat sunset. Through my eyes the shifting clouds with movement and ever changing hue, entered and filled my being. I sat and watched with the background sound of a duck slipping across the water behind me.
I don’t hear the traffic sounds from the roads around the Eltham hills anymore. After a month I feel I have arrived here.