Monday, August 14, 2017

The road and the river

I'm grateful to Creative New Zealand for providing funds for the publication of Ghost South Road, a book that will match my words with the sumptuous and occasionally melancholy images of Paul Janman and Ian Powell

Ghost South Road will be published by Atuanui Press, and Creative New Zealand has also given Atuanui funds to bring out a book that Paul Moon has written about the history and present of the Waikato River. The Great South Road and the Waikato River flow beside one another for many kilometres, and Atuanui plans to bring out the two volumes at the same time, early next year. 


Brett Cross, the proprietor of Atuanui Press, sent me some chapters from Moon's book a few months ago. This was part of my response:


Over the past couple of decades Paul Moon has proven himself one of the most prolific and provocative intellectuals in New Zealand. 
Although he holds an important academic post and works assiduously in the archives of our academic and public libraries, Moon is unafraid of leaving the security of the seminar room and the stacks and entering the trenches of public debate. 

Moon's opinion pieces for newspapers, which have covered subjects as different as the contemporary significance of the Treaty of Waitangi, the meaning of freedom of speech, and the relationship of Christmas to Christian theology, have drawn on his research without seeming either fusty or recondite. Like Keith Sinclair and James Belich, Moon belongs to the tradition of the New Zealand public historian, who has an audience both inside and outside the university. 
It seems to me that Moon's new book stands a good chance of reaching a wide audience. Like Moon's pieces for our media, the book draws on careful historical research but is unafraid to discuss contemporary social and political issues. 

During his chapter on Ngaruawahia, for example, Moon uses his reading to reimagine that town during the era when it was the capital of the Waikato Kingdom, and a place where the river ran clearly. But Moon soon pivots from past to present, and decries the garbage he finds floating through Ngaruawahia, and the capitalist civilisation which has made garbage tips and dumps its supreme monuments. 

Not all readers with agree with Moon's nostalgia for the Kingitanga's communistic economy, or with his polemic against the present: but even those who differ with him will be stimulated and engaged by his mixing of objective scholarship and subjective judgment. 
I imagine that there might be some interesting debates at the launch of the two books and at any subsequent joint promotional events, because I don't agree with everything Paul Moon says, and I doubt whether he'd accept some of the things I write. In this blog post from 2009 I talked about some areas of (dis)agreement. 

9 Comments:

Blogger Richard said...

What is Paul Moon's book that is coming out? I actually liked his book 'This Horrid Practice'. I know he is a little opinionated but he does pretty good research. Even if Maori were cannibals it wasn't something that concerned me. He sees it as something inherently wrong. I don't.

But someone should write a more extensive reply to Moon's book. I started reading another of his books which was good, about NZ in the 1850s leading up to the NZ Wars. I had to take it back to the library but I will take it out again.

It is good your book is coming out Scott, and the movie also!

12:27 am  
Blogger Richard said...

Also, sometimes, I suppose it might have been wiser for Moon to leave the subject aside and concentrate on other more positive aspects: or to include it in a wider discussion but I suppose either "side" would take portions of it out of context as they always do...Just a thought.

12:29 am  
Anonymous Scott Hamilton said...

Hi Richard, Brett's keen to launch Moon's book and our Ghost South Road book at the same time, early next year. The great thing about the CNZ grant is that it allows us to include some good quality images in our tome. How's your Eyelight mss going? I posted a pic from Eyelight on twitter yesterday!

1:53 pm  
Blogger Richard said...

Ah yes, I forgot. I think he is an interesting writer and does write well, but I agree his Cannibal one was worrying! I think it is true that we have (or seem to have) a universal (universal?) fear or dislike of it but we have to take into account context and history. But it is good that people who have different views can work together. He will be interested in your book I am sure as it is and the whole project quite different.

I started working on the data that will go into possibly one book. But of course I see it as a larger and 'endless' project somewhat maybe analagously to Immants Tillers' huge art project or that of Alan Sondheim although my individual methods and quirks are not theirs of course. Some of the way I work really arose when I was a teenager. I mean the rather strange ways of working or in many cases not working!

But I am making progress on it. I have beenthrough all the posts, numbered them, and have had to select and filter and indeed I want later to combine. I would also like to see some of the image-texts possibly as "paintings" so I need photohraphers, artists and so on. But that might be a longer project. I see now that I have to carefully filter it and make corrections now I have 5 sections. Those I want to combine in many ways. Probably late in the year I'll run it past you, Sio, Jack, Brett, and anyone else you I and Brett can think of...I certainly value those artists we know and the writers we all know so I would appreciate help but I need to get this organising phase over first. So I am getting closer as I have nearly gone back through all the saved posts....

I would like to be on Twitter but feel that FB and these Blogs are enough for me, especially as I am still addicted to chess...A friend of mine who is also interested in philosophy etc asked me about my book and I said "It is about everything."

He is interested that I am doing it....In fact I still recall things you said about the IP in the good old days. Those I processed. I also moved it away from the author having to control everything as such (realistically of course that still happens) but the ideal has shifted to everyone potentially at least, being able to create or make things etc Of course the satire and darkish humour is still there, I haven't gone soft!

6:18 pm  
Blogger Richard said...

What was the image in Twitter land?!

6:20 pm  
Anonymous Scott Hamilton said...

https://twitter.com/SikotiHamiltonR/status/896881229709983744

2:07 pm  
Blogger jennie todd said...

Nice post. thanks a lot
* dragon ball super | animeyt

4:52 pm  
Blogger Richard said...

Hard case picture of me Scott. But thanks for the support in any case!

8:20 pm  
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angka;GHOIB; malaysia
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angka"GHOIB; laos…
angka"GHOIB; macau
angka"GHOIB; sidney
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5:08 pm  

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