Cover image for Two old men dying
Two old men dying
Keneally, Tom.

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Publication Information:
North Sydney, NSW : Vintage Australia, [an imprint of] Penguin Random House Australia, 2018.

Physical Description:
321 pages ; 24 cm.
General Note:
"A Vintage Australia book" -- Title page verso.
Learned Man is the child of the extraordinary cognitive leap that created humankind, as we know it, thought to have sprung from the Rift Valley in Africa and soon after travelling to ancient Australia. Shelby, the acclaimed documentary-maker, like Learned Man influenced by Heroes, thinks embattled Eritrean society holds promise that it might represent the new cognitive leap, the one that will reconcile our tenderness and our savagery, our reason and our emotions so that we are no longer a dichotomy between the two, so that we are no longer both poets and killers, but a clear-headed and less dichotomised being. Both the old men of the novel have a lens between themselves and reality. Learned Man sees the world through the lens of his responsibility under law. Shelby sees the world through the lens of his camera. Both men are well aware that their landscape comes to them from elders and hero ancestors. Learned speaks to the heroes in dream-trances, Shelby through his camera. The way the hero ancestors speak to and make demands of Learned, heroes and elders speak to Shelby. Both men, Learned and Shelby, are willing to die and, in a sense, kill for their secret crafts. Learned kills a man to save the women and future of his tribe; similarly Shelby's fellow cameraman is a sacrifice to the stories his camera must share, in this instance action in the Vietnam War.
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