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Reply to John McNamara
Monday, September 03, 2001 7:49 PM
Subject: hello

Good to hear from you John
I agree, there is nothing simple about any of this.
In some ways the questions you raise
beg other questions about simplification itself.

Why is it that we have no real national debate about this stuff?
Why does anyone need to apologise
for taking a view contrary to the status quo?

The most convincing argument I've heard comes from the linguist, Noam Chomsky.
He argues that it's all about breaking up complex arguments into bite sized chunks - for media consumption.
That to run a contrary argument takes time and usually involves complex argument with considerable detail.
Without time, and without the space to run a complex argument you end up looking foolish or even a bit derranged.

I'm no apologist for Australian politics, but this argument helps explain the dearth of choice
and the demonisation of such contrary thinking as exists.
Chomsky developed this argument against the backdrop of the Middle East war
and the demonisation of Saddam Hussein.

I sense you're at the coalface of a similar process.
Actually, I've come across very little resistance in this space.
Such resistance as I have encountered has come from non-aboriginal people
who are more inclined to offer abuse, than to engage in any sort of argument.
For some reason, they often see themsleves as the custodians of aboriginal culture,
usually perceived or imagined, in the traditional sense.

The Aboriginal people I've encountered, have been very supportive of the Flight of Ducks.

But I'm always wary, because exposure on this scale is risky business.
I'm probably just a fool to think otherwise.


Simon Pockley

Reply to Victor Hart
September 02, 2001 2:09 PM
Subject: Request


Of course, I will respond to your request. Normally, I would do this in an instant but since July 2001, the terms of my ftp access have changed and I cannot get the reload activated for 24 hours. I will attend to this first thing tomorrow Monday 4th September.

Please check on Tuesday that the messages have been removed to your satisfaction from the domain over which I have control I'm sorry that you have chosen to make such a request 'The Flight of Ducks' encourages pluralist views and transparent thought. My conversation with Philomena, though robust, was a rare opportunity to address an opinion critical of this multi award winning work.

The site is visited by over 1.7 million individuals a year and critical exchange is always welcome and of interest. You should also know that the site is regularly archived by the National Library of Australia and mirrored on a range of sites across the world as a preservation strategy. I do not have control over these sites, so, your wife's thoughts may well be more persistent than you may wish.

Needless to say, this is a characteristic of the information space we encounter when entering a networked environment. Some of us celebrate it, some do not. I'm sorry if this causes you discomfort but I undertake to act on your request as soon as possible.


Simon Pockley

Reply to Darcy Moore
18/07/01 22:41
Subject: Flight of Ducks and criticism?


Thanks for your kind words.
I'd welcome your criticism
or any other gesture you might want to make to this mutating work.
Derrida's notion of effacement is indeed a double bind
and I'm keenly aware of the responsibilities
that I share in hosting/encouraging all effacements.
No matter how uncomfortable.
The past is a living thing
constantly re-invented in our own image(s).

For me,
it's part of how we interpret country as an evolving story
with its own traditions.
If you have time, let me know what you think of these words:

written years ago.
Maybe it's time for a rewrite?


Simon Pockley

Reply to Robin Stirling
18/07/01 22:27
Subject: I love your online foyage from Adelaide to Alice Springs

Thanks Robin

Great to hear from you. This was my father's impression in 1933. You're welcome to link to it - I'll include your message.


Simon Pockley

Reply to Joseph Moxley

26/06/01 8:57 PM
Subject: databases


>i wanna get into databases.

Here's what I'm working on:

username: catdemo
password: letmein

This is more than just a database/catalogue, it is a search engine and metadata generator. Try entering a title or an idea into the search box and see what you find.

Alternatively, if you want to see an example, enter 'duck' then press search. When the title record appears press 'edit' and then scroll down on the left and press 'Display' to see various views of the record in your browser that include a DC view.

Because the images are held (for now) on a separate server you will have to enter a new user name and password to see a back-of-house display and this is restricted.

However, if you enter a user name: shack and a password: bRose - you'll get to see the images and clips etc.

If you're interested in the XML view, it too is just above the 'Display' button. When I get time there will be an RDF view and a range of other metadata schemas available.

What is interesting is that several organisations are now interested in using it to manage their own material. This is powerful example of how we can maintain control over a technology and develop it to suit our evolving needs. Work continues…



Reply to Cherry Connett

11/06/01 21:50 PM
Subject: flight of ducks

Dear Cherry

Thank you for your message - you are most welcome. I guess you've seen the warnings. The warnings are a mark of respect. There are images of deceased people in 'The Flight of Ducks' and I would not wish to cause pain or anxiety to anyone.

Please view this site with an open mind. It began as my father's (1933) story but now includes many, many other stories. I'd be most interested to hear back from you about what you find and what your thoughts are.

The 1933 duck song may interest you - it goes to the very heart of the story:

Kind regards

Simon Pockley

Reply to Syed Rwhan Ali
2001-06-05 9:06 PM
Subject: Syed Rwhan Ali

Dear Syed Rwhan Ali

>I am very happy to see your website.I want to take admission in it.

What website are you referring to?
If you are referring to 'The Flight of Ducks'

admission is free and completely unrestricted - come right in - you're welcome. To participate, all you have to do is email your thoughts, ideas, images and sounds. We look forward to hearing from you. You will be our first guest from Pakistan.


Simon Pockley

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Reply to Kathie
30/05/01 18:13 PM
Subject: Location

Ah - I see. You are talking about 'The Flight of Ducks' - it's not really a book, more of an on-line documentary about cutural memory. It's based on my father's camel expedition in central Australia in 1933. There are a lot of screens so you could have entered at a number of places:

Echidnas are referenced as meals rather than as animal curiousities:

My father shared an echidna for breakfast with Kurt Johannsen on the bed of the Finke while on a trip out from Hermansburg mission (see photo the echidna is next to my fathers foot on the right - for explanation press the donkey)

He also ate an echidna at various stages of a solo walk from Mount Liebig to Mount Peculiar:

Is this the kind of information you were looking for?


Simon Pockley

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Reply to Kathie
Wed 30/05/01 13:31 PM
Subject: Location

Could you explain what you are referring too?


Simon Pockley

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Reply to Claire McManus

Mon 21/05/2001 20:25 PM
Subject: Harry Lasseter

Hi Claire

I am currently the custodian of the source of these images. In 1995, I scanned the pages at 72 dpi for the web. If you would like high definition images then let me know which ones and I'll rummage around in my archives for the high res files.


Simon Pockley

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Reply to: Marina Roets
Mon 21/05/2001 20:24 PM
Subject: Millard Ducks

Hi Marina

If your entertaining any doubt that you've come to the right place for authoritative information on quacking creatures, then please check the introduction to 'The Flight of Ducks'.

Duck decoys. Maker unknown. Lovelock Cave. Nevada. ca. 200 A.D.

You'll appreciate that our duck expert, Dr Quack, is in a bit of a flap with his migratory experiments right now. But I'm sure he'll be ducking in one of these days to consider your request for information. Until then, please be patient and make sure your ducks have a decent sized pond to swim in.


Simon Pockley

Reply to: Cindy Maher
2001-05-03 16:08 PM
Subject: need info on Aborigine culture

Cindy You can try some of these links - I haven't updated them for a while so some might return 'not found'

My own material in the Flight of Ducks is all from 1933


Simon Pockley

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Reply to: Cindy Maher
2001-05-03 10:27 PM
Subject: need info on Aborigine culture


>My eleven year old son is doing a report on Aborigine culture. I would appreciate if you could send me some information. Thank you very much.

What kind of information are you looking for?


Simon Pockley

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Reply to: Craig Brookes
23/04/2001 12:15 PM
Subject: lake Eyre

Hi Craig

Sorry I don't have anything at all on Lake Eyre but I'd sure be interested in what you saw and heard. It's a place I'd love to go to.

Hope to hear from you.


Simon Pockley

Reply to Johanna Parker/Kelly
Sun 2001-04-15 6:48 AM
Subject: Murriwarri tribal women enquiring

Hi Johanna

Thanks for your kind remarks. I'm sorry to say that I don't have much information on the Murriwarri people or Brewarrina area. 'The Flight of Ducks' is pretty much focussed on the McDonnell Ranges area - west of Alice Springs, where my father travelled in 1933.

On the other hand, my real home is in the Warrumbungle Ranges near Coonabarabran, and I have a particular love of the fragile Pilliga country. Unfortunately I have to live in Melbourne at the moment.

I've seen some fairly old photographs of aboriginal fish traps near Brewarrina. I can hunt them out if you are interested.

I like your emu egg and your design sense. How did you do it? Did you paint it first and then scratch the crocodile/lizard? Where are you living now?


Simon Pockley

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Reply To: Alice Cherbonnier
Sat 2001-04-07 3:00 PM
Subject: Aborigine History


Sorry I do not have a history of the Aborigines. The Flight of Ducks is more a window into a moment in time in Central Australia in 1933 when my father witnessed the last great gathering of the Ngalia, Pintubi and Luritcha people.

What are you looking for?


Simon Pockley

Reply To: Russell Richardson
Sat 2001-02-28 23:38 PM
Subject: first contact

Russell et Dorota

Fascinating! I'm going to have to read over this a few times and do some thinking before I can say much.

Decay - what immediately comes to my mind is a portion of the work of T.G.H. Strehlow. An interesting character, son of a Lutheran missionary at Hermannsburg mission. First language Arrente (Arunta), second language German, third language ancient Greek, fourth language English. Basically he grew up Arrente went off to school/university in Adelaide and came back when he was about 21 to become a linguist and eventually, custodian of the tribal secrets.

He came to believe that central Australian aboriginal culture had almost completely ossified prior to European settlement. This was mainly through the strict conservatism of the old men who were able to exert extreme social control by rationing out secret knowledge. It also meant they had first choice of the young women and, as a consequence, birth rates were low which kept any challenges to their authority down.

Contrary to popular belief (these days), he thought that the arrival of Europeans actually revitalised central Australian aboriginal culture and led to a brief flowering of ideas, before it was overwhelmed by, as you say, the refined substances.

Something pretty major happened to the ecology of Australia about 10,000 years ago. The pollen counts tell the story of massive burning - huge erosion and the replacement of an Antarctic flora with fire tolerant species. The resulting climatic change led to loss of topsoil and desertification on an enormous scale. In only a few hundred years human living conditions became extremely harsh - even marginal. Whether this was reflected in a dumbing down or a wising up of the population, we'll probably never know.

I guess you've come across the story in FOD of the young scientist at Hermannsburg whose job was to collect the pee and the poo in a billy can?

Dorota's encounter with the ducks delights me. For me the ducks are the imaginative flight which propels us to fill these spaces with manifestations of our own needs. What I've found so compelling about the conversations that erupt like this is that their entropy is towards meeting 'in the flesh'.

So, you're film makers?

These days I'm working with a film library of 90,000 film, video and new media titles. Maybe there's something in the collections that may be useful. One of our programmers has a Borgesian idea that we are in these films somewhere - if not directly, then through a network of associations. Perhaps he's right - what we really want to find is some evidence of ourselves - or does that sound too pat?

What did say you were doing in Paris?


Simon Pockley

thread ends

Reply To: Russell Richardson
Sat 2001-02-28 8:41 AM
Subject: first contact

Dorota & Russell

>let's talk?

I'm rushed too and I apologise that the 'Flight of Ducks' is such an un-weeded garden

but I'm here behind the screen and I'm all ears.

Be specific. How can I help?


Simon Pockley

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Reply To: Jeni Lidgett
Tue 2001-01-30 11:46 AM
Subject: Mundarra


Confidential, of course.

I'm a little shocked to hear about Tom Kantor although I only met him fleetingly through email and he seemed reluctant to engage with me for some reason.

But I feel somehow diminished and very sad at this news. I've known a few people who have known him and I've wanted to know more about him. Will there be a funeral?

My understanding of Mundarra is that it is the kind of rain storm that comes down from high country. Is your land near mountains?

I have a small valley high in the Warrumbungles where I went (1974) in my early 20s called 'Wheoh'. I'm told this means thunder. I regard this place as my real home and love every rock and leaf.

Been there most of January and only came back on Thursday night.


Simon Pockley

Reply To: Jeni Lidgett
Tue 2001-01-30 9:48 AM
Subject: Mundarra


>I am trying to find the meaning of the word "Mundarra". I've searched the web, and thought you may be able to point me in the right direction.

I'm sorry, but I'm not a linguist. A little context would help.

However, I suspect you will find that this word comes from the Murramarang on the southeast coast of Australia and refers to a sudden rainstorm.

How did you come to ask me?

'The Flight of Ducks' is a documentary about a central Australian journey.


Simon Pockley

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