Noam Chomsky: Sydney Peace Prize 2011

Noam Chomsky is the recipient of this year’s Sydney Peace Prize.

He delivered the City of Sydney Peace Prize Lecture in the Sydney Town Hall on 2 November.

I noted in the transcript of his speech that Professor Chomsky exhorted us “never forget that our wealth derives in no small measure from the tragedy of others”.

By good fortune I was able to listen to Noam Chomsky’s conversation with Phillip Adams on Radio National’s Late Night Live program. With a couple of prompts from Phillip, Noam Chomsky provided a fascinating account of a personal learning journey that moved from the 1930s to the present day.

I enjoyed his discussion of inquiry and the impetus to learn more about the world … particularly when a challenge is made to ‘normal’ science.

I liked johnh’s comment on the Late Night Live page:

Chomsky always surfaces a smile of recognition from deep within my subconscious. His gravelly considered delivery articulates insightful critique of the greedy and powerful, and soothes this troubled soul. He’s someone who understands the hypocrisy and dangers of the dominant culture, clearly outlining key issues otherwise shrouded by their complexity. I know he doesn’t like it, but his values and opinions are leadership incarnate, perhaps precisely because he discourages ‘followers’. He can’t avoid setting us all a fine example by his conduct. He respects history and thinks clearly.

Photo Credit

Noam Chomsky (Sydney Peace Prize website accessed 4 November 2011)

Hearing Voices

I heard two delightful radio items this week.

Both items exemplified for me the invitational nature of voice and the triggering of enquiry.

On 30 August Phillip Adams interviewed Ira Glass about This American Life (a weekly public radio show produced by Chicago Public Media and broadcast on more than 500 stations across America).

I liked the single comment on the Late Night Live page for the program “One of my favorite radio programs talking about another one of my favorite radio programs. This was great.”

From This American Life’s web page:

The radio show and TV show follow the same format. There’s a theme to each episode, and a variety of stories on that theme. It’s mostly true stories of everyday people, though not always. There’s lots more to the show, but it’s sort of hard to describe. Probably the best way to understand the show is to start at our favorites page, though we do have longer guides to our radio show and our TV show. If you want to dive into the hundreds of episodes we’ve done over the years, there’s an archive of all our old radio shows and listings for all our TV episodes, too.

Ira’s conversation with Phillip explores story telling and narrative in a way that makes following up on the radio program a compelling opportunity.

Whilst mulling over this interview I had the good fortune to listen to a story about the Lajamanu Champions and their teacher Patrick. The Bush Telegraph trail for this story:

The world of internet podcasts has some unlikely new rising stars. They’re a bunch of kids from Lajamanu School, one of the most remote Indigenous communities in the Northern Territory. With their teacher Adrian Trost, the students have started their own audio podcast. The kids choose what goes in it and that means jokes, stories about hunting and the canteen report. But student Margaret Johnson says her favourite part of the podcast is the segment when they speak in Warlpiri.

I really enjoyed the vitality of the Champions’ approach to using voice. I thought it was a great example of what a teacher with imagination and energy can do.

John, Clegg and Paddy

I was fascinated to read John Carmody’s account of War and Brotherhood in The Australian on 23 April.

He wrote about two remarkable men, Clegg Kelly and Paddy Moran and their paths to Gallipoli.

John notes that:

The men never met — other aspects of their lives made that unlikely — but their stories are endlessly fascinating and, when set side by side, have much to tell us about their times.

He adds that:

They were born in Sydney within a few years of each other, were astonishingly accomplished sportsmen — Moran captained the first Wallabies team to tour Britain — and were highly creative personalities. Kelly played the piano superbly, composed music and was a vivid diarist; Moran wrote a book, Viewless Winds, about his war experiences. In very different ways, both found themselves at the 1908 Olympics in London.

It was a treat to hear John Carmody discuss this story at length with Phillip Adams on Late Night Live a few days after John’s account appeared in The Australian. As Phillip Adams points out this is a story that trumps Chariots of Fire.

Clegg was educated at Sydney Grammar School, Eton and Oxford. He was “an accomplished pianist and a brilliant oarsman” and won the renowned Diamond Sculls at Henley in 1902, 1903 and 1905. His time in 1905 stood as a record until 1938.

Paddy was educated at Darlington Public School,  St Aloysius’ College and, St Joseph’s. He studied medicine at Sydney University, graduating in 1907 and later acquiring a master’s degree in surgery. He played virtually no football at school “and began seriously only when he was shamed into it for being “slack” when a third-year medical student.” Within a few years he was captain of the first Wallabies team to tour Britain.

Clegg and Paddy competed at the 1908 Olympic Games. Both of them fought at Gallipoli … and survived. Clegg was wounded there and was awarded the DSC.

John reports that:

Kelly was repatriated to Alexandria where, during his recuperation, he completed a beautiful piece for string orchestra, Elegy: In Memoriam Rupert Brooke, which he had begun during the fighting. By March 1916 he was back in London on leave but was serving in France in May. He was still revising that Elegy when he was killed at the very end of the Somme campaign in France on November 13, 1916. Moran returned to Britain after six months in the Dardanelles and was promptly posted to Mesopotamia. He survived the war and had a distinguished career in Sydney as a surgeon and pioneer cancer radiotherapist only to succumb to melanoma in England in 1945 after service throughout World War II as a lieutenant-colonel.

In 2011 Clegg’s music will be played at the Canberra Music Festival. This post on the Festival website provides much more detail about his musical career. His Elegy for String Orchestra was composed in memory of Rupert Brooke, his close friend and fellow naval officer, who died in Kelly’s presence on the island of Skyros in 1915. (BBC Radio 3 played the Elegy immediately after the coverage of the 2010 Remembrance Service in London.) John Carmody (1983) has written Clegg’s biographical entry in The Australian Dictionary of Biography. Clegg’s papers are held at the National Library of Australia and they include his diaries from 1906 to 1916.

G P Walsh (1986) has written Paddy Moran’s entry in The Australian Dictionary of Biography. The entry observes that “Moran had a notable surgical career; his great interest lay in cancer research and the then new use of gamma irradiation through the medium of metallic radium. In this he was far ahead of his time and he travelled widely, published in journals and studied and lectured in many parts of the world.” This is a reference to the Herbert Moran Memorial Lectures.

John Carmody holds Paddy’s literary works in high esteem. These works include Viewless Winds (London, 1939), Beyond the Hill Lies China (Sydney, 1945) and In My Fashion (London, 1946).

The Late Night Live discussion of Clegg and Paddy’s lives is a wonderful exploration of a social world of connections forged by two remarkable people. Listening to the interview and reading the article so close to the ANZAC Day was a particularly powerful and memorable experience for me.

Photo Credits

Awaiting Orders

Man in a Rowing Boat


In discussing this post with Bruce Coe he alerted me to Race against time: the diaries of F.S. Kelly By Frederick Septimus Kelly written by Thérèse Radic, and published by the National Library of Australia (2004). (There is a review of this book by Neville Cohn.)

Bruce has pointed out too that Paddy Moran did not play in the Olympic match (there was one match in the Tournament) due to injury.