Saturday, February 23, 2019
Bypass the Story of a Road Analysis Essay
McGirr takes virtu every(prenominal)(prenominal)y every roundabout focussing possible and in doing so setms to show that sprightlinesss jaunt is at its most inte abideing when virtuoso strays from the central path. It is in the towns and rest stations that McGirr encounters individuals with interesting stories to tell stories that give McGirrs narrative its all- chief(prenominal)(a) variety and feel. McGirrs interest is non only in what lies off to the side of the main track in a echt sense. He is attracted by the lives of ordinary masses who ar non far-famed or even particularly successful. Even when relating incidents from his life as a priest he enjoys telling stories that would otherwise never appear in print attending the wrong wedding reception seeing a bride answer a mobile ph one(a).He does occasionally refer to celebrated or powerful people even here, though, his preference is for the little cognise incident everyplace the important, nation-shaping de termination such as can Curtins midnight pot of tea in a Gundagai caf. In short, McGirr suggests that, although the highway itself is valuable, we must not forget or neglect places and lives that the highway electrical shuntes, for these too instal the life-blood of the nation. And similarly, although the nations central reputation or hi account statement is important that of, say, the Anzacs, the explorers, the two world wars the stories that lie off to the side of the historical mainstream be equally worth knowing, atomic number 18 equally valuable.As narrator and actor of this narrative, McGirr has a lot of control over how he represents himself. Indeed, the power of the individual who gets to tell the story (p.19) is considerable, as he notes when discussing Hovells power over Hume in that regard. McGirr is depicted as a fairly affable, if occasionally levorotatory figure whose decision to leave the Jesuit coordinate after cardinal years is a life-changing one. T he decision prompts him to experience a number of firsts he buys property in Gunning embarks on an intimate relationship with jenny ass whom he subsequently marries and has children with and decides to travel on a bike down the Hume road and document his progress. McGirr cleverness come across as something of an everyman figure b bely his life-experiences mark him as someone rather eclectic (unusual).McGirr displays a might for droll humour throughout the narrative, and also a willingness to reflect deep on his experiences and those of others. His reflective tendencies see him discuss his struggle to sincerely touch the vow of obedience when he was a member of the Jesuit order (p.173), and also his feeling of creation alone when he first join the order (p.229). It might be argued that McGirr is depicted as someone who thinks a little too oft the news of his dilemma about purchasing orange juice with the gold allocated to new Jesuits for emergencies (p.228) is an charact er. Fortunately, his capacity for reflection does not make the text too ponderous. McGirrs accounts of his developing relationship with jenny ass and his self-deprecatory asides about his weighter from Decatur (p.31, p.98), snoring (p.227), time (p.32) and tendency to lecture others (p.142) depict him as a jovial, manageable bloke. spread, a hybrid extend of original non-fiction is a memoir, travel story, social register, romance and road story. The literary devices utilize in Bypass enliven and enrich the writing with s parkling wit. For example Hovell had been a naval captain. On land, however, he was all at sea.(p 19) They were give care fishermen who were prepared to dam their own river rather than let it starve them.(p 48) A roadhouse is a place where everything that shtupt be eaten has been laminated, and not all the food can be eaten.(p 66) Guerrilla warfare is the opposite of idol who, for some unknown reason, makes his or her absence felt even when present.(p 81) I came to Gunning to hide, but people kept m dodderying me.(p 97) Sturt went blind trying to see what none had seen before.(p 170)McGirrs anger at some social problems is frequently expressed in blunt metaphors, for example, when discussing gaming machines in Goulburn he writes They are abattoirs of the benignant spirit.(p 90) His love for language is reflected, for example, where the text is an extended reverie on arcane words and their meanings eg panier (p 98), or in his jovial attempt to find a word to describe a group of prime ministers (pp 153-4). snappishness is one of the most appealing features Bypass, for example the discussion of caravans with a broncobuster traveller (pp 110-1). Michael McGirr is masterly in creating punch lines to end his stories. eg I come int believe in washing your dirty laundry in public.(p 263)The Hume channel The Hume route runs for over eight hundred kilometres inland, amidst Sydney and Melbourne. proto(prenominal) settlers, such as Ch arles Throsby and Hume and Hovell, made journeys overland that eventuated in the Hume Highway world developed. The road, initially some time called the Great South Road in sunrise(prenominal) South Wales and Sydney Road in what became Victoria, has been re-routed, extended and improved over time. In 1928, it became officially known as the Hume Highway. A number of towns originally on the Hume Highway gain now been shorted to reduce both(prenominal) travel times and the amount of traffic (especially trucks) passing through town spirits.The meaning of bypass The term bypass means to go around something a road bypass normally goes around a town or the centre of a town. There are many such bypasses on the Hume Highway, allowing the traveller to avoid built up areas and suburban streets. However, although Bypass is the story of a journey along the Hume Highway, the title makes it wee that McGirrs main interest is in how the road goes around places and people, and what the effects of this might be both positive and negative. For much about McGirrs engagement with the notion of a bypass, see the section on Themes, Ideas and Values.The main idea in the clean Bypass is the idea of a journey. In literal terms, Bypass the story of a road tells the story of a physical journey from one point to another in this case, from Sydney to Melbourne. However, McGirr makes clear that a journey can have qualities that are much metaphorical. The literary references to Don Quixote and Anna Karenina, in particular, suggest very different types of journeys. The quotation from Don Quixote, theres no road so smooth that it aint got a fewer potholes, implicitly signals Sanchos philosophical take on the spirit of relationships and life more generally. This attitude towards the vicissitudes of life all the way informs the text as a whole. For instance, McGirr comments about the degree to which his silly adventure might impact negatively on his relationship with Jenny (p.137).Lik ewise, the comments he makes about the truckies whose marriages can resist from their long hours on the road (p.52), suggest that physical journeys and emotional journeys are closely intertwined. The frequent references to Anna Karenina also signal McGirrs interest in the romantic and tragic dimensions of life. The flirtatious comments about McGirrs relationship with Anna Karenina, his gustatory modality for relinquishing (and then recovering) the text from time to time and the inevitable decision to place her in close proximity to a railway (p.260) work symbolically as a comment on life more generally, as well as on the plot of Tolstoys novel. afterward all, Tolstoys Anna throws herself in front of a train. McGirr is all too alert of the fragility of life both on the road and beyond it.In this novel, close and memorial are also an important theme. The ultimate close in lifes journey is death. McGirr does not shy outside from discussing the fragility of life and makes much of the memorials on the Hume Highway. Death is something that cannot be bypassed and, interchangeable the road which has no respect for persons or status (p.158), it comes to us all. As McGirr notes when reflecting on the cemetery in Gunning, even a long life is short (p.7). For McGirr the Hume Highway is sacred space (p.15) it is lined with count slight reminders of death (p.178) and memorialises both those who have died on it and those who have died at war. While McGirr is honorific and interested in the memorials institutionalised to the war dead, his main priority is to fuck that death comes to all and that the lives of all ordinary Australians including soldiers are worth acknowledging and commemorating.Indeed, this is clearly conveyed by his juxta come in of the near-death experience of Kerry Packer (p.40) and the funerals of the Queen Mother (p.255) and the Princess of Wales (p.256) with the experiences of less well-known individuals. Packers blunt assertion that there is no life beyond the grave is contrasted with the more positive reflection of a woman who believed that her husband had gone to the great swap-meet in the sky (p.41). Similarly, the gigantic amount of coverage and ceremony afforded the funerals of the Queen Mother and the Princess of Wales is diametrically opposed to the more poignant account of the interment of Anton, a lonely old man whose funeral was attended by three people the undertaker, Antons neighbour and McGirr in his role as priest (p.256).McGirr says of those like Anton, At least God knew this person even if nobody else did (p.256). McGirrs accounts of death or near-death experiences are most chilling when he considers those who have endured harrowing experiences on the road. His discussion of the murders committed by Ivan Milat (pp.704) and by bushrangers (pp.7783) brings home the fact that the Hume has a dark side (p.70). Not wanting to sensationalise or justify the actions of these men, McGirr thus far provides some background details to depict them in ways that are complex, non-judgemental and at times unnerving. entree SEVEN PHILOSOPHY IN short-circuitGiven McGirrs work as a priest for much of his life, it is not surprising that this text is largely preoccupied with ejects of faith and philosophical ponderings about life more generally. McGirr makes clear his continued belief in God (p.174) but is not heavy-handed in his discussion of faith. The lightly humorous and respectful way in which he recounts Jennys aphorisms (wise sayings) about life is a case in point. His recollection of Jennys remark that he should just accept the Hume Highway for what it is youll enjoy it more (p.155) is exemplary. His discussion of Jennys view that there is a cupular (negative and convex (optimistic) way of looking at the world (p.170) and that he might be right (p.170) in thinking that he has a urn-shaped approach to the world is similarly light-hearted in tone but relevant to the books overall i nterest in forms of belief. The light-hearted banter continues when McGirr discusses his acquirement of the Chinese philosophical text, Tao Te Ching. Its pithy words of wisdom are for McGirr redolent of the bumper sticker sayings that he has liberally peppered throughout his narrative.At times, McGirrs discussion of philosophical matters takes on a more earnest tone. His discussion of how, as a priest, he subscribed to the vow of obedience in an effort to make up a sense of purpose which I otherwise lacked (p.173) and his related anxiety that he would r severally the point at which you can no longer recognise yourself in the things you are startle to say or do (p.173) signal his need to be trusty with himself as well as with others. His comment that the secret of being human is learning how to enjoy our limitations (p.301) suggests that honesty and humility are part and fate of a reflective existence, McGirr is also interested in the ways in which others concern themselves with s piritual matters.His discussion of the House of Prayer in Goulburn shows how plea provides respite from the manic nature of every daytime life and celebrates those like Catherine who dedicate their lives to helping others in need find peace (pp.856). In a very different and secular vein, McGirr recounts the belief Liz Vincent has in ghosts of people and of the road. Although Vincent does not believe in God, McGirr seems fascinated by her stories and sensitively recounts her belief that the people we love can scarcely bear to leave us and sometimes hang around as ghosts (p.59). Perhaps more interesting is Vincents claim that the old Hume Highway near Picton has a ghostly presence of its own (p.59), appearing before unwary drivers eyes and beguiling them into believe that the phantom road they are following is the existing thing (p.59).ENTRY EIGHT THE POLITICS IN BYPASSIn some ways Bypass is a book about power about who has it and who does not. As McGirr writes, Roads are semipo litical. Building them is a sign that somebody is the node (p.14). McGirrs discussion of the impact on Merri Creek of the F2 freeway into Melbourne (p.284), the prove court case and the verdict that ultimately approved the freeway project, exemplifies the political nature of road-making. The very essence of a bypass, for instance, is a political act and McGirr makes this clear when discussing the difficulties surrounding the decision to create an internal or an external bypass for Albury in the late 1990s (pp.2036). Concerns about the economic effect of a route directing traffic away from town are weighed up with concerns about the impact of noise and pollution that a new road near or through a town invariably brings.Tussles between federal and state governments, as was the case with the Albury bypass, certainly highlight the political nature of road-making, as do arguments between different interest groups. The issue of the Albury bypass, along with the 1979 truck blockade stage d between Camden and Picton on a notorious stretch of road known as razorback (pp.4751), flesh out power struggles of very different sorts. McGirr also points out that the amount of money spent on roads as opposed to public charm is a political act. He writes that in the last ten years, for every dollar spent on laying rail in Australia, eight dollars have been spent on highways (p.92). This pattern of spending is, he continues, a symptom of something deeper because government spending decisions simply mirror the interests of voters (p.92).Bypass the story of a road is particularly concerned with the way the highway has been the backcloth for various well-known and not so well-known surveys of Australias history. From Hume and Hovells early markings of the Hume Highway, to the increased tea ration bargained for by Jack Castrisson when John Curtin visited the Niagara Caf in Gundagai, to Ned Kellys exploits, to the antics of the humble, ordinary Australians who travel on the Hume year by year, McGirr celebrates the way aspects of Australias history are part and parcel of the Hume Highways rich narrative. McGirrs interest in Australian history is, however, not indicative of a desire to celebrate or endorse conventional representations of Australias past. In a number of instances, McGirr wants to query the authenticity of idealistic views of the nations evolution. McGirr challenges the idea that Australia is an egalitarian nation, for example, and claims that this view is a myth (p.200).He also reminds readers of the fraught relationship between colonisers and endemical Australians when he discusses the life and death of an Aboriginal man named Bill carrier bag who survived a massacre as a baby and went on to squeeze for the Allies on the Western Front in World warfare I (pp.2467). McGirrs willingness to temper some representations of Australias past is underpinned by an appreciation of the power of language. He notes that those who are in a position to writ e about the past can have more agencies in their lives and also more control of history than those who dont (p.19). This sense allows him to ponder on the way bushrangers and explorers have been depicted over time, and how being literate can impact on the type of individual one becomes (pp.778). McGirr is attentive to the idea that some histories are not told and that those that are relayed are not continuously definitive.Bypass the story of a road offers a quirky exploration of the Hume Highway and the personalities of the people whose lives have been touched by the road in one way or another. At the age of 40, former Jesuit priest, Michael McGirr armed with not much more than a copy of Anna Karenina, some spare clothes and a less than progressive Chinese built bicycle set out to ride the 880 kilometres (547 miles) of the Hume Highway which links Sydney and Melbourne. While the ride forms the backdrop to McGirrs book Bypass The Story of a Road, like all good travelogues the ri de itself is really just a frame to hang the real story around, which as the title suggests, is the story of the Hume Highway. From its humble beginnings as a rough track across the Great Dividing Range, to its current state as a modern dual carriageway, the Highway continues to serve as the major thoroughfare linking Australias two largest cities. Bypass took me on a rattling(prenominal) journey covering the history of the Hume, and the politics that helped shape it. Along the way you meet some great and not so great Australian characters that have helped imprint the name of the highway into the Australian psyche.People like the 61 year old Cliff Young (great), who in 1983 win the inaugural Sydney to Melbourne foot race against competitors half his age. And men like Ivan Milat (not so great) who was convicted of the murder of seven young backpackers and hitch-hikers, all of whom he buried in the Belanglo State Forest. Then there are the explorers Hamilton Hume (after whom the Highway was eventually named) and William Hovell, who in 1824 along with at least six others, set of from Appin (near the present day Sydney suburb of Campbelltown) for the first successful quest to reach Melbourne. Through the novel, I also met truckies the bushrangers Ben Hall and Ned Kelly and the poets Banjo Paterson and Henry Lawson. I attended a Catholic Mass in Tarcutta officially the halfway point between Sydney and Melbourne where asunder from the priest and two parishioners, the only other people in attention are the author of Bypass and his companion Jenny, who has by this time coupled him on his ride to Melbourne.Reading this book, it seemed like I visited almost every country town along the route of the Hume Highway, and learn something about each of them. Towns like Goulburn, famous for the Big Merino and Goulburn Jail (where Ivan Milat is currently helping seven life sentences). I visited Holbrook and learn why the outer scurf of the Oberon Class submarine HMAS Otway now sits in a public park in the middle of town. In Chiltern we pass by the childhood home of the Australian writer Henry Handel Richardson, and learn that Henrys real name was Ethel Florence. I learned too, that like other female writers have done throughout history, Ethel wrote under a male nom de plume because at the time it was felt that women didnt have what it took to be great writers.And I also visited the town of Yass, and drop by the Liberty Caf for a repast before continuing on the journey, and turning page after page. crossways its many short chapters, Bypass also introduced me to some of the thousands of bumper stickers that adorn the lay out ends of many Australian vehicles. In fact, McGirr uses stickers as chapter headings to introduce the readers to every aspect of his journey. Thus, the bumper sticker THE OLDER I GET THE BETTER I WAS, allows him to inform some of his own personal story and the reasons for his decision to ride the Hume Highway.In the chapter THE GODDESS IS DANCING, McGirr introduces us to his riding partner Jenny, and in DEATH IS THE MANUFACTURERS RECALL NOTICE, we pause to learn about some of the many roadside memorials that mark the sites of fatal road accidents that line the Highway. To conclude, the book is immensely readable, always entertaining and informative, often surprising, and constantly filled with odd facts and humorous anecdotes. These bound the story moving along smoothly and effortlessly which cannot always be said of Michael McGirrs monumental bike ride.