At the beginning of the century, authors tended to focus on specific political goals, but the finest work was done in laying down markers that helped define the Australian character. The authors set out with an interior goal in mind: to delve inside the Australian psyche. The Jindyworobak movement epitomised the desire for an authentically Australian niche. Rex Ingamells, an Adelaide writer, created the Jindyworobak club in 1938 and released Conditional Culture, the organization’s literary credo. They dubbed themselves “Jindyworobaks,” an Aboriginal word for those who have a strong sense of place. Ian Mudie and Rex Ingamells were their main spokespeople. They discarded all European mythologies in favour of a society based on Aboriginal traditions and mental patterns. This was too out of the ordinary to succeed, yet their example is being followed today.
Every year, literary works purporting to understand the nation using Aboriginal themes such as Dreamtime or seeking to resurrect famous Aboriginal stories are published. Jindyworobak is an Aboriginal phrase that means ‘to annex, to connect,’ and the movement’s goal was to liberate Australian art from foreign elements and put it back into right relationship with its source. Ingamells’ creed was stated as follows: a clear appreciation of environmental principles, the debunking of much misinformation a knowledge of Australia’s ancient, colonial, and modern history and customs In the Aboriginal Dreamtime of Alchera or Alcheringa – the tale of the earliest time, the time of creation itself, the source of all Aboriginal learning – they discovered a suitable emblem.
The Jindyworobaks attempted to drive Australia’s literary growth into restricted patriotic channels in an attempt to break free from the restraints of colonial thought as well as to oppose the worldwide forces that had broken Australia’s seclusion in the 1920s. They viewed Australia as a land free of white folks. They referred to this as “the real Australia,” oblivious to the fact that a railway train, a sheep ranch, a windmill, or a city was becoming as much a part of the natural backdrop as “the haggard outback valleys, lonely deserts, and straggly scrublands.” They insisted on using Aboriginal vocabulary that the bulk of the readers couldn’t understand, and there was a strained and affected ‘indigenous’ spirit. The campaign was symptomatic of a genuine need to recognise and express a sense of national identity, and it drew a lot of support at first. It went out, though, as it was too outdated – and internal – in nature, too isolationist and provincial. The Jindyworobaks’ naivete was blown aside by the winds of change that blew in after WWII, as though it had no actual value in the changed world scenario. Ingamells wrote a few of poems that encapsulate the movement’s core ideals.
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