All That I Am.

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All That I Am.

Post by Dreamweaver » 22 May 2018, 13:31

I am reading ‘All That I Am’, the Miles Franklin Award winning novel by Anna Funder. Interesting that she says

''It is really the nature of power to silence dissent and it is in the nature of people to want to speak out. When power is concentrated in ways that are incredibly unhealthy, there are always, everywhere, people who will speak out against that at their great cost, and that fascinates me.''
After double majors in English and German at the University of Melbourne, a stint at the Free University in Berlin just before the Wall came down, and a law degree, Funder went to work for a short time in a commercial law firm that represented asbestos manufacturer James Hardie on mesothelioma cases.
''I found that a deeply confronting experience,'' Funder says. ''I saw upstanding members of the community in suits, who earned a lot of money, going around making arguments to extend cases so they would go on longer, while the person who had mesothelioma would die [and not receive a payout], and that's what they were doing in those offices … that's what our job really was - of course, it was never discussed as that.
''I don't think it is so hard to understand [such behaviour], which is a terrible and revealing thing about me. I don't think it's that there is this massive dark side, that people are monstrous.
''Take the Stasi, those men were not more monstrous than anybody else I've known in law or government in particular, but they were people who wanted a nice life and a good income and a safe life … We all make those kinds of bargains, they are completely human bargains, and then you find yourself in a committee meeting at the Stasi or the [Nazi] Wannsee Conference, and it's minuted in a way that nobody feels responsible personally.
''The practical implementation of things that are done in committees is what we are all fighting against and it's not monstrous evil, it's just ordinary human committee decision-making.''
''Lord Acton says 'power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely', it doesn't matter whether it's a left-wing regime like in Stasiland or a right-wing regime like in All That I Am. What fascinates me are the mechanisms of democracy and the separation of powers, including press and judiciary, that stop these things happening.''
I dream, therefore I am.

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Re: All That I Am.

Post by Perrorist » 22 May 2018, 16:05

I enjoyed that book, too. I came across that theme again (ordinary people rationalising inhumane behaviour) last week reading Kate Atkinson's A God in Ruins, a novel about a bomber pilot in WW2 who didn't register that his actions killed hundreds of thousands of people, yet who was profoundly concerned about causing harm in his personal life. We are all monsters in the right circumstances.

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Re: All That I Am.

Post by Dreamweaver » 27 May 2018, 22:00

If you started to read the Miles Franklin Award Winner “All That I Am” and gave up, PLEASE persevere, you will be richly rewarded. It is initially a tangled web, with three people telling first person stories, reporting on memories from a tangle of times, from post WWI on, in and out of Germany . It is fascinating that we know fairly soon which major characters survived and who betrayed them, while the characters themselves could not know. A struggle to get into it, but becomes increasingly absorbing the further you get into it!
I dream, therefore I am.

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Re: All That I Am.

Post by Perrorist » 28 May 2018, 06:13

Definitely recommend it and Stasiland.

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