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A Quarterly Journal
Jeffrey Woodward, Founder & General Editor
Volume 6, Number 1, March 2012


Jeffrey Harpeng
Brisbane, Queensland, Australia

Inner Realism/Surrealism:
on Dru Philippou's "Inner Realism"

a circle with rays
as if all the children
the world over
have made a secret pact
to draw it the same way

Six-year-old Hannah looks over a rabbit in the centre of the sheet. It floats in space. Maybe it is jumping. Flowers in a row, all have v-shaped leaves and lollipop heads. In waxy oranges and reds, they sing in pools of sunshine. She draws herself no taller than the flowers and smaller than the rabbit. The large ball of her head is set on a stick figure. Next to her wobbly name, she adds a dot, then her crayon moves on and it becomes a wave.

is missing—she turns
the paper over
gives the rabbit
its other eye

That '. . . as if all the children . . . have made a secret pact. . .'—what does that add that we do not find in the statement 'a circle with rays . . . all children the world over . . . draw it the same way?'

This fictive 'as if' in the opening tanka invites us to disassemble this magical pact and in so doing feel the plain magic of the artistic/biological imperative pact.

And young Hannah, who has heard the author's kindnesses, who has, I dare say, been tutored by their embrace and loving phrases, how is this ancient imperative expressed in her?

'The large ball of her head is set on a stick figure' and 'She draws herself no taller than the flowers and smaller than the rabbit.' She tells it with the economy of the naive eye which, I might say, both glosses over and glares straight at the heart of a domineering symmetry.

These cuteness's work on our biology. The correct, say nurturing, response is to praise or hug the child. What does the reader do? Somehow the same thing happens; ghosts of the real haunt us.

And so something is given by the author, and something is missing, and that is true of all art, perhaps a large part of what makes it art. To say that has, I guess, the swagger of a grand gesture. Then, what gesture could be grander than to turn the paper over to give the rabbit its other eye?

The biological pact that governs us is overwritten by a sudden magic that inspires us, that is it reminds us of a serendipitous magic in us.

Note: Dru Philippou's "Inner Realism" was published in Haibun Today 5:4 December 2011



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