20 Jun 2017

Leunig on what he finds to be true

“I tend to want to just open things up, to create little mysteries and share things that mystify me in my life. We all can find our truth in this life — we find things that are uniquely true to us.”

This was the crux of renowned cartoonist, writer, painter, philosopher and poet Michael Leunig’s address to the Newington community at the third Centre for Ethics Public Lecture, entitled “What I have found to be true”.

Michael Leunig is featured regularly in the Sydney Morning Herald and the Melbourne Age. His commentary on political, cultural and emotional life has spanned more than forty years. In his work, he draws out the idea of an innocent and sacred personal world, an internal narrative amidst the grand and collective narratives our communities and nations tell us. 

“It’s as if there are two lives. there’s the main game: what we are told is important, what the newspaper features on the front page, what we’re all meant to be concerned about.

“But there is something else — our unique, private and peculiar observations and feelings. We might call that the life of the spirit. Our musings, our reflections, our sorrows, our dissatisfactions.”

Leunig believes the work of an artist is to bear witness to this personal life and to open up gloomier internal narratives that are rarely discussed in day-to-day life. 

 “I think to develop one’s own truth and to hold it, and feel its worth, lies at the heart of our creative life — one cannot have a creative life unless from a deeply personal position.”  

Leunig also considers the idea of “Negative Capability” as an important aspect of modern day living. “Negative Capability” as he explains it, is “the capacity to live without knowing everything, to live without needing to be conclusive on anything.”

He added that when we can accept this position, our mind is them allowed to be more creative, to tease out and play with uncertainties. “The creative mind likes to hold it open, wait and see, act upon it as you go,” Leunig said. 

Speaking on traumatic world issues such as war and racism, Leunig left the audience with the wisdom that “the small joys do matter” and encouraged the audience to embrace difference. “To bear each other’s difference, is really the work of life I think.” Leunig said.

At the next Centre for Ethics lecture, the College will welcome Special Adviser to the Prime Minister on Cyber Security, Mr Alastair MacGibbon. To reserve a place contact Newington College reception on 02 9568 9333 or email contact@newington.nsw.edu.au. Find out more about this year’s program by visiting the Centre for Ethics 2017 Insite.


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