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Blubberland & beyond

Redfern resident and Sydney Morning Herald opinion columnist Elizabeth Farrelly is earning herself a reputation for cutting through the buttery bulge of bureaucracy with her hot-knife theories on modern-day living reports Ben Falkenmire in the South Sydney Herald May 2008.

We caught up with her to talk about her recent book Blubberland and to hear some views that will be canvassed by her at this year’s Sydney Writers’ Festival.

Is Blubberland your frst book?

No. My frst book was a monograph on the architect Glenn Murcutt, before he won the Pritzker Prize. It was called Glenn Murcutt: Tree Houses, published in London by Phaidon in 1993 and launched by then-Prime Minister Paul Keating. Blubberland is my second book. Hopefully there won’t be a 15-year gap before the next one.

What motivated you to write the book Blubberland?

Curiosity, love, terror.

What is the central premise to Blubberland and what do you suggest as a solution?

It’s probably less central premise than core belief, and it’s this: that humans are capable of extraordinary nobility, as well as basic primate behaviour, and our tendency to settle for comfortable mediocrity instead is a cop-out that now threatens our very survival.

I’m not sure that solution is the word, but I reckon human creativity holds the key to our survival and hinges on our capacity to connect with the point where beauty, truth and love converge.

What do you believe is the key to happiness?

If only I knew… but it  seems to me that happiness is more a by-product than a goal.

Losing yourself in some greater enterprise is more likely to bring happiness than having – or even achieving – everything you want.

In a perfect world how would we all live at home? How would the modern Sydneysider live?

Perfect worlds, bah humbug. A perfect world is a contradiction in terms, since imperfection is an essential part of being human, and staying interested. Even thinking about perfection bores me. But I believe we will, all, be happier and more fruitful if we can fnd our way to wanting less and giving, doing more.

What do you believe Sydney 2030 will look like? What would you like it to look like?

I think it’s less about how it looks than how it feels, which in my imagination is tight, leafy, highly textured and buzzing with creative ferment.

You can catch Elizabeth at the Sydney Writers’ Festival on Friday May 23 at 10am and 1pm, and on Sunday May 25 at 1pm.

Source: South Sydney Herald May 2008