I’ve called the roar of existence ‘a novel of sorts’ because I wanted to alert possible readers to the fact that it wasn’t written with the approach commonly used for the writing of novels. I refer to the fact that a great many novels are in one way or another affected, perhaps very deeply, by modern psychological thinking. Such novels, even though they may describe events of what we may call public life, rest on a basis of understanding which has gone inside the mind, inside the personality of the characters, in search of the psychological basis for the characters’ doings, thoughts and feelings. In the roar of existence I have done something fairly close to the opposite. There is little attempt to get very far into the characters’ subconscious, even where it might have been appropriate to do so – in the character of Don Trevorrow, for instance, a man who kills himself eventually after making an interrupted attempt quite early in the book. My focus in this novel is on the effects of the media in providing an endless outpouring of what is generally called ‘news’. News has always been with us, but in recent years whole industries – industries whose workers appear to have a high regard for their own importance – concentrate on bringing carefully selected ‘news’ for our mental digestion. I see this as a form of interference, both with the individual and with society’s democratic processes also. I don’t like it, and I’ve created, in the roar of existence, a portrait of a group of characters who are not entirely comprehensible, nor even visible, because items of ‘news’ surround them and my presentation of them. This is not exactly a satire, but a protest made by me on behalf of people living in modern society.
People engaged in bringing news, information, gossip and matters under the possible heading of ‘food for thought’ to the public’s attention would probably reject my claim and affect to be a little surprised at the displeasure, not to say anger, levelled at them by the way my book works, but my attack is deliberately made and obviously I must stand by it.
I should say at once that this latest book of mine is not an attack on other novels written differently, whether in the past, present or future: it is an approach worked out to achieve, I hope, a particular outcome for a particular book. If I write any further novels I expect that they too will be shaped by their underlying purpose, which may be a very different one.
Now a word about the title, and the cover and title page of the book. First, no pictorial matter is used on the cover. Pictorial material on a cover is normally chosen to give readers some idea of the story or events described in the pages of the book. This seemed inappropriate for a book written with the intentions already stated. In designing a cover and title page, I went further, using a quote to give me a title and also to give the reader some possibility of perceiving the book’s approach. The quote was a sentence from The Transit of Venus by Shirley Hazzard, an Australian writer who has led most of her life away from the country of her birth. I am a huge admirer of her writing and it seemed to me that the sentence I’d chosen not only provided an effective summary of the sort of thinking that had led me to the approach I’ve used for this book, it also allowed me to direct readers to the source of the book’s title by the simple means of quoting the whole sentence from which it derives.
A last word now about the things I chose, and didn’t choose, to interrupt, even smother, readers’ attention on the characters of my book. I avoided state and national politics, for the most part. I wanted to select suitable outside intrusions from the ether surrounding me as I wrote. I wanted the reader to feel that the book had been at least partly affected by the media reports in the months in which it was written. This was a period when the doings of the existing Federal government were particularly displeasing to me, and I knew that if I chose my interruptions/distractions from the current political scene the reader would quickly perceive my dislike of the government in power at the time. To do this would be to introduce another level of distraction altogether. My point about modern society was not dependent on a particular view of a particular government. I had therefore to steer clear of the politics of the period and I hope I have done so.
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