The Australian National University
Emeritus Faculty Member

Warwick Williams



My contributions to the economy are meagre and I am certainly doing very little to stimulate retail sales. The only contribution will be to replace our old TV sets, given the decision by the Commonwealth Government, made in the interests of us all, to move from the old anarchic analogue to the new and welcoming digital communications in 2012.

I decided that after retirement I would not continue with any employment, even though it was tempting to continue in a part-time capacity at ANU. I concluded that I wanted and deserved much less bullshit in my life. Just before I retired from the University in July 2009, I completed my idiosyncratic book on work. It is called "My Faustian Bargain". As you would expect, the devil is in the detail. There are no revelations or references to individual people. That would be churlish and unnecessary. Anyway, I achieved a degree of catharsis to make the transition towards the deep void easier. This effort is not worth formal publication as it is idiosyncratic and I am not really adding to knowledge or any other commendable objective.

I am still working on a longstanding project to express my feelings about music and the works of several classical composers. My favourites are Haydn and Shostakovich. I have read a lot about music and have been disappointed that the vast amount of literature on the subject either says that music is ineffable (and not worth writing about) or resorts to technical comments and pronouncements, which really say nothing about the music to one's ear and mind. I am calling this work "An Innocent Ear" which mine is, having no technical training and abandoning musical participation in my youth when I concluded that I was ineffective on the trumpet. At this stage I have about 70,000 words, half of which are incoherent thoughts or simply notes for myself. Again there are no academic pretensions. I am writing to say that we have to talk about how we experience music. Without music our lives would be a mistake---to quote Nietzsche.

I have passed my allocated three score and ten years. I am jotting down thoughts on old age but at this stage I feel it has all been said before by others. There is an autobiography but it stops when I left school. I am pleased I have written my own obituary. At least I think it is funny. I also have written about significant experiences including bowel cancer and the joys of colonoscopies (or more precisely the preparation for this procedure), travel, cities, moving house and what an atheist can do on Good Fridays, such as appreciate the music in Haydn’s powerful Seven Last Words of Jesus Christ. I am catching up on reading books accumulated over the years and now adhere to the practice that for every new book I buy I give an old one to Life Line. Then there are a few hobbies to keep me going.

There is nothing heroic in all of this or interest to anybody else. There are the obvious family interests and commitments which given my fecundity can be demanding. After the flurry of activity when the children were young I expected a quiet life, but that is now not so.