just another broadcast from Sydney

In his biography of William Burroughs Ted Morgan describes the time in 1975 when Burroughs was visited by Robert Bly.

Bly told the story of how a tribe of Australian aborigines reacted to their first experience with a battery-operated radio. The first thing they heard was the news from Sydney. “Two women were killed this morning and two others were badly burned in a fire that destroyed a roominghouse for the elderly.” Disturbed by the plight of these distant people, the aborigines gathered food and blankets to take to the survivors. Only with difficulty were they convinced that there was nothing that they could do to help. After that, gradually, they began to lose their ability to react to the human and social needs around their village. “So the medicine man breaks a leg,” said Bly, “and they figure, oh well, it’s just another broadcast from Sydney.

[Literary Outlaw p. 486]

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