Colleagues and scholars from coast to coast, across Bass Strait and all the ships at sea.
Dateline: Australia, Federal Politics 2011.
John Lennon once explained that the role of an artist was to accurately reflect what was going on in society.
Because artists could stand outside the everyday activities of daily life and, most importantly, had the time to do so, they were able to describe that society to itself.
Lennon noted that often society did not much like what the artist was depicting and, at times, would be hostile to the artist's societal reflections and result, at first, in a dismissal of the artist and their interpretations.
He likened this reaction to the first time someone heard a recording of their voice, or saw a recent photograph, or viewed how they looked in a home movie; with people often saying "I don't sound like that" or "I don't look like that", then, Lennon claimed, it was the role of the artist to say "well, yes, you do, now deal with it."
It is never easy to receive critical feedback on our performance in any field or endeavour, nor is it easy to deliver such feedback.
I experienced this many times, commercially and academically, both in receipt of critical feedback and having to deliver it; it is a confronting process.
But confront it we must if we desire to improve.
This last period in Australian politics has been an especially important one with the launching of Lindsay Tanner's book "Sideshow: Dumbing down democracy".
Tanner, who is widely regarded as a serious thinker, has made a serious attempt to illustrate a serious problem.
It is abundantly clear that there is a problem in the relationship between the media, politicians and the public, and it is one that, if not addressed, will continue to become worse and to the detriment of our democracy.
Importantly, the term media includes all media outlets and members, not just the Canberra Press Gallery.
It is something I have written about many times, most recently on April 21 in a piece called "Time to reflect, again", which you can read here.
Tanner describes the relationship between the media and politics as being in a downward spiral. I agree.
It is very similar to when kookaburras are having their territorial battles. Two birds will lock beaks while perched on a tree limb and then try to push one another off. Invariably both fall off with beaks still locked and then they spin vigorously down towards the ground. It then becomes a game of "chicken" to see who will pull out first. Sometimes neither does because they are so focused on bettering each other that they become unaware of the looming danger until it becomes too late and they end up crashing.
This is what is going on here between politics and the media, and neither is attempting to pull out, hence it will just go on until they both crash.
Tanner is alerting us all to this potential outcome.
So far, there has been little reaction from politicians to Tanner's book. One thing politicians do very well is take their lumps; whether they think they deserve to or not. Perhaps because they fear if they do comment the media will distort their words, as Tanner explains many times in his book.
Unfortunately, though not unsurprisingly, the initial reaction from many in the media was similar to what Lennon described above - it was hostile, full of accusation and, above all, full of denial.
This was an irrational reaction because it was clear to anyone who had read the book (which I suspect most had not) Tanner was not laying blame (even though many initial headlines said "Tanner blames media") rather he was trying to explain what was happening and why.
It was also evident there was disappointment in the media that Tanner had not 'tipped a bucket' on his colleagues in the book, and indignation when Tanner refused to be drawn into discussing the recent or current political situation in his interviews (under the guise that the questions were ostensibly about policy) and so there was no de-facto 'tipping of the bucket' either.
This was not unexpected, as Tanner had predicted such a reaction in his book, and it emphasises the important role played by artists and observers (in this case Tanner) in the development of our society.
They see us, and situations, in ways we cannot possibly see.
The media reaction reminds me of this young boy who was playing hide and seek in the park with his grandmother. I was about ten at the time and was sitting with a few friends on a bench.
The grandmother turned around and started counting to ten, while the boy went and hid.
The boy ran to one of the poles supporting the swings in the park, crouched down behind the pole, closed one eye and with the other open eye used the pole to block out his view of his grandmother.
This, he truly believed, would hide him completely from her view.
Watching on, we could not believe what he was doing and when she turned around, she hollered incredulously "what are you doing? I can see you!"
Maybe then he thought he should have closed both eyes, so there was no chance his grandmother could have seen him.
That little boy's behaviour explained why much of the media's immediate reaction to Tanner was so hostile; it stems from a lack of self-awareness and insight about its own behaviour - clearly believing that others cannot see what they are doing, even believing that little of what they are doing is wrong, and yet everyone who cares to look can see it easily.
The question now is, has Tanner's intervention jolted enough people in the media into opening both eyes, or, to ensure that no one sees what they are doing - just close both?
Hopefully, for the health of our democracy, the overwhelming optical outcome will be a binocular one.