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Paul Monk was interviewed by Geraldine Googue on her Breakfast Show on ABC1 Radio National on 8 August 2009. Monk became fascinated by the history of western civilization while he has at university and he remained so all his life. Paul Monk received his PhD in international relations from the Australian National University. His first book Truth and Power was published in 1990. He then worked for six years for the Defence Intelligence Organisation on East Asia, becoming head of China analysis and chairman of the interagency working groups on Korea and China. He is a widely published commentator on public affairs, writing regularly for major national media such as The Australian, Quadrant and the Australian Financial Review.

His most recent book is: The West in a Nutshell: Foundations, Fragilities, Futures. The book presents 30 essays that reflect Paul Monk’s remarkable critical thinking skills, his wonderful prose style and his enormous breadth of interest. In this book Monk traces the beginnings of human presence on the planet, the emergence and flourishing of Western civilization and the dilemmas now confronting humankind. The West in a Nutshell has been designed as a companion to his book of original sonnets and reflections published in 2006 entitled Sonnets to Promiscuous Beauty. With Tim van Gelder, he co-founded Austhink in 2000.

Monk told Geraldine Doogue that he retired from full-time work at the age of 38 in order to write, to reflect and to do research. He took a special interest, among his many interests, in the 16th century essayist Michel de Montaigne. Montaigne also retired at the age of 38 and is often regarded as the first essayist in European civilization. I took a special interest in Monk and his comments about Montaigne because: (a) I too, like Monk, acquired a fascination with the history of ideas and western civilization while I was at university(1963-1967) and (b) I too retired early, although not as early as either of these two writers and essayists. I was 58 and it was 2003 before I could give up both full and part-time work and devote myself to reading, independent research and writing—sometimes essays and often prose and poetry in other genres. -Ron Price with thanks to Paul Monk on ABC1, 8 August 2009.

After seven years of doing
what these men were doing:
describing changeableness &
compiling change’s record &
finding myself, in the process,
an unstable, fragmented and...
contradictory being, radically
discontinuous and inconsistent
and, hence, always elusive with
readers being accomplices to my
redefinition, ease, nonchalance & efforts....
discipline and infinite suppleness
of focus on myself as
the core-matter of my book, a man
who, unlike Montaigne who was at
ease with classical authors, would
like to be at ease with the Authors
of and commentators on a new.....
theophanology, Manifestation of
God, theophany...mazhar-i ilahi.1

1 Juan Ricardo Cole, “The Concept of Manifestation in the Bahá'í Writings,” Bahá'í Studies, Volume 9, 1982, p.15.

Ron Price
9 August 2009

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