Due to the innate nature of discovery, it becomes an intrinsic urge for man to explore and to be enlightened by an intense journey that can shift or challenge perspectives on the individual and their society. Discovery as a transformative process has the ability to influence an individual’s perception of their world but are also able to alter widely held beliefs in a community. This is reflected by the SBS documentary Go Back To Where You Came From (Go Back) 2013, which highlights a physical exploration where individuals gain increased insight into themselves and the people around them. Comparatively, in Sally Morgan’s novel “My Place”1987, her desire for knowledge about her heritage catalyses her physical discovery and as a result she obtains new cultural understandings, that shape her identity.
In Go Back, through cultural insights that drive a revaluation of values, the personas come to deeper understandings of themselves and others. The notion of challenging previous perspectives is highlighted through the cinematic technique of personal interviewing; demonstrated by Raye’s shocking language in the opening sequence “I could’ve shot the lot of them.” This however juxtaposes against Raye’s later rhetorical questions during a close up shot “I had no idea it was so bad… how can you live with that?” exemplifying the “emotional rollercoaster” consequence of her physical discovery. It is evident that through their “dangerous refugee journey” the personas are able to recognise their own capacity for empathy, a fundamental component of the human condition. The motif of “hearts” voiced through Dao’s “if they touch your heart, you… understand” and Raquel’s “we all have hearts,” extends the personas’ realisation of people less fortunate than themselves “they just have to survive… it certainly isn’t living,” it is through this cultural discovery that they apprehend human compassion and acknowledge the perseverance of the human spirit. Thus, the profound nature of cultural discoveries are able to transform an individual’s attitudes and perceptions of themselves and others.
In a similar vein, Morgan’s discovery of her Aboriginal heritage allows her to develop new historical, cultural and social understandings, which provide a deeper meaning to her past as well as her identity. Her initial discovery is accentuated through ethnic irony “Tell them you’re Indian… Didn’t want us pretending we were Aussies,” reflecting Morgan’s revelation of prejudice towards Aboriginal people. This is further highlighted through a simile contrasting two minority groups “We’re like the Jews, we got to look out for ourselves.” This progression of discovery leads Morgan to become disenchanted by the social state of Aboriginal people; however, it also motivates an emotional growth, which propels her to undertake a physical expedition to “Corruna Downs”, metaphorically elucidated “Desperately wanted to identify with my newfound heritage/ a vital part of me was missing. “Ultimately, it is through an exploration of cultural, emotional and physical worlds that individuals heighten understanding of their community and themselves.
“My Place” and Go Back reiterate the notion that it is important for an individual to undergo a personal experience in order to enrich understanding of themselves and others. Within “My Place”, Morgan’s physical journey to the sheep station embodies the significance of personal experience exemplified through “tentative search for knowledge had grown into a spiritual and emotional pilgrimage.” Morgan’s own first hand experience of racial discrimination at university justifies her new findings about her heritage and her past. Her use of rhetorical questions “Now we know better… how had they reacted to my grandmother in the past, was that the cause of her bitterness?” further reinforces her new perception of her own grandmother, who unlike her did not take pride in her Indigenous background. Moreover, the written structure of “My Place” orbits how discoveries are propelled by experience by separating the novel into parts containing the stories of her mother, her grandmother and her grandmother’s brother.
Similarly examined in Go Back, the participant’s physical “refugee experience” allows them to grasp cultural understanding about the reality of other people’s lives and how they endure the worst of human adversities. A wide frame shot of Raye crying followed by a distant shot of the moon accentuates her empathy towards Maisara “I’ve had problems carrying pregnancies through…I do know where she’s coming from…” explores how by experiencing the same situations as others, individuals are able to empathise. In addition to this idea, although it is the participants who discover from their physical experience to Jordan, Congo, Kenya and Iraq, the film technique of manipulating the documentary form allows for responders to evaluate the way we live our lives through their experiences. Hence, “My Place” and Go Back parallel the notion that it is through experience in which discoveries are made, enriching both new perceptions of self and the world around.
Both texts demonstrate how both experience and cultural discoveries bring greater knowledge about the individual and their world. “My Place” depicts the fundamental link between an emotional desire and an expedition to discover her past, a discovery that shapes Morgan’s identity. Conversely, Go Back To Where You Came From reflects the relationship between physical and emotion, which allow the personas to gain a deeper knowledge about their capacity for empathy as well as new cultural understandings about others.