Bruce Pascoe (Image: Magabala Books)

The principle of Indigenous fish traps, as I understand it, is to convince the fish that it is going in the opposite direction to the one it's actually taking, and then start it turning in ever smaller circles.

With the debate around Bruce Pascoe's Dark Emu, we now know how the fish feels. In thirty-plus years of culture wars one has never seen a stoush which is so defined by confusion, misprision, projection and people standing for the opposite of what they think they're doing.

To not know the basics of the Dark Emu wars you'd have to have been out in the desert somewhere -- OK, bad metaphor, but the basics are this: in 2014, novelist and short story writer Bruce Pascoe published said book, which argued that the Aboriginal Australians, far from being wholly nomadic hunter-gatherer-foragers, had been agriculturalists and semi-sedentists, storing and farming food, and living in villages of stone huts. Their arrival on the continent was not 60,000 years ago but 120,000.