I seem to have Australia on the brain and mind. I feel Greg calling me there. Dave sends me information to entice. Check this out:
I read The Songlines by Bruce Chatwin last night to immerse in an Aboriginal experience of over twenty years ago. I know times have changed, but maybe not the feeling of a visit to Ayers Rock. I want to walk and feel the songlines.
I offer some quotes from the book that speak to me.
"The most sublime labour of poetry is to give sense and passion to insensate things; and it is characteristic of children to raise inanimate things in their hands and talk to them in play as if they were living persons ... This philological-philosophical axiom proves to us that in the world's childhood men were by nature sublime poets ..."
Giambattista Vico, The New Science, XXXVII
"The ancient Egyptians believed the seat of the soul was in the tongue; the tongue was a rudder or steering oar with which a man steered his course through the world."
"Poetry proper is never merely a higher mode (melos) of every-day language. It is rather the reverse: everyday language is a forgotten and therefore used-up poem, from which there hardly resounds a call any longer."
Martin Heidegger, 'Language'
"Richard Lee calculated that a Bushman child will be carried a distance of 4,900 miles before he begins to walk on his own. Since, during this rhythmic phase, he will be forever naming the contents of his territory, it is impossible he will not become a poet."
"In Aranda Traditions Strehlow contrasts two Central Australian peoples: one sedentary, one mobile.
The Aranda, living in a country of safe waterholes and plentiful game, were arch-conservatives whose ceremonies were unchangeable, initiations brutal, and whose penalty for sacrilege was death. They looked on themselves as a "pure" race, and rarely thought of leaving their land.
The Western Desert People, on the other hand, were as open-minded as the Aranda were closed. They borrowed songs and dances freely, loving their land no less and yet forever on the move. The most striking thing about these people; Strehlow writes, 'was their ready laughter. They were a cheerful laughing people, who bore themselves as though they had never known a care in the world. Aranda men, civilized on sheep stations, used to say, "They are always laughing. They can't help it."
Now there is something to contemplate as we look at the U.S. today.
I conclude with the following words from Bruce Chatwin.
"As I wrote in my notebooks, the mystics believe the ideal man shall walk himself to a "right death." He who has arrived "goes back."
In Aboriginal Australia, there are specific rules for "going back" or rather, for singing your way to where you belong: to your "conception site," to the place where your tjuringa is stored. Only then can you become - or re-become - the Ancestor. The concept is quite similar to Heraclitus's mysterious dictum, "Mortals and immortals, alive in short death, dead in each other's life."
May we each sing our way to where we belong, in and out of time!