Songlines, Chapters 16-30
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I'm sure bas can take over leading this (though I risk carrying on too long a joke that was never very funny)...
Sorry to do this. There is just no room in my life for leading Songlines right now, or in the near future.
Are you there Dan, and elenchus, and drmary, and anyone else who was really excited about this group read? Do any of you want to take over as leader? We are taking expressions of interest at this time.
bas, you just did read this thread.
I gleaned quite a bit from the discussion so far, more than I'd dare hope since it was my first foray in the salon (even if only as Dodo / Lurker). No worries here.
Can't lead a reading of Songlines at this time but am more than happy to pause whilst focusing on other reading.
I'm no expert, not prepared, and not terrifically available on time, but love the book and am happy to push the thread as something like a leader, as long as Mac promises to hang around and there is interest. I do have notes on these chapters, in a paper notebook (mixed with my bible notes...weird in many ways, I know...)
So, before we talk about timing, need to know the interest level.
How much interest is there to move ahead?
question 2 - for those rearing to go
Do you want to begin again - chapter 1, or keep it spliced and start here with chapter 16?
Q2 - Can do either, as I'm using my old review to refresh my memory rather than reading along. Will post comments & questions based on where others are in the book.
"Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers should use caution when reading this thread as it may contain images and voices of deceased persons"
- but what a wonderful idea, that all mythologies have underneath them the practical. That there was an archive of information to preserve, including a map of keys in the terrain and that this later becomes stories until the informational moorings are lost. And that maybe these Songlines still have this informational mooring intact.
- Does Chatwin mention this only once to highlight this or to avoid it?
- If he's avoiding it, is it because there is not enough info to pursue or because it simple doesn't work?
- side track: I even hoped to be able to add "and the bible" before the word "might" - but having now read some of the earlier parts of the bible I'm aware it's derived much older stuff, and (1) far removed from any origin mythologies to the point that (2) it's a compilation of stuff that themselves are distally derived from several separate mythologies. Anyway, I digress...
1. for the first time we learn about Chatwin's journal notes and the burnt manuscript on nomads.
This re-focuses the reader. Now we are wondering about this manuscript and maybe about what was lost and maybe about what Chatwin was unable to say. And we might just be darn curious about these notes. They are coming, of course.
In book structure
- somewhere early Chatwin corrects Arkady on the use of the term Nomad (chapter 4?)
- In chapter four we get a discussion of Nomads - The Beja, Kguibat, Quashgai, Taimanni, Turkomen, Bororo & Taureg
- In chapter chapters 11-12 Chatwin neatly turned the story to focus on how Dan Flynn accepts him.
- In chapter 13 on Strehlow also covers mentions Levi-Strauss & The Savage Mind
- In chapter 15 we learn of the notes and the burnt manuscript
In each place we are getting distracted from the actual Songlines, even as we get deeper into them.
2. The idea that the Maralinga nuclear tests were carried out in the vicinity of unaware Pitjantjatjara's...it's only a mention, but...
It's one reading of mythology, that it encodes practical information, whether material, social, psychological, what have you. And one to which I'm partial, though I have to remind myself it's only one.
A favourite example: Hamlet's Mill, describing the myth of the Lathe of Heaven and its link to vital astronomical / -logical information, centered on the plane of the ecliptic / precession of the equinoxes.
G Santillana & H van Dechend, Hamlet's Mill
ETA work URL and touchstone
I have a narrow window to type up the Notes for 16-29 today, hopefully it stays open.
All those qualifiers stated, then, I'll say the Lathe of Heaven is a set of stories helping to encode knowledge of the precession of the equinoxes, which is important for recognizing such scientific info as the curvature of the earth; the solar calendar (Zodiac); general cosmology such as that the earth isn't the center of the galaxy; etc. Not saying all of these were always known, but they were known by different cultures and it's part of the book to show how variations occur across time & cultural context.
And of course other info is also encoded: think of the Zodiac and its take on personality & social interaction; how Greek myths are "bookmarked" through constellations; and so on.
For me, that's heady stuff.
chapter 16 - 23 - Middle Bore
c16 - Jim Hanlon
c18 - Murder story at Burnt flat - disturbing stuff.
c19 - "The magic of the system was that responsibility for land resides ultimately, not with the owner, but with a member of a neighboring clan"
c20 - Chatwin ponders why the women were "so strong and satisfied" and the men "so drained"
c21 - Travels of the Lizard Ancestor - an "antipodal Helen"
c22 - Konrad Lorenz - On Aggression
- give exchange is aggression ritualized, like claiming territory
c23 - Bandicoot Man's babies & the railroad construction.
- "...the whole of Classical mythology might represent the relics of a gigantic 'song-map'"
Chapter 24 - Glen Armond
- "Body bag" - Chatwin's summation of racist outback Australia?
- "Whites were forever changing the world to fit their doubtful vision of the future"
Chapter 25 - 30 - Popanji & Cullen, to find Titus Tjilkamata
c25 - Learn about Chatwin's experiences with the Nemadi in Mauritania
- Chatwin discusses the idea of returning to an "original simplicity" - revealing/exposing part of Chatwin's romanticizing of nomadism.
c27 - Graham, his band, and the little problem with the initiation ceremonies.
- It's curious that Mick gets a one sentence mention, with no context, way back in Alice Springs. Important? What does Chatwin know of Mick?
c28 - Cullen
- meet several interesting characters - Stumpy Jones & Rolf and his Proust
c29 - Joshua (and his take on the experiments he was subjected to.)
c30 - Arkady leaves, Chatwin begins to look at this notes. More on this chapter later.
- There is a sequential narrative, but the important bits are scattered about here and there. I'm sure I missed some. They are all leading toward Chatwin's notes and Nomadism.
- It seems that Chatwin's take on Nomadism is very Romanticized, a golden past. Today he might digress longer on sustainability. At any rate, I'm not sure his understandings are real.
- Underlying all of this is a pretty clear discomfort with the modern world. Chatwin wants to wish it away; and, outside his moleskin notebooks, he seems to be interested in staying pretty rustic.
- Chatwin is terribly well read, so he can't help not throwing in Ovid, Spinoza, Proust and Homer, even if they are out of context. Is there anything to make of this? Perhaps he simply clashing Songlines and western thought.
- Who is Konrad Lorenz?
He opens, "I had a presentiment that the 'traveling' phase of my life might be over. " Then he opens his notes looking "to shed light on what is, for me, the question of questions: the nature of human restlessness"
This is followed by what is essentially the first note, Chatwin's summary of Pascal's look at human miseries: human miseries are solved by self-undermining distractions, which Chatwin sees as a migratory urge.
"he must slough of detachments in take to the road" (linked with Dostoevsky's Grand Inquisitor"
"Natural selection has designed us...for a career of seasonal journeys on foot...
"greener pastures pall on us, possessions exhaust us"
And be being "From the Notebooks" - in the next thread here: http://www.librarything.com/topic/134759