Primarily a writing exercise, this dream journal-inspired blog is a quiet introspective sojourn into the process that we traverse in going from private dream to public art. I see our dreaming as an internalized mythmaking. As I philosophize and expressively exhibit dreams, both private and public, I encourage and delight in creative language as a way to practice experiential metaphors through a “public dreaming." Writing Theory: Creative Dream Fiction

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Dreamtime and the Repatriation of Sacred Letters

Stencil art showing unique clan markers and dreamtime stories symbolising attempts to catch the deceased's spirit
"The source of the word alcheringa is Arunta, an aboriginal language of Australia. Sometimes translated as “the dreamtime,” it refers to a mythic world that existed at the beginning of time and continues to exist in our own time as a parallel world, revealing itself whenever we dream and whenever someone speaks or sings a myth." Dennis Tedlock, An Introduction to the Alcheringa Archive (From Jacket2, also on Jerome Rothenberg's Poems & Poetics

In the first edition of "Alcheringa" a quote reads, "He who loses his dreaming is lost", attributed to "Australian Aborigine". In opening of the Autumn 1970 journal, the final "Statement of Intention" reads, "to combat cultural genocide in all its manifestations". That being said, it is curious to read such studies as that printed in the Australian Journal of Media & Culture (vol. 2, no. 1 1987), where an article by Vijay Mishra entitled, "Aboriginal representations in Australian texts" reads, 

Forgotten I lost dreaming
Country I left forgotten lost 
which is epigrammatieally reduced, by the translator T.G .H. Strehlow, to "He who loses his dreaming is lost," is directly related to a failure to perceive the radical difference between oral poetics (the fluid verse translation) and the wrillen text (the epigrammatic reduction). Obviously no one can maintain a total separation of the oral from the written.

Meanwhile, if one searches in the active publications of Australia's Central Land Council, an Indigenous repertoire of activism and scholarship dedicated to principles of sovereignty, there is a very interesting article on the Strehlow, the subject of lost attribution in Alcheringa's English translation from "Australian Aborigine"entitled, "The Strehlow collection of sacred objects" regarding further issues of repatriation, while focusing on the repatriation of sacred object collected by the modern anthropologist, as opposed, in the case of Alcheringa, the repatriation of sacred letters, collected by post-modern anthropologists of world literature.

Headgear worn during dancing (wood, human hair, kangaroo hair, feathers); Arrernte people, Australia
My mother visits her perception of my reality. North of here, it gets even colder, earlier, and winter is almost perpetual. I ask her exactly what her interests are. She is unresponsive. There are two streets that accommodate visitor appeal, with cafes and the like. We walk on the frozen sidewalk ground. A haze of white ice sheathes the panorama, compressing the moment into one look of sheer petrification. Walking down the main street, it seems as though no one lives here, the outside aesthetics are drab and unused, mere coverings for the inside hospitality, driven by weathered necessity. As we walk into a café, I realize I have enemies here. In the back hall, awaiting our hot teas, a youth of my age wrestles my muscles and joints in a twisted bout of unwanted pain. Unable to satisfy his need for violence, I ask that we exit the café, and so we return into the cold, sunless ache of our thirsting feet. 

Shoes (made from feathers and human hair); Arrernte people, Australia
Midway through the year, I go south to visit my father, to witness birth. With video camera in hand, I capture my contracting stepmother on the front lawn overlooking the St. Lawrence River. In great joyful upheaval, she cries, “it’s a boy!” as the body emerges. 

Ku-ring-gai_Chase - petroglyph, via Waratah Track (Rock is triassic Hawkesbury Sandstone, 220 million years of age)
That night, sitting lone by the coal-burning fire, I am visited by a presence. A naked Indian, greeting me with the power of a thousand friendships, unites in my melodrama with healing insight. He teaches me the power of the directions, North and South. The cold childless North of human danger and the impenetrable forces of nature, and the warm South of youthful diversion in the over-ritualized haunt of abundant fires. He reaches out to me, to plead with him for the stars to answer in earthly illumination. While with eyes closed, he recounts the bitter tales of repatriation, colonization and the staggering visions of post-genocide rehabilitation, for the entire world. And I wake, alone. The sun, directly overhead in a cloudless sky, is in full eclipse.
A presence belied in the soft air aglow with diligent drizzle
         From this, our American lighthouse heaven,
                 Alit with dream
                 in stories told by great-grandmother’s
                          Life lived outside the pages of the “true”
                                      And into the truly earth-quaking
                                      of dream
Men whose throats burn with the soil of their unloved mother
        Croaking up agro-fossil drains
                Reaching from modern skylines to prehistory,
                issuing from our Christ-death
In the housed mystery of our yet undiscovered world
        Beneath each colonial home
                Shot out of the ugly worldview
                        Misplaced over the moral genealogy

In an ecological philosophy
        To dry the eyes of our spectral hosts
               Who watch and wonder
                        With still unborn eyes

- excerpt from "With Still Unborn Eyes"

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