Monographic Course - The Songlines - Page three

In this section, I'm going to try to write an essay on "The Songlines" by Bruce Chatwin, 1988 Penguin Books.

"Music", said Arkady,"is a memory bank for finding one's way about the world".

  • Initiation and Transformation
    The challenges for Chatwin were of daring proportion. He wanted to analyze all the nomadic cultures of the world and summarize his studies in a definition of nomadism which he considered as the "normal human condition". He had to endure physical pain, sickness, imprisonement, accidents, foul weather. He steadily went on and on, arriving at the point of no return when he died of AIDS, shortly after having published this "cosmic book". He was tempted to settle down, like all of us feel at a certain age. But he always reacted, driven by his dispair and his restlessness, his interest and attraction for the unusual, until he could take no more, and nature claimed him back.

    Aboriginals have to submit to initiation, in order to take on their challenges. They cannot even look at their future Tjuringa, without having been initiaed. This consists in "being circumcized or subincised, the latter meaning having your urethra peeled back like a banana skin and flayed with a stone knife." Temptation in nowadays Aboriginal societies are the following aspects of western society: alcohol, gambling and settlement.

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