Christine provides some really well articulated insights into the modern interpretation of The Dreaming in this the conversation.com article.
“Unfortunately, since colonisation, this multiplicity of semantically rich, metaphysical word-concepts framing the epistemological, cosmological and ontological frameworks unique to Australian Aboriginal people’s systems of religious belief have been uniformly debased and dumbed-down”
This is the inherent problem with trying to frame something so unique into something which is digestible in the modern sense. Especially given our modern society is so heavily influenced by western [typically white] authority. As freethinkers, our natural reaction to a foreign concept is to compare and contrast is against something we are certain about, or have knowledge of. The Dreaming as we understand it undergoes a lot before it gets to us.
600-800 Aboriginal dialects gets sorted into 250 odd seperate language groups,
Those groups are lumped together and translated into a general meaning from which ‘The Dreaming’ emerges.
We then interpret and attempt to decode The Dreaming (now a majorly impartial product) using modern frameworks of religion.
What emerges is a heavily compromised spiritual system which we have little true understanding of. A great deal of this misunderstanding is due to the fact very little was recorded or written down. Aboriginal elders chose to teach verbally, passing lessons from generations to the next, forming a forever changing and easily adaptive encyclopaedia of knowledge. Furthermore the teachings are location based. So it makes sense that this intricate system cannot be compacted into a single curriculum, because it is a network of experience combining to mimic an ecosystem in itself. Perhaps this is why it is so hard to teach? Yet what makes it so truly fascinating.
“As noted earlier, the Warlpiri people of the Tanami Desert describe their complex of religious beliefs as the Jukurrpa”
Further south-east, the Arrerntic peoples call the word-concept the Altyerrenge or Altyerr (in earlier orthography spelled Altjira and Alcheringa and in other ways, too).
The Kija people of the East Kimberley use the term Ngarrankarni (sometimes spelled Ngarrarngkarni); while the Ngarinyin people (previously spelled Ungarinjin, inter alia) people speak of the Ungud (or Wungud)”
“Use one word for it all and get back to me. I’ve got enough on my plate with keno numbers and leering at Indian blokes all day”
The Dreaming evolves with location, because no two locations are the same. As previously mentioned, this creates an eco system of knowledge, and growing and adapting in small parts, while effecting the society as a whole. This is why land is so important to Aboriginal people. It has absolutely nothing to do with value, or severance— it’s integral to the overall fabric of the Aboriginal people. Without one patch of land, the quilt is incomplete. All locations and knowledge are sacred to one another.
I feel like I’m repeating myself, but I’ve never in my life encountered a system of thinking that has such a strong base in ecology, of which the Aboriginal people formed.
Looking at this artwork by Molly Tasman Napurrurla, we see the Dreaming encapsulate itself into somewhat of a map. It shows the Bush plum and their locations, their density and form. It reveals the interaction they have with Humans and other animals alike, and it shows the way in which humans and animals have chosen to respond.
Aboriginal artwork, dating back 50,000 years, provided scientific maps displaying the interaction between the environment and mankind. They are probably the earliest form of generative design— Which blows my mind. This early generative artistic thinking is at the core of Emergent Practices, and I’ve been ignorant to it for so long. I get the sense this is partly due to being taught to value The Dreaming and Aboriginal artwork as seperate entities all throughout our formative education.
Even the term artwork seems odd. We again wring Aboriginal artwork through the modern culture frame of what WE accept as artwork. Mainly display pieces. We view them as decorative. However by my true definition of art (hold onto your hats sportsfans, a 26yo kid is about to give a definitive all encompassing definition of artwork in a university blog), which is some sort of cognitive, abstract visual or sense based performance representing the artists thinking or though system— Then the Aboriginal people are kind of the first ever Artists, and their artwork is the first system based representation of a structure of thinking, probably by tens of thousands of years.
The deeper I dig and reflect on Aboriginal people, the more I realise how absolute their handprint on the history of mankind is. Everyone is interested in their lineage. Why then are we less interested in the lineage of our entire race, when it’s so obviously there for us, every day, to reflect on. Nutters.
Hardback; 2nd Edition – 2016