Ayers Rock a.k.a. Uluru a.k.a. Beethovens 5th + Ulysses
OK... I have to write something about songlines now. It's a term, a concept, I've been circling the past year and a half. Since I was led on to read the aptly named book "the Songlines", written by Bruce Chatwin. Compulsory reading for all architects and planners - when I become president.
Songlines is a virtual map of Australia used by the Aborigenes. That is one way to describe it and my main angle of interest. Imagine a nomadic people. With stoneage technology. Walking the desert for 50.000 years (go home Jesus and your 40 days). They have no practical way to carry around maps of routes they only use once every 50 years. They have to keep all in their minds. They use song for this. Stories, narratives, with a melody.
"In the beginning the earth was an infinite and murky plain, separated from the sky and from the grey salt sea and smothered in a shadowy twilight."
The beginning describes a world, an earth, where all things is allready there. As lumps of matter hidden in the ground. The Ancients. All this potential is released when the sun first feel the urge to be born. It's not an outside force who pulls it up. It's all there allready. All in right time. The Ancients, the Ancestors, awaken and rise in the sun.
"The mud fell from their thighs, like placenta from a baby. Then, like the baby's first cry, each Ancestor opened his mouth and called out, 'I AM!' "... each one "put out his left foot and called out a second name. He put out his right foot and called a third name ... calling all things into being and weaving their names into verse".
Thus the land was not there before it was named. It must exist in the mind first. Not far from a buddhist idea of the world as an illusion. The land is the stories told about it. And vice versa the stories can be read in the landscape - each rock and river and featureless plain of gravel playing their part. Noting the melody as one walk past.
This all points to a number of interesting ideas - which will be discussed in upcoming posts and filed under the brand new label "songlines" :
- The question of identity and belonging.
- Memory of a space through a narrative
- The landscape as a representation of itself.
- Space perceived as a network
... and more - so stay tuned...