Read ✓ The Songlines By Bruce Chatwin – Loufanet.info

The Songlines If I was given a choice of 3 people to invite for dinner from any age, Bruce Chatwin would be one I only wish I could sit down probably in a pub and watch him drink a pint and tell stories of his travels He writes in such a compassionate way about the people he comes across in his travels, he has a way of explaining and understanding histories and events that is so intriging to me This book is so loved and well wornI underlined almost the entire copy It is not only about the aboriginal If I was given a choice of 3 people to invite for dinner from any age, Bruce Chatwin would be one I only wish I could sit down probably in a pub and watch him drink a pint and tell stories of his travels He writes in such a compassionate way about the people he comes across in his travels, he has a way of explaining and understanding histories and events that is so intriging to me This book is so loved and well wornI underlined almost the entire copy It is not only about the aboriginal peoples of Austrailia, but about all of usit alludes to most every time and place and those things that unite us all and make us human There was plenty in this book that irritated me, and at times, yes things that fascinated me Indeed, this book is saved from a one star rating for the simple reason that I found what was conveyed about Australian Aborigine culture and their Songlines fascinating When Chatwin kept to his personal observations of the people of the Outback, whether of European extraction or Aboriginal, I was riveted I have to admit this book did what the best books do inspire me to readon the subject b There was plenty in this book that irritated me, and at times, yes things that fascinated me Indeed, this book is saved from a one star rating for the simple reason that I found what was conveyed about Australian Aborigine culture and their Songlines fascinating When Chatwin kept to his personal observations of the people of the Outback, whether of European extraction or Aboriginal, I was riveted I have to admit this book did what the best books do inspire me to readon the subject but alas even fifteen years after this book s publication there s blessed little to be found on the subject of Aborigine culture easily accessible to the general reader that you can find by browsing the neighborhood bookstore or library This book is easily the best known.I recently read Bryson s In a Sunburned Country and Diamond s Guns, Germs and Steel, and both spoke of the Aborigines of Australia as one of the oldest cultures it was claimed they had been basically unchanged since humans became a behaviorally distinct species at least until European settlement ended their isolation As such, they ve long fascinated anthropologists as a possible window into human pre history Chatwin believed they re a key to a past when humans were constantly on the move, prey to the Great Beast, a sabre tooth cat for whom we were their favorite meal The songlines or dreaming tracks are songs that mark routes which the Aborigines believe were walked by the Ancestor totems and must be followed and sung to keep the land alive The very melody and rhythm of the song can mark direction and distance Chatwin described songlines as the labyrinth of invisible pathways which meander all over Australia and are known to the Aboriginals as the Footprints of the Ancestors or the Way of the Law So songlines are myth, law, trade routes and maps even land deeds Chatwin believed all cultures had their songlines, often preserved in their myths.All good The problem is I find Chatwin maddeningly meandering and unreliable He himself said that To call The Songlines fiction is misleading To call it non fiction is an absolute lie He doesn t distinguish clearly in his text between one and the other Worse, according to the introduction by Rory Stewart, who admired Chatwin s books, he inserted images and symbols, from other poems, painting, and myths, copied other people s sentences and structures and without attribution Stewart doesn t use the word, but by any other name this is plagiarism to me a writer s greatest sin According to Stewart, Chatwin wouldn t hesitate to distort and invent in the stories of his travels in order to call up parallels and allusions to classic works The people who appear in the book are mostly based on real people but let s just say that even according to the man who wrote the introduction to this book, well, you shouldn t judge the people by the portrait, and it s probably kind that in many cases Chatwin changed their names and personal details The other thing that drove me batty was the section From the Notebook which took up about a third of the book Chatwin carried his notes in moleskin notebooks, and considered themprecious than his passport Unfortunately he felt the need to share excerpts with us at length that mostly consisted of quotations from other books, what comes down to lecture notes, and vignettes from other travels This is mostly where he details his anthropological theories about the origins of language, the nomadic nature of humans and our predation by the Great Beast and what it meant for human culture Stewart called Chatwin erudite but for me especially here he comes across to me as a poseur He never really pulls his theories together It s all very scattershot So, is the book worth reading Sorta I m rather glad I did because the picture of the Aborigines intrigued me and left me wanting to know , but I was constantly wishing I was reading asolidly factual book on them In This Extraordinary Book, Bruce Chatwin Has Adapted A Literary Form Common Until The Eighteenth Century Though Rare In Ours A Story Of Ideas In Which Two Companions, Traveling And Talking Together, Explore The Hopes And Dreams That Animate Both Them And The People They Encounter Set In Almost Uninhabitable Regions Of Central Australia, The Songlines Asks And Tries To Answer These Questions Why Is Man The Most Restless, Dissatisfied Of Animals Why Do Wandering People Conceive The World As Perfect Whereas Sedentary Ones Always Try To Change It Why Have The Great Teachers Christ Or The Buddha Recommended The Road As The Way To Salvation Do We Agree With Pascal That All Man S Troubles Stem From His Inability To Sit Quietly In A Room We Do Not Often Ask These Questions Today For We Commonly Assume That Living In A House Is Normal And That The Wandering Life Is Aberrant But For Than Twenty Years Chatwin Has Mulled Over The Possibility That The Reverse Might Be The CasePre Colonial Australia Was The Last Landmass On Earth Peopled Not By Herdsmen, Farmers, Or City Dwellers, But By Hunter Gatherers Their Labyrinths Of Invisible Pathways Across The Continent Are Known To Us As Songlines Or Dreaming Tracks, But To The Aboriginals As The Tracks Of Their Ancestors The Way Of The Law Along These Roads They Travel In Order To Perform All Those Activities That Are Distinctively Human Song, Dance, Marriage, Exchange Of Ideas, And Arrangements Of Territorial Boundaries By Agreement Rather Than ForceIn Chatwin S Search For The Songlines, Arkady Is An Ideal Friend And Guide Australian By Birth, The Son Of A Cossack Exile, With All The Strength And Warmth Of His Inheritance Whether Hunting Kangaroo From A Land Cruiser, Talking To The Diminutive Rolf In His Book Crammed Trailer, Buying Drinks For A Bigoted Policeman And Would Be Writer , Cheering As Arkady S True Love Declares Herself Part Of The Songlines Is A Romantic Comedy , Chatwin Turns This Almost Implausible Picaresque Adventure Into Something Approaching The Scale Of A Greek TragedyThe Life Of The Aboriginals Stands In Vivid Contrast, Of Course, To The Prevailing Cultures Of Our Time And The Songlines Presents Unforgettable Details About The Kinds Of Disputes We Know All Too Well From Less Traumatic Confrontations Over Sacred Lands Invaded By Railroads, Mines, And Construction Sites, Over The Laws And Rights Of A Poor People Versus A Wealthy Invasive One To Chatwin These Are But Recent, Local Examples Of An Eternal Basic Distinction Between Settlers And Wanderers His Book, Devoted To The Latter, Is A Brilliant Evocation Of This Profound Optimism That Man Is By Nature Not A Bellicose Aggressor But A Pacific, Song Creating, Adaptive Species Whose Destiny Is To Quest For The Truth If you re into stuff like this, you can read the full review.Dreaming Tracks The Songlines by Bruce Chatwin Original Review, 1988 05 15 I ve been reading The Songlines by Bruce Chatwin for the past couple of days, which I m really enjoying at about the halfway point It s a travel book, I suppose, about Chatwin s experiences in the Australian Outback learning of Aboriginal culture and their belief in songlines or dreaming tracks , or to the Aboriginals as Footprints of the Ancestors o If you re into stuff like this, you can read the full review.Dreaming Tracks The Songlines by Bruce Chatwin Original Review, 1988 05 15 I ve been reading The Songlines by Bruce Chatwin for the past couple of days, which I m really enjoying at about the halfway point It s a travel book, I suppose, about Chatwin s experiences in the Australian Outback learning of Aboriginal culture and their belief in songlines or dreaming tracks , or to the Aboriginals as Footprints of the Ancestors or the Way of the Law I had great expectations about this book, it is one of the favorites of my wife and for years it stood temptingly staring at me in our library But I m afraid it turned out to be a disappointment As in In Patagonia Chatwin reports about one of his journeys, a meandering quest, not in Fireland this time but in Australia where he went looking for the key to the Aboriginal culture This is a quite interesting topic of course, and the information he gives about the Songlines and everything that s I had great expectations about this book, it is one of the favorites of my wife and for years it stood temptingly staring at me in our library But I m afraid it turned out to be a disappointment As in In Patagonia Chatwin reports about one of his journeys, a meandering quest, not in Fireland this time but in Australia where he went looking for the key to the Aboriginal culture This is a quite interesting topic of course, and the information he gives about the Songlines and everything that s related with them, is very intruiging and challenging But Chatwin has made a very dull affair of his report, it is notthan a chronicle of his interviews with Aboriginals and other people It could not charm me, especially because it was so self centered Bruce Chatwin is all around, and his seemingly easy way to gain the confidence of the Aboriginals wasn t really credible to me And of course it doesn t help when you read in other reviews that he had the habit of inventing some of the stuff he wrote about also in other books Already before page 100 I noticed I began to read diagonally, and that is lethal What a pity But if I ever succeed in getting to Australia, perhaps I ll make another attempt The Songlines is, on the surface, an auto biographical travel narrative Under the surface, it s none of these things and so muchThe door in is that the Bruce of the book may or may not be the Bruce who is writing The narrative Bruce s clumsy attempts to interrogate the Australian aboringine s sacred knowledge smacks of neo colonialistic cultural tourism Is the real Bruce Chatwin really this gormless or is he positioning his narrative Bruce to point out the problems of such a quest T The Songlines is, on the surface, an auto biographical travel narrative Under the surface, it s none of these things and so muchThe door in is that the Bruce of the book may or may not be the Bruce who is writing The narrative Bruce s clumsy attempts to interrogate the Australian aboringine s sacred knowledge smacks of neo colonialistic cultural tourism Is the real Bruce Chatwin really this gormless or is he positioning his narrative Bruce to point out the problems of such a quest The reader is led around in these rhetorical circles the same way Bruce is lead around in circles by his aborigine guides We want to know about the mythical dreaming animals that dot the aborigine view of their land as much as Bruce does What s that over there That landmass he asks his guide That s Shit That s Shit Dreaming, the guide replies and breaks into hysterical laughter I am picky when it comes to travel literature The curious thing about my pickiness when it comes to travel books is that I don t like to use travel literature as a way of broadening my horizons I like to read it to narrow my world view and back up what I already know To clarify, because I suspect I have just made a strange and confusing statement, I only normally read travel literature which deals with places I have already visited because I want a back up opinion from the author What did t I am picky when it comes to travel literature The curious thing about my pickiness when it comes to travel books is that I don t like to use travel literature as a way of broadening my horizons I like to read it to narrow my world view and back up what I already know To clarify, because I suspect I have just made a strange and confusing statement, I only normally read travel literature which deals with places I have already visited because I want a back up opinion from the author What did they think of this village town city country, desert, marsh or mountain Did they love it Or loath it Did they find something to admire or abrogate the memory of the place which was missing in my own observations I m not sure about this approach or why I do it Is it cheating to back up your own observations with someone elses What if their observations were written many years before your own visit Does that then change your opinion with hindsight, but not just the hindsight of a year maybe the hindsight of 50 years and it s not even your hindsight but someone elses And this brings me back round to The Songlines by Bruce Chatwin This book took me outside of my normal travel read parameters because I ve never been to Australia so I have no basis for comparison This amazingly insightful and brilliantly written book examines the dusty centre of Australia and the invisible Songlines which criss cross it Not a conventional travel book by any means as Chatwin combines observations with philosophy, spirituality and dialogue while contemplating the nature of travel and mans desire to move around in a landscape which is increasinglydetermined to ensure that we are sedentary Because I have never been to Australia this book was a songline in its own right for me Australia sung into being by Bruce Chatwin I can t think of a better introduction to a place I am in love with the structure of this book initially, it describes a series of encounters with black and white Australians living in the nearly uninhabitable Central Australia Chatwin s guide on this journey is an Australian of Russian descent, one of the many striking figures we meet and I must add here that Chatwin was accused of the same sin as Kapu ci ski, apparently taking too much liberty with the degree of literariness of his reportages.Chatwin quite delicately at least to my eye I am in love with the structure of this book initially, it describes a series of encounters with black and white Australians living in the nearly uninhabitable Central Australia Chatwin s guide on this journey is an Australian of Russian descent, one of the many striking figures we meet and I must add here that Chatwin was accused of the same sin as Kapu ci ski, apparently taking too much liberty with the degree of literariness of his reportages.Chatwin quite delicately at least to my eyes approaches the description of the Aboriginals although they frequently come across as eluding understanding, before Chatwin starts to comment on his narrative He does not mention the crimes perpetrated by white Australians on the blacks the massacres, the unpunished killings, the taking away of children to reeducate them The whites he describes are a strange mix, representing a variety of attitudes toward the Aboriginals sometimes greed, exasperation, and cruelty, but he mostly focuses on those who offer them nearly unconditional friendship and support.The eponymous Songlines allow the book s surface level to point to the connection between nomadism, land, language and mythology all the scenes Chatwin recorded featuring the Aboriginals and their traditions serve to present them as a present day model of the original nomadic society, which we fully comprehend later on at some point, when the protagonist s Chatwin s guide disappears for a few days, Chatwin turns to discuss the relation between people and the space they re in, people and predators, the nature of humans and human families, and the fears, needs, and coping mechanism we inherit from our distant ancestors Chapter 30 alone his musings on nomadism and human aggression makes the book worth reading This is a book that is a personal response to whatever it is for white people to think about nomadic peoples with layers of meanings It seemed to me to be a very honest book the person telling the story does not try to make himself seem better than he is.I had never heard of songlines before reading this book the fact that I ve lived in Australia for most of my life and did not know this perhaps says as much about me and as much about the life of a white person in Australia as it does about This is a book that is a personal response to whatever it is for white people to think about nomadic peoples with layers of meanings It seemed to me to be a very honest book the person telling the story does not try to make himself seem better than he is.I had never heard of songlines before reading this book the fact that I ve lived in Australia for most of my life and did not know this perhaps says as much about me and as much about the life of a white person in Australia as it does about anything else It would be too easy to say that white Australia knows nothing about the history of black Australia too easy to say anything interesting Actually, white Australia knows nothing about the history of white Australia, so black Australia shouldn t feel too left out We are muchlikely to know American history than our own, muchlikely to know about Native Americans than our own Aboriginal peoples.The idea of songlines is fascinating, that by learning a song you are learning a map that might be enough to show you the way half way across a continent People who don t live in Australia think it is a smaller place than it actually is it is actually as big as the USA without Alaska That you could learn a song and that would be enough to guide you across such a distance seems utterly remarkable to me.A very dear friend of mine bought me this book Ironically, neither of us proved to be very good nomads Despite the title this isn t really a book about the Australian outback, it is another book about Bruce Chatwin We journey in search of him through the fictions he put up as defences Everything else is background I read this and was utterly impressed by it when I was a teenager If I was to give this book a rating today it would be a very low one, but possibly my reasons for this could justify rating it very highly as well view spoiler but since I don t rate books on the whole this is neit Despite the title this isn t really a book about the Australian outback, it is another book about Bruce Chatwin We journey in search of him through the fictions he put up as defences Everything else is background I read this and was utterly impressed by it when I was a teenager If I was to give this book a rating today it would be a very low one, but possibly my reasons for this could justify rating it very highly as well view spoiler but since I don t rate books on the whole this is neither here nor there hide spoiler.From The Songlines I went on to read a pile of other books written by Chatwin not really noticing that the function of Australia and the Aborigines in the story is to prove that Chatwin s beliefs about the role of a nomadic lifestyle and men at the height of their physical prowess defending the home fires from predators in the evolution of humanity are right Reading this book we are not objective observers of the words on the page instead the author uses the format of travel writing and the illusion of reportage to engage us in the narrative As co conspirators in his fiction we partake in the deception of ourselves Chatwin never claimed that his work was true Indeed after Chatwin s death it came out that parts of In Patagonia had been either invented or substantially misrepresented Fact blurs into fiction in Chatwin s travel writing, perhaps it is better to say that the journey is inside his head, to pull the fact and fiction apart would be to pull the man s head apart The form of the book is a mixture of reportage and sections labelled as being from his notebook The impression is organic, but of course a book is a created thing, designed to create a reading experience The most egregious example of this view spoiler at least in my opinion, you ll have to read it yourself to see if you agree, perhaps an even worst example will leap out of you like a sabre toothed tiger and will need to be skewered in your own review hide spoiler is when Chatwin describes himself stopping to give an old tramp some money outside his club and the tramp quickly describes his nomadic existence and philosophy of life using the same metaphor of a bird that lies long distances over seas, lands briefly, before turning round to fly long distances over many seas again, a behaviour that Chatwin himself had discussed only a few pages earlier.In the odd way that life and fiction do come together, the depressed existence of the Aborigines that Chatwin meets in hindsight seems to foreshadow his own death Here where the people who, he felt, were closest in their traditional nomadic lifestyles to prehistoric man, cut off from their traditional routes and as a result dying in every way as though the circulation of the blood in the body and the person through the landscape were one Two years after the publication of this book his own journey was also to come to an end In line with the rest of his life while dying of AIDS he claimed that the symptoms he was suffering from were in fact the result of being bitten by a Chinese bat The truth was perhaps just a little too prosaic for Chatwin

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