Songlines, Chapters 16-30

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Songlines, Chapters 16-30

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Mar 10, 2012, 4:45 am

I think I am going to be despicable and pull out. I sincerely apologise. But here is the thread for those who want it.

I'm sure bas can take over leading this (though I risk carrying on too long a joke that was never very funny)...

Sorry to do this. There is just no room in my life for leading Songlines right now, or in the near future.

Mar 11, 2012, 9:50 pm

Nobody has said they forgive me. Is this because they don't forgive me, or because they don't actually care very much?

Mar 11, 2012, 10:07 pm

I forgive you, and am even glad, because I hope we will get to reading this later when I can join!

Mar 11, 2012, 10:43 pm

Of course we forgive you.

Mar 11, 2012, 11:22 pm

I would never insult you by forgiving you, Choco:)

Mar 12, 2012, 12:43 am

You should forgive us that we don't forgive you ; )

Mar 12, 2012, 1:08 am

You are all incredibly nice.

Are you there Dan, and elenchus, and drmary, and anyone else who was really excited about this group read? Do any of you want to take over as leader? We are taking expressions of interest at this time.

Mar 12, 2012, 1:22 am

I could write a nice review on the Songlines... there is lot to say about the book's conception and the idea behind it, lead a group read would be another daunting task. I am not up to it for the moment

Mar 12, 2012, 1:35 am

Mac, I do not forgive you.

Mar 12, 2012, 1:52 pm

How about you guys do this book next month and I will try to join you. I am still plowing through Moby Dick and Gormehghast. I took this weekend off and read some Elizabeth Peters mysteries.

Mar 12, 2012, 7:32 pm

Muse, glad I am not reading this thread

Mar 12, 2012, 7:52 pm

Next month I for one am not doing any group read except the 20th century music one.

bas, you just did read this thread.

Mar 12, 2012, 8:42 pm

I am all for giving.

I gleaned quite a bit from the discussion so far, more than I'd dare hope since it was my first foray in the salon (even if only as Dodo / Lurker). No worries here.

Can't lead a reading of Songlines at this time but am more than happy to pause whilst focusing on other reading.

Edited: Mar 13, 2012, 9:15 am

Choc - I won't forgive you either, as long you don't forgive me for staying away for LT and missing this thread (spring

I'm no expert, not prepared, and not terrifically available on time, but love the book and am happy to push the thread as something like a leader, as long as Mac promises to hang around and there is interest. I do have notes on these chapters, in a paper notebook (mixed with my bible notes...weird in many ways, I know...)

So, before we talk about timing, need to know the interest level.

question 1
How much interest is there to move ahead?

question 2 - for those rearing to go
Do you want to begin again - chapter 1, or keep it spliced and start here with chapter 16?

Mar 13, 2012, 2:49 pm

I am interested to start all over again, although I have to find my copy of the SL...somewhere

Mar 13, 2012, 3:38 pm

Q1 - Still interested!
Q2 - Can do either, as I'm using my old review to refresh my memory rather than reading along. Will post comments & questions based on where others are in the book.

Mar 13, 2012, 3:51 pm

I am in. I'll do whatever you guys want, start at the beginning, go to chap. 16, or wait till later.

Mar 13, 2012, 6:14 pm

I'll watch.


Mar 14, 2012, 3:15 pm

thinking...I'm leaning towards (1) continuing the threads from where we are; and, (2) kicking off this thread, officially now. Anyone want to second that?

Mar 14, 2012, 3:41 pm


Mar 14, 2012, 6:44 pm

Dan The Man. Thank you.

Mar 15, 2012, 1:04 am

The longest official place name in Australia is a Pitjantjatjara word, Mamungkukumpurangkuntjunya Hill in South Australia, which means "where the Devil urinates".

Mar 15, 2012, 1:18 am

We should add a warning to the beginning of this thread

"Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers should use caution when reading this thread as it may contain images and voices of deceased persons"

Mar 15, 2012, 9:54 am

a bit of a problem with the arts in general...

Edited: Mar 25, 2012, 12:30 am

Links to previous threads

wandering pre-read thread:
chapters 1- 15 :

Mar 15, 2012, 9:56 am

"...the whole of Classical mythology might represent the relics of a gigantic 'song-map'" - chap 23

Edited: Mar 15, 2012, 10:10 am

Re-posting #26 from the previous thread because my first read through I had this idea in mind the entire read. I wanted to see Chatwin bring this up and kept waiting and waiting. And then there is was, one clear but paltry mention in chapter 23.

- but what a wonderful idea, that all mythologies have underneath them the practical. That there was an archive of information to preserve, including a map of keys in the terrain and that this later becomes stories until the informational moorings are lost. And that maybe these Songlines still have this informational mooring intact.

- Does Chatwin mention this only once to highlight this or to avoid it?
- If he's avoiding it, is it because there is not enough info to pursue or because it simple doesn't work?

- side track: I even hoped to be able to add "and the bible" before the word "might" - but having now read some of the earlier parts of the bible I'm aware it's derived much older stuff, and (1) far removed from any origin mythologies to the point that (2) it's a compilation of stuff that themselves are distally derived from several separate mythologies. Anyway, I digress...

Mar 15, 2012, 1:37 pm

Before we get to chapters 16-30, I need to include chapter 15 because two things happen here:

1. for the first time we learn about Chatwin's journal notes and the burnt manuscript on nomads.

This re-focuses the reader. Now we are wondering about this manuscript and maybe about what was lost and maybe about what Chatwin was unable to say. And we might just be darn curious about these notes. They are coming, of course.

In book structure
- somewhere early Chatwin corrects Arkady on the use of the term Nomad (chapter 4?)
- In chapter four we get a discussion of Nomads - The Beja, Kguibat, Quashgai, Taimanni, Turkomen, Bororo & Taureg
- In chapter chapters 11-12 Chatwin neatly turned the story to focus on how Dan Flynn accepts him.
- In chapter 13 on Strehlow also covers mentions Levi-Strauss & The Savage Mind
- In chapter 15 we learn of the notes and the burnt manuscript

In each place we are getting distracted from the actual Songlines, even as we get deeper into them.

2. The idea that the Maralinga nuclear tests were carried out in the vicinity of unaware Pitjantjatjara''s only a mention, but...

Edited: Mar 17, 2012, 9:50 pm

This message has been deleted by its author.

Edited: Mar 17, 2012, 9:50 pm

>27 dchaikin:

It's one reading of mythology, that it encodes practical information, whether material, social, psychological, what have you. And one to which I'm partial, though I have to remind myself it's only one.

A favourite example: Hamlet's Mill, describing the myth of the Lathe of Heaven and its link to vital astronomical / -logical information, centered on the plane of the ecliptic / precession of the equinoxes.
G Santillana & H van Dechend, Hamlet's Mill

ETA work URL and touchstone

Mar 20, 2012, 10:44 am

I've been re-orienting myself back into this text. I've been afraid of jumping into the Notes section because I thought it would be overwhelming. Finally started. They are overwhelming; and also disorienting; and, it's challenging to identify themes or links or main points. They are also wonderfully entertaining.

I have a narrow window to type up the Notes for 16-29 today, hopefully it stays open.

Mar 20, 2012, 10:49 am

Elenchus - Can you tell us more about Hamlet's Mill? Porius's review is intimidating. Also, what is the myth of the Lathe of Heaven?

Edited: Mar 20, 2012, 1:20 pm

Porius's review is intimidating! I also think it's pretty representative, haven't tried my hand at my own review. I read it years ago and know I need to revisit, but don't recall / understand enough to add much more.

All those qualifiers stated, then, I'll say the Lathe of Heaven is a set of stories helping to encode knowledge of the precession of the equinoxes, which is important for recognizing such scientific info as the curvature of the earth; the solar calendar (Zodiac); general cosmology such as that the earth isn't the center of the galaxy; etc. Not saying all of these were always known, but they were known by different cultures and it's part of the book to show how variations occur across time & cultural context.

And of course other info is also encoded: think of the Zodiac and its take on personality & social interaction; how Greek myths are "bookmarked" through constellations; and so on.

For me, that's heady stuff.

Mar 20, 2012, 1:51 pm

notes for Chapters 16-30

chapter 16 - 23 - Middle Bore

c16 - Jim Hanlon

c18 - Murder story at Burnt flat - disturbing stuff.

c19 - "The magic of the system was that responsibility for land resides ultimately, not with the owner, but with a member of a neighboring clan"

c20 - Chatwin ponders why the women were "so strong and satisfied" and the men "so drained"

c21 - Travels of the Lizard Ancestor - an "antipodal Helen"

c22 - Konrad Lorenz - On Aggression
- give exchange is aggression ritualized, like claiming territory

c23 - Bandicoot Man's babies & the railroad construction.
- "...the whole of Classical mythology might represent the relics of a gigantic 'song-map'"

Chapter 24 - Glen Armond
- "Body bag" - Chatwin's summation of racist outback Australia?
- "Whites were forever changing the world to fit their doubtful vision of the future"

Chapter 25 - 30 - Popanji & Cullen, to find Titus Tjilkamata

c25 - Learn about Chatwin's experiences with the Nemadi in Mauritania
- Chatwin discusses the idea of returning to an "original simplicity" - revealing/exposing part of Chatwin's romanticizing of nomadism.

c27 - Graham, his band, and the little problem with the initiation ceremonies.
- It's curious that Mick gets a one sentence mention, with no context, way back in Alice Springs. Important? What does Chatwin know of Mick?

c28 - Cullen
- meet several interesting characters - Stumpy Jones & Rolf and his Proust

c29 - Joshua (and his take on the experiments he was subjected to.)

c30 - Arkady leaves, Chatwin begins to look at this notes. More on this chapter later.

Mar 20, 2012, 1:58 pm

Overall themes or thoughts

- There is a sequential narrative, but the important bits are scattered about here and there. I'm sure I missed some. They are all leading toward Chatwin's notes and Nomadism.

- It seems that Chatwin's take on Nomadism is very Romanticized, a golden past. Today he might digress longer on sustainability. At any rate, I'm not sure his understandings are real.

- Underlying all of this is a pretty clear discomfort with the modern world. Chatwin wants to wish it away; and, outside his moleskin notebooks, he seems to be interested in staying pretty rustic.

- Chatwin is terribly well read, so he can't help not throwing in Ovid, Spinoza, Proust and Homer, even if they are out of context. Is there anything to make of this? Perhaps he simply clashing Songlines and western thought.

- Who is Konrad Lorenz?

Mar 25, 2012, 12:29 am

Chatwin closes chapter 30 with a sort of introduction of his notes. This could use a few re-reads at you make your way through the notes

He opens, "I had a presentiment that the 'traveling' phase of my life might be over. " Then he opens his notes looking "to shed light on what is, for me, the question of questions: the nature of human restlessness"

This is followed by what is essentially the first note, Chatwin's summary of Pascal's look at human miseries: human miseries are solved by self-undermining distractions, which Chatwin sees as a migratory urge.

"he must slough of detachments in take to the road" (linked with Dostoevsky's Grand Inquisitor"

"Natural selection has designed us...for a career of seasonal journeys on foot...

"greener pastures pall on us, possessions exhaust us"

And be being "From the Notebooks" - in the next thread here: