Where is wildness and wilderness these days?
A Harakmbut elder in his nineties talks about his memory of the first missionaries arriving to his part of the Peruvian jungle, "No one wanted to go to school, and anyway after the missionaries came, our children died. We learned things, though: we learned money and Spanish and work. We learned that we had to work for money for needs we didn't have before, matches, salt and sugar. Why were we civilized? For what were we civilized? To be taught that we needed sugar and oil and money and clothes and food from the markets, more and more."
The quote comes from acclaimed writer Jay Griffiths' book "Wild", which she will be talking about this month, April 28th, at the October Gallery.
The Songlines of Wildness
Jay Griffiths will talk about her book, “Wild: An Elemental Journey” which describes her journeys to wildernesses of earth and ice, water, fire and air. This book is the result of a seven-year odyssey among Native people, listening to their philosophies; meeting cannibals; anchoring a boat to an iceberg where polar bears slept; joining Inuit hunters on a whale hunt; drinking shamanic medicine with Amazonian healers; visiting sea gypsies and journeying to the freedom fighters of West Papua.
She will discuss the songlines of the earth, the paths in the Papuan highlands remembered in song, and the ethereal music of shamans, as well as the songlines of Aboriginal Australia. The talk will explore the words and meanings which shape ideas of wildness and it will illustrate the anarchic nature of wildness, as well as the kindness of what is wild, both in nature and the human mind. The talk will also explore some of the political resonances of wilderness and the corporate invasions of indigenous lands, arguing for the essential freedoms, and the necessary wildness of the human spirit, everywhere.
Jay Griffiths is the author of two works of non-fiction “Wild: An Elemental Journey” and “Pip Pip: A Sideways Look at Time”. She has also written a long short story, “Anarchipelago” based on the road protest movement of the 1990s. She is the winner of many awards, including the Orion prize and the Barnes and Noble award for the best first-time author. She lives in Wales.Photo. Unknown man, unkown photographer - Papua New Guinea