Welcome back my dear friend, metaphor. I thought you were lost from my research, but you were just waiting patiently to the side, perhaps under the shade of a tree, for the right moment to reappear and help me to make sense of the big picture. You are the one who helps me to make things visible. A bridge to understanding, helping me to cross from places that are dimly lit and incomprehensible to places that are illuminated with new meaning. Woohoo!
Category Archives: Metaphors
Do metaphors help us to translate and articulate somatic knowing in lieu of the appropriate language and conceptual frameworks?
Whilst I was sitting on country with the storytellers in my research, most people commented that they found it difficult to put into words the feelings that they had on country and felt limited by the language they had available to describe their sense of connection with country. I too have been faced with a lack of words to describe different feelings of being with country. One person told me that maybe we’re not meant to be able to put everything into words. Fair point.
Maybe this why I seek to see myself embodied in country… so that my body and landscape can be bridged, giving me a metaphoric device with which to make my being with country experiences tangible. I keep thinking back to the Yolŋu term for creek, mayaŋ, which is the same word used to refer to the neck and other body-country metaphors embedded in Yolŋu languages. This discussion reminds me of the squeeze-box metaphor; in my mind I see body and country collapsing into one another. There is no separation.
I was reading the article Brain in your belly which discusses the intelligence of our gut and it made me think about the concept of liyan which many Indigenous people in the West Kimberley speak about. When I hear people talking about liyan they often associate it with the word ‘feeling’, e.g. ‘I got a good liyan from that place’ (In my mind I visualise the storyteller putting their hands on their stomach when they are telling me this).
“Contact with the hara is an inner listening contact, one that is available to us at any time… simply by cultivating our ability to bear with others in pregnant silence” (Wilberg, 2003).
This reference to hara reminded me of darirri, the philosophy of deep listening which Ngangiwumirr woman Miriam Rose Ungunmerr-Baumann articulates as:
“Dadirri means inner, deep listening and quiet, still awareness… Dadirri recognises the inner spirit that calls us to reflection and contemplation of the wonders of creation. Within a deep silence we attempt to find the inner self and the perfect peace. We are not threatened by silence. We are completely at home in it. Our Aboriginal way has taught us to be still and wait. We do not try to hurry things up. We let them follow their natural course – like the seasons.”
Gut brain, liyan, wisdom awareness, hara and dadirri… are they all different articulations of the same type of knowing and connecting within ourselves and with everything else in the world?
Glowczewski, B. (Ed. unpublished) Liyan: The story of a living culture
MacroPlan Australia (2010). Yawuru Indigenous Lands Rezoning Proposal: Final Report, prepared for the Nyamba Buru Yawuru Ltd.
Rosch, E., & Scharmer, O. (1999). Conversation with Eleanor Rosch: Primary Knowing: When Perception Happens from the Whole Field, from http://www.dialogonleadership.org
Ungenmerr-Baumann, M. R. (date unknown). Dadirri: Aboriginal Way – Listening to One Another
Wilberg, P. (2003). Head, Heart and Hara: The Soul Centres of West and East. New Gnosis Publications.
one on each fold of a squeeze-box.
Life breathed into each;
collapsed with the squeeze of the hands,
air P-U-S-H-H-H-E-D out.
Story upon story,
they speak to each other.
They exist together as one materiality.
in a squeezebox.
I came across this image in an earlier blog and it reminded me of a story that P was telling us on Trail. He spoke about the djaburr (fog/mist) being caught in the spider’s web… you’ve go to find the right one and there will be a song in it. This isn’t a song, maybe just a metaphor for life…
Suspended in a web,
A universe of
When I listen to recordings I have made with people on country, it feels like going back into the density of that time and place. By going ‘back in’ I can feel new connections, hold time and be with all that is there is in a kind of timelessness. Maybe my little audio recorder is a time travel machine. What else does it do? It makes people shy, self conscious and feel like someone other than the two of us is listening. It constructs me as a researcher, someone who wants to take stories away. Maybe I could story this little machine as a time traveling device, something that allows us to go back in and dwell in the stories of being with country…