Category Archives: Metaphors

Squeeze-box

I picture
stories
one on each fold of a squeeze-box.

Life breathed into each;
palpable,
real,
physical,
material.

Then,
collapsed with the squeeze of the hands,
air P-U-S-H-H-H-E-D out.
Story upon story,
all together,
as one.

Resonance,
they speak to each other.
They exist together as one materiality.
At home,
in a squeezebox.

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Djaburr

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,
held
in relation.
A universe of
tiny worlds,
all
from one.
Delicate?
No,
strong.
Connected

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Time travel machine

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…

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The promise of a seed

Last week my friend R shared with me the idea/metaphor that a seed acts like an organiser. A seed contains all the information and plans (DNA) that are needed to shape energies to make a tree. At the time he shared this story I felt and knew it to be true, but the idea, as a metaphor, is taking shape in unexpected ways. He had used the metaphor in the context of social change. The manifestation of the metaphor that came into being whilst reading through my research transcripts was a little different.
Spirit, energy, genius
flowing through us
like nutrients, water;
what a seed needs
to germinate and grow
we receive,
we translate,
express and birth this essence
into physical form
seeds needs to be broken
so a new form
can emerge.

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Loops

Post sound-trip to Litchfield with Al, I kept on envisioning sound and how it travels through people and place and where it originates from. I saw loops rising up from the earth, moving up and through people and looping back into the earth. Was this image influenced by what I had read from Maratja (as cited in Christie 2010a) about land, sound and people? He says, ‘It’s the land which holds the sound, and then after that, we Yolŋu people. What we are talking about, is how that sound emerges’ (p. 67).

I though, if there is a cycling, or looping of sound from the land, through people and back again, maybe it would look like this…
Last time I was living on country north of Broome, people were reluctant to talk about the Song Cycle which runs along the coast from One Arm Point to Bidyadanga. I could understand why, increased attention on the Song Cycle from the proposed LNG development at Walmadany had stimulated much conversation and inquiry about it. Countrymen and women were worried that all this talk might somehow dilute the power of this entity… I stopped asking questions.

During my journalling one day I felt compelled to draw this image of an entity weaving through the land, up above the surface and diving down into the earth…

Sound, looping, vibration, snaking, rising, diving, resonating…
Al asked if I would record myself singing. The song that emerged was… ‘Weaving, timelessly snaking through place’. I wanted to use his electronic instrument to improvise with this sample to create a piece of music that would loop in the same way that the images above do. We managed to find a way to do this and the improvised piece that emerged was this…
 
References:

Christie, M 2010a, ‘The task of the translator’, International Journal of Learning in Social Contexts Australia, no. 2, pp. 67-74.

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Spirals everywhere

From my dad

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Spirals and circles

One of things we contemplated and explored in our deep listening circle yesterday was how we make meaning of spirals and circles. For me spirals are about going in to the heart, our core, and taking with us the nutrients we need to be whole. Like casting a net and catching fish… or maybe a fish trap that funnels in… collecting the feelings, ideas and knowledge that help us to transform. I remember the winter solstice spiral that J made out of candles when I lived at Wollangarra. A slow and intentional walk, a going in, and emerging back out with resolution and a deeper knowing. A part of me wonders why the centre of a spiral is not more prominent. But spirals are dynamic, by virtue of their form they beckon movement. Is there a gentle reminder here to maintain a flow?

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Gaṉma

We arrived at the beach just south of Narooma in the morning, well, the estuary that leads to the beach (not the one in the picture, I didn’t take my camera). As soon as I stepped out onto the sand I said, ‘This is like gaṉma!’ Our group was there with Uncle Max and his family to perform whale ceremony, on the small patch of sand that was left by the confluence, as the tide came rushing in. The creek was running out, mixing with the salt water from the sea, flotsam on top and lots of bubbling action under the water’s surface. A deep mixing… How apt then that all of us lot from all corners of the world should come to these banks to make and celebrate ways of being and connection. Only days before I had gone back to readings about gaṉma theory and metaphor.

This piece on gaṉama is from Marika (1999, p. 7) in her Wentworth Lecture :
 
“The water circulates silently underneath, and there are lines of foam circulating across the surface. The swelling and retreating of the tides and the wet season floods can be seen in the two bodies of the water. Water is often taken to represent knowledge in Yolngu philosophy. What we see happening in the school is a process of knowledge production where we have two different cultures, Balanda and Yolngu, working together. Both cultures need to be preserved in a way where each one is preserved and respected.”
 
Watson-Verran and Chambers (1989) articulate the gaṉma metaphor as ‘… the forces of the streams combine and lead to deeper understanding and truth’ (p. 5). 
 
I was so happy then to discover that Carol, who I met at the end of this ceremony by this confluence, used gaṉma to help frame her research with Uncle Max (see Meeting country : deep engagement with place and indigenous culture, http://handle.uws.edu.au:8081/1959.7/20459).  
 
So what possibilities does this metaphor hold for me and my research?

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Madi dreams, metaphors and keeping it messy

Written on Tuesday 30th May

I had the most unusual dream this morning. I was swimming in the San Remo channel with a girl and there were madi throughout the water. I told the girl to catch one but she didn’t. Then I saw one swimming past and grabbed a hold of it. I remember feeling anxious and excited about the potential of catching a madi, but unsure of how safe it would be for my hands. Once I got to the shore with the madi it was trying to get out of my hands and was doing as much harm as it could in the process. I didn’t want to let go, but I was in pain. Eventually the madi escaped back into the water. I tried going after it but it was gone. What is the lesson for me in this? What am I trying to grab a hold of that doesn’t want to be held? What is causing me pain?  

………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….

I feel as though some ideas have started to send down roots into the metaphoric medium which is my research. All good things take time, nutrients… learning from the work that was carried out by Marika and Christie in Yirrkala on Yolngu metaphors for learning is one such idea. I keep coming back to these metaphors and feel that there are much nutrients there for me to grow my ideas. 

The question of process and negotiation my research topic is very much at the surface for me. I feel as though I am not part of this process and that it is not transparent. I know that I am likely to have expectations that cannot be met, but I am all about method. I need to write to J about this today. 

How can I connect with, understand, intersect, watch???
What voice will Yolngu epistemology have in my research?
What role can metaphor play in my research if it is not a central actor? Can I even pre-empt what will emerge?   

An apt quote to remind me that research is not a neat and well defined process and nor should it be!:
‘Verran and Christie et al. take seriously his [Law’s] call for methods which engage with the messiness of both life and research and eschew the processes which first tidy it up and then cover the act of tidying’ (Nichols 2011: 36).

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