Tag Archives: Metaphors

Metaphors for learning – a Mäori perspective

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Metaphors, translation and articulation

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.

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I picture
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,
all together,
as one.

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

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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,
in relation.
A universe of
tiny worlds,
from one.

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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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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…

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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