Sunday, April 28, 2013

Thises and thats, or: allergies suck.

You'll have to forgive me if this post seems a little disjointed.  I've been fighting spring allergies all week, and the allergies have been winning.  My bed is awash in partly-used tissues; I would wake up coughing after a couple of hours' sleep, grab a tissue and sort of blow my nose, then fall back to sleep for a couple more hours with the tissue still in my hand.  Of course, I'd lose my grip on the tissue as soon as I fell asleep, and then the tissue would get lost in the bedclothes.  Lather, rinse, repeat.  I can't wait to do laundry -- I'm sure I'll find five or ten more tissues betwixt sheet and blankets.

It's been quite a number of years since spring has whacked me so badly.  I gather that this year's chilly weather held everything back, and then we had several days of hot weather, which encouraged all the trees to fire off their pollen sacs at once.  That would have been Thursday and Friday, the 18th and 19th, which coincidentally is when my nose started running like a faucet.  It's supposed to get better for the next couple of days.  And we got a little rain today, which should have washed the air clean.  In theory.  It may be a while before my sinuses catch up with that theory.

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So now that the first draft of Annealed is done, I thought it might be good to finish the research.  Look, it's not my fault, okay?  I was waiting for the magic of interlibrary loan to bring me the books I need.  I'm trying to find out something about Australian Aboriginal spiritual practices because an Aboriginal makes a sort of cameo appearance in Annealed, together with practitioners of some other traditional religions around the world.

Interlibrary loan provided just one of the books I requested:  Dreamkeepers by Harvey Arden.  But as it happens, the book we're reading for my Pagan book group just now -- Animism: Respecting the Living World by Graham Harvey -- has a short chapter on Aboriginal culture, as well.

I expect that just about everybody knows about the Dreaming, the time out of time when the Aboriginal world was created.  And a lot of people are probably aware that for Aboriginals, the Dreaming isn't a once-upon-a-time thing, but is still happening now.  What I didn't realize was the extent to which Aboriginal tribes self-identified with their home regions.  In North America, events like the Trail of Tears -- the forced march of the Cherokee people from the southeastern United States to Oklahoma -- were terrible and should never have happened.  But some of the tribes themselves were nomads.  The Sioux, for example, may have started out in the upper Midwest, and moved to the Plains after repeated conflicts with other tribes.

In Australia, I'm learning, things are different.  Each Aboriginal tribe or nation had its own region, and to them, those lands are alive.  Really alive.  A story about a Dreaming being who fell asleep, lending a particular shape to a line of hills, isn't just a myth to explain how the hills got that shape; the hills are that shape because Dreaming being never left.  So Aboriginals feel they have a responsibility to care for their tribal lands.  They have stories to hand down to new generations, cave paintings and other features of the landscape to maintain, and so on.  But the white settlers couldn't wrap their brains around this idea.  To them, the land is just the land, a thing to exploit.  So they brought the Aboriginals onto their ranches as workers, and then later (when the government decreed that ranchers treat Aboriginals like human beings) kicked them out and sent them to live in camps and shanty towns away from their native lands.  So for the Aboriginals, not only can they not take care of their tribal lands properly, but they can't teach their children how to be a proper member of the tribe, either.

The books I've been reading are at least a decade old, and so I'm hopeful things have changed in the interim.  Not very hopeful, mind you, but hopeful.

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Besides learning a little bit about Aboriginals in Australia, I've also been reading -- for the first time ever -- The Eye in the Pyramid, the first book in the Illuminatus! Trilogy, by Robert Shea and Robert Anton Wilson.  It was first published in 1975, the year I graduated from high school, and boy, is it ever a trip.

And I played around with Audacity yesterday and came up with a 30-second radio ad that will air on the Indie Exchange's Blog Talk Radio shows next month.  I'm going to try to figure out how to upload it onto the blog so you can listen to it, if you like, and see whether I sound as bad as I've been feeling this week.  If it works, it'll be on the Radio Appearances tab.

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