Today was the first day of group presentations from Kane's book. Tracy, Jeremiah, Faith, and Heather did a great job checking us in into the types of maps with their lovely little show called "Stating the Obvious about Maps". I loved Tracy's enthusiastic overview of the many types of maps. Heather enlightened us with the traditions of aborigiones (sp), and Faith discusses the many myths that are still told today. Creative Jeremiah demonstrated the oral map with distinct images used to guide the audiences' minds to the place intended to end up- in this case, the final location was to find a bottle of wine!! This visual description turned what would have been a simple, plain map into a beautiful, life-like map that one could feel themselves actually IN the map. The oral tradition used this feature to enhance the potential of the map and the images are intended to remain in the audiences mind so that they can recall them if needed. This oral map is memorable.
The next group was Allison, Krisit, Stacy, Nicole, Kellen,, and Courtney. Applause! Great acting guys, we enjoyed the cross-dressing. The story was Midir (sp) which Kane chose to demonstrate how myths use boundaries. Most of the time boundaries are what sepparate the natural from the super-natural world. The story showed the constant process of birthing and changing in the mythical world where two worlds come together, (i.e. the sea and the sky) and it is that point that is most sacred. The process is a transformation from the ordinary into the the spiritual, and the mythteller is responsible for constructing the physical world to the spiritual world. The group emphasized that when a physical transformation takes place, so does the mind change, and they clearly acted this out!
Kristi gave an excellent presentation on polyphony, which is multiple melodies at the same time creating one piece, or one sound consisting of many sounds. This is a quality that is essential to the oral culture. An example Kristi gave us is of a man in the woods who can hear one, individual sound from the many sounds of the forest; however, in order for the man to hear the sound, he must think like an animal, unconsciously. This relates to boundaries because his polyphonic ability only comes from crossing the boundary from the human world, which cannot piece together many sounds into one, but into the animal world. Dr. Sexson pointed out that the man from the human world , or for us, the writing world, is univocal, meaning one vocalzation, and can only think about one thing at a time. Hint hint classmates, I do believe this will be on the final exam!!!
Group 3 did a beautiful presentation on dreams and the mythical story called The Earth-shapers, which was of the creation of the world. In the story, Jennie, who was earth, dreamt of of beauty, so the gods created it. The room had a dream-like essence to it- dark, lit only by candles and the glow of the "dream" ball that Jennie held in her hand. A few of Kane's theories of dreams and the myth world are : "For mythtelling societies, however, the unconscious is continuously awake and aware, and not merely in the individual but in nature as well" (134); " The state of dreaming is similar to the state of pattern, .....something invisible yet making its pressence felt in visible forms, something that behaves as if it had properties of mentality, something that occupies no time and space"(135).
Unfortunatly, I was outside in the lobby getting ready for my performance durring group 4's presentation-I"m sorry!! But I saw a lot of it through the window-it might have been more fun that way actually because I really got to judge the presentation on your body expressions, costumes, and props. Their chapter, on Complementarity, starts with the story Branwen Daughter of Llyr-this must have been what the play was depicting. This chapter discusses "how a myth contains within it a whole mythology and how that mythology constitutes and ecological vision" (Kane 165). Kanes defines natural ecology as a "circuit or loop of communication, with messages travelling around the circuit bringing the parts of hte system together into an overall pattern of complementarity" and therefore" the behavior of any part of the circuit is partially determined by the results of its previous message" (165). Kane futhers his point by claiming that" the later myths of organized agricultural humanity lose this openess to the circuits of meaning in wilderness, to copy instead the imposed order of the garden".
Group 5 was astounding. They blindfolded the audience, altered the SMELL of the room (fragrence spray bottle) , heightened the sound of the room (music), just to heighten the experience of the audience. However, this was no ordinary experience-it was totally oral. The group exposed us to REAL polyphony-music with two or more independent melodic parts sounded together. They submereged our minds in to the realities of the oral tradition as we felt, smelled, and listened to six conversations (or arguments) all going on at once! I caught that the debates were over the oral and written cultures as pertaining to Yates and Ong. Very creative friends, very creative. I put my response to Valerie's answer on what method of memory is better, sight or sound, in another blog.
As for group 6, yes, that was my group, we did a lovely little puppet show by the talented Wes and Zac. For those who didnt' catch our message, and I'm sure that most of you did, we demonstrated how myths change over the years, or Kane says "we may see how the context in which a myth is presented actualy reshapes the story, directing it to take on th emeaning of its often invisible context" (Kane 231). From the character's names and characteristics, to the actual story line, the changing of humanity is shown to have great effects on the context of myths-they change to the time in which they are being presented. For those who don't remember, this was represented by the evolving characters: the classical Hermes--Elvis--Eminem, the classical Apollo--a cowboy--Donald Trump, and the classcial Zeus--President Reagan--Judge Judy. However, though the characters changed identities and personalites, the epithets remained to help the audience identify who was who AND to show the oral residue that still thrived despite time: Hermes, the cattle-driving bandit child, Apollo, the light-bringer, and Zeus, the thunderer. We had the audience join in on the repeating of epithets so that they, like the oral community, were able to participate in the process of storytelling.
Some of the context Kane discusses are "language, agriculture, literacy, the individual, the city" (231). Kane also discusses the domestication of speech, which he calls "speech with fences around it", or tamed speech. Instead of the redundant, aggregative, and additive features of the oral narrative (as Ong puts it), the myth becomes simplified, or "fenced", like a garden. In this chapter called Tradition, Kane also talks about the changes of the gods and how they are perceived in contemporary myth-telling. He says that "the gods have lost their habitats and are beginning to behave like heroes and kings in the courts that resound with their praises...they have been driven underground" (238). In other words, the gods have become humanized. I left the class with one last quote from Kane which summarizes the chapter: "Yet even while it is being swallowed, the indigenous mythology gives its shape to the conquering mythology liek moss clinging around a rotted-out tree stump: the original tree has gone, yet it leavs its form on the moss" (239).