Friday, August 2, 2013

Offerings of the Primitive Peoples of the World

Offerings of the Primitive Peoples of the World

The first signs of human expression which appear on stone walls from deepest antiquity are images of natural forms that had first inspired the primitive artists, and which were in a way the forerunners of what would become writing, although nature has its own many forms of writing that we are only now through the aid of science beginning to realize is in fact an expression asking to the purpose served by writing as we now know it, which is the conveyance of thoughts and ideas through form. Thus the writing of early man was in tangible forms, an idea still expressed in over eight thousand characters of Chinese writing.

One of the weapons of conflict has been writing for when a new form of writing or visual communication is imposed upon alien societies then their own systems of expression and thinking become confused and begin breaking down before the new model imposed upon them. Tangible phenomenal expressions of this are to be found in the European conquests of Pre-Columbian America and in other places where European colonization broke down indigenous societies destroying their ancient highly evolved forms of writing, language, worship and social and cultural values and behaviour which were all forcibly destroyed and replaced by new forms of thinking and action imposed by their conquerors.

Primitive hunting and gathering tribes could communicate with the prey they hunted through an understanding of their ways and language. Socrates was the first to observe how writing is at best a reminder to the one who reads of what is already known, a forerunner of Carl Jung’s hypothesis of a universal unconscious. We are aware of powerful signals which exist between animals and birds and their natural environment for example forewarnings of tsunamis and earthquakes and volcanic eruptions or tsunamis. There is much which we know which science cannot explain and much in the realm of intuition that may never be explained. It would seem that evolution itself is moving steadily towards entropy in the process of which primal knowledges are steadily being lost and  is in accordance with the principles embodied in the second law of thermodynamics. All the so called new ideas which confront us daily are merely recollections of what past ages have experienced even thousands of years ago, which was then known and understood and acted upon more profoundly than in our own times, for the human has basically remained unchanged for nearly half a million years. And hence the space for our new religions and churches, mosques, temples and religions from theologies to economics. The indigenous societies – even those living amongst us at the present time –have managed to preserve much which is precious primeval knowledge which cannot be discovered by science and has developed from what Darwing called evolution through natural selection. These knowledges in theabsence of the written word in these societies have been orally transmitted through millennia in an unbroken oral tradition and social example which is now being so rapidly lost, and which is one of the greatest threats to human survival on this planet. Because of the deep connection between an object and the name which men have given it in palaeolithic times comes down to us in the roots of our own modern languages creating the alphabets themselves. Only after the development of phonetic alphabets would the words and characters begin to lose their original connections with the forms  (and even ideas) which they expressed, perhaps best preserved in the present traditions of the characters written in Chinese.

Among many existing primitive cultures the sensory awareness has not become a word that is existing in writing and in which uncountable sensory inferences remain
 Unexpressed in our own writing but which may yet be transferred from one person to another without speech or writing. This is seen in the language of birds and animals, their songs and calls the most famous examples being in the animal kingdom between whales and dolphin and elephants where messages are conveyed over hundreds of kilometers. The deep evolved sensory participation through their interaction in a common natural environment is extraordinarily highly developed among the human hunter-gatherers still to be found in Africa, India, Australia and other regions  in nearly their ancient states. What has been called extra-sensory perception is rather, a heightened sensory participation. Primitive peoples understand the calls of birds and animals and even though these are often their food prey they have not lost sight of the sacred bond which binds them in a wild survival environment. And the anthropologists have discovered the deep ritual connections which these societies maintain with these birds and animals which they hunt, remarkable examples being between the Australian Aboriginal and the kangaroo, the Kalahari Bushmen and the eland, and the entire bases of totem among tribes and the sources of totemic clan and place names is devolved from this deep relationship. In the primitive languages of these peoples bird and animal calls, the sounds of wind and water, have entered not only into their speech but in their dances and musical expressions and is most deeply felt in their songs in the literary sense. The leap of a kangaroo or the whistling of an arrow or the halt of a startled deer are as beautifully expressed in their dance or rock paintings as in their songs and folk stories.  We should not be surprised to be reminded that these are the startling heights in our own classical music or artistic expression for both are in the worlds of the supersensory awareness of our race and express the highest points of our expression and awareness. After immense spans of time and uncountable changes man has basically remained unchanged as an animal from the kingdom of the animals which he still inhabits despite his cement and concrete barriers. The relationship between primitive peoples and their bird and animal friends there is such a close bond that they are careful in their utterances lest they offend them. This remains between them and the natural world an innate respect which modern scientific man who worships only the gods of money and science has lost. These deep connections remain only with those who live close to the land and when they move away from the lands and forests they used to live in to the towns and cities they lose these contacts and they lose the powers which go with them.

This should be quite obvious but in our modern haste for material comforts we forget that the bonds we have had with nature sustained an earlier far better world, and one we have abused in our tryst with destiny. For the locals the places and wild creatures whom  they have traditionally lived and loved and struggled to survive among have special significances and names as of living things and they are always referred to as relatives such as fathers or mothers, brothers and sisters. This close relationship modern industrial man has lost with the natural world and it is the cause of his downfall from an apex species to one on the road to extinction. Be they streams or rivers, mountains or hills, or the great temperate and alpine forests that are the mothers of the rivers, and in turn their basins from where evolved theancestors of the great river valley civilizations, these are all are the matrix from where our species has sprung and alone can save our species, the humans, from the dark clouds and climate changes that today threaten our arrogance in an industrial civilization.

All this, however, assumes the maintainence of a natural symbiotic order imposed by the fact of our common planetary existence on a single planet spinning in a dark and hostile universe.In our modern industrialized world in which we have mined the deepest river lands and run the rivers dry and mined the mountains where the ice has begun to melt and collapse of their fragile environments, where we have bulldozed our way through the living earth destroying agricultural survival and displaced their peoples both settled and nomadic , we have thus destroyed this ancient and sacred connection between man and the environment that sustains him. The ancient societies and their lands, forests and rivers have rapidly disappeared in the short space of a few centuries since the industrial revolution began.

The traditional autochthonous imagination  which is rooted in these fragile elements have collapsed and a new Orwellian industrial manifestation turns to literature and the arts for solace as new cultural forms force their way out of the mire of ecological destruction and   we become children of a dark chaotic world in which there is no compass and no guide for our future survival. Of necessity as the higher orders have become economically resilient on the harvesting of irreplaceable natural resources the impoverished agrarian and  forest societies  ate the forerunners of extinction and desolation.

This is why it is patently impossible for the modern industrial western mind to come to terms with reality or to read the significance  of the pre-historic epic sagas of antiquity still nestling in remote corners of the world still holding out against impossible odds which are being steadily destroyed through the industrial economy and mindset based upon greed and profit ploughing heedlessly through the most defenceless human populations and their very last pristine environments which they have for so long protected over millions of years. It has been correctly observed that primitive societies cling precariously to their primitive technologies in spite of modern technology because in doing so they maintain their balance with nature. These actions are inextricably bound to their ways of living, their moral and social order, and their animist religion of worshipping nature as mother and provider. Clinging to primitive ways must be seen as more that a desire to be primitive, it must be seen and understood as an umbilical link to the very sources of subsistence that have saved these societies for so long on a planet of immense earth upheavals in the past and which they face again in the momentum of the mechanical industrial upheaval of the present times. They know they must not give up their beliefs in the profound spiritual essences found in the natural world and which are indispensable to them.

These arguments will find  no takers amongst missionaries and social developers let alone the industrialists eager to exploit mineral and ore deposits, harvesters of forests and builders of big dams, who claim they are bringing the poor people a higher standard of living when in fact they are extincting their populations, worship  and culture and turning them into urban and industrial labour forces.

One of the most destructive factors in the modernization of these traditional societies has been literacy itself. It has introduced a new industrial mindset into the vulnerable youth in tune with the rapidly escalating economy which has place only for the rich and not the poor. In fact doing away with the poor creates wealth for the rich and is reminiscent of what happened during the imposition of the corn laws in Ireland during the nineteenth century which shipped the dispossessed into the vast vacant spaces of North America. Social thoreticians will ever argue in favour of development that suits the pockets and interests of the wealthy against the impoverished, oppressed and displaced. History repeats itself. The modern developers still argue that they are working in the interests of upliftment of the poor while there is ranged against the poor the entire industrial and state machinery of exploitation. The most powerful machinery in this endeavour of industrialization is literacy itself! Today we are in the age of computers and super computers and the needs of the future demand more from the earth than simply minerals, they require rare earths. Deeper and wider grows the web of mineral extraction, faster and faster the forests and rivers disappear, the climate is changing even as barren lands replace once fertile agricultural fields.  The peasantry disappears and with it the future food security of the planet. A new world dawns before us, the gulf between the old and the new becoming impassable,. While the industrial revolution during the heyday of colonialism  placed an increasing dependancy upon natural resources from foreign continents today these things in third world countries are happening closer to home…and these minerals and rare earths, ores, metals, and chemical substances to be gouged from beneath the fields and forests to the sun’s stored carbon energy in coal, to the altering the hydrology of river systems and subterranean sources of ancient water all part of the great industrial machine driven by oil, coal and electricity from carbon, vast water bodies for growing cotton and cooling thermo nuclear plants drives a gargantuan mill as the very stamp of death upon once fertile lands, and drive our modern world with its indigenous inhabitants and young school children uncertain of a darkening future into the oblivion of Tomorrow,

In our own times in this opening decade of the twenty-first century it is fortunate a new realization has sprung from the very top – though driven by early grassroots activism from the very bottom – into the realization of the portents of the future in such heedless industrialization and exploitation of non renewable natural resources;  a new awakening to the importance of indigenous knowledges has begun; the connections between man asnd nature have been understood; the importance of traditional cultural activities and belief systems have been recognized as the sustainable way forward. But research and documentation by themselves are useless unless we stop the rampant destruction of nature still going on or else an ecological catastrophe of such enormity will engulf us that it will not be capable of being met through the world’s economies or insurance companies. And I believe of late that this consciousness is beginning to settle in  the minds of those in control of power. But we can never rule out the threats from the conspiracy of evil which cares not for anything but itself.

The effects of industrialization of the planet are now easily observed from outer space, from the changing of green cover to the new events of climate change. The deep relationship between tradition and the natural landscape is increasingly being accepted even as a younger generation is stepping into the offices of an older generation. The impact of industrialization upon the art and literature of our planet is being understood outside the circle of small literary societies and art galleries in the cities and their wider importance as a global phenomenon is being understood. The sacredness of ancient systems of survival are being searched for again. It is my fervent hope that it is yet not too late for traditional societies to reassert themselves and gain recognition on the need to protect and preserve their lands. Unless there is a mass awakening worldwide in the common human consciousness that this blue planet stands defenceless before a few giant industrial corporations and corrupt governments the world , and mankind as we know it, is bound to disappear very  soon, perhaps even within the century. The greatest challenge before us is to control carbon, methane, and other industrial emissions warming the atmosphere at an unbelievably rapid rate (1.5C per decade). This is our first and foremost challenge.

                                                                                                              Bulu Imam
Sanskriti, Dipugarha
Hazaribagh, Jharkhand

 B288(23) 8.7.2013 -18.7.2013