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Joukowsky Institute for Archaeology



Joukowsky Institute for Archaeology & the Ancient World
Brown University
Box 1837 / 60 George Street
Providence, RI 02912
Telephone: (401) 863-3188
Fax: (401) 863-9423
[email protected]

What I found most fascinating about our discussion was the role of time in landscape. An aboriginal landscape's "presence" is due to its history in "the dreaming." While one can accept the dreaming as having shaped the landscape, once one reads of the derivation of these landscape origins the concept of a "timeline" becomes fuzzy. Happening upon a muddled mound of earth prompts the aborigines to place their findings within the context of their myths with an utmost certainty. For them this mound of earth was the kangaroo's entrails; however although they say that it had originated in the past from the dreaming, it is not until they have found this mound and said this that it "was" so. In this way, both "then" birthed "now" and "now" births "then." I believe that this cyclical timeform is also common to the ritualistic improvisational dance performances in Yoruba. The annual rituals are made ever present by their improvisational recitations. A costumed dancer, sometimes wearing an extravagant mask while just as commonly a top hat, nikes, and a suit jaket, will dance to improvised drum beats. Their dance may scare away many however some challenge the dancer. While the bodies move in a "'restored behavior' --- behavior twice behaved, behavior never-for-the-first-time---" they are at the same time rerepresenting an unscripted, and improvised ritual. ("yoruba Ritual". p.2. Drewal 1992)