Tony’s Notes From The Bony Novels (Part 15)

Posted on Thu 04/21/2011 by


LANGUAGE (Part Three)

The role of the small fires that the most senior elders sat around.

In the earlier Posts I discussed two aspects of aboriginal language, the markings on the skin, and the role of music in their language. With this Post, I will be discussing something that may be difficult to believe, but this is now an accepted part of aboriginal culture, and is being accepted by the wider community. Again, where I mention the word ‘tribe’ here, this in now way belittles these highly moral people. The term can also be substituted with family or community.

A lot of significance is placed on the little fire in front of the chief of the tribe, and to call it a fire is almost an over statement as there is no flame, almost no smoke, and it is not used for any other purpose like cooking or providing heat in cooler times of the year, day or night. It is never a blazing great fire, but a little one that only has a few sticks poking into the embers, usually only three thin sticks, and because this ‘fire’ is just a small thing, then those sticks would just smoulder very slowly, so the sticks would last a long period of time.

Every so often the chief moves these little sticks further into the little fire so that it just stays alight. It is almost as if this is the chiefs own personal little mirror into the future, and the past for that matter.

Upfield mentions these little fires in numerous of his novels. Because the mention is more often than not just in passing, we, the reader, might tend to overlook the significance, as it becomes just part of the text. However, it gains more important significance if you read between the lines, not as a matter of personal importance, his being the chief and all, but more along the lines as the chiefs own personal telephone, and just by saying that, people’s eyebrows will be raising, almost in disbelief.

He can look into this little fire and communicate with far off tribes, and mentally visualise these meetings, a further form of unwritten language.

Upfield alluded to this in his novels, and mentioned a couple of times things that happened whilst sitting at these fires.

In one case, the chief instinctively knew where Bony had just come from, what he was doing in the place he had just come from, how he arrived at where he currently was, how long it took him to get there, and the business he had with the tribe where he had just come from.

In a second case, the chief mentioned something that even astounded Bony. Bony had entered the camp without the knowledge of anyone, and was sparring with the chief and the medicine man, all trying to gain an advantage over the other. The chief was looking into his little fire and knew that Bony was a Worcair man from the emu totem, that he had Illawalli as his mentor, and was boned by the Kalchut tribe. Bony was astounded, as this had happened more than fifteen years prior to the current time, and occurred sixteen hundred miles away.

This was put down to a form of telepathy, that the chief used with the aid of his little fire.

Another possible explanation for this occurrence is that this same original story might have been passed from tribe to tribe at the gatherings that they had over the years, so that when it is told at a later date by an elder sitting around a small fire, the mind automatically refers to the little fire as being the source of the story, hence making it seem like telepathy, another fact that tends to reinforce the ability of the aborigines to use a form of psychology that we have not given them credit for.

Because it is done so blandly, and without embellishment, we can now see that the tribal elder is not only not as stupid as we might believe, but is in fact, quite well educated in methods that our Psychologists in our time study for years to obtain a degree so that they can then practice the same thing that these elders have been using for millennia.

While this mention of those small fires and how they were also used as a form of communication may be looked upon as being something difficult to understand, and to then pass it off as being untrue, what must be kept in perspective here is that this is in a time long passed. The aborigines had tens of thousands of years to perfect something like this. It was passed down from generation to generation, and because time for the aborigines was an infinite thing, they could spend the time on something like this perfecting over those millennia, and even over the period of time that a very senior tribal elder, in the main the head man, the chief if you will, could devote his time to over the years when he was no longer fit and able to join with the men hunting for food, so he could indeed concentrate on something like this.

As hard to believe as it sounds, it is in fact quite plausible that they were able to do something like this.

Right now, however, in the 21st Century, we do look upon something like this as unbelievable. Now, there is also no way to actually verify it even.

Since white settlement in 1788, there has been 10 to 12 generations, and over that time, these abilities have been lost, not just misplaced and able to be located at a future time, but lost completely, and now, sadly, lost forever.

All we have is stories that once upon a time, something like this was actually commonplace, was actually in everyday use, and that there were people who thought nothing about it. It was just something they did.

With respect to language, what we have found here with these Posts are three instances that at first seem to be unrelated. The cicatrices on the bodies of the men, the playing of the dijeridoo, and the little fire in front of the tribal chief. All three are bound tightly together by the one strand, that being communication, written, spoken, and observed.