Randomly on Dalemark and Dindsenchas (Tangential to Re: Sense of
mcmullea at kl.com
Fri Sep 3 14:30:02 EDT 1999
> > Dalemark is indeed a very interesting case. I'm a cartographer, in large
> > part because I think of places in terms of maps, and find that making a
> > is one of the best ways for me to get to know a place. Now Dalemark's
> > characters are all very involved in the geography. The terrain is an
> > important part of all four stories, and the politics is heavily regional
> > its base. Nevertheless, I defy you to make a coherent map of the place.
> > Aside from the drastic shifts after Spellcoats.
And Philip B. commented:
"I must admit I've never tried with Dalemark. I've always felt that
she tells us
> a lot about local details, and something about the very wide view, but
> in between. So I get a mental picture which has tiny detailed maps at
> well defined points on an otherwise almost blank page..."
And Mary Ann added:
"An interesting feature of Inuit maps is that the scale (in terms we would
tend to think about)
> changes within map. Areas where hunting is good are depicted at fewer
> miles per inch than areas where animals were less abundant or accessible.
> This can be and has been interpreted as a representation of the importance
> of the areas with good hunting. It seems to me (and perhaps others-- I'm
> no scholar in this area!) that this variation in distance-scale may
> correspond to consistency in a duration-scale. Groups would tend to travel
> more slowly through areas with good hunting."
Another fascinating thread. I'd better warn ahead of time that my
thoughts, while definitely related to each other and the thread, stubbornly
refused to organize themselves.
I was reading this book about Irish story telling forms and
conventions and came across the term "dindsencha" which means - a place name
story (walked around saying that word for days, it has such a nice sound).
According to a lecturer I heard, by the end of a filidh's training,
they would have a sort of associative web ring (err, a purely mental kind of
web ring) of different stories memorized so that they could pluck out the
thread with the pertinent stories on it for any occasion - wedding, wake,
long winter night with cranky young children round the fireplace. Think of
links pages and web rings and you've got it. One of the strands is the
dindsencha - so when you live in a place or travel to another place, you
learn about your environs and their history and the people here and there by
learning the stories connected to the place. And then the dindsencha,
perhaps telling how a place got its name, would also link to a hero's tale
or a wonder tale. Before you know it, you have a whole weave of history and
myth and landscape all together all about you, if you've heard your tales.
And certainly some places and landmarks would be soaking in tales while
other places would have nothing attached to them (unless you made up
something yourself ;)). So the soaking places would loom larger in the
minds of the people, I would think. (Will someone come tell us all about
And that's where Philip's and Mary Ann's remarks jump to mind. One
thing I would guess about the Inuit is that it's more relevant and important
to know more details of a hunting area than a non-hunting area, just as I
know several ways to get to and fro from work and where all sorts of grocery
stores are in my area, but don't know a thing about getting somewhere I
never find it needful to go. Same thing at bottom too - acquiring the tools
to get the food, and going off to hunt and gather the food. Imagine how
boring it would be to hear all about the desolate plain with no game and no
fresh water unless you Had to cross, in which case you'd want to know - how
I also imagine that if my mind was soaking in a 'landscape' of tales
of landscape, that I might perceive time differently. Because to go to the
place where certain things happened, would make those things very close to
me associatively, literally standing near the tale - and 'associatively'
seems to be the kind of thinking that counts according to this storytelling
organization, a kind of trick of the mind. Trompe la tete?
In a way we all know we live in an embroidered world like this, but
I don't think we generally pay much attention. And you know, I think we
tend to slip up and wander into story at different stages of life. Like
gamblers who think they will hit it big, or when you are in a romance. Or
in the U.S. that American Dream business.
Ha, I just finished Time of the Ghost again last night and I'm sure
there must be lots of things to say about Monigan/place/time. Course I
didn't think of it 'til this moment. And then of *course* Chrestomanci is
professionally associative - say his name three times and space/time
specificity doesn't mean a thing, but then space/time doesn't mean all that
much to an enchanter anyway (though they still live linear lives...) Poor
us, we actually have to live every moment tediously standing in line or
sitting in traffic.
What was the other thing? Dalemark! One of the things which
fascinated me about Dalemark was the way the people were tied to their
landscape. (And I realize dwj is working off real life symbolic/story ideas
of north and south in the U.K., but to what extent? Perhaps someone there
will address? And what about The Horse & His Boy heading to Narnia and the
North in C.S. Lewis?)
No need to recount the physical differences in the Northerners and
Southerners on this list. Then, the stories attached to north and south,
and stereotypes of the sorts of people and type of society, all tied to
location. The stories and ideas associated with everything turn out to be
wrong in some ways and right in others, don't they. The characters bet on
stories and are surprised. Like Moril dreaming of the north and then
getting there and wanting to move on again. Hildy's ideas about the Holy
Islands. Mitt was bitterly betrayed by the stories of anarchy, heroism and
revenge he grew up on. But the cwidder works, and the undying need to be
put in the fire, and it was an extremely good idea to put welcome drowned
ammet and libby beer aboard, stories all.
Well, that's as far as I've got with it! Must go work....
"Bird of time -
In Kyoto, pining
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