Monday 23 March 2020

Sand Talk | Tyson Yunkaporta #NonFiction

Sand Talk: How Indigenous Thinking Can Save the World by Tyson Yunkaporta is a book almost designed to be provocative and contentious. I only say that because I know that there will always be people who feel the need to pull down or dismiss any point of view that diverges from the dominant, mainstream view.

Whereas I'm LOVING how the publishing world is currently embracing a wide variety of views from within our Indigenous community. There is no longer the expectation that all Indigenous thinking should be the same, and that all Indigenous people should speak with the one voice and the one purpose. It is also useful (if not challenging) for the dominant culture to have it ways of life reflected back via a completely different lens.
Our knowledge is only valued if it is fossilised, while our evolving customs and thought patterns are viewed with distaste and scepticism.

I'm not convinced that any one way of thinking, Indigenous or otherwise, will save our world but books like Sand Talk can open our minds and hearts to seeing the world through another's eyes. They may even give us a new way of seeing and thinking about our world that expands and enriches our current position. 
Apocalypses have proven to be survivable in the past, although on the downside it usually means that your culture will never be the same again.

I'm all for having your mind expanded by other possibilities and other perspectives. Yunkaporta has very definite opinions and beliefs, but he doesn't expect you to follow him and he doesn't harangue you. He acknowledges there are other ways, even within his own community.
The invisible privilege of your technocratic, one-sided peacefulness is an act of violence.

It's obvious that he is on a life-long search for meaning and understanding, he is simply sharing where he is on this journey at this moment. Evolving, emerging, reflecting, bringing together his thoughts so he can move onto the next phase, whatever that may be.
Living cultures and languages evolve and transform.

This is a book that deserves to be revisited.
It was a lot to take in with one sitting. And I'm not sure, I was ready to hear some of what Yunkaporta had to say. Or more accurately, the use of yarning to convey information was one that I struggled to fully connect with. It was a bit like those long, long poems in The Lord of the Rings, that I usually skim over to get to the next bit of the story.

Sand Talk is definitely a book you should read for yourself to make up your own mind, though. The writing style is accessible and engaging. Yunkaporta clearly states his aims and addresses his own biases. He doesn't expect his readers, black or white, to embrace everything he has to say. He simply feels that it is important to put his ideas out there to be part of the ongoing discussion about Indigenous life in Australia.


1 comment:

  1. It is important and excellent that differing viewpoints are being published, disseminated and discussed - thank you for bringing this to our attention, too.


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