Recommend me a book about the Dreamtime!
October 19, 2009 2:39 PM   Subscribe

I'd like to read a book about the Dreamtime of the Australians. I was kind of thinking about reading Chatwin, but these comments have made a little wary; I don't particularly want to read about another outsider's spiritual journey, and I don't want a New Agey attempt-at-universal-religion haphazardly mixed in with basic anthropological records. Can you recommend a solid book about Dreamtime?
posted by Greg Nog to Religion & Philosophy (10 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
Chatwin *is* generally obsessed with Chatwin, but he's also a brilliant writer and manages to convey a lot about his subject matter nonetheless. The Songlines can be read pretty easily in a single day, and you'll definitely get a good day's worth of ideas from it, so don't be put off.
posted by Dee Xtrovert at 3:05 PM on October 19, 2009

Sure, The Songlines weaves in narrative about its author with that of the aborigines. However Bruce Chatwin was a well travelled guy and draws comparisons between the early humans in Australia and those in places such as Transvaal. It is a book not just about the Dreamtime but also about how it might have come about.
posted by rongorongo at 3:49 PM on October 19, 2009

"The Dreamtime is no longer an acceptable term to describe the collection of Aboriginal creation stories, and should be referred to as the Dreaming or the Dreamings." More information on Aboriginal education is here.
posted by keener_sounds at 5:13 PM on October 19, 2009 [1 favorite]

Not a book, but Peter Weir's The Last Wave is a very good film that deals with aboriginal Dreamtime and prophecies. Well, I was only about 12 when I saw it but I've never forgotten it.
posted by Flashman at 5:36 PM on October 19, 2009

i've got this one, i remember it as being pretty good!
posted by soma lkzx at 7:35 PM on October 19, 2009

Wise Women of the Dreamtime does a great job of explaining the philosophical underpinnings of the Dreamtime. The myths anthologized are also really funny.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 7:37 PM on October 19, 2009

Seconding the book recommended by soma lkzx; Ronald and Catherine Berndt were very prominent anthropologists of Aboriginal Australia. RM Berndt also wrote Australian Aboriginal Religion (1974) which I have read listed often in bibliographies.
posted by Fiasco da Gama at 7:44 PM on October 19, 2009

For a view of the topic through the culture's art by an anthropologist: Painting Culture: The Making of an Aboriginal High Art
posted by bergeycm at 8:44 PM on October 19, 2009

Response by poster: Thank you for the suggestions, everyone! I'll check these out!

"The Dreamtime is no longer an acceptable term to describe the collection of Aboriginal creation stories, and should be referred to as the Dreaming or the Dreamings."

Just out of curiosity, do you know what the reasoning behind this shift is?
posted by Greg Nog at 7:31 AM on October 20, 2009

I'm not positive, but I think the reasoning is that 'Dreaming' is current while Dreamtime is past. What I mean is that for Aboriginal people now, the Dreaming is still present in their lives, still an ongoing creation. It's not some distant past time from which the land and people have graduated from like Christian Creationist period of 5000 years past.
posted by Kerasia at 4:50 PM on October 20, 2009 [1 favorite]

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