Saturday, June 5, 2010

Brave Buffalo and John Kinsella

By far the best book I read this summer was Kathleen Norris' account of life in a Benedictine monastic community as described in her book The Cloister Walk. Before I knew it I had filled half a notebook with insights gained on topics ranging from ritual and symbol to ceremony and celibacy.

One quote she mentions became one of the seeds of inspiration for my film. It's from a book called "By The Power Of Their Dreams" by Sioux medicine man Brave Buffalo. He says:

"I have noticed in my life that all men have a liking for some special animal, tree, plant or spot of earth. If men would pay more attention to these preferences and seek what is best to do in order to make themselves worthy...they might have dreams which would purify their lives."

I've long been fascinated by the mythical dimensions of the relationships between man and animal, and was intrigued by the notion of its power to "purify" lives.

Earlier this week I read a poem in the New Yorker entitled "Goat" by John Kinsella. It was another one of those a-ha moments.

You can read it in its entirety at the New Yorker website, and it's definitely worth it. It's good, and evokes a huge world beyond its words.

The parts that interested me was a line towards the end:

"Goat tells me so. I am being literal.
It speaks to me and I am learning to hear it speak."

When I read this bells in my head went off - the parallel was unmistakable. I read further, my awareness level at 11 on a 1 to 10 scale. The next line of Kinsella's poem reads:

"It knows where to find water when there’s no water
to be found—it has learned to read the land
in its own lifetime and will breed and pass its learning
on and on if it can."

As I mentioned in my previous post, all I know of my main character was her status as a indian shepherdess and her possible relationship to water. This idea of goats having a knack for finding water when water's scarce may prove to be an important part of the story puzzle. Or it may not. Who knows?