TO MAKE THE DARK, LIGHT

Industrious in their greed, 
they have set about building the big Fear, 
hammering out the old ideas with new zest,
new lies, shaping every word, every law, 
so that it might disguise their chief intent. 
Sanctioned by power and duly elected, 
these hapless few have 
appointed themselves to throw the switch, 
light the match, turn off the lights, 
to make what is already wrong, 
seem more or less right.

They have a stomach for it, and the stamina - 
they have rehearsed their parts so well, 
there are no parts for them to play, 
which will be their undoing, if not ours. 
Schooled in the mathematics of fear - 
they’d keep us all at bay, 
divided by a glib logic into
winners & losers, 
buyers & sellers, 
the leavers & the left-behind.
Their art as old as Mother Night - 
to make the dark seem light.

Never mind Creation Times - 
that eternal becoming-present-not-yet. 
In the vast hinterland of the oldest piece 
of dry land on Earth, an old blind woman 
in ageless walkabout, accompanied by a dog,
feels the souls of the Ancestors through her feet, 
and speaks and sings the stories few can hear. 
It is enough.
Stop and listen, stop and see. 
Draw near. Here is the other side of power, 
stronger than water. And she is blind, and 
they, they think they are the ones that see.

I have been astonished by hearing individuals who inherited wealth in childhood warn against sharing resources because people needing help should work for money in order to appreciate its value. Inherited wealth and/or substantial material resources are rarely talked about in the mass media because those who receive it do not wish to validate the idea that money received that is not a reward for hard work is beneficial. Their acceptance and use of this money to strengthen their economic self-sufficiency exposes the reality that working hard is rarely the means by which enough of us can gain enough access to material resources to become wealthy. One of the ironies of the culture of greed is that the people who profit the most from earnings they have not worked to attain are the most eager to insist that the poor and working classes can only value material resources attained through hard work. Of course, they are merely establishing a belief system that protects their class interests and lessens their accountability to those who are without privilege.
bell hooks
WRITING THE TREATMENT
Chinatown is a beautiful snake devouring its own tail.
Jake Gittes, a former L.A policeman, now owns a private detective agency dealing (mainly) with the maritally unfaithful. Among his clients is the beautiful Mrs Mulwray who  suspects her husband Hollis is having an affair. He is L.A.’s Chief Engineer in charge of water – an important position in a desert town in the middle of a drought.
Gittes follows Hollis. At first he seems to only be interested in water. Eventually Gittes stumbles upon Hollis’s relationship with a much younger woman - photos of whom soon appear in the tabloids.

The plot turns in on itself, when another (real) Mrs Mulwray (Evelyn) appears at Gittes’ office suing him for slander. Who was the other Mrs Mulray? Before the matter can be resolved, Mulwray is found dead.
READ MORE ABOUT THE ART OF WRITING TREATMENTS THAT SERVE THE STORY

WRITING THE TREATMENT

Chinatown is a beautiful snake devouring its own tail.

Jake Gittes, a former L.A policeman, now owns a private detective agency dealing (mainly) with the maritally unfaithful. Among his clients is the beautiful Mrs Mulwray who  suspects her husband Hollis is having an affair. He is L.A.’s Chief Engineer in charge of water – an important position in a desert town in the middle of a drought.

Gittes follows Hollis. At first he seems to only be interested in water. Eventually Gittes stumbles upon Hollis’s relationship with a much younger woman - photos of whom soon appear in the tabloids.

The plot turns in on itself, when another (real) Mrs Mulwray (Evelyn) appears at Gittes’ office suing him for slander. Who was the other Mrs Mulray? Before the matter can be resolved, Mulwray is found dead.


READ MORE ABOUT THE ART OF WRITING TREATMENTS THAT SERVE THE STORY

There is something within every writer that knows what to do, a power greater than the self, that understands the story. The real job of the writer is to cultivate the courage and resiliency necessary to make surrendering to it possible. Surrender to the characters whose story you desire to find, to their story, their origins, fears and needs. It is unhelpful and inaccurate to believe that you are taking care of business - the business of the story and the characters is to take care of you, to elicit surprise and courage and vision. It will take better care of you than you can ever imagine, so long as you know how to get out of the way.

Billy Marshall Stoneking

ENTER THE DRAMA

!!! Attention Jungle inhabitants!!!! Pre-order your copy of Gon’ Boogaloo now and you will receive a hand signed copy, courtesy of this young chap… ORDER NOW

!!! Attention Jungle inhabitants!!!! Pre-order your copy of Gon’ Boogaloo now and you will receive a hand signed copy, courtesy of this young chap… ORDER NOW

Calling all Writers, Actors, Filmmakers and journos - Enroll now in the Spring term of the SYDNEY SCREENWRITERS’ STUDIO - Network the Revolution.

Calling all Writers, Actors, Filmmakers and journos - Enroll now in the Spring term of the SYDNEY SCREENWRITERS’ STUDIO - Network the Revolution.

When I began to think about where my own stories and poems were coming from, I was unable to ignore the years I spent in the desert, sitting around campfires, listening to Pintupi elders like “Nosepeg” Tjupurrula and Tutama Tjapangarti chanting the stories of the Dreamtime.Caught up in the journeys of the Ancestors (Tingarri), the entire world became a living drama. Those trees over there weren’t merely trees; they were digging sticks left by the Namputakatjarra women. And this outcrop of rocks beside the creek bed, these are the honey-ant men emerging from the earth on their journey east, towards the rocky outcrop at Warumpi.“Whitefellas” call these “dreamtime stories”, but the anarngu of the Western Desert area of Australia, call them tjukurrpa  –  the Pintupi word for “creation” –  that vast and timeless “now” of transformative altercations that is happening all around us, all the time,  that invisible present into which we are constantly becoming, and which we might be able to perceive at any moment if only we could find a way of escaping from that spacious past into which we have absconded and where we go on huddling in the name of safety, economy and power.I remember a night in the early 1980s when Tutama and myself and a half a dozen other old Pintupi men sat together round a small campfire near Tjukula, an important Tingarri site way out on the Western Australia/Northern Territory border. The place is associated with a bush-cat man who had taken it upon himself to save a big mob of people from an evil spirit who desired to kill them all. Proper cheeky bugger, that one!Tutama and the others had regaled me with stories about the giant women at Pinari, and Warnampi, the giant rainbow serpent that made its home at the top of Uluru. It went on most of the night. Then Tjampitjinpa – one of the old men – gazed up at the starry sky, employing it like some celestial visual aid, and began telling the tale of the Seven Sisters.The others leaned forward, listening as if it was the first time they had heard the story, though I knew from their age that they must have heard it countless times around an infinity of fires.When the story came to an end, Tutama turned to me and, pointing towards the heavens, asked: “What’s the whitefella story for that mob?”Not knowing the Greek or Roman myths well enough, I told him and the others about the “speed of light”. You see that star, I said – its light is coming towards us at 186,000 miles per second. That star might have blown up and disappeared thousands of years ago, but its light is still coming towards us!The old men’s eyes widened in disbelief. It was the kind of thing they’d come to expect from a whitefella. Whitefellas will tell you almost anything!Then I realised – what I was telling them was no more true or false than what they had told me. It all depended on what the story was for.Two different tribes, with two different agendas were talking to one another around a campfire. And the veracity of what they said depended entirely on understanding the purpose of each story. If one was motivated to put a human being on the moon, my story might be more relevant, but if one was seeking kinship with the cosmos, theirs may have been closer to the mark.As artists embedded in relationships with our tribes, we are custodians of a “dreaming” that we are obliged to attend to and work with and birth, in order to share the dream of our tribe with the tribes of others.
- Billy Marshall Stoneking

When I began to think about where my own stories and poems were coming from, I was unable to ignore the years I spent in the desert, sitting around campfires, listening to Pintupi elders like “Nosepeg” Tjupurrula and Tutama Tjapangarti chanting the stories of the Dreamtime.

Caught up in the journeys of the Ancestors (Tingarri), the entire world became a living drama. Those trees over there weren’t merely trees; they were digging sticks left by the Namputakatjarra women. And this outcrop of rocks beside the creek bed, these are the honey-ant men emerging from the earth on their journey east, towards the rocky outcrop at Warumpi.

“Whitefellas” call these “dreamtime stories”, but the anarngu of the Western Desert area of Australia, call them tjukurrpa  –  the Pintupi word for “creation” –  that vast and timeless “now” of transformative altercations that is happening all around us, all the time,  that invisible present into which we are constantly becoming, and which we might be able to perceive at any moment if only we could find a way of escaping from that spacious past into which we have absconded and where we go on huddling in the name of safety, economy and power.

I remember a night in the early 1980s when Tutama and myself and a half a dozen other old Pintupi men sat together round a small campfire near Tjukula, an important Tingarri site way out on the Western Australia/Northern Territory border. The place is associated with a bush-cat man who had taken it upon himself to save a big mob of people from an evil spirit who desired to kill them all. Proper cheeky bugger, that one!

Tutama and the others had regaled me with stories about the giant women at Pinari, and Warnampi, the giant rainbow serpent that made its home at the top of Uluru. It went on most of the night. Then Tjampitjinpa – one of the old men – gazed up at the starry sky, employing it like some celestial visual aid, and began telling the tale of the Seven Sisters.

The others leaned forward, listening as if it was the first time they had heard the story, though I knew from their age that they must have heard it countless times around an infinity of fires.

When the story came to an end, Tutama turned to me and, pointing towards the heavens, asked: “What’s the whitefella story for that mob?”

Not knowing the Greek or Roman myths well enough, I told him and the others about the “speed of light”. You see that star, I said – its light is coming towards us at 186,000 miles per second. That star might have blown up and disappeared thousands of years ago, but its light is still coming towards us!

The old men’s eyes widened in disbelief. It was the kind of thing they’d come to expect from a whitefella. Whitefellas will tell you almost anything!

Then I realised – what I was telling them was no more true or false than what they had told me. It all depended on what the story was for.

Two different tribes, with two different agendas were talking to one another around a campfire. And the veracity of what they said depended entirely on understanding the purpose of each story. If one was motivated to put a human being on the moon, my story might be more relevant, but if one was seeking kinship with the cosmos, theirs may have been closer to the mark.

As artists embedded in relationships with our tribes, we are custodians of a “dreaming” that we are obliged to attend to and work with and birth, in order to share the dream of our tribe with the tribes of others.

- Billy Marshall Stoneking

The monkey is reaching
For the moon in the water.
Until death overtakes him
He’ll never give up.
If he’d let go of the branch and
Disappear in the deep pool,
The whole world would shine
With dazzling pureness.
Hakuin Ekaku

THE LAND IS ALREADY BLESSED

image

In Santa Fe, the elders from Papunya were approached by some of the local Pueblo and Navaho people to bless the first shovelful of earth to come out of the ground at the site of a new school they were building. They brought it in a shoebox for the elders to bless, only neither Paddy nor Dinny would consent to giving a blessing, which created some upset. Why? Why can’t you do this? they all asked. Finally, Paddy turned to me and shyly explained, in language, why he wouldn’t provide the blessing, and asked me to translate it for him into English. Translated, what he said was: “The land is already blessed. If you don’t know this no blessing will be sufficient. And if you do, no blessing is necessary.”