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Dancing through Interfaces and Paradoxes

Group alchemy in the Empty Red Centre (Part #1)


A. Introduction
Departure
Interfaces
Land interface
Dreamtime interface: Stories
Dreamtime interface: Patterns of stories
Dreamtime interface: Totems
Dreamtime interface: Songlines
Dreamtime interface: Dances
Dreamtime interface: Paintings
Economic and business interface
Anangu interface
Tourism interface
Infrastructure interface
Group dynamics interface
Temporal interface
Subject-Object interface
Involvement interface
Insight interface
Mystery interface
Sublime - Ridiculous interface
Strategic interface
Interpretive reflections
The Singer and the Song
Alchemical processes of the rubedo ?
Conclusions
References

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A. Introduction

How to resist a personal invitation to journey with a group of westerners into the Dreamtime (or Tjukurpa) of the Australian Aborigines - who call themselves the Anangu? The invitation arose from a request by Anangu elders and ngankaris (notably Ilyatjari and Nganyinytja) of the Pitjantjatjara tribe in Central Australia wishing to meet with a group of 12 people exploring the future of western organizations. The tribe lives in a remote arid area forbidden to outsiders without special permission.

The group was brought together by Colleen Burke, strategic consultant to the CEO's office of the world's largest consulting firm on the topics of values, organizational knowledge and virtual learning communities. The initiative was consistent with her ongoing research into the effect of our ancestor's dreams, our contemporary metaphors, and the singing of our creation myths in realizing and creating our organizational landscapes. The nature of the event was conceived in partnership with Robert Bosnak, a Jungian analyst. Colleen articulated the theme of the encounter in the invitation as follows:

'In the Anangu environment, the ancestors continually dream the landscape into being, and the landscape shapes the moment and the people. Might it be that organizations dream their landscape, creating the rites, the songs, the dances, the beliefs of the inhabitants? Is knowing one dream the door to knowing another?' So ran the invitation, which continued: 'What is there in the Dreamtime which can help our organizations find the way across the landscape of virtuality to a new economy? How do we organize our collective knowledge so it is as accessible as the Songlines that access Anangu truth?' (Colleen Burke, 1997)

Having, coincidentally just completed a study entitled 'From the Information Highway to Songlines of the Noosphere' (Judge, 1996) that dealt specifically with the relevance of Anangu (and analogous) insights into the organization of knowledge on the Web, the temptation to participate was irresistible. However this only proved possible through a strange exchange of roles between the original invitee and myself relating to our attendance at the World Futures Studies Federation conference (Brisbane, 1997) which overlapped the event and justified travel from Europe -- I enabled his attendance in Brisbane whilst he enabled my inclusion in the group (in which he was unable to participate).

The broader significance of an encounter with the Anangu is argued by David Tacey (On the Edge of the Sacred, 1995). He sees Australia, through its history, geography and cultural challenges as being uniquely placed to explore the frontiers of spiritual awakening and paradigm articulation relevant to the coming century. The psycho-social implications of encountering the emptiness of the land at the centre, and the peoples who have long survived there, involves the kinds of alchemical processes of individuation articulated by psychoanalysts of Jungian inspiration. 'In Australia, landscape carries our experience of the sacred other…The landscape in Australia is a mysteriously charged and magnificently alive archetypal presence.' (Tacey, p. 6). He points out that Australia is the only continent with two-thirds of its landmass effectively reserved for mystical experience.

It should be emphasized that the following account is as much a subjective interpretation as an objective case study. It is a personal exercise in imaginative learning from a particular cultural perspective. The experience continues to be a valuable source of extensive reflection in a mytho-poetic mode consistent with the intent of the undertaking and indicative citations in the text. In a search for other levels of meaning, it has been interpreted and moulded into a story whose perspectives some participants (although not named) may not share and may well even consider deeply offensive -- for which apologies may be appropriate.

share and may well even consider deeply offensive -- for which apologies may be appropriate.


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