‘Now’ and ‘Here’
This represents the innate ability or talent of becoming utterly absorbed in the moment. Ninija and her People (children are included in the term ‘People’) have it. It is also found in certain non-primitive sectors, e.g. young children below the age of 7 of any epoch, modern people who have a sensory deprivation, e.g. visual impairment, auditory/speech impairment, physically or mental disability. It is especially so for those who are diagnosed ‘autistic,’ along with anyone involved in artistic activities i.e. musicians, composers, sculptors and others who express themselves in modes other than language. I like to use the term ‘aesthetically absorbed,’ as it perhaps makes a distinction between intellectual and aesthetic absorption. This has also been coined by colleagues interested in the phenomenon.
Those experiencing ‘Now’ and ‘Here’ have the capacity to become the thing in which they are absorbed. They may become a song they are singing, a drum they are playing, a painting, cloud, rain, gong, flower-head. In this state nothing other than the thing in which they are absorbed matters. They are absolutely ‘Now’ and ‘Here,’ utterly engaged. There is no ‘Then’ or ‘There.’ Their senses and spirit are working at largest capacity, their intellects are quiet. They interact with the natural world as if they are creatures. In other words, they are not driven by thought or language. To ninija and her People ‘Now and Here’ is their natural state, their native home. ‘Now and Here’ is not connected with time or place; they are constant states or conditions, and usually they know no other way of being. In the kingdoms of ‘Now and Here,’ they are eternally present, integrated, notched into the Earth, eternally grateful and reverential.
These three words occur a great deal in the text and of course they are simply adjectives known well, for the most part, to us all. But on the lips of ninija they are her way of describing what happens when you live ‘There’ and ‘Then,’ as she believes most of my people do. In the story she is forced by lumaluma to experience this state briefly, but generally it is alien to those who live ‘in the moment.’ Often all three words are used together to evoke a cumulative feeling, ie. the second depends on the first, the third on the second, etc. Each part is now described individually. a) In more detail, ‘Easy’ is about the convenience of modern living e.g. switching switches, opening cans, travelling at high-speed in vehicles without effort, stealing from others, and corruption, etc., all of which are unnatural in traditional aboriginal life. The so-called ‘ease’ with which we live, according to Ninija’s beliefs, means that we lose touch with our native instincts and thus stop to have any direct interaction with our environment. In other words, we live always indirectly, or at a distance, through materials and commodities.
Ninija says that if we have ‘Easy’ then it follows that we also have ‘Happy.’ She considers this to be an illusory happiness which obscures a natural state of being in which ‘Happy’ or ‘Sad’ are not considerations. This concept is elucidated in gina’s story, ‘Mini, Honeybee Girl .’ b) Then ‘Happy’ leads to ‘Sexy.’ This in ninija’s view is the tireless obsession with physical stimulation because we are no longer directly seeing and sensing the world. It is also bound up with an enduring power over other people, which ninija believes generally white men have over white women, and of course, children and black women. The power is created insidiously by developing a dependent state in others, and by a lack of genuine identity. This concept will become clearer during the course of the story. At this stage it is perhaps important to say that ninija and her People have entirely different moral-sexual codes to those of white Europeans/Americans. There is no such thing as ‘Sexy’ out in the Desert. This is made clearer by one of the stories ninija tells in chapter 6, namely ‘Sacred Love.’
white fella’s flashing pictures
Ninija believes that my People live by words and pictures and not by stories and ritual language, as hers do. During the events of her own story she discovers that white People often make sense of their individual worlds through millions of pictures which they store in their memories. These consist of both pictures that they take with their cameras and eyes, and those which are forced upon them through the media. There are others which are handed down to them through the nuclear family and other social groups they belong to. Each person must match him or herself with the pictures. On top of this, the pictures all have words or captions associated with them so that each person can make a continual internal commentary based on them. I suggest that this is because my People have largely ceased to use the other senses in tandem with the dominant visual sense, ie. taste, smell, hearing, feeling, the kinesthetic sense of our bodies moving through space, etc. This means that our lives and our self-images are often constructed totally from words and pictures.
Ninija also believes that ‘white fella,’ a term she will often refer to us by, has the power to flash his pictures into the lives of Peoples who inhabit ‘Here’ and ‘Now,’ thus tempting them away with ‘Easy Happy Sexy.’ This has until now been a common occurrence among the young male and female straightbacks of her tribe, and of many other ethnic groups. This is explained by her story for gina called ‘The Telephone Box’ in chapter 3. 5. ‘The Lands’ This is a state of consciousness and not a particular place, although of course ninija is also the traditional landowner of a massive tract of Desert. Here she and her People move around with the seasons, and these are called her ‘Lands.’ She does not own them in a material sense, but is the custodian as a result of her spiritual enlightenment. Often when she refers to ‘the Lands’ she is alluding to the Earth and so to her intimacy with Nature. ‘The Lands’ could be said to represent her integration with the cosmos, more of which will be revealed in the narrative.
The Dreaming Legends
There is a great deal more awareness of the Dreamtime today, but in her precious story, ninija tries to give a special insight. Its design illustrates how the Dreaming Legends are an integral part of real aboriginal lives, both told as a prayer in ritual language over and over, and present physically in the Land forms around them. So the spirits of the Dreaming heroes, known sometimes as the Sky Heroes, are tangible and constant in their daily lives. They have no choice in whether to believe in them or not. They do not question. The heroes represent their moral models as well as the spiritual.