About Book, Which Blew My Mind: Songlines by Bruce Chatwin

Hello SCG,

you may have noticed that I have got a break  from posting book reviews over past few months. Firstly I have been reading much less and secondly I have been shipping very important work offline. This book by Bruce Chatwin was given to me by a person I adore. Songlines  was not only about Chatwin’s traveling adventures in Australia, but it contained rich philosophical resources on human nature, evolution, psychology and relationships. I was blown away while reading it. It took me over two months to read it, as I was pondering over quotes I have read for days…I was also shocked to find out that it was Bruce Chatwin who popularized those notebooks which every digital nomad possesses…FYI this is where original Moleskine notebooks came from:

I made three neat stacks of my “Paris” notebooks. In France, these notebooks are known as carnets moleskines: ‘moleskine’, in this case, being its black oilcloth binding. Each time I went to Paris, I would buy fresh supply from a papeterie in the Rue de l’Ancienne Comedie. The pages were squared and the end papers held in place with an elastic band. I had numbered them in series. I wrote my name and address on the front page, offering a reward to the finder. To lose a passport was the least of one’s worries: to lose a notebook was a catastrophe.

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To wound the earth is to wound yourself, and if others wound the earth, they are wounding you.

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I like to think of Russia as a land of miracles. Just as you fear the worst, something wonderful always happens. Smallthings mostly, but humility in Russia is endless.

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Being lost in Australia gives you a lovely felling of security.

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The trade route is the Songline. Because songs, not things are the principal medium of exchange. Trading in ‘things’ is the secondary consequence of trading in song.

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If you want fresh blood, you have to walk to get it.

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Things filled men with fear, the more things they had, the more they had to fear.

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Credit is like sex. Some get it, some don’t.

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The fact that ‘boss’ and ‘manager’ were seldom men of the same age meant that ritual knowledge went ricocheting down the generations.

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Music is memory bank for finding one’s way about the world.

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Unlike men, wild animals seldom fought to death.

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Australia is the country of lost children.

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Many Aboriginals by our standards would rank as linguistic geniuses. The difference was one of outlook. The whites were forever changing the world to fit their doubtful vision of the future. The Aboriginals put all their mental energies into keeping the world the way it was.

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The world, if it has a future, has an ascetic future.

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What is for me, the question of questions: the nature of human restlessness.

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One thing alone could alleviate our despair, and that was distraction: yet this was the worst of our misfortunes, for in distraction we were prevented from thinking about ourselves and were gradually brought to ruin.

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Above all, do not lose your desire to walk, every day I walk myself into a state of well-being and walk away from every illness; I have walked myself into my best thoughts, and I know of no thought so burdensome that one cannot walk away from it…but by sitting still, and the more one sits still, the closer one comes to feeling ill…Thus if one just keeps walking, everything will be all right.

(Soren Kierkegaard, letter to Jette 1847)

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Most nomad women wore their wealth.

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Men enjoy the feeling of absolute righteousness even when they commit atrocities…

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A torturer can cut off a man’s nose, but if the man gets a chance to breed, his child will be born with a nose. So with instinct! A core unmodifiable instinct in man means that the  brainwashers must begin their work of distortion over and over again, with each individual and each generation – and this, in the end, is a very wearisome business.

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Take three times the water you think you need.

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The Bushmen, who walk immense distances across the Kalahari, have no idea of the soul’s survival in another world. ‘When we die, we die,’ they say. ‘The wind blows away our footprints, and that is the end of us.”

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The greatest source of terror in childhood is  solitude. (William James)

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…evolution proceeds in short bursts of turmoil followed by long periods of idleness.

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A sedentary species like sedentary genes, are terribly successful for a while, but in the end they are self-destructive.

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The married couple are a unit for carriage and defense.

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Migrants must have some internal mechanism which favours co-operation and co-existence.

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...once you start to roll, you must keep on rolling.

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They had been people made in heaven for each other. They had been hopelessly in love since the day they met, yet had gradually crept into their shells, glancing away. deliberately, in despair, as if it were too good, never to be, until suddenly the reticence and the anguish had melted and what should have been long ago, now was.

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Arkady knew what was happening, Limpy had learnt his Native Cat couplets for walking pace, at four miles an hour, and we were traveling at twenty five. Arkady shifted into bottom gear, and we crawled along no faster than a walker.

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The mystics believe the ideal man shall walk himself to a ‘right death’. He who has arrived ‘goes back’. In Aboriginal Australia, there are specific rules for ‘going back’, or rather, for singing your way to where your tjuringa is stored. Only then can you become – or re-become – the Ancestor. The concept is similar to Heraclitu’s mysterious dictum: “Mortals and immortals, alive in their death, dead in each other’s life.”

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SCG,

which of the quotes resonated with you the most?

What books did you read this summer? Which thoughts from it hit you straight into face?

Share it with us in the comments,

– is

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