Antarctic Thesaurus

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totem

totem

Can home be situated in one's head?

As a person who has led

a contemporary nomadic lifestyle

for many years

I certainly hope so.

Internally is where I have stored

my lack of possessions

and often I have luxuriated

in a cosy private time-out place

somewhere behind my eyeballs.

Travel has somehow turned into dwelling

after twenty years of jumping

from place to place.

Home has drastically shrunk:

transformed into a fluid concept

that's easy to move.

Antarctica will be home

for the little sculptures I make

but it cannot be my home.

 

Stephen Eastaugh, 2002
Australian Antarctic Division website

 

 

Hans the carpenter Man Sculpted by Antarctica [1977]
Photo, Ian Phillips, Davis 2007

The Africans say that you leave

a part of yourself,

your spirit,

in each place you camp

hence the searching looks

as we leave the campsite

even when we have nothing to leave.

The head holds my spirit of that stay.

He looks out to the forests

I left behind me,

when I stand on the coast

and look for auroras in the southern sky

he was there to look back at me...

After a while

I returned to my little village,

I got on with being

a part of the community here

with renewed vigor.

The beauty of Antarctic base communities

is similar to the one here,

we all live here because

we like the place and want be here.

Hans the carpenter
AAD website 8 Jan 2008

 

 

Totems provide the physical expression of metaphysics. To the person unaware of the metaphysics, the totem is merely an object, or music, or dance, or ritual or whatever, and thatís as far as it goes. However, it is possible to use someone elseís totem for your own thoughts. Whatever Beethoven had in mind in his Fifth, it is my totem for a year spent at Heard Island.

I hope we never lose our wondering, nor arrive at the point where all is explained and there is no mystery left.

Fred Elliott, Melbourne 2008