I started the day yesterday with a plunge into the pool, and then a 45 minute walk up to the festival venues. I will not do this again as the swim + walk, coupled with the heat, just about made me a zombie for the entire day! I am giving myself permission to chillax.
Here’s a sample of one of the sessions I attended yesterday:
Folklore, myth and the new millenium
Chair: Wayan Juniartha
The Left Bank Lounge venue is the only air-conditioned one – and features several comfy couch chairs. It is not a good idea to sit on them in the sleepy afternoon, as I later found in another session. The man beside me actually snored.
But I digress. Michelle Cahill spoke about her manuscript themed around Hindu deities and other myths. She said, in myth ‘time can be distilled’ and that ‘myths also contain the inner struggles we all negotiate in our lives’. She said ‘myths can be found, renegotiated and regained’. In this modern world most of us possess multiple identities and a hybridity of traditions. Cahill lives in Sydney but has a Goan-Anglo-Indian background. Find more about her and some of her work here.
I was immensely interested in Yonathan Rahardjo’s book Lanang, but unfortunately for me, it is in Indonesian. Hopefully one day it will be translated. He spoke about the influences on the book – the mish-mash of cultures and religions in Java – animism, Hinduism, Islam, Christianity. Java represents a mix of developments but is also contradictory and confusing for the locals. The Javanese and Balinese share a common ancestry, but it has become much more muddled in Java. What is preserved in Java is the spirit or ‘soul’ of the ancient culture. His novel takes mythology and makes it a scientifically viable thing, in the world depicted in the novel. The main theme is the shift of colonial influence from direct, to the hegemonic infiltration of Western products – ie. medicine. Man, I wish I could read this book.
Dian Hartati is interested in the idea of myth vs history. She shared with us a romantic poem of two lovers with the historical backdrop of two kingdoms in Java. The poem was inspired by a cultural event, where this ‘historical’ event is retold to the public. There are many myths associated with the story – eg. with the grave of the princess in the story. Women try to see their reflection in the rock. I didn’t quite catch what it meant for them, but Hartati said these myths remodeled the history and reinforced certain values of the West Javan society.
I also attended an enlightening session on the short story, which I will try and write about later. And about last night’s spectacular Mexican-Indonesian dinner. And about the roosters and the dogs. And about the people I’ve met from every continent. I’ll try! But now I am running off to more sessions…