Thursday, September 27, 2012

Guardians against Loneliness

From 'The People of the Deer', Farley Mowat's lyrical account of his 2-year stay in the Arctic, with the Ihalmiut people of northern Canada.

"We looked out over a dead land - but not a deserted one, for our eyes quickly discovered the shapes of men standing in monumental immobility on every side of us.

They were men. But men of stone! Insensate little pillars of flat rocks piled precariously atop each other, they stood on every hill, by every lake and river, as they have stood throughout the long ages of the People who created them and called them Inukok (semblance of men).

...The Inukok have being because they were created as guardians of living men against a loneliness which is immeasurable.

When the first man came this way, restlessly probing into unknown lands, he paused upon some hill before he ventured further into the obscurity ahead, and here he raised the figure of an Inukok. Then, as he went forward into the boundless distances, he retained a fragile link with his familiar world as long as he could still discern the dwindling figure of the man of stone. Before it disappeared behind him, the traveler paused to build another Inukok, and so another and another, until his journey ended and he turned back, or until he no longer needed the stone men to bind him to reality and life.

The Inukok are not signposts, just simple landmarks as most white men have thought. They are - or were - the guardians who stolidly resisted the impalpable menace of space uncircumscribed, which can unhinge the finite minds of men. From the crest of Kinetua we looked out and saw these lifeless beings and were comforted to see them standing there. "

Page 224.

No comments:

Blog Archive