Topics in Emerging Media and Communications

Let’s Go on a Walkabout

with 5 comments

Humans are natural storytellers. Our forefathers spent their nights huddled around a campfire, mapping out their past in the stars. Over the span of generations, oral traditions shifted to glyph paintings and eventually the written word: Beowulf and Iliad and The Odyssey being primary examples. Medieval monks toiled over handwritten copies of religious and secular documents, Gutenberg’s printing press, the first typewriter, the first computer, voice recognition software, and twitter. The future of information gathering and storage is unknown, but it all started with telling a story: recording history and preserving the present for the future generations.

I’ve chosen the promotional trailer and a brief clip of Walkabout, a movie about two English children stranded in the Australian Outback who are rescued by an Aboriginal boy.

Walkabouts are the foundation of Aboriginal culture. The spot of land where an aboriginal’s birth occurs is ceremonially marked. For the rest of their life, a person will know where they are relation to their birth spot. Every major event or experience is also marked by a location and at certain times during an Aboriginal’s life they go on a walkabout to revisit those locations as a rite of passage and reflection.

The topography of the Outback is also anthropomorphized; hills, springs, and trees become animals whose stories are told as moral principles, relatable to the Aboriginal experience. Aboriginals have a strong, primarily oral tradition, and from birth they are told the story of family’s collective Walkabout.

By throwing well educated, upper class English children into this “primitive” world, Walkabout reveals a sharp tension between two cultures, language, and technology. The Aboriginal culture is only one example of cultures who do not see a Western, Cartesian dualism between the natural world and the world of man or the past, present and future. For the Aboriginal the goal of life is to make their way back to their birth spot where they can pass away, become part of the journey.

Topics for Discussion:

  • In what ways does the film show contrasts between the two cultures?
    • Language
    • Technology
    • Social norms
    • Other
  • How could these film clips relevant to the following articles?
    • Plato’s “Phaedrus”
      • The oral tradition beginnings
      • Memory as historical record, storage
  • Vilum Flusser’s  “On Memory”
    • Relationship to the physical world
    • Relationship to the spiritual
  • M.T. Clanchy’s “Introduction” to From Memory to Written Record: England 1066 – 1307
    • Literacy’s effect on prejudice
  • How does the marketing of the film effect the viewer’s perception?

Written by HiuHiMedia

September 7, 2010 at 10:11 pm

5 Responses

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  1. In ancient time, many people admired others they could go to school to acquire knowledge. That’s what England upper class was proud of their education privilege. Nowadays, more people are college students. Do you think that college-graduate students are getting “cheap”?


    September 8, 2010 at 2:14 am

  2. Referencing cultural ceremonies such as the “walkabout” is a very dynamic way of illustrating the points Plato was sharing in “Phaedrus.” For those who have a prior understanding and knowledge of the acts — as well as the symbolism — utilized in ceremonies can effectively enhance communication and “enchant the soul.” Ceremonies allow the audience to participate and observe. They are able to comprehend how these concepts impact their lives because they are “doing” and not just “considering.”


    September 8, 2010 at 9:31 am

  3. M-

    Loved your presentation tonight and tying in this wonderful movie to new age theory about media and going back to the question of how this cinematography effect the viewer’s perception?

    Our class tonight covered a wide range of discussion points about influence, information and organized realities on how to work through these perplexing pickles… and although I think we can all agree or rather disagree at times with one another, to me its clear that the mission at hand is to continue treking through the new age of media and aspire to understand how what we know and have learned continues to evolve as does the world around us…

    I can’t wait to get a copy of this flick and apply it to more readings- well done! What other philosophical works have you read in the past that made your focus in grad school more well-rounded?


    September 9, 2010 at 4:28 am

  4. very nice presentation. i thought your comparison of the film to the reading was insightful and did a great job of illustrating the key points in teh readings. you came across as thoughtful and articulate. hope to engage with you more about future readings.


    September 9, 2010 at 1:31 pm

  5. Thanks all! I came across Walkabout accidentally. I have read a couple of philosophy books that referenced ancestral relationships with language and nature and most of them cite the Aborigine as a primary example. I started googling and came across this movie, sat down on my couch and watched it.

    My “well-roundedness” is a product of my bachelors in Interdisciplinary Humanities. I was in a small, close-knit program and the disciplines I focused on English, Fine Art, and Philosophy. My peers had different disciplines (economics, religion, dance, communications, environmental studies etc) within the program, which made for some awesome interchange of ideas and perspectives.

    I’ve always been a holistic thinker/learner and looked for a Master’s program that would play to my strengths. I definitely found what I was looking for in EMAC!


    September 9, 2010 at 10:05 pm

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