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|Title:||Gathering to Witness|
Phenomenology; Phenomenological Tradition
Husserl; Heidegger; Merleau-Ponty
Dufrenne; Levinas; Sartre
|Publisher:||University of Sydney.|
Department of Performance Studies
|Abstract:||People gather. Everywhere. They gather to witness. To tell and to listen to stories. To show what was done, and how what is to be done might best be done. To perform the necessary procedures to make sure the gods are glorified and the world continues to be made as it should. To dance, to heal, to marry, to send away the dead, to entertain, to praise, to order the darkness, to affirm the self. People are gathering. As they always have—everywhere. Doctors, lawyers, bankers and politicians don evening wear to attend performances in which people sing in unearthly voices in languages they do not understand, to sit in rows, silent, and to measure the appropriate length of time they should join with each other in continuing to make light slapping noises by striking the palms of their hands together to show their appreciation at the end of the performance. One hundred thousand people gather on the last Saturday of September every year in a giant stadium in the city of Melbourne, Australia at the “hallowed turf” of the Melbourne Cricket Ground, to watch 36 men kick, punch and catch an oval shaped ball with each other, scoring points by kicking it between long sticks planted in the ground. The gathered multitude wears the same ritual colours as the men playing the game. They cry out, stand and sing anthems. This game is played and understood nowhere else in the world, but in the Melbourne cultural calendar it is the most important day of the year. It is what makes Melbourne Melbourne. Before the whitefella came, aborigines from the clans of the Yiatmathang, Waradjuri Dora Dora, Duduroa, Minjambutta, Pangerang, Kwatt Kwatta—the wombat, kangaroo, possum, Tasmanian tiger, echidna, koala and emu, would gather on the banks of the Murray River, near what is now the twin cities of Albury/Wodonga to organize marriages, perform initiations, to lay down weapons, to dance, to settle debts and disputes, to tell stories, to paint their bodies, and to request permission from the Yiatmathang to cross the river and make the climb to the top of Bogong High Plains in late spring, to feast on the Bogong moths arriving fully grown after their flight from Queensland, ready to be sung, danced and eaten. On the island of Sulawesi, a son of a family bears the responsibility of providing the largest possible number of buffalo to be sacrificed at the funeral of his father. A sacrifice which will condemn the son to a life of debt to pay for the animals which must be slaughtered in sufficient number to affirm the status of his family, provide enough meat to assure the correct distributions are made, and assure that his father has a sufficiently large herd in Puya, the afterworld. Temporary ritual buildings for song and dance must be constructed, effigies made, invitations issued. Months are spent in the preparations. And then the people will arrive, family, friends, colleagues and tourists, in great numbers, from surrounding villages, from Ujung Pandang, from Jakarta, from Australia, from Europe, from the USA, to sing, dance, talk, look and listen. And if the funeral is a success, the son will gain respect, status and honour for himself, and secure a wellprovided journey to the afterlife for his father. In a primary school playground, in an outer suburb of any Australian city, thirty parents sit in a couple of rows of metal and plastic chairs on a spring afternoon to watch their own and each other’s children sing together in hesitant or strident voices, in or out of time and tune versions of well-known popular songs praising simple virtues are applauded; the younger the children, the greater the effort, the longer and louder the applause. Some of these people are the same doctors, bankers and lawyers who had donned evening wear the night before at opera houses, now giving freely of the appreciative palm slapping sound held so precious in that other environment. And they will gather and disperse and regather, at times deemed appropriate, at the times when these gatherings have always occurred, these lawyers, doctors, sons, mothers, sports fans, when and where they can and should and must, to sing, to dance, to tell stories, to watch and listen, to be there with and among each other bearing witness to their faith, their belief, their belonging, their values. But what, in these superficially disparate, culturally diverse and dispersed groups of people, what draws them, what gathers an audience, what gathers in an audience, and what in an audience is salient for the audience members? What gathers, what gathers in an audience?|
|Description:||Doctor of Philosophy|
|Rights and Permissions:||The author retains copyright of this thesis.|
|Type of Work:||PhD Doctorate|
|Appears in Collections:||Sydney Digital Theses (Open Access)|
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