Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Urban Primitive

When I read the sentence, "Children's dolls, broken or whole, are symbolic of urban 'elves'--the urban version of the tomte or tontu," I was drawn further into reading--and then buying--Urban Primitive, by Raven Kaldera and Tannin Schwartztein.

The title and cover treatment owe something to RE/Search's Modern Primitives, whose title in turn came from the idea that "Primitive" actions . . . rupture conventional confines of behavior and aesthetics . . . [they explore] the territory of the last remaining underdeveloped source of first-hand experience: the human body."

It's a Llewellyn book, which means it is "Wicca 101," but with enough twists and originality to make it interesting--using subway trains in banishing rituals, assigning astrological symbolism to different body piercings. It's not the usual "the ancient Celts did this and that" approach, at least. The way that the authors teach city dwellers to seek the "heart of the city" is important, because too often American culture tells us to hate our cities--and so we make them ugly, and they sprawl as we keep trying to "escape" them.

The book gave me the idea of a magical action that I wish to carry out--and it also gave me the germ of a nature-writing class assignment.


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