12th December 2012
Well that was the last lecture of this year and I must admit I was lulled into a false sense of security… There were mince pies and cheesy biscuits and all sorts of goodies including jilebies (an indian sweet that I’m particularly addicted to). So there we all were quietly eating and drinking pomegranate juice – we were all driving – and talking poets, short stories and our ‘best bits’ of the first term, when the lecturer sprang an exercise on us.
I was taken in with the mince pies and I must admit that I thought we were having a general discussion and relax… Silly me!
The lecturer, Mena Elfyn, had given each of us a copy of her latest book – amazing and wonderful poetry! And we had to flick to a page and use the first line to create a piece of writing. Now she didn’t tell us what format to do so I just let my creative juices flow.
Bones I can understand (this is from a poem but I’ve lost it in the rather large book)
Bones I can understand. They don’t lie and give only what they show you. No, the tricky bit comes when you start the story. How did it get there? Who was it? What was it? All these questions spin in your head but it is the theory that can truly muddle you. The present is the key to the past. A simple phrase but one that is pounded into every archaeologist. Without the present how can we interpret the past? Except that the chaos theory says that nothing can ever be repeated. So how can I understand the bones?
If a butterfly flaps it’s wings in China then a hurricane hits the States… but why? What are the variables? Suddenly the simple question of how the bone got into the ground is not so simple. If it were carved or show signs that the flesh has been cut from it – then who did it? Why did they do it?
Use the present, the archaeologists whisper and I make a note – butchery or ritual.
How can you tell? Screams the chaos theory and I am at an impasse.
What do I report? Perhaps I ought to just hand in an empty sheet of paper stating that the bone just is. Except I have to tell a story. That’s what archaeologists do – we tell stories.
Bones tell the truth. Many murderers can confirm that. Without their victim they would never have been caught, would never have seen the inside of a jail. As the forensic team tell the story of the victim through the bones, others link the perpetrator to them. Evidence. Except what if you have nothing but the bone? You can measure it and weigh it and draw it. But it doesn’t tell you what happened. The marks suggest something and where it was found can suppose a situation but there are no definites. There can’t be. Chaos says that there are no definites. Will tomorrow be like today, just because by tomorrow today will be in the past. No it can’t be. I won’t do the same things and people won’t react in the same way. It might snow instead of rain. Yet still have the bones and they still need to be understood.