The Yanomami tribes live deep in the Amazon. Some have been rarely touched by the world outside of their own unique environment, others have become somewhat westernised. Yet in many ways they seem like a world apart from our own, so what happens when two very different cultures meet?
David Good is pictured here with his mother Yarima whom he had not seen for twenty years. His father, an anthropologist met and married his mother while he was studying the Yanomami. Yet despite their love for one another, life in America was too difficult to acclimatise to for Yarima. The West’s separate, boxed off existence was too solitary and isolated compared to the communal living that she was familiar and comfortable with in her tribe were the whole village eats, sleeps and cooks together in a communal shapono. When she returned to her tribe, her husband and three children remained in America. In 2009 David undertook an epic journey in the footsteps of his father down the Orinoco, through the heartlands of Venezuela’s jungle to be reunited with his Yanomami heritage and with the mum that he had briefly known and lost.
It’s hard not to read such a story that is punctuated with some brutish realities without viewing them through our own biased and ethnocentric preconceptions. It is interesting though on reading the full article that the Yanomami also view the world with the same cultural expectation and bias, it seems despite our differences there is much about us that is innately the same.
So when we write SF and fantasy creating worlds, exploring new civilisations how important is it to ensure that we do not simply create clone ethnic copies of our own cultures? And how important is it that we create worlds that contain the complexity and mixed blessings that are found in every culture? As writers we are in danger of exposition if we are not careful when we are trying to establish the worlds and cultures we are creating and as we all know an info dump is the foremost way to bore your audience. How do you balance the fine line between realistic and engaging cultures and keeping your audience gripped and turning the page.
This weeks Sunday Inspiration is focused around creating cultural depth without boring the reader or simply creating a mirror image of your own ethnocentric expectations.
Your Sunday inspiration line this week is:
Surrounding him in the oval courtyard they debate the justice that should befall him
Rules: Hints and handy tips:
- Use this weeks image and one line to inspire you in a creative endeavour
- You can use them to write in any style, genre, or form
- Enjoy, get creative, have fun
- Come back and share the link to your blog where your work is posted or post using the comments section here. Normally I say post by close of play the following Saturday (close of play being midnight in your time zone)
Have a grand week everyone and look forward to reading your contributions next Saturday.
If you would like to read the full story of Yarima and David’s reunion please find the full BBC article here