THE ART OF NARRATION: THE STORY-TELLERS’S GIFT
The altered state of consciousness which sometimes vividly displays itself presents quite a typical property of consciousness and psyche of the people in general, not to mention story-tellers who possess a peculiar quality, i.e. story-teller’s gift. The functioning of the right hemisphere of the brain or the intuitive zone of cognitive processes increases during story-telling ceremonies but in some cases this is accompanied by the decrease of the level of self-control. When people suffer from some organic disturbances of the right hemisphere of the brain, their creative potential suffers too although their formal-logical thinking and everyday skills remain intact. When the right hemisphere preserves the ability for individual perception, the skills for abstract thinking might get lost. These inferences help understand how the relations between the inductor (story-teller or narrator) and percipient (listener) are implemented. Of great importance are the material facilities in the process of story-telling. Those are phonics (sounds, intonation, rhythm, pauses), kinetics (miming, gestures, body movements), otherwise the means for verbal and non-verbal communication.
It was just the process of getting food no matter how primitive it was in the earlier ages and meeting some other needs for survival that gave ancient people some empirical knowledge of the realm of animals, plants, vegetative processes that depended on the periodic change of seasons, climatic conditions, the quantity of atmospheric precipitation, condition of soil, etc. But the practical activity of man was related to the spiritual mastering of the reality as well as the religious and mythological ideas concerning the connection of man with the world of nature, e.g. the totemic and animistic beliefs, regulations for an appropriate use of what nature could provide them with, etc. Of great importance were traditions, the specific attitude towards natural objects like the Earth, the Sun and the Moon, the Sky, water, trees, mountains, etc. Owing to nature and natural objects from among the members of the kin there came not only the getter but pagan priest, prophet, there emerged the beginnings of the religion in the form of some prescriptions, cults and rituals.
Modern studies somewhat restore ancient outlook of various peoples, among them proto-Buryats who in the ancient epoch possessed verbal, semantic properties, certain aura and did not separate themselves from nature, fauna and flora, the entire natural environment and informational zone, tengris (gods, deities, divinities and avatars), spirits and masters of localities. In the Buryat myths, legends and epos one can observe close connection of man with nature, worshipping nature, persistent need in the co-evolution of man and nature, realization of the advantage of the ecological imperative over the social-oriented imperative. Some ecological views of the contemporary world are also associated with the mythological ideas of affinity of man and nature and the need in careful attitude towards the latter.
Nowadays we do observe the emergence of new ideas, new tendencies in the study of man, e. g. sociometry, holistic dynamics, evolutionary ecology, synergetic, etc. Now we witness attempts at overcoming the cognitive psychological barrier which separates the discursive-logical methods for world perception, on the one hand, and the more sophisticated, implicit methods for perception, i.e. the intuitive-sensory, integrated dynamic methods, on the other hand. At present we do witness various kinds of catastrophes, bifurcational processes and the like. In the process of perception of information the sensual-motor channel proves to be the chief one. Man’s body is believed to be the repository or container of many channels for perception. It is vitally important to understand in which form the information comes in, functions and is preserved in one’s memory. Of great importance are also symbolic images emerging as models of the world or images of thought or meaning which are formed by means of wave resonance. As a result we came to know that there are some wave entities giving information of the form, color, volume, motion. Then there come sound images. In the next place there are olfactory, gustatory, tactile senses. This information is channeled to the brain. Brain is not only an organ for thinking , it is an organ for surviving. In the world that changes very fast when each year there occurs an unprecedented renewal of information, this presupposes the need in new methods and ways for cognition. The meaning can be transmitted with help of signs, symbols, images, as well as engineering devices. In the archaic period of man’s evolution knowledge was transmitted orally. In the noosphere epoch the transmission of information might be realized with help of symbols and signs. In the hypothetic post-noosphere period as one might suppose this transmission is expected to be just direct, i.e. realized with help of mental images, thus there might be the so-called semantic vacuum. This all should be taken account of.
One might suppose that at first according to the myths there was motion, body movement, afterwards there emerged the word, i.e. the myth. One can assume hypothetical priority of the rhythmical motion, rhythm of kinetic mechanical property. The community was not divided into meaningful groups, it was just a commune. At the level of consciousness people were to a great extent connected by spiritual ties. There was interrelationship dictated by commonness of the vital need to survive, they were endowed with the intuition that made them closer to each other and helped them understand one another. Intuition is in some way the result of motion or vibrations coming from each man and from everything around.
The civilization crisis witnessed nowadays reflects the historical tendency to hyper-analytic, discursive logical, i.e. the brain left-hemispheric thinking, imbalance of natural potentialities of man. Bifurcational processes can be smoothened down provided that the fact of interaction of man and the Universe, Nature is recognized as well as the phenomenon of rhythmodynamics, i.e. the wave picture of the Universe.
One can briefly dwell on the law of the golden section. It is based on natural phenomena. As is known, the golden section or the golden proportion divides an object into two parts so that the relation of the bigger or longer part towards the smaller or shorter one equals the relation of the whole towards the bigger part and equals 1,618. This principle well coordinates certain parts of the whole; it’s kind of dynamic symmetry. This is found in the human organism, the gene system, the build-up of the ear, in the location of the rod of retina of the eye apple, in the pulsation of the heart muscle, the symmetrical biorhythms and the neurophysiological structure of the brain, the proportion of the body and organs, etc. The key to its understanding might be found in the specificity of the mental activity of human brain as an invariant of betta-wave emerging during mental activity which is equal to 1,618. This principle became an academic canon in architecture when it was understood that it was better to erect buildings the compositional properties of which should be invariant to the biorhythmical properties of man [Хембидж 1936]. It is also presented in painting. Its simplified variant is division of the canvas into 10 parts, the section line will be located in the point of intersection of 4 to 6 or 2 to 3 and the main figure should be located not strictly in the center. One can divide the picture into 5 parts, the golden section will be found in 3 to 2 or 2 to 3 proportion. The main object is located in the point of intersection but not in the center of the canvas. Thus the visual and notional or semantical center may be located either in the right-, left-hand or lower, upper part of the canvas. This is prompted by the lay-out or the structure of the eye, the specificity of activity of the human brain and the regularities for visual perception [Ковалёв 1989]. When you observe motion, growth and development, you are sure to discover that principle. In botany, biology this might be observed in the location of the scales in the cones of pine-trees, in the algae, mollusks, etc.
It can be found in poetry (Васютинский 1990). Take, for instance, Pushkin’s novel “Eugene Onegin”. Its stucture is based on the closeness to Fibonacci’s numbers: 8, 13, 55. Eugene’s letter to Tatyana breaks the last chapter into 2 parts: 32 and 19 verses. Let’s divide 32 by 19, we’ll get 1, 68 which is the criterion for harmonic build-up in which the growth of emotional strain is longer than the culmination and the fall. This law helps to comfortably visualize the object because it observes the laws of nature, psychology and physiology of human perception. In the compositional build-up of many musical works there is the highest point of culmination which is seldom situated in the center of the work.
Everything in nature obeys that law: eye-sight, the pulse of the heart, brain biorhythm, etc. Roughly speaking, the relation of 2 to 3, 4 to 6, 6 to 10 is best. For instance, the sculpture looks well if the pedestal is 3 parts and the figure itself is 2 parts. As is known Fibonacci made up a series of natural numbers which proved to be of great use. This is as follows: 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, etc. The law of the formation of the terms of this series is quite simple: the first two members are 1, each subsequent member is formed by adding up of the two preceding terms. For example: 2 = 1 + 1; 3 = 1 + 2; 5 = 2 + 3; 8 = 3 + 5, etc. The Fibonacci series is known not only to mathematicians but to naturalists and other professionals as well.
It was not until the 90-s of the XX century that the principle of the golden section was first mentioned in the academic works of the Buryat “Geser” experts. The Buryat tales are noted for the specific structural build-up, image-bearing units, but the Buryat scholars did not associate that symmetry with the principle of golden section. It was a Buryat scholar S. Sh. Chagdurov who discovered that law in the Buryat epos. He devoted one of his books to the phenomenon of Altan kheblic which is the Buryat analogue of the golden section . A comprehensive study of the role of this phenomenon in the Buryat epos was carried out by D. B. Badmatsyrenova . This is called in Buryat “Altan kheblig”, which means golden canon or golden model. The Geser epic observes the laws of the poetical structuring, one of which is the principle of golden section. Altan kheblig was first mentioned in the epos by Pyokhon Petrov, one of the outstanding Buryat epic singers of the XX century. The principle appears when the uliger episodes are in dynamics, when there is gradual growth, then the highest point, the culmination and, last of all, the fall or the end. This dynamic symmetry was studied in the various eposes-uligers written down from well-known Buryat story-tellers.
In the light of phase-frequency oscillations as mechanism for interaction of objects the studies devoted to the phenomenon of “golden section” seem to be quite promising and advanced. The epos, uligers contain many notions like various personified prime elements, flora and fauna which interact with each other and the man. The dynamic symmetry of ‘golden section’ in the Buryat epos is in most cases associated with the psychophysical nature of nomads which is felt in the poetical rhythm – reserved, solid and dignified in unison with the nature and great steppe which is somewhat monotonous but majestic and grand to the heart and mind of the steppe dweller born there. It is natural that the pictures of the symmetry prompted by nature and set in the frame of the poetical verses are of the secondary nature for they are artificially though skillfully created by man. The proportion of ‘the golden section’ varies in a certain range. One might suppose that the numeral 1,168 seems to appear later after such works of ancient times as Geseriade and a lot others were in the throes ‘giving birth’ to ‘golden proportion’ copying nature. Thus, Geseriade or its ancient part reflects the time when the harmony in nature was taken note of and afterwards was taken over to art. The golden proportion is found in classical forms, it is lacking in non-classics. When there is no harmony borrowed from nature the moral and spiritual level decreases. The principle of golden section is characterized by the following features: anonymous nature, syncretism, unobtrusive transmission of information, ecological character, spirituality, functional prevalence of the right hemisphere of the brain which is responsible for the emotional perception of the reality unlike the brain right hemisphere that is in charge of logical rational approach.
The rhythm of verses (Buryat: badag - step) can remind of the step of, say, horse or camel, various kinds of movements of animals, e.g. step, trot, gallop, rising up on hind legs might be in a certain degree associated with the starting point, pressing in and culmination in the poetical works. Man borrowed beauty, harmony from nature; on the contrary, conflict with nature brings about the calamities which it is sometimes very hard to predict for Nature is of self-organizing character. Everything in it is interrelated but man cannot figure out all its parameters for many things in it are beyond man’s potentialities for perception. He simply may not be aware of the existence of something he is unable to perceive at the moment. The golden proportion helps see or feel that unknown. Rhythms of nature [beats of heart, puff of wind, ripples on water, whistle, spread of sound in space, etc.] lead us to realizing the existence and role of rhythmo-dynamical processes in micro- and macrocosm. This all evidences interdependence of man, nature and culture as important components of the Universe, their harmonious coexistence.
The uliger tunes present kind of melodious recitative. Uligers did not have a certain fixed melody. Each rhapsode possessed one or more tunes and used them when performing the uligers he knew. The peculiarity of the Buryat folk music is based on pentatonism. The melody or the tune depended on the structure of the verse. The verse and the tune closely interact. S. Sh. Chagdurov and D. B. Badmatsyrenova noted that the golden section point usually occurs in the third quarter of a musical phrase. The golden section is marked in the compositional lay-out of the uliger and gives prominence to the culminating points which are found not in the center of the epical text but in its third quarter. The most important function of the golden section in the text is semantical, notional, dynamical and euphonic. It is the law of motion and growth in nature. Due to the principle of Altan kheblig presented in the main constructive units of the epos of Geser the listeners could not but feel that harmony. The rhapsodes and the listeners as well as their brain could not but get adjusted to the betta-wave which dominated and caused the feeling of joy. In the rhythmical build-up of the verse in “Geser” an asymmetrical division into syllables is observed, when in the first hemistich there are 5 syllables, in the second 3 syllables. The interrelationship of 5 to 3 is 1, 66 which corresponds to the proportion of the golden section. The principle of Altan keblig, an original analogue of the golden section, is well presented in the text of the Geser epos.
The story-tellers have good memory, artistry and expressiveness of speech. Owing to the gifted story-tellers and shamans who also recite versified invocations the skill for masterly performance of the ancient pieces of poetry and prose remains well preserved up to now.
Бадмацыренова Д. Б. Принцип золотого сечения в эпосе «Гэсэр»: автореф. дис. … канд. наук / Д. Б. Бадмацыренова. – Улан-Удэ, 2001.
Васютинский Н. А. Золотая пропорция. – М.: Молодая гвардия, 1990.
Ковалёв Ф. В. Золотое сечение в живописи. – Киев: Высшая школа, 1989.
Хембидж Д. Динамическая симметрия в архитектуре. – М., 1936.
Чагдуров С. Ш. Поэтика Гэсэриады. – Иркутск, 1993. – с. 239-254.