LT203 Lecture – Leslie Marmon Silko – Ceremony




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TitleLT203 Lecture – Leslie Marmon Silko – Ceremony
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LT203 Lecture – Leslie Marmon Silko – Ceremony


“The Story Was All That Counted”


‘He had only seen the world as it always was: NO BOUNDARIES, ONLY TRANSITIONS THROUGH ALL DISTANCES AND TIME.’

(Ceremony – p.246).


“But you know, grandson, this world is fragile.”

The word he chose to express “fragile” was filled with the intricacies of a continuing process, and with a strength inherent in spider webs woven across paths through sand hills where early in the morning the sun becomes entangled in each filament of web. It took a long time to explain the fragility and intricacy because no word exists alone, and the reason for choosing each word had to be explained with a story about why it must be said this certain way. That was the responsibility that went with being human, old Ku’oosh said, the story behind each word must be told so there could be no mistake of what had been said; and this demanded great patience and love.’

(Ceremony – pp.35-36).

‘She looked at these Laguna guys. They had been treated first class once, with their uniforms. As long as there had been a war and the white people were afraid of the Japs and Hitler.’

(Ceremony – p.165).

“You drink like an Indian, and you’re crazy like one too – but you aren’t shit, white trash. You love Japs the way your mother loved to screw white men” – Emo.

(Ceremony – p.63).


Thought-Woman, the spider,

named things and

as she named them

they appeared.


She is sitting in her room

thinking of a story now


I’m telling you the story

she is thinking.

(Ceremony – p.1).


‘Here they were, trying to bring back that old feeling, that feeling they belonged to America the way they felt during the War.’ (Ceremony - p.43).


‘Every day they had to look at the land, from horizon to horizon, and every day the loss was with them; it was the dead unburied, and the mourning of the lost going on forever. So they tried to sink the loss in booze, and silence their grief with war stories about their courage, defending the land they had already lost.’ (Ceremony – p.169).


“… things which don’t shift and grow are dead things. They are things the witchery people want. Witchery works to scare people, to make them fear growth. But it has always been necessary, and more than ever now, it is. Otherwise we won’t make it. We won’t survive. That’s what the witchery is counting on: that we will cling to the ceremonies the way they were, and then their power will triumph, and the people will be no more” – Betonie.

(Ceremony – p.126).

“Cattle are like any living thing. If you separate them from the land for too long, keep them in barns and corrals, they lose something … When you turn them loose again, they go running all over. They are scared because the land is unfamiliar, and they are lost” – Josiah. (Ceremony - p.74)

“That’s the trouble with the way people around here have always done things – they never knew what they were doing” – Rocky. (Ceremony - p.76).

‘In school the science teacher had explained what superstition was, and then held the science textbook up for the class to see the true source of explanations … The science books explained the causes and effects. But old Grandma always used to say, “Back in time immemorial, things were different …” Everywhere he looked, he saw a world made of stories, the long ago, time immemorial stories, as old as Grandma called them. It was a world always alive, always changing and moving; and if you knew where to look, you could see it, sometimes almost imperceptible, like the motion of the stars across the sky.’ (Ceremony - pp.94-95).

‘If the white people never looked beyond the lie, to see that theirs was a nation built on stolen land, then they would never be able to understand how they had been used by the witchery; they would never know how to stir the ingredients together; white thievery and injustice boiling up the anger that would finally destroy the world: the starving against the fat, the colored against the white.’

(Ceremony – p.191).

‘He cried the relief he felt at finally seeing the pattern, the way all the stories fit together – the old stories, the war stories, their stories – to become the story that was still being told. He was not crazy; he had never been crazy. He had only seen and heard the world as it always was: NO BOUNDARIES, ONLY TRANSITIONS THROUGH ALL DISTANCES AND TIME.’

(Ceremony – p.246).

‘Ku’oosh would have looked at the dismembered corpses and the atomic heat-flash outlines, where human bodies had evaporated, and the old man would have said something close and terrible had killed these people. Not even oldtime witches killed like that.’ (Ceremony - p.37).

“ONE CLAN, UNITED BY THE DATE THE DESTROYERS PLANNED FOR ALL … LIVING THINGS; UNITED BY A CIRCLE THAT DEVOURED PEOPLE.”

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