On Bill Moyers’ blog this week, he interviews Louise Erdrich, who talks about learning Ojibway
“Native American people puzzle other people. Why is [their culture] so strong with them? Why don’t they just become like the rest of us? What is it that’s so important in their culture that they cling to it so? I think it has to do with the belongingness and the sense of peace that I feel among other native people, this sense of community – you’re in the comfort of a very funny, grounded people who are related to everything that’s around them, who don’t feel this estrangement that people feel so often. That’s why being Ojibwe or Anishinabe is so important to me… Even learning the amount of Ojibwe that one can at my age is a life-altering experience. You see the world in a different way. I for instance was astounded when I realized early on that Ojibwe doesn’t see the world in terms of gender. You’re working in a language in which there is a spirit behind this language. Everything is interrelated and participates in a level of spiritual interaction.”
But Erdrich doesn’t just talk about Ojibway, she talks about love, religion, shame, the confessional, and the dance of the bluejay in front of a predator. There is a transcript of the interview, but if you ever saw Moyers’ interviews with John Campbell about mythology, you know a Moyers interview has to be experienced. Without revealing any spoilers, here is one small snippet, about love:
BILL MOYERS: So from your own experience and from these characters you have invented, how much of love? How much of marriage involves holding back a part of ourselves?
LOUISE ERDRICH: About half.
BILL MOYERS: The shadow half?
LOUISE ERDRICH: No, I think the shadow half is very important to show in a marriage. That’s the thing that doesn’t happen really, you know. We wait and hold back and–that half until we’re absolutely secure with each other. You know, you can’t completely immerse yourself in another human being.
At every turn of the interview, there is some surprise, some unexpected insight.