Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Creative Process of the Dogon..

In The Pale Fox, Griuale and Dieterlen describe a basic approach to the act of creating that is defined within the framework of Dogon mythology. This approach includes four phases or stages and, for the Dogon, applies equally to any creative project, whether it be a creative act of Amma or an undertaking of man - for example, the building of a dwelling. The first of these is the conceptual stage, in which an idea is conceived, and which the Dogon call Bummo. Aat this stage, the project exists only in signs or seeds - symbols that represent the final thing to be created. For a middle school student assigned to write a report, this would be the equivalent of seelecting a topic. In the second stage, called the yala, the project is conceptualized in broad strokes that identify the boundaries of the object tobe created. This compares roughly to our middle school student's report outline, Griaule and Dieterlen described this phase in The Pale Fox,

After the first series, that of abstract signs or "trace" bumo, will come the second series, that of the yala "mark" or "image," executed in dotted lines..."The yala of a thing is like the beginning of the thing." Therefore, when one builds a house, one delineates the foundation with stones placed at the corners: these stones are the yala, the "marks" of the future dwelling. The term yala also has the meaning of "reflection," which expresses the future form of the thing represent."

The third developmental stage refines the image of the thing to be created by filling in the main details of the object or concept. We could say that this third stage would be comparable to a student's detailed notes to a first draft of the report. In regard to this stage. Griaule and Dieterlen wrote:

The third series of signs is that of the tonu, "figure," "diagram," or sometimes "periphery," of things. The Tonu is a schematic outline of generally separated graphic elements; it is the sketch, the rough draft of the thing or being represented. THe word tonu comes from tono, "to portray," which also means "to begin," but in the dynamic sense of the word. it is said that Amma "began things," amma kize tono, to demonstrate the initial impetus he gave to creation.... the Tonu of the house connotes the pebbles that have been placed between the corner-stones to delimit the walls."

The fourht and final stage of the creative act is to produce the finished image of the thing to be created. It is interesting that the Dogon make almost no distinction between the representation of an object and the object iteself. Griaule and Dieterlen described this completion stage in The Pale Fox:

The fourth series consists of the "drawings," toymu (or toy), as realistically representative of the thing as possible. It is also the thing itself. Wen one has finished the building of a house, it is as ife on had made a complte drawing, toymu, of the house. In speaking of the toy and of Ama, one says: "to make the drawing is to make the thing that he (Amma) has in mind. It is, therefore, to represent the thing created in its reality."

Source; The Science of the Dogon, Laird Scranton

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