ABOUT SFA                        BECOME A MEMBER                            CONTACT  

BorderLore, January 2017 
Essential to the interplay of light and darkness,  
shadows nurture cultural goodness and community vigor
Light? Dark? We need our shadows to keep life in perspective. Yet when the gloomy aspects of shadows take hold of us, the grip of darkness may be fierce and unexpected.

Shadows and their effects intrigue everyday life, from science to culture. In the physical sense, there are mathematical models that use shadows to calculate shape or 3D graphic objects. In the metaphorical sense, folklife uses more symbolic forms, as in examples of the Underworld, shadow walkers or doppelgangers. The shadows of the moon and earth allow astronomers to study eclipses, and astrologists to look to myths and related shadows that also speak to the dark moon, or Lilith. Our ancestors, including the Egyptians with their shadow stick, understood the importance of shadows in terms of natural seasonal cycles, and these transformations through light and darkness are represented in diverse cultures and storytelling.

Shadows stir enormous creative and cultural possibility. There may be evil hidden in the shadows...but the potential for goodness also lurks there.
This Borderlore shines light onto a few tantalizing examples of everyday community goodness contained within local shadows: 
Although politics often takes the disrupting spotlight, one ever-present force for both change and continuity is the realm of culture. SFA executive director Maribel Alvarez explores with us the steadying and inspirational influence of culture in dark and rocky days, here.

Refugees look to create identity in Tucson out of the tumultuous shadows of forced migration. The Arizona Welcomes Refugees program, initiated by AZ State Senator Steve Farley, is one way Tucson celebrates the community's  "cultural vigor." Read more, here.

Paying attention to the shadows of our past helps influence our social imaginations. Master-Apprentice Artist Rod Ambrose explains how the African American diaspora influences his "Talking Drum" performances, the critical work behind traditional African Griot storytelling, and how this tradition transmits history, here
The work of a death doula can be about easing passage through the shadows of life and death. Isabel Amorous, Death Educator facilitating the Death Café movement in Tucson, explains unique, local end-of-life conversations and activities, here.

Our January News and Resources Roundup is here.
End Notes... 
In all cases, shadows are necessary to viewing life. Wouldn't everything be seen in one dimension without the context of our cultures and shadows? Shadows reveal not just obscurity, but also a hopeful promise of what is yet to be. As we move forward every day, we would do ourselves a service, particularly this month, to focus on the cultural goodness hidden in the shadows.

"In the Western world we have become over-dependent on the intellect, burdening ourselves with the need for scientific proof, and suffering great imbalance when we forget that fact and truth are not the same thing.  We trivialize the world of art by pretending that it is not real...that Renoir's painting is daubs of color with little to tell us about the people on the canvas.  We want only the light of reason, forgetting that where there is only light, with no shadow, there is no life." 

"...We find beauty not in the thing itself but in the patterns of shadows, the light and the darkness, that one thing against another creates... Were it not for shadows, there would be no beauty."
1933, In Praise of Shadows by Junichiro Tanizaki

"At first he will see the shadows best...then he will gaze upon the light of the moon and the stars
and the spangled heaven; and he will see the sky and the stars by night
better than the sun or the light of the sun by day...
"...But always in the late autumn the Shadows of the Indian brother and sister in the Country of Silence are lonely for their former life. And they think of their living friends and of the places of their youth, and they wish once more to follow the hunt, for they know that the hunter's moon is shining..."
© 2017, Southwest Folklife Alliance. All rights reserved. BorderLore is the e-news magazine of Southwest Folklife Alliance. The study and documentation of folklife involves the accurate representation of people's viewpoints in their own terms; quotes and opinions expressed in interviews with individual tradition bearers do not necessarily reflect the sentiments and opinions of BorderLore editors, the Southwest Folklife Alliance or any specific person or entity at the University of Arizona. 
Managing Editor:   Monica Surfaro-Spigelman
Contributing Writer: Kimi Eisele 

Thank you for reading this newsletter. We welcome your feedback, commentary and any suggestions or ideas. Write to us at:  swfolklife@gmail.com

Previous issues of BorderLore Newsletter are archived  here and here.