Sunday, January 24, 2010

“The bear's melancholy wandering, for example, is underscored in a Polar Eskimo story about a bear who falls in love ith a young married woman. He cautions her never to tell her husband of their meetings because her husband will surely try to kill him. But she takes pity on her husband's failures in hunting bears and tells him where her lover lives. Far away, the bear hears her whispering to her husband in the night, and he leaves his home before the husband arrives. He goes straight to the woman's snow house. He raises his paws to smash it in—and then he lowers his paws to his side. Feeling betrayed, overcome with grief, he sets off on a long and solitary journey.

To the European mind the story is poignant. For the Eskimo it is charged with danger. For the bear to go off preoccupied with such a subject means it will not be paying attention to where it is going, that it may fall through bad ice or miss signs that will lead it to an aglu and sustenance.”

Barry Lopez, Chapter 3, Tornarssuk, p. 114, “Arctic Dreams”

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