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Time for the World to Learn From Africa – Trailer

It is a common notion that Africa has, and indeed ought to have, learned much from the west. This is not wrong; all cultures rightly learn from each other. But less is said of what there is to learn from Africa: from her stories, myths, music, proverbs, insights – and more. Here an acclaimed African scholar steps into the gap by uncovering for us something of the great legacy of African thought and practice in ways that will astonish many. Written with verve and authority and directed above all to students and sixth formers, this book will also delight and often surprise those who know something of Africa as well as those hitherto ignorant. Ruth Finnegan OBE FBA is Emeritus Professor The Open University, Foreign Associate of the Finnish Literature Bureau, and International Fellow of the American Folklore Society. An anthropologist and multi-award author, she has published extensively, chiefly on Africa, musical practice, and English urban life. Recent books include How is Language?, Fiji’s Music: Where Did It Come From?, her edited Entrancement: The Consciousness of Dreaming, Music and The World, and two prize-winning Africa-influenced novels Black Inked Pearl and Voyage of Pearl of the Seas.

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Journey of Discovery

Ruth Finnegan Author Interview

Ruth Finnegan Author Interview

Grass Miracle from the Earth is a well informed and interesting book about grass. What intrigued you about this project?

Well I was just so astounded that something so humble and unnoticede had all these qualities! I kept finding more and more and more (the ‘miracle’ in the title cropped up pretty soon) – and then just couldn’t stop!

Actually having finished it I see it’s pretty typical of my work as an anthropologist: to look deep into the ordinary – whatever, wherever – and find the extraordinary and the magical. So mine, I feel, is really a pretty good calling and one that suits me ( and my family inheritance) exactly.

You are the editor along with Maria Teresa Agozzino and author David Campbell Callender. What was the collaboration like on this book?

I have, er, to confess that I wrote the book myself, well almost all of it – Maria, the meticulous and inspired Welsh Mabli, whom I found by enormous good luck, corrected my mistakes and omissions and added some super fokloric and other bits as well as some great pictures of her gorgeous cats making the most of her grass. It’s been a wonderfully happy collaboration with multiple emails flying back and forward each day at crucial points. No, we have never actually met (except in mind) but will CERTAINLY continue to collaborate – soon it’ll be on the history of horses (an amazing adventure that ) then, we hope, on birds, magic of the sky and trees.

But otherwise, yes , I have to confess I basically thought of, and wrote it, a miraculous ( yes) journey of discovery. ‘Ruth Finnegan’ is known for rather different kinds of publications, so that was one reason I used a penname. But chiefly it was to remember and honour my inspired and gentle and modest maternal grandfather from Derry, my native city, himself a naturalist.

Starting this book I certainly didn’t think grass could so fascinating. Was there anything new you learned about grass when working on this book?

YES, EVERYTHING! I had no idea. Basically that, mostly forgotten, it’s just – THERE! And there all the time almost whatever you do to it. But honest, there’s just far far too much to even begin on, you’ll just have to read the book!

You can easily find the paperback at Lulu.com and the Kindle.

What is the next project you plan to work on and when will it be available?

I have two nearly finished academic books (one on ‘The shared mind’ – ESP and all that, a highly p topical subject – one on taxidruvers’ lives, again the extraordinary in the seemingly ordinary and though, like grass, near ubiquitous so often unnoticed and unesteemed. Also a couple of ( dream-inspired) novels and experimenting with a few filmscriots (hopefully some at least will appear this year, not certain: why aren’t there more hours in the day …). Chiefly I am working as general commissioning editor on what I think an exceedingly important and innovative series of books for young adults (‘Grass … ‘ is one example, my recent ‘Time for the world to learn from Africa’ another), you can see more on this at https://www.balestier.com/category/hearing-others-voices/ with LOTS more super titles to come during 2020.

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Grass Miracle from the Earth (Hearing Others’ Voices) by [Campbell Callender, David]

We see grass everyday, tread on it, maybe handle, smell, or plant it.But how many of us noticed it – let alone appreciated its amazing presence and resilience and the way it someway holds our planet together? It’s everywhere.

This beautifully illustrated book, engaging and readable, gives us the full,picture. It tells of the marvellously complex evolution of grass, the incredible number of species (did you know that bamboo and sugar-cane are forms of grass, and that three kinds of grass make up the major food of humans and the grazing (‘grass’-eating) of innumerable animals?), leading us on into some appreciation of the abiding necessity of grass for humanity, for nature and for the arts. It has a place in folklore too, and in poetry

A book to give and to treasure.

David Campbell Callender, a name taken (adapted) from, and in memory of, her gifted Irish grandfather, is the penname of the British anthropologist Ruth Finnegan.

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Grass Miracle from the Earth

Grass Miracle from the Earth (Hearing Others’ Voices) by [Campbell Callender, David]

You may never really give much thought to the ground you walk on. To you, it is simply earth. You may not think about the grass covering it. However, there is a lot to that grass. That grass’ origin, history and even etymology are interesting. You might be wondering, what is there to be intrigued about. Grass plays a significant role in human life. Grass Miracle from the Earth presents a compelling bank of information about grass and everything related to it.

For a book about grass, this one is surprisingly interesting. Most people’s extent of knowledge about grass ends with the green color. Not many know that there are 10,000 grass species on earth. You will even find out that cats use grass for digestive reasons. Therefore this book, if nothing else, is incredibly informative.

After I started reading this book I found myself enjoying it more than expected and even looked forward to the next bit of information. The title evokes this sense of excitement and wonder as well as a tinge of curiosity. The information is engaging accompanied by pictures that support the content and make it wonderfully gripping. The author terms grass as ‘clothes for the earth’ right at the beginning, which is adorable, apt, and is an example of how this book is colored with quirk. Thoughtful information is conveyed in a friendly and informal tone. The language is simple with mild refrain from scientific jargon. The print is well structured with special attention to relevance thus keeping it short.

Ideally, this book is for educational purposes, and is written in a way that suggests that it is aimed at children. However, as an adult, you will find the information interesting enough to hold your interest. However, at times it breaks from the easy flow of information and reads more like a textbook. For example, page 28 discusses seed maturation and vasculature. The reader is directed to research these word, but I hoped this was presented in a simpler way. Understandably, this part is paramount to understanding the essence of grass.

Grass Miracle from the Earth is a brief but informative book that delivers a comprehensive overview of grass and inspires you to learn more about the thing many of us take for granted. This is an unassuming book that is informative and surprisingly absorbing.

Pages: 111 | ASIN: B082KYD8W9

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50 Great Writers You Should Be Reading – Finalist

Author Ruth Finnegan

Author Ruth Finnegan

Author Ruth Finnegan is a finalist in the Authors show 2017/18 ’50 Great Writers You Should Be Reading’. Show your support by casting your vote.

Cast Your Vote

2017 Contest for the 2018 Edition of
“50 Great Writers You Should  Be Reading”

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Black Ink Pearl Stupendous Movie

A wonderful prize winning inspirational story and now a prize  winning screenplay –  who will leap to produce into film  for the world?  But ah how can they without the funds? The world will surely help …

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Why, Anyway, Do We Quote?

Ruth Finnegan Author Interview

Ruth Finnegan Author Interview

Quoting was something I didn’t even think about until I read Why Do We Quote. What made you realize quoting would be such a rich topic for a book?

Nor did most people!

Not sure. It just crept up on me and once I’d got started colleagues were very very puzzled -well in a way I was too – about what on earth there was to say about quoting. Onced it was published it was published everyoed said they’d been interested in quoting it all along!,

To elaborate, and as I explain in the Preface, until this book somehow crept under my guard I hadn’t thought I was much interested in quoting or quotation: something to be deployed with care in some settings, no doubt, but not a thing to be investigated. Certainly I had learned to use quote marks at school and later to wield quotations in academic writing, and had become aware of copyright obligations and the current concerns about plagiarism and about unauthorised words floating free on the web. I was also vaguely aware that words and voices from elsewhere ran through what I said, I read them in books, recognised them in formal speeches, heard them in conversation. But I had just come to accept this as part of common practice, not anything to be really noticed, far less to arouse particular curiosity.

As I thought about it, I realised how little I knew about quoting and quotation. What does it mean, this strange human propensity to repeat chunks of text from elsewhere and to echo others’ voices? How does it work and where did it come from? Does it matter? Why, anyway, do we quote?

I started by reflecting more carefully on my own experience and was startled by how quoting permeated my world. And then I wondered how others were using, or not using, quotation both nearby and in far away times and places. On some aspects I found a vast and fascinating literature. But there seemed no single account that directly tackled my questions about just what ‘quotation’ and ‘quoting’ were, how we had got to where we now are, and how in practice these had been used and conceptualised. This led me to considering how people here and now actually use quotation (in practice, that is, not just according to the grammar books) and also, going on from that, whether we might understand these present practices better by exploring something of their background and whether the problems currently causing concern belong just to the 20th and 21st centuries, or perhaps have longer roots.

And then? Well, I just couldn’t help writing It! Took longer than I expected, with part of the fun being finding illustrations (yes IMAGES are part of the story). I’d say it is my best academic book, perhaps alog with Communicating to which is it in a way linked (I leave out my novels like Black Inked Pearl).

Did you learn anything that surprised you about quoting while you prepared this book?

YES, and was amazed: about (many) people’s ACTUAL perspectives be on quoting -regarding it as a way of ‘showing’ off: showing off the quoter’s supposedly superior learning or status, putting you down. I was stunned. As an academic had always assumed that (properly attributed) quotation was unquestionably a Good Thing. It would never never have occurred to me without the extensive comments from the wonderful ‘Mass-Observation’ writers (results of this and other enquiries conducted and housed under the auspices of the University of Sussex (www.massobs.org.uk/).

With this book you shed new light on ideas such as ‘imitation’, ‘allusion’, ‘authorship’, ‘originality’ and ‘plagiarism’. How has quoting changed those ideas?

Mainly I think that I now realise how these concepts shade into each other and overlap (there is a stunning diagram at the start by Mark Cain showing this – and more) . Also how they are ALL socially managed and controlled in some way, and how the telling-off for ‘plagiarism’ of students and other ‘subordinate’ individuals is partly an exercise of power. We all in a way plagiarise (ourselves among others) when – almost all of the time – we in some way allude or quote. This was a real revelation to me. Also how invisibly pervasive all these practices, and similar ones, are in our speaking and writing.

There is a lot drawn from anthropology and cultural history. Is there any one event in history that affected quoting dramatically? Or did it all happen slowly over time?

Slowly and over time I think. Quoting and quotations have been there from the very very beginning – though it’s true that some individuals and sources get quoted more than others ( or have attributed to them things they DIDN’T actually say) , like George Washington, Goethe, Disraeli, the Bible. People quote Shakespeare all the time, often without realising that it IS a quote, the words just a special ring to them – isn’t that one of the points of quoting.

And did you know that the first piece of sustained writing, four thousand or ore years ago, was a cuneiform collection of – yes – of quotations (there’s a picture of it in the book)

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Quoting is all around us. But do we really know what it means? How do people actually quote today, and how did our present systems come about? This book brings together a down-to-earth account of contemporary quoting with an examination of the comparative and historical background that lies behind it and the characteristic way that quoting links past and present, the far and the near. Drawing from anthropology, cultural history, folklore, cultural studies, sociolinguistics, literary studies and the ethnography of speaking, Ruth Finnegan’s fascinating study sets our present conventions into cross cultural and historical perspective. She traces the curious history of quotation marks, examines the long tradition of quotation collections with their remarkable cycling across the centuries, and explores the uses of quotation in literary, visual and oral traditions. The book tracks the changing defi nitions and control of quoting over the millennia and in doing so throws new light on ideas such as ‘imitation’, ‘allusion’, ‘authorship’, ‘originality’ and ‘plagiarism’.

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It Arose in Dreams

Ruth Finnegan Author Interview

Ruth Finnegan Author Interview

Black Inked Pearl follows Kate, a young Irish girl, as she searches for her lost lover. What was the initial idea behind this story and how did that transform as you were writing the novel?

It began in a dream when I was in New Zealand visiting  my daughter and granddaughter who live there. This was, essentially, the first page (and chapter) of the novel when Kate,  panicked and feeling she was too young for love runs away desperately as her best childhood friend (I never learn his name) tries for the first time, a teenager to kiss her. That scene, that act,  is the foundation for the story as she years later discovers that she as frantically and desperately  loves him as she had frantically fled from him years before

I say ‘dream’ as that is the nearest word I can get, vision perhaps they would have called in in the middle Ages. But that word’s a bit misleading.  In two ways.

First, it wasn’t exactly a dream in the sense of being, asleep more an experience in that liminal in-between state of being neither awake nor asleep but somehow fully both – the whole novel came in that somehow enchanted enspelled state ( I suppose you might call it ‘inspiration’). I planned nothing, but it was still a chapter a night, written down effortlessly (I don’t even remember doing it! or, by now, what the words were. it surprises me every time – so many times – I reread the book now).

Second, ‘dream’ suggests something visual, But it was more a kind of very intense node of emotion, something very personal to me (in a metaphorical sort of way the whole book is kind of autobiographical – what serious novel is not? – and the second chapter about a small girl experiencing the magical world of Donegal – is directly so.

Then the novel – and Kate –  just grew. I came to know the hero well, but wish  that my ‘dreams’ had given me his name

Black Inked Pearl is told in a dreamlike, almost stream of consciousness, style of writing. Why did you want to tell the story in this style and what were the challenges?

Well, it arose in dreams and the writing essential came from, and took place in, my unconscious – at least that is the only way I can understand and it. So the style is scarcely surprising, it was little under my deliberate control and almost not at all revised later.

I didn’t know in what style I was writing – the process was almost unconscious – but when it was finished I saw (or rather heard when I read it aloud ih my inner ear as I always do with my writing)that   it had the rhythms and sonorities of African and Irish story-telling (my mother was a wondrous story-binder) and that some literary giants (Joyce, Fulkner, Hopkins … many others) had written in similar styles. Poetry is mixed with prose – well in a way, as with its oral resonances (a subject on which I have written in academic contexts, in Oral Poetry for example), it is all poetry, some fully, some ore in a kind of blank verse: all unexpected by me!

Also, the content. Part of what I learned as the story revealed  itself to me was that the division between dream and reality is an elusive and perhaps non–existent one.

Problems – well some of my readers have problems with it! Some object because they cannot abide what they see as ‘incorrect’ grammar orthography words, not what they learned in the first form at school  – I appreciate that they have tried but think they miss the point (how do they cope with Shakespeare?).

Others including my deeply wise best friend, get a bit lost in the plot from time to time, too full of Celtic mists said one.  It’s too late now to amend that (and maybe it is just a necessary feature of the novel – mystic, mysterious – anyway) but I have tried to make things clearer, while not abandoning what has now has now become my signature style,  in the related ‘Pearl of the Seas’ and, on the way, The helix pearl’ (the latter the same story but this time as told by the garrulouos ever-sprarklng laughing sea (a very different perspective but equally born in dreams). I wonder what is coming next ..

Oh yes, the unusual spellings were loved by the Garn Press, the lovely publishers,  but at the same time gave the copy-editor real problems. Microsoft, can yoy believe it (the cheeky thing)  kept automatically ‘correcting’ the ‘wrong’ spellings. In the end they got me to send a special list to add to their ‘glossary’ of all my new spellings and word and abbreviations etc. I thought that would be quick and easy – about fifty cases? Whew, no! They tell me, incredibly, that it was nearly two thousand! Don’t believe it! Ut they ear that’s true. Anyway, hey did a great job whatever.

Kate is an enthralling and curious character. What were the driving ideals behind her characters development throughout the story?

 As I say it wasn’t conscious since it  all came in dreams. So in a way no ‘driving ideas’.

Still I have noticed some abiding themes , detected, later, in the text, as if looking at someone else’s writing (well in way it’s NOT exactly mine, not t=in the normal way anyway  – not of the deliberate, conscious careful academically trained me). /tow especially, the ones `I swoudl like to think readers will take form the novel (and from the movie if it gets made a I hope it one day will)

First as I said earlier is the understanding , that we may pretend or think we do, but that actually we do not really know the difference between reality and dreams. Given the way we have been brought up as children of the scientific revolution, this is an exceedingly difficult idea, is it not – but so important to try to accept, specially now as we become more aware of the lives, and, in a way, precious value of those with dementia. Perhaps it is only through literature and metaphor that we can eventually begin to grasp this.

Second is the thought, revealed near the end, that it is and was indeed right as Kate did, to search for others and try to help them carry their burdens. But that in the end it isourselves we are responsible for, it is our own souls for which we have to answer before (whatever metaphor we prefer here) the last judgement throne. As Kate in the final chapters had to do.

Also, after I had finished the book, I was inspired by the little butterfly that, unknown to me, the publishers had put, with the pearl and the jagged black, on the beautiful cover. ‘Butterfly’ in Greek –elsewhere too I think – is the same word and concept  as for the soul, breath, spiritus, life:  psyche (as in ‘psychology’, ‘psychiatry’). So the soul – figured as Kate, as every man – flies through the black ink print of the story and at the end settles down on the back cover, life fulfilled story told, with her wings folded.

Kate’s discovery of herself at the end was also, I now see, a kind of discovery of myself as person, as soul.

What are some of your inspirations as a writer that helped shape Black Inked Pearl

Again, ‘dreams’, my unconscious I suppose. But, as one perceptive reviewer put it, only someone with my background and personality would have had those dreams. So – my life, my loves, my experiences of the resonances and styles and images of great literature, above all Shakespeare, Rumi, Homer and the Bible.

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An epic romance about the naive Irish girl Kate and her mysterious lover, whom she rejects in panic and then spends her life seeking. After the opening rejection, Kate recalls her Irish upbringing, her convent education, and her coolly-controlled professional success, before her tsunami-like realisation beside an African river of the emotions she had concealed from herself and that she passionately and consumingly loved the man she had rejected.

Searching for him she visits the kingdom of beasts, a London restaurant, an old people’s home, back to the misty Donegal Sea, the heavenly archives, Eden, and hell, where at agonising cost she saves her dying love. They walk together toward heaven, but at the gates he walks past leaving her behind in the dust. The gates close behind him. He in turn searches for her and at last finds her in the dust, but to his fury (and renewed hurt) he is not ecstatically recognised and thanked. And the gates are still shut.

On a secret back way to heaven guided by a little beetle, Kate repeatedly saves her still scornful love, but at the very last, despite Kate’s fatal inability with numbers and through an ultimate sacrifice, he saves her from the precipice and they reach heaven. Kate finally realises that although her quest for her love was not in vain, in the end she had to find herself – the unexpected pearl.

The novel, born in dreams, is interlaced with the ambiguity between this world and another, and increasingly becomes more poetic, riddling and dreamlike as the story unfolds. The epilogue alludes to the key themes of the novel – the eternity of love and the ambiguity between dream and reality.

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Look for the Hidden

Ruth Finnegan Author Interview

Ruth Finnegan Author Interview

Entrancement is a collection of essays from educated professionals with different viewpoints on the topics of dreaming, trancing and the collective unconscious. What inspired you to write this book and bring all these different fields together?

Two things I suppose.

First of all, my own extended experiences over several years of a kind of heightened consciousness in dreaming, ‘musicking’ and of, somehow, communicating with others both near and far away outside time and space. This is described in the first chapter (my own) of the book: ‘There’ (an essay which earned an award from New Millennium writing).

Second I was further inspired by following this up in wider reading and discovering that not only in anthropology (my own discipline) are such things starting to be seriously studied as something of here and now, not just of supposedly strange folk far away or long ago, but also in innovative, if as yet unconventional, scientific thinking. Remarkable. There are now huge numbers of best-selling books by hard-nosed scientists inspired by Einsteinian thinking and, for example, quark theory on, for example, telepathy, dreaming, the consciousness of the universe, life after death and communication – long known and accepted – between dead and living.

The book begins with your own experience on trancing. What is ‘trancing’ and how did that experience happen?

Too long to answer properly here – read the account in the first chapter.

‘Trancing’ is a good concept and nearest to what I and others have experienced. It does however give a somewhat too explicit and, as it were, contrived and deliberate impression. Better to say the experience of somehow being outside time and space and seeing more clearly than in ordinary life’ (though it is there too, hidden).

One major problem indeed (discussed in the concluding chapter) is the absence of an accepted terminology to describe such things.

You bring together experts from many different fields in this book. Were they as enthusiastic about this book as you are?

YES. Both in taking up my initial invitation, in responding to it in their own terms, in the writing and, now, in receiving the finished volume.

What do you hope readers will take away from this book?

Look for the hidden in your own everyday life, find the extraordinary in the ordinary and vice versa: in music, in dreaming, in the miraculous workings of the great world around us. Open your mind – so easily closed by the undoubted but limited insights of the scientific revolution – to what is beyond.

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Entrancement: The Consciousness of Dreaming, Music and the WorldThis powerful, ground-breaking study of dreaming, death, music, and shared consciousness brings together a staggering number of fields to explore what we know about dreaming and its interactions with other forms of consciousness. Setting a humanistic, evidence-based context, Ruth Finnegan engages with anthropology, ethnomusicology, sociology, psychology, parapsychology, cognitive science, and more, building a strikingly diverse base of evidence and analysis with which to treat a subject that is all too often taken lightly. Entrancement will quickly prove indispensable for anyone studying these altered states of consciousness and what we can know about how they work and what they do for our minds, bodies, and selves. 

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