Top positive review
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I have read everything I could find about this book
on December 31, 2002
I was shocked when I started reading all the reviews and (mostly negative) press about this book, as I have loved this book for years.
The "real people" (the small tribe of Aboriginal people) have a powerful understanding of spiritual things, as well as an ability to be practical and flexible. It must be understood that this "tribe" consisted of 62 people maximum, and typically, they traveled in much smaller groups (about 10-12 per group). Obviously, they are NOT the majority of aboriginals in Australia, but a very small minority of people, who have decided to stop "reproducing" mainly because they have indicated that the desert is becoming hotter and there is less food to sustain them.
I never sensed that they were "depressed" about their situation; in fact, their view of death is very positive. When one of the "real people" dies, it is because they have come a point in their lives (often at age 120 or so) that they are becoming "excited" about the Spirit World. They have a celebration (a party) and after that, the individual does a certain breathing technique which allows them to shut down their "chakras" and they die.
Although we westerners may call this a form of suicide, from the "real people's" perspective, it is simply time to continue in another form, as there is an understanding and an acceptance that we lived before we came to this earth, and we will live after we leave it... we are forever beings.
There are many criticisms of the book. I will share them, and I will share my perspective on them:
1. Criticism: Men's business and Women's Business: It seems that among Aboriginals, "men's business" and "women's business" are kept separate. Yet, in the book, there seemed to be no separation between the men and the women. My perspective: the "real people" are "flexible and adaptable"; they are in very small numbers now, and perhaps they accept that some customs and traditions no longer "fit" their needs.
2. Criticism: Among Aboriginals, no-one enters another person's tribal boundaries without permission, yet in the book it was never mentioned, even though they traveled about 1400 miles. My perspective: I see the "real people" as both "flexible and adaptable"; they were not looking to establish territory, conquer, fight, steal food, or anything bad. However, perhaps there is simply an easy explanation... if the "real people" did not encounter anyone to ask permission to enter, then it simply was not necessary.
I mean, seriously, if there was no-one at the "border crossing" (so to speak), then what's the worry?
3. Criticism: Desert Aborigines do not collect dung for fuel. It would take forever to collect enough of the small scats of kangaroos and dingoes to cook anything and would be pointless given the availability of dry wood. My perspective: Morgan said they wood was used when it was available... and only when wood was not available, did they use animal dung.
4. Criticism: Burnum Burnum "denounces" Morgan. Read his brief letter:
"I Burnum Burnum, hereby sever all ties with the Author Marlo Morgan and the book entitled 'Mutant Message Down Under'. My reaction to the book was an innocent response to what I considered an account of an inner journey, which uplifted Aboriginal Australians in the eyes of the world. In my innocence, I did not understand the tribal ramifications of my support for the Author. I am a non-initiated, non-traditional, urbanised, Aboriginal from the East Coast of Australia". Yours Sincerely, BURNUM BURNUM
My perspective: In this statement, I sense no "denouncing" of Morgan, but he is severing ties because of the "ramifications" from the tribes. That's quite a difference in motivation.
5. Criticism: Morgan (allegedly) admits her book was a lie.
My perspective: Here is what I have gathered:
In a interview with SBS Radio from New York, Morgan broke down and said: "I would like to say that I'm terribly sorry and my sincere, my sincere apologies to any Australian Aboriginal person if I have offended them in any way. "I think of them in only the highest ... please read this book ... with an open mind and see if there is anything, anything at all that is derogatory to your people, because it is not. I love them. and I wish them equal opportunity and the best."
Additional criticism: (Below copied from [...] ) Meeting with Steven Segal at Warner Brothers Studios... Mr Segal invited the delegation to meet with him and other associates at his Warner Brothers studio office. Dannion Brinkley, an associate and friend of Marlo Morgan, also attended the meeting and arranged for telephone link-up with Marlo Morgan who was in New York city...
At the completion of this discussion, Marlo Morgan gave her word that an apology in writing, set on the conditions and agreements of the Elders and cited and signed by a lawyer, would be forwarded to the delegation within 48 hours.
This apology was to include the fact that her claimed journey was a Hoax...
it was bitterly disappointing when two days later, during a brief discussion with Damien Brinkley at the foundation room, we were told that we were no longer negotiating with Marlo Morgan.
The meeting was uneventful. Morgan has apologized only to the effect that her book may have offended people, but, never that the book was a lie.