- Apr 2022
Ann Bergin writes (in her diary with respect to [[Zoom Session 1 for The Extended Mind]]):
She [Mary Douglas] argues that ring composition is an enabling constraint, both for storytelling and interpretation. Douglas mentions a form of parallelism in divination in ancient China based upon the symmetrical markings on either side of a turtle shell.
This sounds quite similar to me to the work in Bascom's Sixteen Cowries which Lynne Kelly summarizes in The Memory Code when talking about West African divination systems (particularly the Yoruba) using seeds, nuts, and cowrie shells and songs which memorized songs are sung based on the outcomes of tossing these objects.
Is there in fact a link between these storytelling/song systems? Are they functioning roughly the same way? Is there a level of recombination or statistical chance in the ring composition systems Douglas is describing? Are they similar without the combinatorial portions?
W.R. Bascom, Sixteen Cowries: Yoruba divination from Africa to the New World, Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 1980.