Saturday, 11 November 2017

"Water Is..." unfortunately not for all

Canadian Nina Munteanu's recent (2016) book celebrates water (nibi in Anishnaabe language as celebrated in this song The title of the book  - “Water Is…: The meaning of  Water”  - makes the degree of her estimation clear and it’s not an overstatement to say this expression of her liking is oceanic. The 583 pages of the large format text are appropriate to its theme, that is, the most common and important element on our planet and one that is threatened as never before. There is a very serious message and purpose here.

Munteanu is right to recognize that water is a commons that belongs to all on the planet earth. As an expression of the breadth of her engagement the 12 chapters approach different aspects of the subject, from Water is Magic in chapter 1 through to the happily concluding Water is Joy of chapter 12. In between these book-end characterizations, water appears as Life, Motion, Communication, Memory, Rhythm, Vibration, Beauty, Story, Prayer, and Wisdom. Interspersed with Canadian anchored photos depicting the above themes there is something for most water appreciators.

In the Afterthoughts section which culminates her flow  Munteanu notes that her mission is connection, maybe “matchmaking” it could be said, and as for all passion borne writings hers should pull many who encounter it. To wonder whether those without a similar passion will venture into this labour of love is not to question the project. Love Conquers All Things, it’s true, we trust, but for most loves it is the chance personal glance that opens the space for rapture. In a world once more seized by strife for the possession of land (and water) we at TorontotheBetter hope that the “quantum entanglement” the scientist in Munteanu invokes as what moves her, manages to grab many of those that as yet have remained static when made aware of the global rape of resources that we are living through. Inhabitants of many of Canada’s first nations reserves that after 2000 years of colonial rule still lack clean drinking water are unlikely to encounter the book in their local libraries, if they have them. Not Munteanu’s personal responsibility, maybe, but they might wish that at least one chapter, if not the whole, was pervaded by the original inhabitants' very special relationship to water in the land now called Canada. After all, the standard term for electricity here in Ontario is Hydro, in recognition of the source of the province's energy in its aboriginal lakes.  
A call to arms has it over a rhapsody most times, but rhapsody can still be an entangling attraction for those fortunate enough to have the luxury, while swimming, of waving, not drowning. Given the fundamental nature of quantum mechanics to all existence none are separate from water's pull. Here's  hoping that many minds tangle at the same time as any hands that lift this weighty book. Though Munteanu honours the centrality of water in First Nations' spiritual worlds her reference does not appear until Chapter 11, Water Is Wisdom. The Joy chapter follows, but a Water Is Power chapter is missing in the first edition.

Other recommended Canadian publications about water: Blue Gold/Maude Barlow & Tony Clarke, and Eau Canada/Karen Bakker.  To find a copy of Water Is... check your local library; to buy a copy contact  

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