DAVID SAMWELL, Surgeonís Mate, Discovery
Every now and then the concert would cease
and only an old woman in the same canoe
was to be heard
who made a bauling noise very much
like some of the cries of London.
After jumping for a short time
took his mask off and made
just such a noise as the old woman had done
at the same time holding his arms
extended and shaking a small box
or a wooden image of a bird
filled with pebbles
which made a rattling noise as accompaniment
to the voice. Upon the whole
it was as wild and uncouth a performance
as any we had ever seen,
and that strongly marked
the barbarous and uncultivated
state of the people.
Mask.Nootka Sound. Webber Collection.
Their cultures as thick as soup, the portable alphabet soup
of the English, the indigenous fish and cedar soup
of the Mooachahts. You claim that the ensuing events will be
predictable, but you and I are merely
postdicting this situation, an undertaking almost as
difficult and equally as inaccurate. Nothing is certain for any of us
even as we stand back to consider what has happened, and what may happen next. On every occasion the random and accidental
intrude. The English hear the Mooachahts repeating
meaning, Come around the point into the cove. They hear the sequence of syllables
and think it is the name of this place.
It is not important that they are wrong.
The word and its mistaken reference go into the records and
onto the charts and eventually into the minds of
all of us, even the Mooachahts, who are sometimes referred to as
Nootkans. Mistakes and their perpetuation are the essence
of evolution. But what is it that evolves here,
and to what end?