Natalie Zemon Davis. A Life of Learning Charles Homer Haskins Lecture for 1997. (American Council of Learned Societies, ACLS Occasional Paper No. 39)
When it came time to pack up my 100s of 3 x 5 cards, I realized that I had a powerful memory association with the Lyon archives, one that I would have many times again whenever I worked in a local archival setting. The room itself became closely identified with the traces of the past I was examining: the smell of its old wood, the shape of its windows, the sounds from the cobblestone streets or running stream. The room was a threshold in which I would meet papers that had once been handled and written on by the people of the past. The room was like Alice’s mirror, the Narnia wardrobe, or — to give the Huron metaphor — the mysterious hole under the roots of a tree through which one falls for a time into another world.
For more on the Huron metaphor, see her article “Iroquois women, European women” in American encounters : natives and newcomers from European contact to Indian removal, 1500-1850 edited by Peter C. Mancall, James H. Merrell (New York : Routledge, 2007) or Women, ‘race,’ and writing in the early modern period edited by Margo Hendricks and Patricia Parker (London ; New York : Routledge, 1994)
Models for abrupt change were also available. One was metamorphosis, the sudden and repeated change from bear to man to bear. […] A second model was the sudden fall to a totally different world. The first fall was at creation, when the pregnant woman Aataentisic plunged from the sky through the hole under the roots of a great tree (according to one version recounted to the Jesuit Brébeuf), landed on the back of a great turtle in the waters of this world, and after dry land had been created, gave birth to the deity Yoscaha and his twin brother. Falls through holes, especially holes under trees, are the birth canals to experiences in alternative worlds in many an Indian narrative.*
*Brébeuf, JR [Jesuit Relations] 19:126-9. Erodes and Ortiz discuss the “fall through a hole” as a motif in American Indian Myths and Legends 75, and there are several examples analysed in Lévi-Strauss Histoire de lynx.
And so we plunge …
And so for day 2438