The Methane Saga
The Production of Methane Gas Described in the British Style of Finnish Epic Poetry
I was listening to a recording of the Kalevala, the Finnish epic poem, while crocheting. These tales were created to be spoken or sung, and I was struck by the way they harmonised with repetitive creative tasks. One is busy but relaxed; it can be dull without listening to something entertaining. Hence the popularity of knitting circles.
Imagine an extended family in a snow bound yurt dwelling. After months together, interesting subjects for conversation may be limited. How to amuse oneself while making socks or whittling knife handles?
“Tell us a story, Grandparent” comes the call. Arthritic hands are no longer nimble enough to join in the tasks, but a fireside place is welcome. And so it begins….
Tales created to be spoken communicate in different ways to those designed for the written word. If you weren’t paying attention, you can’t turn the page back. Listening to the Kalevala, I found that momentary focus on my work meant I lost a few lines, but not the gist of the plot. Even if I had missed some crucial words, important concepts are repeated several times, key events padded out with description.
The ‘Hiawatha’ rhythm in which English translations of these poems are recited seems to bear little relation to the singing of the original. There’s a sample of this on Wikipedia. My musings on the ancient origins of epic poems may be mere fiction.
However, author Lewis Dartnell has speculated at length in ‘The Knowledge – How to Rebuild our World from Scratch’ on how we can preserve important scientific discoveries in the event of global catastrophe. This style of telling seems well adapted to embed this information. It falls into memory as if it were designed to, and the redundancy guards against attrition.
In the post-apocalyptic landscape, you can bet people will have to knit socks, possibly in a yurtish sort of dwelling. So I wrote the ‘ The Production of Methane Gas Described in the British Style of Finnish Epic Poetry ‘. It’s very long, a good sock’s worth to a fast knitter, so it’s on its own page. I’ll be checking the technical details with the biochar people, but as the epic points out ‘ And with care prevent explosion’!
The Resilience Handbook will be out soon!!
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