Tawai: A voice from the forest / by Doug Burton

I’ve just been to see Bruce Parry’s documentary film Tawai @PloughArts and wanted to share my thoughts. I was lucky enough to go on an expedition to Borneo with Bruce in 1995. It was both a quest for adventure and ecological expedition, to set up infrastructure in advance of scientists who were coming to gather data on the rainforest. In particular, the area of Kalimantan we were centred in was predominantly made up of Mangrove’s, where the interconnections between water, trees and the rest of the world was and still is delicately balanced.

Tawai, is very matter of fact about the harsh realities of our world and the impact we’re all having on it. That’s not to say that I feel it was asking us to suffer guilt, but to instead consider our place in the world and question if each of us is present in the here and now. Why is the here and now important? Well, only though being aware of ourselves, mindfulness as Parry learns, can we begin to question our lives and the interconnections that stem from over here all the way to a quiet nomadic people in Borneo.

A meeting with Iain McGilchrist, writer of ‘The Master and his Emissary: the divided brain and the Making of the Western World’, presents scientific evidence for our modern preoccupation with reason over intuition. More engagement, as McGilchrist puts it, with the right side or our brains, allowing for a worldlier view, would help us to be more mindful of the whole rather than the finite.

This is a stunning film that everyone should see, not because it's relevant today, but necessary as part of our long term individual development.