In the wine store the other day, music is black female singer doing something gospelly. I know nothing of spirituals aside from the ones 60s folk singers preempted (Kumbaya, Swing Low Sweet Chariot, Michael Row the Boat Ashore): this was achingly familiar but certainly not from the folk era. 'What *is* that?' I asked the clerk. 'Um- Elton John.' Lord, lord, the Border Song. How long ago that was.
I should have started The Classic of Mountains and Oceans long ago. The preface alone is enchanting, not least because it exhibits a lovely range of old-fashioned obscure academic vocabulary, so different from modern-day obscure academic jargon:
"It is a marked feature of of classical Chinese mythology that myths are narrated in a lapidary, exiguous style."
"Several reasons may be conjectured for the distrait condition in which these myth are to be found."
"Numerous etiological culture myths are related: the origin of archery, musical instruments, of agriculture and agricultural instruments..."
"Many major myths feature male deities:... the cosmic fault caused by the marplot Common Work... the world conflagration myth of Yi the Archer, and the myth of the apex mundi of Longlife Hemp."
"Or, it could be argued, myths were once the sole preserve of elite classes in society, the kings, shamans, and court archivists, who guarded this cultural heritage jealously from traducers and iconoclasts, as the divinely inspired beliefs of their people."
What a good thing I have a cell phone that lets me google this stuff.
Speaking of spirituals, a multi-part a capella There is a Balm in Gilead.