Minimalists in Fiction: The Real People

the real people

“They said walk across Australia. That isn’t possible! Walk for months! That isn’t reasonable either.”
– Marlo Morgan

 
I just finished reading Mutant Message Down Under, by Marlo Morgan. It’s about a white American woman who’s taken on a walkabout through the outback by a tribe of Aboriginals.

 “Much later, I would understand that the releasing of attachment to objects and certain beliefs was already indelibly written as a very necessary step in my human progress toward being.”
– Marlo Morgan

 
As the story goes, the author believed the Aboriginal chauffeur who picked her up from her hotel was driving her to an awards luncheon for her work with urban Aboriginals.

Hours later, though, she finds herself far from any town and being asked to strip herself of her clothes and other possessions. The Aboriginals give her a thin cloth to wear and burn her old clothes, shoes, jewelry and purse.

After passing various tests, she’s told she and the tribe she knows as the Real People are leaving on walkabout for approximately three months.

“The Real People tribe never go without food. Always, the universe responds to their mind-talk.”
– Marlo Morgan


The book relates the tribe’s relationship with nature. Each morning they send out a mental message to the animals and plants, essentially asking them to offer themselves as food.

Morgan describes how environmentally conscious the Real People are, protecting the earth and taking only what they need. They honor all creatures, even the insects that climb and fly into their noses and ears.

They speak to each other telepathically, saving their voices for singing. The tribe heals with herbal salves and movement of hands over an affected area without touching.

“Things, they think, generate fear. The more things you have, the more you have to fear. Eventually you are living your life for things.”
– Marlo Morgan

 
The Real People, obviously, live simple lives with few possessions, and they teach the Mutant their values.

We have taught the Mutant much, and we have learned from her. It seems Mutants have something in their life called gravy. They know truth, but it is buried under thickening and spices of convenience, materialism, insecurity and fear.

They also have something in their lives called frosting. It seems to represent how they spend almost all the seconds of their existence in doing superficial, artificial, temporary, pleasant-tasting, nice-appearing projects and spend very few actual seconds of their lives developing their eternal beingness.

 “Mutant Message Down Under. . . started life as a sales brochure that Morgan wrote when she was selling Ti-tree oil products.”
– BHPL Book Blog


The book has generated much controversy and criticism. It’s said to be full of inaccuracies about Australia and the Aborigines.

I don’t know much about either topic, but was awfully surprised to read that humans “require a minimum of one gallon her day [of water] under ideal conditions.” It’s obvious there are some problems with factual accuracy.

When Morgan self-published the book, she described it as nonfiction, but the version sold by Harper Collins is identified as fiction.

To learn more about the criticisms of the book, read Helping Yourself: Fabrication of Aboriginal Culture and the Dumbartung Report.

Much to ponder.


If you read this book as a novel and don’t worry about what may or may not have happened, there’s plenty to ponder.

Morgan writes about living with love and peace in connection with nature, caring for the environment, eating real food and being grateful for small things.

In fact, many people claim reading this book has changed their lives.

If you’ve read Mutant Message Down Under, what did you think about it? Please share in the section section.

 

6 thoughts on “Minimalists in Fiction: The Real People

  1. I may have to add this book to my reading list. The criticisms of the book remind me of one my son read as a teen called The Education of Little Tree which was originally sold as a biography and he enjoyed it so much I read it after him.. We didn’t know it was all false until after we read it, but it still had much to consider if read as a novel.

  2. I have not read this book, but after reading your post I am adding it my reading list. I want to live more simply with less, but not so sure I would want to live the way you described the Real People living. Although, I find different ways of life very intriguing.

  3. I have not read the book but reading that criticism “Helping Yourself…” made me wonder about some of our vulnerability to the minimalist living and Paleo eating sources. How much do we want to live like our ancestors did?

    • Interesting point. Personally, I’m not interested in living the way my ancestors did. I’m happy to keep many modern conveniences, from antibiotics to the Internet.

      On the other hand, I want to live a lot more simply than most people in the US (and other developed countries) do. I’m looking for the happy medium.

      I don’t know much about the Paleo diet so I can’t comment on its sources. I have to say the first thing I wondered when I heard about it is how healthy the ancestors Paleo eaters are copying actually were. Do we know?

      I try to mostly eat “real food” rather than the heavily processed stuff, but I’m happy to continue eating grains and beans.

I'd love for you to share your ideas and experiences.