Re: Fascinatin' Rhythm

Michael Cahill (MCBlueline@AOL.COM)
Thu, 15 Feb 1996 08:05:53 -0500

I'm sorry to have missed out on the development of this thread. There's been
a death in my extended family -- my father's sister's husband, a fine man.
He suffered from ALS.

A day and a half ago, I would have tried to summarize the postings. No
longer. The thread has lengthened remarkably and spawned (mixing metaphors)
several associated strands that are equally fascinating. In any event,
better recapping than I could ever have provided has already been set forth
by Mike Salovesh and Warren Sproule.

Just a couple of quick observations. More later when I can sit down and
think. I have never seen this kind of conceptual explosion happen on a list
before. I've been corresponding on the internet for only 8 months or so.
Does this happen often? It's like chinese fire crackers going off. The
lesson for me so far has to do with the nature of the medium. It seems to
have the potential to generate kernals of ideas very quickly, much like
ordered discussion at meetings. But because these ideas must be written
down, they can be better "held" or "marked" for inspection later. I would
venture that this thread has already produced a number of cores that could be
further developed into reseach papers and even dissertations. This is quite
startling to me.

It's hazardous to predict anything in this medium. When I wrote the original
posting on McNeill's book, I hoped to start a small discussion on what I
thought was a specialized topic of interest to a small group. Wrong. It set
off a chain reaction that has pulled in *all four subfields of anthropology.*
Why did this happen? Maybe it has to do with the power of a simple idea --
how humans impose order on their world (the common denominator at work here,
I think, even more so than McNeill's "keeping together in time" idea).
Combine this with speculation on human origins and the evolution of culture
and you have a potent mixture. The right conditions for real brainstorming?

Who knows. Maybe others don't see it this way. I'd be glad to hear from

By the way, I have also been reading some great ethnography in this thread.
I have questions later from Tom Kavanaugh, Warren Sproule, and some
commentary for Mike Salovesh. I haven't fully read John McCreery's always
thought-provoking messages on this topic, but will do so soon. I only seem
to be missing John Steven's insights. This is not to slight the many other
interesting contributions. These happen to come to mind as I sit here early
in the morning (early for me, at least!).

One of the most intruiging posts comes from Ralph Holloway. If anyone can
speculate on human origins, he can. I am very interested in the "mental"
evolution of humans as revealed in the fossil record. Been following the
Neanderthal to modern Homo debate in _Current Anthropology_. I hope that
Ralph can shed more light on developments here.

Thanks to everyone who has participated in this discussion to date. Hope to
see it continue.

Mike Cahill