Re: Survival of the Fittest

Nick Corduan (nickc@IQUEST.NET)
Tue, 19 Sep 1995 16:53:25 -0500


> I have always had a problem with taking Miner too literally. But whatever
> Miner's intentions were, I do not think 'ritual' can simply be reduced to
> any action done according to a strict routine. Ritual has some additional

This is actually a bit sticky, but in the sense I was using it, your
interpretation -- not Mathew's -- is the correct one. I was referring to
religious and/or spiritual ritual, not simply ritualistic behavious.

Frankly, I feel that the word has been diluted along with many similar
words. ("I do it religiously?" What the heck does that man -- in nice
clothes on Sunday morning? <g>)

However, when you deal with traditional cultures, the lines of distinction
are much foggier between secular, ritual*istic* behaviour and *ritual*. I
must harken once again to Latin America, where my greatest knowledge is. In
many -- I don't like using "most" or "all," when I can at all help it --
traditional cultures in that area, the rule of thumb was, "Do it as the gods
did it." Now that's a totally oversimplified, even tacky way of putting it,
but it gets the point I'm trying to make across: such activities as might be
classified as merely ritual*istic* (mundane tasks done repeatedly without
much variation) are actually grounded in ritual (i.e. spirtually-oriented
activities, such as copying the gods).

> When I read the original item by Corduan, I assumed the claim was being made
> that Europeans differ from North American aboriginal people by their being
> *more* anthropomorphic in their thinking about dieties than are the North

You were correct -- though I was speaking of all of America again, not just
the North.

> Americal aboriginal people. Those aboriginal people I am familiar with,
> apart from seeing the world having a more numerous set of dieties, see them
> as associatied with, and usually resembling certain aspects of, a much wider
> variety of entities, including animals, inanimate objects, geographic
> features, etc. The activities attributed to these dieties seem to me to move
> them much further away from the anthropmorphic end of the specrum than do

And when you get into Latin America, deities are even more nebulously
conceived, with a dizzying array of spiritual beings, avatars, and vague
spirituality (a la BEING).

> the European ones (e.g. the Christian God, Jesus, the angels, the devil, and
> so forth, all of which seem to me to be much more closely anthropomorphic.)

Yup, that's what I was saying. <g>


Nick Corduan "...there is as much dignity in tilling
at a field as in writing a poem."
( --Booker T. Washington