Re: about gypsy

Gerold Firl (
1 Feb 1995 19:04:36 -0800

In article <3g6hha$> (STEPHANIE G. FOLSE) writes:

>Here is a short bibliography I put together when I was researching
>Gypsies. Almost every one of these has an extensive bibliography itself,
>so they can point you to other books.

(Excellent bibliography deleted)

Thanks for posting these sources. I hope to be able to read some of them
someday. In the meantime, lets talk about gypsies, a very interesting, and
very unique, human culture.

Note: my sources regarding gypsies are very limited, based on the
experiences of north american police bunco squads and my slight personal
exposure. Do feel free to round-out my perspective.

Using the ecological metaphor, gypsy culture is probably the most
parasitical known to man. (Note: I make no value judgement when I say this.
To me, a tapeworm is just as "legitimate" as the animal it parasitises.
Alls fair in the jungle.) To be sure, gypsies did not live entirely by
theft and swindling; their acheivements in music and dance were, and still
are, a significant contribution to human artistic development. But to me,
what is most significant about the evolution of gypsy culture is the way it
illustrates the power of the ecological metaphor; any niche which *can*
support a culture, *will* support a culture. Making use of the widespread
superstitions of non-scientific peoples, gypsies have been able to prosper
by fleecing the ignorant. (Note: gypsies also have a tradition of
metalworking, to complement swindling, theft, and entertainment, but profit
margins are higher with swindles.)

The diaspora of the gypsies is mandetory, since the scam won't work unless
it is unexpected; the somewhat analogous dispersion of the jews and
armenians, forming their widespread trade networks, is slightly different.
The jewish trade network of the 16th century, spread throughout most of
eurasia, was a beautiful example of adaptation (again illustrating the
biological metaphor); from within a hostile environment, jewish culture
evolved a symbiotic relationship with the host cultures. Of course, many
individuals suffered greatly within this "symbiotic" relationship, but from
the cultural perspective, individual suffering doesn't seem to count for
much. But I'm rambling. See _The Mediteranean_, by Braudel, for a superb
description and copious annotation.

Disclaimer claims dat de claims claimed in dis are de claims of meself,
me, and me alone, so sue us god. I won't tell Bill & Dave if you won't.
=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=---- Gerold Firl @ ..hplabs!hp-sdd!geroldf