Re: Anthro-L

John Pastore (venture@CANCUN.RCE.COM.MX)
Wed, 24 Apr 1996 16:38:54 +0000

On 24 Apr 96 at 0:13, David Weinlick wrote:

> I'm not sure exactly why you're responding to me in regard to
> this... I actually just responded to this ridiculously limited
> rampage upon our list. Your quotes of me are stuff that is not my
> doing... I hope you're not giving credit where credit is not due. I
> do hope your response actually got forwarded to the rest opf the
> list, rather than to just me.

Please note: The following reference should have been to Matthew D.
Joanis, and not David H Weinlik, and my sincerest apology to David
for the mishap. Thank you...

> >On 22 Apr 96 at 14:52, David H Weinlick (David Weinl wrote:
> >
> >... It is
> >> >also ironic that the "socio-cultural folks can't even agree on
> >> >what the hell truth is.
> >
> >So, what's the truth?
> >
> >...It seems to me that you cannot be a
> >> >scientist if you can't at least accept the concept that the
> >> >world is knowable.
> >
> >Of course its knowable. But are you suggesting that it can be all
> >knowable? The last time I checked this was an expanding universe,
> >not a static, or collapsing one. In other words there are new
> >things to be learned everyday, simply because there are new things
> >coming into being. No? Is a real scientist suppose to limit him or
> >herself by ignoring that fact?
> >
> >...On that topic the concept of "subjective" truth is
> >> >baloney. How the heck can there be "more" than one truth in a
> >> >given instance.
> >
> >In that given instance, has time come still?
> >
> >...What ones thinks they see is not necessarily the truth.
> >> >If one were to allow for relativistic and subjective truth then
> >> >we give power and creedence to ideas like racism.
> >
> >To the contrary. If you don't make relative, and, even, subjective,
> >allowances for the differences between cultures you are foisting
> >your values, and value system, no matter how "scientifically"
> >construed on others, and that not only cannot constitute
> >anthropology, it in fact constitutes the worse kind of racism.
> >Please note:
> >
> >On 21 Apr 96 at 22:54, Richard G. Calo wrote:
> >
> >>... in its attempt to understand something fundamental about
> >> human beings and being human. I read something once (can't recall
> >> where) which I liked very much. It said, that when you can tell a
> >> joke in a native group, and they laugh at it, then the group and
> >> you are well on the way toward some degree of mutual
> >> understanding. I can think of no 'softer' a methodology than
> >> that-- and probably a no more accurate one where human beings are
> >> concerned.
> >
> >Unless you don't agree that say in studying the Maya as a culture
> >it would be incorrect to merely treat the Maya as lab specimens and
> >effect a valid result you must involve yourself in their culture,
> >so as to understand it too. If so: it's been my experience that,
> >among the Maya, humor is the greatest diplomat. And if you can't
> >gain friendship, you gain nothing, and the Maya are very responsive
> >to humor. They enjoy having a sense of humor and consider it an
> >honor when other people will think well enough of them to share
> >their humor with them.
> >
> >They will often ask me why I live here. I tell them the following
> >joke as an answer (keep in mind that the Maya here will tell you at
> >first that they are Mexican, and Maya only later):
> >
> >There were three men marooned on a desert island: an Englishman, an
> >Ameican and a Mexican. After five years a genie appears and tells
> >them that they have three wishes, but since there are three of
> >them, they each must have one wish each. Asking the Englishman what
> >his wish is, the Englishman replies:
> >
> >"Are you kidding! After five years marooned on this island with
> >just those two guys? To be back home, having a beer in the pub with
> >my mates, throwing the darts, I wish I was home." -- and PUFF,
> >he's gone.
> >
> >The genie asks the American what's his wish? The American replies:
> >
> >"Are you kidding! After five years marooned on this island with
> >just those two guys? To be back home, running the lawnmover,
> >running the kids to school, taking my wife out to dinner, I wish I
> >was home." -- and PUFF, he's gone.
> >
> >The genie asks the Mexican what's his wish? The Mexican replies:
> >
> >"Gee. The weather its nice. There's plenty of fish in the ocean.
> >Those two guys --those two guys are my AMIGOS, I wish they were
> >back". PUFF.
> >
> >...
> >
> >After breaking into hysterics (because of the Englishman and
> >American being the stupid ones?), the Maya will respond with their
> >own favorite joke:
> >
> >"Do you know why Maya don't live in houses with balconies?"
> >
> >"No."
> >
> >" Because if they did, and they leaned over the rail to say hello
> >at a
> > passerby, they'd fall over."
> >
> >...
> >
> >It is their joke, and they love telling it. They don't mind being
> >progressively stouter from the ground up and having big heads. That
> >is who they are, and they don't mind being who they are, and their
> >smart enough to know that even if they wanted to do anything about
> >it to change it, they can't. Besides its well known that after
> >living here for a while alot of people who you might have thought
> >previously to be physically attractive people, don't look so good
> >anymore until at least they get a pretty dark tan. In any event,
> >the Maya came to terms along time ago with the fact that people are
> >different, and so be it. If you might think it racist read on...
> >
> >> I do wonder
> >> though, wouldn't this methodology already argue for a degree of
> >> commonality, at some level, between different social groups?
> >>
> >
> >Social groups? I don't know. In the States, and apparently Canada
> >now too, I think there was a time when people were far less hyper
> >about making jokes or even poking fun at themselves.
> >
> >In such highly differing cultural groups, it is not easy, and I'll
> >tell you why. In Mexico, people, believe it or not, so
> >automatically grant such total dignity to others as not to regard
> >anyone as being superior or inferior for any physical reason: be
> >they short, tall, fat, male, female, one color or another. It is
> >regarded as the greatest stupidity not to, and their culture is not
> >innured with 'Hollywood'-style role models for so-called beauty, or
> >any special importances attached to being so-called beautiful. A
> >man with moles on his nose can be a game show host for no other
> >reason than he's a nice guy (and probably has some important
> >friends). An actress does not have to look like Robert Redford to
> >be a lead player. Even transvestites go unmolested. Because
> >everyone is so comfortable in the knowledge that their dignity is
> >never at stake, when someone doesn't know or remember your name,
> >they will call you established nicknames like "Gordo" (fatperson),
> >"Guero" (blondie), "Negro" (blackman), "Moreno" (brownman), and
> >even "Gringo" (Yankee), and no one ever doesn't respsond without a
> >smile on their face being glad that someone desires there
> >attention. If someone is fat, and they say "Oye, Gordo!" ("Hey
> >Fatso!"), the fat person does not take offense because no one
> >regards anything being wrong with being fat, including the fat
> >person. The same with everyone else. Mexicans will be very patient
> >explaining to "gringos", not to take offense, after all: "Gringos
> >are Gringos just as Mexicans are Mexicans". They perceive a
> >difference, but they make no more of an issue out of it then when,
> >say, percieving purple grapes from blue grapes. It is not
> >important.
> >
> >But watch what can happen with two different cultures, when
> >something can happen which is not even a joke --but very
> >"relative", and very "subjective":
> >
> >One day I and friends were sitting at a side-walk cafe when an
> >American blackman was passing with his friends. A Mexican
> >salesperson, as freindly as could be, called for his attention
> >saying "Oye, Negro!" The American went crazy, threatening violence
> >screaming: "No one calls me a Negro!" The Mexican was absolutely
> >shocked. He had absolutely no idea what could have elicited the
> >response. It was obvious that it had never occurred to the American
> >that he was not in the United States anymore, and that other
> >countries are different.
> >
> >Now if Mexican jokes can be like they are where's the
> >"communality"? Is it in teaching the Mexicans the supposed error of
> >their way and just getting everybody hyped up over a problem that
> >never existed before? Many do realize that people from different
> >cultures can attach different values to humor, but that doesn't
> >mean that they are going to be, or should be, convinced that they
> >should change theirs. If a foreigner takes issue with their humor,
> >it is the foreigner who they think is "agrio" (suffering from
> >dyspepsia -a sour stomach), and while they won't agree, they will
> >respect the foreigner's sourness and simply not joke around with
> >them anymore.
> >
> >Similary, Mexico is not a puritantical society. Women's talk shows
> >are interspersed with commercial time where when ad space goes
> >unsold, the camera-men will stroll down some beach and just start
> >shooting all the cleavage, topside, bottomside and sideways.
> >Sometimes they import footage from as far away as Acapulco. With
> >the tourists they will give away tanning lotions to sunbathing
> >girls if they let the guys wipe some on there backs while videoing.
> >Everybody thinks it just great fun. Nothing more, nothing less.
> >Just that simple. What happens when a foreigner objects? "Gee,
> >that's getting awfully dispepsic!" --and both the Mexican men and
> >women will think so.
> >
> >So how will some jokes go with "Gringas", and not be regarded as
> >"sexist" --or for alot of "Gringos" for that matter too?
> >
> >And if you can't joke around about people, than what's left?
> >Religion and Politics? Well they've got that too. And whose the
> >stupid ones?
> >
> >Bush, Thatcher and Salinas were on an airplane together when
> >something goes wrong with the engines. The pilot and crew announce
> >the failure by casually taking all the parachutes but one and
> >jumping. Bush says he wants the parachute because he is more
> >important to the world being from the most powerful country,
> >Thatcher wants it because its ladies first, Salinas claims what a
> >great gesture it would be to the third world if he got it. With
> >time running out, they decide to take a vote, and Salinas is
> >selected to make the count. Counting the ballots, Salinas grabs the
> >parachute and heads for the door, while Bush and Thatcher are
> >shouting: "What was the count?" "32,568,090 to 2 --Oooo."
> >
> >...Anyway, I am
> >> >unsubscribing to this list because the socio/cultural folks have
> >> >a definite stranglehold on it.
> >
> >"Socio/cultural folks"?
> >
> >Isn't that the kind of categorizing that is essentially what is
> >repugnant about racism whether those "folks" may be even one race
> >or the other?
> >
> >...This is clear when the next ten or
> >> >fifteen posts after a legitimate post are meaningless drivel.
> >> >This it also should be pointed out is norm on Anthro-L since I
> >> >have been on it Maybe one out of every ten posts
> >> > has been specifically focused on anthro and even fewer on
> >> >phys. or arch. The irony of this letter is that it will get many
> >> >more responses than my posts that I wanted responses to.
> >
> >I disagree Matthew, I think the real irony of it is that just when
> >the issue of how anthropology can study the relative differences of
> >cultures and their associated races, that they can't proceed
> >because of these notions of what is absolutely true even among
> >differing value-systems by having some who seem to have an absolute
> >insight on just what the "truth" of racism is, and how their
> >value-systems should be imposed --no matter how scientifically
> >contrived-- on the value systems of other cultures. It gets so
> >silly, you would think that anthropology is actually the science of
> >racism, which it is not --no matter how zealous the crusader.
> >
> >And don't tell me that my arguement, being based on humor is just a
> >joke. If one culture can't understand the humor of another --their
> >"differences" and their "commonalities"-- and if anthropologists
> >can't understand, that what is there to understand?
> >
> >
> >Ka Xiik Keech Ya Utzil,
> >
> >John Pastore
> >Writer/Guide in 'El Mayab'
> >("The Mayan Homeland")
> >

Ka Xiik Keech Ya Utzil,

John Pastore
Writer/Guide in 'El Mayab'
("The Mayan Homeland")