Re: Culture "over and out"

Daniel P. Walsh (dpw7@COLUMBIA.EDU)
Tue, 8 Feb 1994 20:32:21 -0500

isn't just a souped up CB (remember?), that you have to
type, instead of the immediacy and concommitant ephemerality of
the spoken word... Thus, "signing" off is a bit premature.
My innocent little reference to L. White certainly stirred
up some interesting comments. Much social performance has
unintended consequences. Symbols, not from a direction I would
have anticipated (thinking Leach, Levi-Strauss, Peirce, and
last but not least Barthe, my gods with certainly more rigor and
applicability than the chaps mentioned, take a look at Leach's
"introductory text", Culture and communcation., now we're talking
about something).
As far as Prof. Stones' comments linking (no denying the
link, the basis is questionable on divers levels: fact and
interpretation to name two) White with concentration camps, (an
unfortunate metonymic relationship posited within
his text, White as Stalinist?, need substantial proof before any
credence bestowed) well I won't touch that one with a ten foot
cattle prod.
As one of my colleagues put it yesterday, "oh yeah, the
culture concept, I heard of that a couple of years ago", many of
us do quite nicely without having recourse to it, thank you very
much! What does that make us sociologists, well, good, they have
a much more interesting bboard at Columbia
( by the way. Our intellectual jungle gym
comprised of Durkheim, Weber, Marx, and Simmel (with side jaunts
to Habermas, Winch and British social anthropology in general)
offers more than ample opportunities to flex ones' neurological
My intention in invoking White was to help clarify and
assist in the rehabilitation of a statement made somewhat
earlier, "cars are a part of our culture." I should inquire as to
the nature of "our". As far as I have determined after some
considerable involvement with anthropology students over the
years, is that few if any of them (I know I will get mail over
this one) can actually make a car, know how cars are manufactured
in detail, really having only passing acquaintance with cars
"users", "our" is rather a technical issue, no? The significance
of automobiles for many people who live in New York City is
simple: they are to avoided in the street, whilst one crosses it,
their taxi equivalents are more often than not "stinking sofas
with wheels", Khruschev I think said that, correct me if I'm
wrong Prof. Stone. Some people rent them for "week end getaways",
some tool around in very large ones, some rented, some actually
owned by them having food and drink brought out to them from down
town Italian restaurants, others actually own them and have to
find parking spaces to accomodate them. So "we" in just one, an
albeit complex local situation is a rather complex predicament.
One evoking class, ethnicity, "ideology" and other themes which
hardly suffice to account for the diversity of forms one has the
privilege to behold. But enough, this is too long already.

Daniel Peter Walsh