The "American" in AAA

John Mcreery (jlm@TWICS.COM)
Sun, 19 Feb 1995 09:48:52 JST

It continues to be a source of amazement to me that people who call themselves
anthropologists can rattle on in high anxiety about THE proper application of
ethnic or other labels. Does noone read Evans-Pritchard any more; that proper
old bastard who gave us "segmentary opposition" to talk about the Nuer and
all those other folks who have no problem with "we" being relative to the
"you" we are talking about? Or if E-P is too ancient, what about Geertz
describing self-labeling in Morocco? Or Rodney Neeham (out of Wittgenstein)
on "family resemblance" (as opposed to taxonomic, essence and attributes)
definitions. 'Tis queer indeed that folks who ought to know about such things
react with thrill and amazement to "Postmodern" pronouncements on the
fluidity of language use. Best evidence I know for culture; high-powered,
late 20th century academics whose logic is stuck at the _Organon_ (by
Aristotle--for the sake of those who don't follow references to dead Greek

Then, again, it isn't a souce of amazement at all. An academic economy that
demands "originality" in its products and requires a high rate of "production"
to achieve success is precisely analogous (a fractal in fact) of the
capitalist market system of which it is a part. To ensure the sale of new
products, it demands that we forget the old ones (except when nostalgia
will sell something new). The only things that must be retained are the
primitive notions on which the system rests. A combination of old-fashioned
(Aristotlean, shades of Aquinas) logic chopping and programmed obsolescence
in the output is a beautiful way to keep things turning over. Progress? That's
another story.

Bring on the napalm <g>

John McCreery (JLM@TWICS.COM)