Re: mutilation and ritual

Arthur L. Baron (abaron@STU.ATHABASCAU.CA)
Thu, 11 Jul 1996 16:22:34 MDT

> At one point there was a discussion about optional mutilation - choice. I'd
> like to bring up the issue of child mutilations as opposed to adult.
> Footbinding, cranial deformation, non-ritual circumcision, fgm, are all
> examples of practices which were (are) performed on children. Footbinding and
> cranial deformation must be done to the body as it grows. Now, rather than a
> human rights issue, I see this as an expansion of the definition of self -
> i.e. the group as self and making sure that the child is inducted properly
> into the group with an identifying physical characteristic. Any thoughts?
> - Adrienne
> >

More Zen: The Inmates - When you first realize that you are surrounded by
crazy people, it may seem frightening. In a civilization of outpatients,
insanity can be viewed as the only defense. The planet Earth is your asylum;
take the opportunity to explore and enjoy your own craziness.

Anthropology sees insanity as being culturally defined. If a person is
marginalized from the dominant culture what advice would an anthropologist
give? Perhaps - find a culture that supports your belief system. If such a
culture doesn't exist, then join/start a sub-culture. Anthropologists,
according to Pirsig, found that schizophrenia is strongest among those whose
ties with the cultural traditions are weakest: drug users, intellectuals,
immigrants, students in their first year of college, soldiers recently

I don't disagree with what you say. Groups of all sizes and influences
certainly do seek inductees, though I often confuse induction with dogma. What
is the real difference between the physical deformations like cranial shaping
and psyche tattoos, the subtle and not so subtle symbols we view everyday?
Can't the same message get imparted? The group as self is a good description of
the illusion the bourgeois has of free will and choice.

arthur baron