Re: mutilation and ritual

John McCreery (jlm@TWICS.COM)
Sat, 13 Jul 1996 21:04:09 +0900

>>McCreery writes:
>>>"... this "deep structure" vs.
>>>"surface structure" stuff doesn't work this way. Whether you go for Chomsky
>>>or Jung, the "deep" stuff is pan-human and will be there just as much in
>>>the modern primitives as it is in the real thing. What's lacking in the
>>>modern primitives is the social and cultural context that informed the
>>>rites in their original setting.
>>There's a bit of a mix-up here. My assertion that "fashionable tattooing"
>>in the West may be surface structure without deep structure (i.e., it is
>>imitation of the surface, outward manifestation of ritualized, symbolic
>>behavior) does not entail the absence of the phenomenon of deep structure
>>in the West, only that "fashionable tattooing" in the West, by virtue of it
>>being imitative behavior, lacks a "deep structure," hence the absence of
>>symbolism, ritual, etc. with "fashionable tattooing" is not surprising. I
>>suspect that if one pushes hard enough, McCreery's "social and cultural
>>context that informed the rites" would start to look suspiciously like deep
>>D. Read
>No, I really don't think so. But, then, as indicated above, I associate
>"deep" with "pan-human," which seems to me as characteristic of "depth" in
>Freud, Levi-Strauss or Marx as it is of both Chomsky and Jung.
>I can imagine a challenge to the idea that depth implies universality,
>along the lines of suggesting "depths" specific to particular cultures.
>This is, for example, the heart of Nihonjinron ("Japaneseness" theory),
>which suggests that there are things so "deep" in Japanese culture that
>only Japanese can understand. If this were true, however, there would be
>no way to talk about them analytically in ways non-Japanese could
>The anthropologist in me resists being stuck with the choice of dumb
>acceptance, dumb admiration or equally dumb anger.

John McCreery
3-206 Mitsusawa HT, 25-2 Miyagaya, Nishi-ku
Yokohama 220, JAPAN

"And the Lord said unto Cyrus, 'Shall the clay say to him who moldest it,
what makest thou? Let the potsherd of the earth speak to the potsherd of
the earth." --An anthropologist's credo