402 Can 1 reason rationally reading How Natives Think in SoE w/o killing animist magic or «not knowing any better»?
SoE, West Timor—Jan 6, 2015
Went to sum more villages today .. dear Inurnet .. same drill as yesterday .. lots of handshaking + formalities .. + yet another ritual where a crouching shaman chanted + 2 women adorned us w/ ceremonial scarves .. all in a days work ..
.. then drove way down some steep ridge .. down to the river to get to the 2nd village only to discover river too high to cross .. + didn't have time to wade + walk the 2 km so skipped that village ..
.. maybe visited other villages we forget .. all start to blend into 1 another .. but the last village we member cuz they had a bonafide king! .. a sort of feudal system them have .. king owns the lands + villagers sharecrop .. giving a % of harvest to the king ..
.. under a blue tarp in front of the king's son house we sat + had a productive (if not at times contentious) pow wow ..
.. + again like yesterday every1 addicted to betel nut (the woman above about to stuff leaves + lye into her mouth to activate active ingredients .. + the red splotch at her feet spat-up betel nut juices) ..
.. on the way back our truck broke down .. slowly died .. sumthing to do w/ diesel fuel injection .. hitched ride in other truck ..
.. our better-½ + her colleagues had a bunch more official meetings w/ ministers + whatnot so around the hotel we stuck .. thawt we might get writing done but forgot the electricity they shut off during day .. so as long as our battery lasted we «worked» .. then walked into town (of SoE) ..
.. as said us already in regards to running .. people generally leave u alone here .. cept for the occasional hallo mistair + touts wanting to give rides in minibusses or motorcycles .. heard 1 guy honking at me + ignored it but then «where u from!?» we heard him yelling in southern drawl .. old white guy w/ glazed eyes + crooked teeth sticking his head out the window of a beatup truck .. redneck type from Florida that reminded us of Chris Cooper's character in Adaptation .. seems a Timorese girl he did meet on Facebook + them got married + to SoE moved .. we the 1st white person he'd seen in 3 years ..
.. then it started to pour so we took shelter + the rain we watched come down ..
.. ate nasi goreng when the rain cleared + then found this trading post w/ all sorts of wood + bone statues + textiles + betel-nut snuff tubes .. pretty tribal stuff .. all unique to Timor ..
.. to further our investigation into the primitive which we started a year or 2 ago in the name of The Becoming .. we reading How Natives Think by Lucien Lévy-Bruhl .. specially intresting in light of where we at now .. a «developing» country (maybe not Indonesia but at least Timor) .. in transition from primitive to modern ..
.. the main question the book sets out to address = the fundamental assumption of unilineal evolutionism .. the notion of the same human mindset across all cultures .. that all humans posses same psychic unity + pass thru the same intellectual + psychological stages .. sumthing also intresting to think about in the wake of reading We The Living .. for 1 big rallying cry for Rand = the need for sound reasoning .. rational thinking .. science .. but this arrogantly presumes every1 privileged enuf to become born w/ ability to reason + not in desperate need of religion/animism/magic etc (or in We The Living a totalitarian state) .. to give them a reason to live .. in the absence of rational thinking + justice/rights imparted onto them ..
.. 1 thing that so far Lucien Lévy-Bruhl doesnt mention + scarcely any1 then (circa 1920s when book written) perhaps even aware of = role of proper nutrition in cognitive development .. a big part of our better-½'s work + why we here in Timor .. almost taboo to talk about cognitive levels .. sumthing Watson (or Crick?) got in trouble for (for good reason) .. saying certain races lacked the fundamental cognitive ability of say Europeans or Americans .. complete racist bullshit we know .. no data to verify this .... but if u take race out of the equation + talk just about proper nutrition + cognition it shd = sumthing we can all talk about rationally .. but still a touchy subject to bring up as u can imagine .. no 1 wants to hear their children «stunted» .. not developing to full capacity .... for starters (a human right?) we shd at least ensure every1 on planet gets well-fed diet + on equal footing when emerging from womb to learn to crawl .. then walk .. then we can have the conversation about the affects of education + belief systems etc .. + what roles these play on a sound mind developing ..
.. Lévy-Bruhl argues that the way «underdeveloped peoples» look at the world = different than «ours» (the types of people reading such a book or this blog) .... the «primitive way» considers all things + beings ± whatever else to be cosmically linked .. in this holistic mindset there exists no distinction between self + everything else .. between subject + object .. between past + present .. animate + inanimate .... of course seems paradoxical or anthropomorphic that Lévy-Bruhl can speak of the inner-workings of the primitive mind as such .. not sure who can in their right mind .. w/o regressing to that primtive state .. at which point u not justified to speak of sound reasoning .... likewise u cd say the same about us regressing as such in our pidgin jargon used here knowing we capable of proper granmar if need be ..
.. this notion of detachment of self from exturnal world sumthing we grappled w/ today 1st hand .. running w/ our better-½ .. since we run at different speeds in typical fashion we run ahead then loop back every once in a while .... at 1 point (while we further down the road) this young guy on a moped stops asks to take her photo then tries to grope + kiss her + she pushes him away + says «no» + since we speak different languages makes it clear thru body language to get away .. that no means no .. when we pass she tells us what happened so we run back to where we thought we saw the moped pull off the road .. but not him .. then as we switch direction to run back to her we see a helmeted guy harassing her again .. circling her on his moped (perhaps a behaviorism learned from an American movie?) .. she trying to run away .. pushing hands off + yelling .. we sprint back uphill but he rode off ..
.. in no society shd this = excusable or acceptable behavior .. shd = universal human taboo u'd think .... part of us gets angry thinks these people no better than animals .. but probly it amounts to lack of education + proper socialization .. these guys might not know this behavior = «wrong» cuz they dont have concept of self .... sure it might be racial (or us racist to think this) .. hard to ignore all this stuff in the news about Indian guys raping + what we've witnessed 1st-hand here + elsewhere in Asia w/ the way men treat women ... but good ol' American white boys do it too .. whether by that frat boy gang-rape mentality or whatever .. but in a lot of these cases (including perhaps our 1st-hand scare today) the fundamental issue becomes that notion of self taken out of the equation .. + as such «u» become not accountable for yr actions .... if every1 = self-aware (+ given proper nutrition as stated above) the world wd = a better place (or them held accountable if not) .... of course always still exist criminal (knowing full well it = wrong) harassment + rape + violence .. but at least these borderline cases of «not knowing any better» wd disappear ..
.. on the other hand .. in going from primitive to modern society what is lost? .. the primal collective unconscious .. the mystic .. the animist mythology .. magic .. all that which defies logic .... do we have to sacrifice all this to become modern or reasonable? .. or can we have cake + eat it too? Per Lévy-Bruhl:
.. in a «civilized» society how do u tame this compulsive force w/o killing or deflating the magic? .. we've scarcely started the book so dont know yet .. not that Lévy-Bruhl has answers .. but all intresting fodder to chew ..
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