Although partly based on Geertz's fieldwork, this book is concerned less with ethnograhic anthropology and more with comparative religion. Despite thiAlthough partly based on Geertz's fieldwork, this book is concerned less with ethnograhic anthropology and more with comparative religion. Despite this difference, Geertz applies his trademark semantic approach. The tasks he sets ahead of him is "not to formulate an underlying uniformity behind superficially diverse phenomena, but to analyze the nature of that diversity as we find it". In comparing the Islam of Indonesia, heavily influenced by the Indic (Hindu-Buddhist) tradition, characterized more by mental poise and psychic balance, with the Islam of Morocco, based on the Maraboutic tradition and moral intensity, Geertz focuses less on what is common to them (he doesn't ignore this aspect and gives it its share of attention), and more on the reasons behind these differences, as well as on their consequences. In the confrontation with Christiany and Westernization, both types of Islam react in a similar manner through what Geertz calls scripturalism and the ideologization of religion (a transition from religiosity to religious-mindedness). These movements, asserting the letter of Islam, were directed both against classical "impure" traditions, and against the Western domination (both spiritual and political). However, after its alliance with nationalism, the scripturalism was cast aside by its ally, who returned to the classical traditions of the Theater State with Sukarno in Indonesia and of the Maraboutic Sultan with Muhammed V in Morocco. The way Geertz tries to explain these developments is by treating religion as something that arises from the insufficiency of common sense in helping the ordinary man make sense of his everyday life. Religion is meant to provide meaning there where common sense fails. Religion merges the world view (the way a man interprets it) and the ethos (a guide for action: the way things should be done). In response to the rivalry that naturally arises between religion and science, the former has traditionally taken two stances. One is more specific to Morocco: separating strictly the two of them for fear of contaminating the former and shackling the latter. The other is more specific to Indonesia: integrating them by claiming that science only makes explicit what is implicit in the Koran and that it doesn't infirm, but it confirms the Koran. This difference can be well analyzed by focusing on two essential characteristics that Geertz identifies of religion: its force, meaning its psychological grip, and its scope, meaning its social range of application. The separation of secular and religious life in Morocco is related to the greater force of religion there, but it severely limits its scope. In Indonesia it's the opposite: although the force of religion is weaker, its scope is greater as nearly everything is 'tinged' with the spiritual. The problem that believers in both countries face is that religious symbols cannot sustain anymore a properly religious belief, the main reason being the secularization of thought. Religion is asserted instead of being experienced....more
It's my first book by Freud and it was... impressive. First of all, I must praise his writing style (or, perhaps, the translator). It's a very readablIt's my first book by Freud and it was... impressive. First of all, I must praise his writing style (or, perhaps, the translator). It's a very readable book even if you are a total newbie to the subject matter of the book, and it's not some ordinary subject matter: combining anthropological data and psycho-analytical insight, Freud tries nothing less than to trace the origin of culture (more precisely of religion, morals, social organization and so on). The book has four parts, the first three of which deal with presenting the institutions of totemism, taboo and especially incest, as well as drawing resemblences between the psychology of children, neurotics and primitive peoples. The fourth and final part is dedicated actually to summing up all the previous arguments into an ingenious theory: that society and culture originated as a result of the Oedipus complex. More precisely, Freud imagines a primeval horde, in which the sons killed the father, in order to free themselves from his authority and gain sexual access to his females, and ate him in order to identify with him. Later, they replaced him with the totem, and proclaimed the taboo of eating the totem animal (except for certain festivities, where the original crime was reenacted), and that of mating/marrying with females belonging to the same totemic clan (the rule of exogamy and a measure against incest). Freud supports his views with a lot of references to anthropological and naturalist works, but the problem is that the materials he uses were written at a time when the transition from "armchair anthropology" to "fieldwork anthropology" had no yet been fully accomplished. This need not be however an excuse for the fact that Freud purposely and openly speculates without solid support for his hypotheses. Too much "assuming that" and "we might suppose that" and so on. Creative, imaginative, brilliant even, as it is, too much of this book is mere speculation which culminates with a hypothesis best described by Malinowski: "It is easy to perceive that the primeval horde has been equipped with all the bias, maladjustments and ill-tempers of a middle-class European family, and then let loose in a prehistoric jungle to run riot in a most attractive but fantastic hypothesis." ...more
Memoriile unei victime a deportărilor comuniste sună a temă prea politizată și, sincer, ca răsuflată. Din fericire, cartea asta este o excepție. E scrMemoriile unei victime a deportărilor comuniste sună a temă prea politizată și, sincer, ca răsuflată. Din fericire, cartea asta este o excepție. E scrisă cu multă sinceritate și simplicitate. E despre viața unei femei, a unei mame și greutățile prin care a trecut. Este vorba despre experiența unei ființe umane. A încerca să învelești asta în chestii legate de politică, de naționalism, de istorie, e a lipsi cartea tocmai de ceea ce o face atît de specială. Fraza doamnei Lovinescu în care zice că această carte ar trebui să ne vindece orice complex de inferioritate națională îmi pare de un cretinism cras. Cartea asta nu e despre națiune, e despre o femeie. Nu despre deportări, ci despre o deportare. E despre un destin uman, nu unul național. Și e frumoasă, e o carte frumoasă....more
A premise reminding partly of Brave New World, partly of Asimov, and an awakening reminding of Matrix, this dystopia may not be a classic as its predeA premise reminding partly of Brave New World, partly of Asimov, and an awakening reminding of Matrix, this dystopia may not be a classic as its predecessors, but it is still worth reading. Though it doesn't add a lot to what previous classic dystopias have said, it might still add a little. The plot delivers sex and action so that if you don't find the ideological aspect of the novel rewarding enough, it still remains at least entertaining as a story (though too often predictable, I'm afraid)....more
A famous classical anthropological book, easy to read even for laymen, it lacks much depth and novelty. Or perhaps it seems so in retrospective. MeadA famous classical anthropological book, easy to read even for laymen, it lacks much depth and novelty. Or perhaps it seems so in retrospective. Mead sets out to answer the question: is adolescence necessarily as turbulent as it is in our society? To find out, she investigates the coming of age process in Samoa. Although the ethnographic account may not be thorough enough, it provides some useful insights. The Samoans were very ”chill” people. The children had responsibilities and tasks since an early age, but the relationship with parents wasn't very demanding. As they grew up, they could choose to move to any relatives if home wasn't good enough. The relationships in Samoa aren't as emotionally-laden as in our society. Sex experimentation is normal after puberty and later, sex is seen simply as a pleasurable activity that is a goal in itself, and is detached from more complex, complicating connotations. In a relationship, status matters more. Samoan life benefited from a good climate with abundance during the whole year, a small population and excellent geographic conditions, favoring a social organisations that hardly creates any conditions for conflict. More than that, what helps is the lack of emotional intensity and involvement, so when conflicts or violence arise, they are not the same as we understand them. They lack the psychological load which we attribute to them here. So adolescence is a far less turbulent period in Samoa. (I skip the details, but Mead describes in minute details the growing up process) Mead then uses this conclusion to criticise modern society and education. According to her, some of the main faults of these are that the education bears little to no relation to real-life and, worse, the child is aware of that. Then, in a society with such a vast amount of alternatives, the need to choose is a constant pressure upon the child and the youth. The choice leads to conflicts with rejected alternatives, with other members and parts of society. The choices are also rarely coherent internally. Parents usually try to press certain choices upon the child and the relationship between them is often dramatic, tense, possessive, conflictual. The education assumes a propagandistic character. Adolescence becomes a battlefield of various alternatives: cultural, occupational, religious, sexual, etc. The problem of modern society (American), claims Mead, is that although it has and offers a wide set of alternatives, at the same time, especially as concerns education, the members of society behave as if there is one and only one right choice. It is as if we cannot accept the diversity of choices our society has on offer, although we take pride in it, we cannot sincerely accept it. What Mead propose, practically is rather impractical, but the idea is simple and good: more tolerence, less tension and emotion. Let us accept the alternatives our youth have at hand. ”Education for choice” is the last chapter. She argues that the youth must be taught how to think and not what to think. Instead of feeding their children a choice made by the parents, these must educate their children so that they were able to make a choice by themselves.
These conclusions might not seem the work of genius, but at the time, they were rather daring and let us not forget that Mead's work informed some aspects of so-called sexual (and not only) revolution of the 60s....more