the property I have in my johnson

We have tried to show that the dismissal of Adario as a figment of Lahontan’s imagination, or as the noble savage which romantically stands in the way of the modern admiration of itself – that moment of vulgarity, of the ultimately base, the truly modern – is an intellectually shaky stance. In its movement, it does conceal a truth that it doesn’t recognize – that there is no reason to suppose that all cultures match, as it were, the cultures of Europe. Match as agreeing with, or antithetical too. The possibility that two cultures can miss each other entirely is the possibility of counter-generality, unlimited. Although we like to think that the Gods play on a game board extensive enough that every pawn can find a footing. The myth of the myth of the noble savage is based, as we have said, on the myth of the civilized European, the features of which (belief in science, for instance) took in a very, very small minority of Europeans. On the other hand, as Bruce Trigger has said, the Europeans had developed an adaptability to circumstances that ultimately made them powerful not only outside, with their guns and metallurgy, but inside, with their need to be in the subject, to have the subject believe. It is this level where the savage and the civilized take their real places, masks off. But it is a level in which, to the incredulity of the governors, the slip and slide between one role and the other becomes incredibly easy. Kurz goes native, the native goes Kurz. Nous sommes tous des sauvages.

Adario takes on the system that he knows is killing him at its most vital point: the mine and the thine. This sorting procedure stalks through the pox. It also stalks through the Europe of savages, the interior, the Leibeigne of Hesse, the church governed principalities, the urban mechanics, the accursed estates.

Adario’s attack takes an interesting tack when we come to that issue which must be dear to libertine ethnologues: nudity. If Paradise was the déjà vu of the explorers, Eden just ahead of them, at the center of Paradise was the central and first act of the opened eye: clothing oneself. God’s first animal to cover itself in shame as to what it showed. The Europeans always found the ways in which the natives covered themselves to be disquieting. In the case of the Hurons and Iroquois, what disturbed was not the allure of tits and cunt, the supplement to our voyage of Cytheria, down the trembling female body – no, it was dick. Turnabout that has been muted, even now, among those who would nose out our Orientalist ancestors, and one of the reasons that Lahontan’s biographer finds him slightly obscene. Just as Adario found the European propensity for daring décolleté slightly obscene.

About which, more in the next post.