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Showing posts from April 26, 2020

Measuring Progress by refusing to cry

Tränengruss – the greeting by tears – is a ritual that fascinated a number of anthropologists in the early 20th century, especially Georg Friederici, who wrote a monograph entitled Tränengruss der Indianer. Friederici gathered material from the oldest European – Indigenous encounters. The colonialist and exotic fascination was a factor in his descriptions, but clearly the weeping greeting was not a myth: [Among the Tupi] The women of the family performed the chief role in this ceremony. When a foreigner or even a native of the same tribe neared one of their huts as a visitor, he was allowed to enter and take his place on one of the hammocks. The naked women placed themselves strategically around him, laid both their hands before their faces and began to vigorously weep and lament, pitying the overcome fatigue and dangers of the way of the guest, and making him compliments. The rule demanded that the guest also cry, or, if he, as a European, had no stock of tears on hand, that at

Midlife crisis of the oracle

“To Serapion of Athens, the stoic, who was himself a poet and who criticized the bad literary taste of his times in sustaining the point of view that the verses of the oracles, since they were authored by Apollo, chief of the Muses, could only be excellent, Boethius the Epicurien replied, pertinently and impertinently: have you heard the story of the painter Pauson? “No”, responded Sarapion. “You should know this story. Having received a commission to paint a horse rolling on the ground, he painted one that represented a horse running; as the buyer got angry, Pauson began to laugh and turned the canvas upside down: thus, the bottom became the top, and the horse no longer seemed to gallop, but to roll on the ground. This, according to Bion, is the fate of certain trains of reasoning, when they are reversed. Thus some, instead of pretending that the verses of the oracles are beautiful because they are written by God, would say, on the contrary, that God was not their author because