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Psychology Press, - Social Science - pages. Empty Meeting Grounds continues Dean MacCannell's search for the cultural subject that is about to emerge from the encounter of the ex-primitive and the post-modern. It contains fascinating chapters on `Cannibal Tours', `The.
Table of contents
- Empty Meeting Grounds
- Empty Meeting Grounds: The Tourist Papers: Tourist Papers Vol 1
- Empty Meeting Grounds: The Tourist Papers
- The New Age of Tourism
It seems that nearly every dimension of human culture now has the potential to become a form of tourism. Before elaborating this idea, a brief description of the New Age centres researched will be offered. The final section of the paper will focus upon some important characteristics of the postmodern landscape which may be used to understand the type of tourism offered by New Age centres. It is, however, beyond the remit of this paper to discuss at length the complexity of the debates concerning the idea of the postmodern.
Research Centres. An aspect of a larger experimental and philanthropic rural regeneration project established in the 's, its heritage is one of agrarian and environmental innovation and experimentation House The two supplementary centres offer a similar approach. Recton Farm, was established in the early 's and is a communally organised tenanted farm whose ten occupants advocate self-sufficiency and environmental sustainability.
Hence, this center offers a number of specialist short courses on sustainable farming, organic gardening and permaculture. The third centre, Alston Manor, is probably the most overtly commercial of the three operations. In this centre, as with Ecologic college, the need to offer a commercial product was integral part of its philosophy and thus since its creation, it has played host to a variety of leisure and study experiences in the areas of personal development and holistic lifestyle. The former is viewed as a way of facilitating an alternative lifestyle and culture. At such destinations, tourism is more a means than an end in itself House , thus the essence of this type of tourism is in the exploration of an alternative culture as a leisure activity.
As Sharma observes, the rather imprecise term New Age describes:. The New Age movement is alleged to be suffused with egoism and narcissism Wilson , Lasch , Anthony et. At first sight there appears to be little common ground between the above positions. Ways of dressing can be classed as New Age The common denominator can be found in the way that New Age people attempt to find new ways of living.
New Age tourism is intimately connected with the desire for new, exotic and transformational experiences, and it is unsurprising that the human development activities offered by New Age centres might lend themselves as tourism products. At the centres visited, commonly a blend of the above was offered to guests at any one time. Thus, an often quite astoundingly diverse range of activities to be found at New Age tourism destinations. A New Age of Tourism?
Can such practices and experiences be legitimately categorised as a form of tourism? As with more mass forms, New Age tourism involves travel to particular destinations, situating it beyond the realms of everyday experience Smith and advance planning by the tourist Graburn Furthermore, this form of tourism consists of a commercial transaction, the consumer not only purchasing a tangible product, but also the possibility of a novel, exotic Cohen , life transforming and even sacred experience MacCannell , Graburn , Nash and Smith New Age tourism, then, can be loosely situated within the realms of alternative tourism.
New Age tourists ideological commitments vary considerably House and this form of tourism offers activities and experiences which reflect this broad ideological spectrum Weiler and Hall, Although it does not compete directly in the corporate, global market place, but rather occupies a niche market. The Postmodern. This incredulity takes the form of eclecticism, fragmentation, pastiche, cultural pluralism and playfulness. The postmodern sensibility problematises Enlightenment conceptions of reality: the distinction between reality and representation disappears. Correlatively, postmodern people do not have a coherent sense of self and other but posssess a fragmented identity and celebrate cultural pluralism.
No longer is there an Enlightenment belief in progress, uncertainty and environmental risk erupt into the postmodern landscape.
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Indeed in the postmodern the distinction between the past, the present and the future implode, and time and space have been compressed. Finally, the postmodern condition is that of the consumer. Consumption and instant gratification are the liet motif of the postmodern. An increasing preoccupation with consumption could be said to make tourism the archetypal postmodern activity, as by its very nature it relies on the consumption of artefacts, natural and built environments, and cultures.
Similarly, if the postmodern landscape is characterised by uncertainty about the present and the future, this may indicate why tourism is well placed to satisfy a nostalgic desire for a past golden age of certitude through heritage sites and New Age centres. We will now apply the idea of the postmodern to New Age tourism through an analysis of four regions of the postmodern landscape: hyperreality, egocentricity, ephemerality and incredulity. We will suggest that a New Age of tourism is dawning but that the people who practice this form of tourism though similar to postmodern people, possess important differences.
Regions of the Postmodern Landscape. In New Age tourism the emphasis is on the idea of the experience being experienced : reality has disappeared in images. What does Baudrillard mean by the terms simulation and hyperreality? Reality has been absorbed by images which refer to other images. We now experience the world as hyperreal, as a Disneyland  of media images.
Thus the New Age tourist playfully enters the postmodern, hyperreal Indian landscape, a Disneyland of simulacra, in which it no longer matters if a real Indian guru is encountered. For example, at Ecologic College a course entitled 'The Voice of the Land', aimed to examine human relationships with the landscape, stimulated the idea of building a pond. Several months later however, the project had been abandoned.
It transpired that the enthusiasts had been unable to make this technique successful and had lost interest. It appears that people dip in and out of projects like surfing channels on television, it not mattering if the whole programme, is not watched. At all three centres there was a consciousness of what the centre signified, namely that of a model of an alternative and superior culture.
Thus the boundaries between what the centre is, what it would like to be, and of how it perceives itself, become blurred in the simulation of the centre as an alternative cultural model. For this is a model of a model with no original, a simulacrum of the technicolour hyperreal. The blurring of the boundaries between boundary between host and guest seems to inhabit this strange relationship too. At Ecologic College and Recton Farm, guests are required to complete chores and visiting speakers and teachers are expected to sit with their students at meal times, on the basis of eroding the boundaries between server and served, and expert and novice.
Thus the ordinary and the exotic, the profane and the sacred are eclectically mixed and matched. As outlined above, New Age tourism destinations offer a variety of self development activities and experiences ranging from alternative therapies to self development workshops, and from intellectual courses offered by visiting scholars to art and craft production and alternative lifestyle courses all of which can and have become a tourism commodity. The global intensification of the commodification process has lead both to a cornucopia of media images of tourist opportunities and lifestyles possibilities and a proliferation of the means to realise these opportunities and possibilities.
Empty Meeting Grounds
This process is double edged: it opens up many new horizons but also stimulates a profound sense of insecurity. All of these figures are beginning to appear in Indian dance routines, sometimes in the dances they do for tourists. The more elaborated performances that occur in the relations between tourists and ex-primitives assume what are according to Jameson characteristically postmodern dramatic forms: satire, lampooning, and burlesque.
All these forms involve identification, imitation, emulation, and impersonation, to make a point. No matter how negative this point may at first seem to be, even if it might hurt a bit, it is always ultimately positive, because it suggests that relations could be improved if we pay more attention to our effects on others. Parody builds solidarity in the group that stages it and potentially raises the consciousness of an audience that is the butt of it. But to accomplish this the parodist must take risks.
Empty Meeting Grounds: The Tourist Papers: Tourist Papers Vol 1
Intercultural burlesque is necessarily structurally similar to efforts on the part of individuals from stigmatized minority groups to emulate the appearances and behaviors of representatives of the dominant culture. It may well be insecurity in this regard that drives performers of tourist routines to cast their burlesque in such broad terms; to cause an Indian male to represent a tourist woman, and so on.
A Japanese-American student of mine recently remarked to me that some of her friends lighten their hair and wear blue contact lenses in order to look like Anglo-Americans. He has the necessary props. He is stripped to the waist. His face has been fucated by his New Guinea hosts. His hackneyed way of making himself seem to be fierce for others is to strike a pose similar to that seen in pres publicity shots of professional boxers.
It is so profoundly embarrassing that no one can even tell him that he is making an ass of himself. The New Guineans could not have done him better. It is harrowing to suggest that these performances and aestheticeconomic exchanges may be the creative cutting edge of world culture in the making.
But I think that we cannot rule out this possibility. In a very fine paper, Jim Boon has argued that parody and satire are at the base of every cultural formation. Responding to A. Framed in this way, the absorption of the ex-primitive into the new cultural subject is theoretically unremarkable. To summarize: Overlying our common ancestors, primitive hunting and gathering peoples, we have a history of colonial exploitation and military suppression, missionary efforts to transform religious beliefs and secular values, anthropological observations and descriptions, and now the touristic encounter.
I am arguing that at the level of economic relations, aesthetic exchange the collecting and marketing of artifacts, and so on , and the sociology of interaction, there is no real difference between moderns and those who act the part of primitives in the universal drama of modernity. Modern people have more money, but the exprimitive is quick to accept the terms of modern economics.
This may be a practical response to a system imposed from without, against which it would do no good to resist. But it could also be an adaptation based on rational self-interest. Perhaps a case for difference could be made in the area of interactional competence. Ex-primitives are often more rhetorically and dramaturgically adept than moderns, excepting communications and media professionals. It does not deploy itself along axes that have already been worked out in advance by ethnography. These former headhunters and cannibals in Cannibal Tours are attractive, have a lightly ironic attitude, and are clear-sighted and pragmatic in their affairs.
The tourists are most unattractive, emotional, awkward, and intrusive. It is difficult to imagine a group of real people that is, non-actors simply caught in the eye of the camera appearing less attractive. This is not because of any obvious film trick. There is no narrator to tell the viewer how to think. Everyone on camera, the Iatmul people and tourists alike, is given ample opportunity for expression. The film is not technically unsympathetic to the tourists. The ostensible perspective is emotionless and empirical. The tourists do themselves in on camera. So the effect is really unsympathetic.
That the tourists should come off second best to the Iatmul provides a clue to the difference, but to follow up on this clue requires yet another trip up the Sepik river. Here is the scene of much more than Cannibal Tours. During this hundred years the headhunters and cannibals of the Sepik region were visited by explorers, prospectors, missionaries, German colonists, labor contractors, anthropologists, government district police, Rockefeller the younger, 36 Empty meeting grounds and now, tourists.
It has been pointed out to me that this list is much longer; that these are only the anthropologists who most successfully linked their Sepik experiences to their professional careers. The images that appear in Cannibal Tours are mainly tight shots that are geographically nonspecific. But at any given point in the film, the viewer, especially one unfamiliar with the Sepik region, cannot know the precise location of the action. The only places mentioned by name on film are Kanganganuman and Anguram villages and Tchamburi lake, where the stones used in the beheading ceremonies were found.
The actual message of Sepik ethnography is that Eurocentric culture is based on a denial of its own violent, homoerotic, and cannibalistic impulses. Consider Naven, the Iatmul ceremonial celebration of cultural accomplishments. Later in his life when the achievement Cannibalism today 37 is repeated, there will still be some naven performance…, but the majority of ritual incidents will probably be omitted. Next to actual homicide, the most honored acts are those which help others to successful killing […such as] the enticing of foreigners into the village so that others may kill them.
But this should not be taken to mean that only delinquents and misfits are killed. The Iatmul people and their neighbors, it has often been noted, are remarkably free from status distinctions, and this certainly shows up in the range of victims, by no means limited to initiated males but inclusive of men, women, children, pigs, and dogs. A more recent ethnographer, William Mitchell, who took his young children into the field with him, describes a recent raid on his village: Entering the unprotected village, the Taute men shot and killed the first human they saw.
It was a little boy. A side benefit of New Guinea ethnography is free psychoanalysis, and not cheap stuff either, but one that finds its authentic substrate in the Western cogito and consciousness. For the Iatmul people of the Sepik and their highland neighbors male homosexuality and anal sadism are not deep secrets accessible only by psychoanalytic methods.
They are openly avowed, key features of the ritual and social order, 38 Empty meeting grounds already well documented in ethnographic accounts of the naven and nama cults. The nephew is painfully embarrassed by this and usually manages to absent himself from the ceremony, leaving the uncle to sprawl about in the sand in a burlesque agony of sexual desire, a show that delights everyone, especially the children. Very rarely is there actual physical contact between the wua uncle and the laua nephew whose deed is being celebrated.
This was when a wua dashed out into the midst of a dance and performed the gesture upon his laua…. If we oppose the arbitrary segregation of the sexes in our society and gendered hierarchies, we can tell ourselves that at least we have not gone so far as the Iatmul, Sambia, and other New Guinea peoples. No ethnographic case accomplishes this at a level of intensity and detail that can compete with the New Guineans. Approximately miles south of the Middle Sepik, another group has become a famous case because they have universally enforced homosexuality for young boys until marriage, after which they are said to begin practicing normal heterosexual relations.
After adolescence, the young men abandon homosexual practices, marry women, father children and continue as heterosexuals for the rest of their lives. The lesson is threefold: first, a culture can make such a rule and get every person to conform; second, years of obligatory homosexuality apparently do not commit the average man to a lifetime of homoerotic desires.
April 2, The normalizing tone of this account is remarkable in view of the subject. The justification given for this practice is that male stature and strength, courage in war, 40 Empty meeting grounds and the ability eventually to be reproductively competent requires the ingestion of enormous quantities of semen.
The more semen you eat, the bigger, stronger, more intelligent, and more masculine you will become. Herdt comments: ritualized homosexuality becomes the center of their existence. Born from the deepest trauma of maternal separation and ritual threats, homosexual fellatio is dangerous and enticing, powerful and cruel.
In short, Sambia boys undergo profound social conditioning through early, exciting homosexual experiences that continue for years. Yet they emerge as competent, exclusively heterosexual adults, not homosexuals.
Contrary to Western belief, transitional homoeroticism is the royal road to Sambia manliness. Modernized cultures contain well-developed internal mechanisms that effectively resist the detailed specification of behavioral rules for adult heterosexual males. At about the time the boys end their homoerotic career they are subjected to the ramming of a long cane down their throats to the point of forcing they believe out of their anus the last bits of filthy contaminated food, and also words, given to them in their youth by their mothers.
It ends with the taking of heads. The point at which they stop giving head and start taking heads ritually marks the transition when they join with the men as a Cannibalism today 41 man. They also get married and father children, and initiate the young boys. Still, attention to the ethnographic record reveals that heterosexual relations remain for them frightening, dirty, and dangerous, the way that women steal their strength. Viewing Cannibal Tours in the context of New Guinea ethnography one necessarily begins to wonder about what Freud gave us. It is not so much a question of psychoanalysis as mythology, a mythology of modernity that includes the primitive as a veil for our cannibal and other homoerotic desires.
The primitive modality in the new cultural subject is already contained, or almost contained, in a touristic frame. Its gaze remains when the subject has run out of things to say. For survival but also symbolic. It was symbolic when they cut off the heads of the white explorers. Not with malice, but a part of a symbolic tradition. But their rhetorical brilliance does not nevertheless permit them completely to escape the touristic or postmodern frame around their consciousness. Within this frame, it is the ex-primitives who have internalized and who rigorously apply the doctrine of cultural relativism.
The Germans came, but white men are no different. Within the touristic frame, there is a characteristic deformation of language. Deirdre EvansPritchard describes an interchange between an Indian artist, and a tourist who unfortunately mistakes him for someone with less than full competence in English: A lady was examining the balls on a squash blossom necklace. This is so they can draw on their own internal resources for meaning, which is only another way of saying that they can function as languages.
In the early stages of its development, the transvaluing exchange of tourist language may be between language and language, or even language and some extralinguistic material. A woman tourist repeatedly asks a New Guinean to smile and gets no result. The two master tropes on which all languages depend for internal self-sufficiency are metaphor and metonymy. A metonymic transvaluation has occurred, for example, when we think something is poisonous because it tastes bitter. Metaphor contains much more potential power to transvalue across originally disconnected and separate matters. Gregory Bateson provided a model that is potentially helpful here: the double-bind theory of schizophrenia Bateson et al.
According to Bateson, well-formed language is so because its users have achieved a synthesis, balance, and harmony between metaphoric and metonymic mechanisms of transvaluation, to the point that both are found in any given utterance. The talk of schizophrenics is rigorously tropo-logical, that is, too metaphoric, for example, as when a patient refuses to state anything directly, coding every message in elaborate allusions and allegories. Tourist language is deformed by an odd internal specialization and separation.
There is a basis in the language that is used in tourist settings for designating a primitive modality deployed along the metonymic axis and a modern modality along the metaphoric. At least there is a strong statistical tendency in all the examples that I have collected for tourists to speak metaphorically and primitives to speak metonymically. If this is supported by further investigation, we would have a case of a discourse that is itself, in its totality, perfectly normal, built out of two complementary schizoid subvariants.
This is a theoretical model for a structural mechanism for producing a normal speech community within which all discourse is schizophrenic, a postmodern speech community. The raging metaphoricity of the language of the tourists marks virtually every one of their utterances.
Empty Meeting Grounds: The Tourist Papers
The experts assure us they are satisfied. Their way of assimilating the German colonist was to eat his brains. It is noteworthy in this regard that Americans also eat their former enemies, the Germans, but only metaphorically, of course: as frankfurters, and hamburgers. What he had in mind were some carved wooden objects that had been stolen from the spirit house and destroyed by the German missionaries or sent to European museums.
New Guinea languages are possessive and imperative, even when command and presence are not called for. Metaphor always involves suppression: a veiling of the obvious through which the outlines of the obvious can be seen. The cannibalism, violence and homoeroticism of the primitives are openly avowed and principled. The New Guineans experience their myths as myths, while the tourists experience their myths as symptoms and hysteria.
In listening to this story, neatly packaged as it is with its own interpretation, we must not forget that death for an old Iatmul warrior is close and real. The tour boat 46 Empty meeting grounds as the death star would be a fitting end to a tragic narrative. Our dead have come back! They have gone someplace and gotten new faces and skin, and now they are back! That is what we say. It is possible to frame his point with some theoretical precision: that the Western tourists are indeed the embodiment of the spirit of dead cannibals.
One does not find among the tourists any similar lightness of sensibility, and detachment from what might be taken as their deepest insights. Again, there is the same contrast with the New Guinea face-painting scenes where the touch is always light. Here is the only difference between primitive and modern, as well as I can make it out from the materials at hand.
The modernday tourists are incapable of a conscious detachment from their values, a detachment that is the most evident feature of the New Guinean images and discourse. As the tourists cannibalize the primitive, they repress and deny the myth of modernity, so it necessarily expresses itself always as an out-of-control force leading to a kind of violence that has no ritual outlet.
We must make them desire our values, our convictions, to teach them something, to do things for themselves, to teach them to desire our point of view, to make them want to wear our kind of clothes. The Indians were trying to warn him about the Cariba, fierce inhabitants of neighboring islands, eaters of human flesh. It names the human practice of eating human flesh, and it also bears the mark of an initial refusal on the part of Europeans to learn from savages or even to acknowledge what they already know if it gets in the way of conquest.
The enemy is eaten for reasons of hatred, revenge, and desire to possess his strength and bravery. He discovered in the descriptions of the most reprehensible act of savages the basis for his critique of Europeans who had taught themselves to torture and kill dispassionately. Keeping a close eye on the victim, while never forgetting that they are cannibals too, Montaigne reports: there is not one in a whole century who does not choose to die rather than relax a single bit, by word or look, from the grandeur of an invincible courage; you do not see one who does not choose to be killed and eaten rather than so much as ask not to be….
These prisoners are so far from giving in, in spite of all that is done to them, that on the contrary, during the two or three months they are kept, they wear a gay expression; they urge their captors to hurry and put them to the test; they defy them, insult them, reproach them with their cowardice and the number of battles lost to their men.
I have a song composed by a prisoner which contains this challenge, that they should all come boldly and gather to dine off him, for they will be eating at the same time their own fathers and grandfathers, who have served to feed and nourish his body. Savor them well; you will find in them the taste of your own flesh.
Indeed, to the last gasp they never stop braving and defying Cannibalism today 49 them by word and look. Truly here are real savages by our standards; for either they must be thoroughly so, or we must be; there is an amazing difference between their character and ours. In his —13 essays on Totem and Taboo Freud would ascribe to cannibalism even greater significance: civilization itself owes its existence to an original act of cannibalism.
According to Freud, the incest taboo, religion, and morality appeared in the first place as a reaction against a terrible crime committed collectively, as ways of spreading the guilt and attempting to make certain that the original crime would never recur. He arrives at his double reconstruction of human pre-history and the collective unconscious via an attempt to account for the near universality of certain features of totemism: clan exogamy and the prohibition against eating the flesh of the totemic animal except under certain precisely defined ritual circumstances, the totem feast.
Freud reasoned that if this arrangement is found among other mammals, there is no reason to believe that it was not also a characteristic of life among our humanoid ancestors, establishing the ground for the original collective crime that he reconstructs in the following terms: One day the brothers who had been driven out came together, killed and devoured their father and so made an end to the patriarchal horde. United, they had the courage to do and succeed in doing what would have been impossible for them individually.
Some cultural advance, perhaps, command over some new weapon, had given them a sense of superior strength. Cannibal savages that they were, it goes without saying that they devoured their victim as well as killing him, The violent primal father had doubtless been the feared and envied model of each one of the company of brothers: and in the act of devouring him they accomplished their identification with him, and each one of them acquired a portion of his strength.
The incest taboo is a collective agreement that no one should benefit from the original collective crime. Ethnography would eventually bring scientists and cannibals face to face. Far from avoiding cannibals, anthropologists have been powerfully attracted to them, jealously guarding access gained, and begging for access denied.
Papua New Guinea and its neighboring islands, home to headhunters and cannibals, would eventually become the jewel of twentieth-century ethnography. They remain the site of an unnamed desire. Following are excerpts from a letter she wrote to Ruth Benedict from the Omaha Reservation, July 21, This is a very discouraging job ethnologically speaking.
You find a man whose father or uncle had a vision. You go see him four times, driving eight or ten miles with an interpreter. They are rich, know very little and fear death if they tell. The head man of the Marble Pebble Society is a Carlisle graduate…. And scold me if you think I still deserve it and am overestimating the difficulties.
Do you think it is worth doing? It seems dull. I feel as if I had no sense of values left. Letters from the Field, —8 And a letter to William Fielding Ogburn written soon after her arrival in Kenakatem, New Guinea, September In the mind of the most suburban Rabaulite and in the mind of the wildest bush native, the Sepik stands for mosquitoes, crocodiles, cannibals and floating corpses—and I can assure you we have seen them all. Indeed she left her first husband when she heard it.
What is the value placed on other human beings across lines of social difference in and between human groups, differences that are thought by the people involved to be more absolute than any human difference need be? There is broad agreement in existing sociologies that social solidarity is bi-modal, having two forms that roughly correspond to the distinction primitive vs. Cannibalism is a kind of practical or applied science of social solidarity that antedates formal theoretical models. It provides a variety of concrete performative declarations concerning the value of the other.
Modern reflections on cannibalism can be assigned to two modalities, roughly the symbolic and the economic, which correspond to two types of modern solidarity or the ways modern peoples understand the ultimate grounds for human relationships. Montaigne wanted to inscribe cannibalism in the symbolic register.
He tried to find, not so much in the act itself but in the behavior surrounding it, the basis for honor and courage. According to his way of accounting for it, in the dealings between cannibals and their victims, the other is a source of knowledge. Even the deepest hatreds and the most abject Cannibalism today 53 fears are overridden by care and concern about what the other thinks: the victim becomes dead proof that a human being is capable of maintaining dignity, pride, honor, and courage in the face of no matter what tortures, until the last breath.
While it would be easy to demonstrate that Montaigne overstated the case for cannibalistic bravery in the face of certain death, it remains clear that he has named a real phenomenon that has not altogether disappeared even in modernity. According to this mode of accounting, which for reasons soon to become evident must always keep its motives secret even to itself, death is a way of improving the standard of living, the only way that does not require work.
Each death is an occasion for the redistribution of material wealth, food, space, surviving mates, prestige, recognition, and everything that is valued, increasing the shares to the living. Mourning is the way the living give thanks to the dead for having turned over their share. The capitalist fascination is for a particular cannibal fantasy with its own distinctive mythic contours.
His thesis, carefully argued and widely discussed, was that non-Indo-European peoples who, unassisted, made the transition to empire, gained their military and economic advantage from a dietary protein supplement of human flesh. Harris comments: As recently as fifty or a hundred years ago, small-scale sacrifice of prisoners of war and the redistribution of their flesh were 54 Empty meeting grounds common practices in hundreds of pre-state societies scattered across Africa south of the Sahara, Southeast Asia, Malaysia, Indonesia, and Oceania.
I have reason to believe, however, that the eating of human flesh was never an important aspect of the redistributive feasts in the cultures that immediately preceded the rise of states in Mesopotamia, Egypt, India, China, or Europe. Harris, I am not concerned with the correctness of this thesis on the role of cannibalism in the building of autochthonous African, Asian and Native American empires.
Apparently there are questions that might be answered by specialists in ethno-history and comparative ethnicity. Although these inquiries are important in other ways, what interests me here does not depend on their outcome. The Aztecs were the builders of the mightiest nonIndo-Greco-European empire.
Harris is faced with scant descriptions of Aztec cannibalism in the eyewitness record. He provides an explanation: the witnesses were distracted by the spectacle of sacrifice. We know little about how long he was kept there or how he was treated, but one can guess that he was fed enough tortillas to keep him from losing weight. It even seems likely that a powerful military commander would have kept several dozen prisoners on hand, fattening them up in preparation for special feast days or important family events such as births, deaths, or marriages.
On the day of the sacrifice, the owner and his soldiers no doubt escorted the prisoner to the foot of the pyramid to watch the proceedings in the company of other dignitaries whose prisoners were being sacrificed on the same day. After the heart was removed, the body was not tumbled down the steps so much as pushed down by attendants, since the steps were not steep enough to keep the body moving all the way from top to bottom without getting stuck. There is some question concerning the fate of the trunk with its organs and the head with its brains. Eventually the skull ended up on display on one of the racks described by Andres Tapia and Bernal Diaz.
But since most cannibals relish brains, we can assume that these were removed—perhaps by the priests or spectators—before the skulls ended up on exhibit. Similarly, although according to Diaz the trunk was tossed to the carnivorous mammals, birds and snakes kept in the royal zoo, I suspect that the zoo keepers—Tapia says there were large numbers of them—first removed most of the flesh.
It could not have been a desire to sensationalize his material to increase book sales. His entire anthropological training rigorously guards against sensationalism. His own internal qualifiers emphasized in the quote belie any serious interest he might have in representing his account as some kind of proof. The empire-building cannibal is the totemic ancestor of modern-day tribal capitalism. By linking cannibalism to capitalism, he opens the possibility for further analysis of the mythic base of current socio-economic arrangements. Modern peoples incessantly tell themselves that they have no tribal ghosts controlling their behavior; that there are no mythic antecedents or implications to their economic activities.
We are taught, and indeed we are supposed to believe, so there is a moral element here as well, that modern capitalism is a phenomenon sui generis. Modern decision making is based on a rational calculation of self-interest, guided by accurate accounting, devoid of passion, and so on. Modern economic institutions are aligned with science and free of historical coloration. We are supposed to think metaphorically about business procedures, organizational matters, decision-making processes, policy implementation, and so forth.
We are not supposed to question the origins of practical expertise in the handling of anal sadism. Harris has peeled back the metaphoric insulation around the modern political economy, a necessary first step in close critical examination of it as a cultural subject. It can be characterized as a frightened-aggressive reaction to the ecological insight that humankind, the plants and animals, the water we drink and air we breathe, now primitive, peasant, and modern, are a single interdependent totality.
Cannibal narcissism is concrete to the point of going beyond narcissism. It is not merely that everything is a mirror image of the self; everything, including other human beings, is the self. The absence of specificity in the arrangement between the sexes, and a corresponding tendency toward ritual avoidance of cross-sex relations outside of those specified by formal marriage contracts, is a strong theme of both contemporary and classic cannibal societies.
All that is required in both kinds of society is that heterosexual relations should not be conflictual. There are also economic issues. Individual loss of wealth through its ever wider distribution can also be avoided by restricting the number of births. Theoretically, any method of birth control could contribute to this end, and every one has been tried, even institutionalized, including sexual abstinence, infanticide, contraception, and abortion. But it is the most certain form of contraception, homosexuality, with its more than metaphoric oral-anal common ground with cannibalism, that emerges as central in capitalist mythology, the subject matter of constant collective fascination.
There is a near-perfect cultural basis for this fascination. Within the framework of capitalism, prestige, hierarchy, and power are based on external, visible accumulation. Male homosexual prestige, hierarchy, and power are a precise inversion of the capitalist mode: surplus and accumulation are radically internalized. The fit between the cannibalistic type of capitalism and the analsadistic type of homosexuality is so tight as to suggest that one is the sublimated form of the other.
Through the mouths of their scientific spokesmen they represent themselves as a special variety of the human species…. Against Freud, I assume that it is possible to be a practicing homosexual without necessarily believing oneself to be superior to heterosexuals in the relevant particulars, just as it is possible for heterosexuals to exhibit tolerance toward homosexual claims to be superior. The normalization of the ideology of homosexual superiority; the prestige accorded to its adherents; the denigration of heterosexual pleasure, a denigration engaged in by homosexuals and heterosexuals alike; the highly stereotypical way in which the fear of homosexuality manifests itself and is represented; the de facto establishment of the single-parent family as the social norm; the aggressive experimentation with medical technologies that detach reproduction from parenting; the promotion of arbitrary beauty standards as the only basis for heterosexual attraction; all these attitudes and actions are well developed among modernized peoples for whom capitalism is established as the only economic mode.
The sexual contract under cannibal-capitalism is a grudging acceptance of heterosexual relations as a matter of reproductive necessity. But heterosexuality is also widely regarded as potentially disruptive of 60 Empty meeting grounds the kinds of solidarities that are necessary to advanced, late, or decadent capitalism. It is not that sexually paired couples are likely to spend their time together plotting the overthrow of the symbolic order. It is a simple matter that couples and family members have a demonstrated capacity to entertain each other almost endlessly using only their bodies, facial expressions, gift for language, and the simplest of technologies.
Each advantage of permanent village life has a corresponding disadvantage. Do people crave company? One must whisper to secure privacy—with walls of thatch there are no closed doors. Infanticide runs a complex gamut from outright murder to mere neglect. Infants may be strangled, drowned, bashed against a rock, or exposed to the elements. More commonly, an infant is killed by neglect [p. Any attack on heterosexual modes of birth control, linked in the mode of the double bind to a simultaneous demand for a restriction of the number of births, fully supports the singular ideal of living off of capitalist accumulation, of not spreading the wealth and not inventing new ways of gaining a livelihood.
Not surprisingly, so too is the official position of the party of decadent capitalism, the US Republican Party, which likes to dwell endlessly on the surgical details of abortion while holding that heterosexual reproduction should not be rewarded with welfare assistance, but should rather be punished with poverty; which mythifies a content-free ideal of the traditional family while fighting to hold the minimum wage to below poverty levels. The fascination that socialism holds for the officials of capitalist regimes, their fixation on the plight of their socialist enemies, precisely parallels cannibal conflict with its theme of triumphal incorporation, of ingesting the entire being of the enemy.
Fukuyama writes: The triumph of the West, of the Western idea, is evident first of all in the total exhaustion of viable systematic alternatives to Western liberalism…. It does not come from the heart of liberal political or capitalist economic theory. It comes direct from Hegel and Marx.
Thereafter, these are the only acceptable viable principles of the state. The dignity of man has been recognized, and all men are understood to participate in it; all that remains to do is, at most, to realize the state grounded on these principles all over the world; no antithesis can undermine this synthesis, which contains within itself all valid possibilities…. And therefore it is not a biological catastrophe either: Man remains alive as animal in harmony with Nature or given Being.
What disappears is Man properly so-called—that is, Action negating the given, and Error, or in general, the Subject opposed to the Object. In point of fact, the end of human Time or History—that is, the definitive annihilation of Man properly socalled or of the free and historical individual—means quite simply 64 Empty meeting grounds the cessation of Action in the full sense of the term. Practically, this means the disappearance of wars and bloody revolutions.
If the sovietization of Russia and the communization of China are anything more than or different from the democratization of imperial Germany by way of Hitlerism or the accession of Togoland to independence, nay the selfdetermination of the Papuans, it is only because the Sino-Soviet actualization of Robespierrian Bonapartism obliges postNapoleonic Europe to speed the pre-revolutionary past.
Already, moreover, this process of elimination is more advanced in the North American extensions of Europe than in Europe itself. Now several voyages of comparison made between and to the United States and the USSR gave me the impression that if the Americans give the impression of rich SinoSoviets, it is because the Russians and the Chinese are only Americans who are still poor but are rapidly proceeding to get richer.
It was following a recent voyage to Japan that I had a Cannibalism today 65 radical change of opinion on this point. In the post-historical period, there will be neither art nor philosophy, just the perpetual caretaking of the museum of human history. I can feel in myself, and see in others around me, a powerful nostalgia for a time when history existed.
Cannibalism in the political-economic register is the production of social totalities by the literal incorporation of otherness. The routinization of the cannibal feast has produced a clear border region for homophobics and vegetarians who wish to be involved while at the same time manifesting some distance or detachment. What will happen today if some of us fight against the genocidal attack on peasants begun immediately after the successful annihilation of primitives? Conscious opposition to cannibal solidarities does not automatically prevent unconscious supportive alignments with them.
Of course, all such alignments will manifest themselves symptomatically. For example, Nancy Chodorow, a humanist and scientist with strong sociological and psychoanalytic competencies, and a person of unimpeachable goodwill; in short, one who would seem to be incapable of it, nevertheless writes cannibal theory. Researchers expect the genes…to speed growth and make the cattle leaner. The four calves are a first step in understanding how direct genetic manipulation of the chromosomes of cattle will affect meat and milk….
Again, it is the normalizing tone of the news account, the strong sense that there is nothing unusual happening here, which is symptomatic of the pervasive cannibal unconscious. I pretend to no technical expertise when it comes to the economic structures of late capitalism. My understanding is limited to what I have been able to gain from reading Immanuel Wallerstein , Alejandro Fortes e. My interest is in contributing to the description of cultural forms associated with the global extension of advanced capitalism, the way human life is lived in its compass.
There may still be a small number of real savages left. They would be found among those who took flashlights, carbines, chainsaws, kerosene, matches, and a few other portable amenities and retreated further into the forest or set up a defensible position on their reservations. For a similar argument from a Native American perspective, see Jack Forbes The critical link between Freud and Hitchcock was made in a recent book by Slavoj Zizek I am grateful to Juliet Flower MacCannell for having brought this important passage to my attention.
Interestingly, in a text that otherwise treats rather arcane matters having to do with the philosophical implications of recent discoveries in quantum mechanics, it is this little aside that catches the eye of distinguished Yale professor F. When comprehended, these philosophical assumptions generate a personal and social mentality and behavior quite different from, and at points incompatible with, the family, caste and tribally centered mentality and values of the native Asian, Middle Eastern or African people. Heisenberg, 9 Just as I was making final changes on this manuscript to send it to press, my country mounted an intense and sustained air attack on Iraq.
Attempting to find words to support this military action, to give good reason for it, a syndicated news columnist describes it as the studied punishment of an Arab nation whose crime is transgressing values enunciated most clearly by the United States, the symbol of Western political values and of cultural modernity. In the modern age, military proficiency is increasingly a function of scientific, cultural and commercial modernity. Will, B 10 This structure has been carefully described for the literary case by van den Abbeele — Closure is attained by the coincidence of the point of departure with the point of arrival, thereby redefined as the point of return.
On the other hand, the voyage can have value only if the points of departure and return are not rigorously coincidental…. The voyage of discovery, for instance, is justified if it succeeds in reaping the epistemological profit of an increased knowledge of the world. But wait. Any re-appearance of the penis in this context would reveal the ludicrous basis for the rather vast claims made on behalf of males. Primitive men can afford to expose themselves because so long as they live in a primitive condition, they have nothing to loose: men and women, the young and old, the rulers and the ruled all live in virtually the same material circumstances.
That is his house. On the relationship between eating semen and such intelligence factors as ability to learn foreign languages, see Schieffelin, Initiated males marry girls who have not yet reached full maturity and assist them in growing their breasts, pubic hair, and so on, by feeding them semen.
We [men] question—that semen—where does it go in the kwoliku? The lovers fornicate for nothing…. We wonder…does the semen go to the tingu of the kwoliku? Boon, and As told by her daughter, Mary Catherine Bateson, in her autobiographical memoir of her famous mother and father p.
When Margaret herself wrote her own autobiography she would recall the dead baby in the river in quite different terms: Most difficult of all for me to bear was the Mundugumor attitude 72 Empty meeting grounds toward children. Women wanted sons and men wanted daughters, and babies of the wrong sex were tossed into the river, still alive, wrapped in a bark sheath. I reacted so strongly against the set of the culture that it was here that I decided that I would have a child no matter how many miscarriages it meant.
He repeatedly asserts that the ancestors of IndoEuropean peoples did not practice cannibalism. Christianity, it may yet turn out, was more the gift of the lamb in the manger than the child who was born in it. Harris, 23 The idea that capitalism is the economic form of repressed or sublimated male homosexuality recently received ethnographic support in D. Feil argues that in avowedly homosexual New Guinea communities, surplus and accumulation of material wealth is never honored. They conceive of surplus and accumulation of semen and manliness as a secret, male-to-male, fully internalized matter that can never be revealed to the entire community.
But there were still more personal reasons for my resistance. At that time, I was active in mountaineering—I passed Disneyland most often on my way to meet other climbers in the southern Sierra. From my moving vantage point on the freeway, all I could see of the park was the huge plaster model of the Matterhorn sticking up above the fences.
Each time I saw the fake mountain, I thought of the four climbers who perished in the Whymper party when their rope broke on their return from the first successful ascent of the real Matterhorn in Disneyland became associated in my mind with death. It made no sense to me, at the time, that someone would want to make a death mask of nature.
Disneyland is also the palace of little hyper-real celluloid animal 74 Orange County, Yugoslavia 75 deities, not dead, and not alive either. Mickey Mouse and his friends are an evident reprise of American Indian mythology. But in Disneyland, the animals appear as a virtual inversion of the mythic Indian figures. At Disneyland they are innocent, stupid, and entertaining, not willful, crafty, and instructive. The thematic outlines are the same for the Indian spirit quest and the touristic visit to Disneyland: both involve a sacred journey to a distant objective to obtain a few precious words from a protective animal spirit.
But the libido, energy, and wealth are flowing in the opposite direction at Disneyland, not into the youth as a special kind of power, but from the youth into the park as a special kind of place. As a quasi-religious center, Disneyland bears too strong a resemblance to other similar places before it: it was built on a violent denial or suppression of the religious beliefs of the people who had previously occupied the same site.
If the freeways of southern California are jammed up, the monorail at Disneyland moves with perfect precision. If society has become violent, in Disneyland there is peace. In I spent five months in Orange County making ethnographic field observations. Nowhere in America, I think, is everyday life more mythical, the contradictions more extreme or more repressed, than in Orange County, California. In the s, before Disneyland was built, Orange County, just south of the city of Los Angeles, was rural and suburban.
Today, it is densely populated with almost 3 million souls. It is also ethnically diverse, with communities composed almost entirely of Vietnamese refugees in Garden Grove, Mexican American communities in Anaheim, thousands of Cambodian refugees living on Minnie Street in Santa Ana, and so on. Nor is it anymore even Disneyland. This is the side of Orange County responsible for its Zeitgeist, its self-appointment as the geographic capital of conservative ideology in America today.
The people of south Orange County openly express their political conservatism. Savvy political analysts suggest he was elected, not in spite of, but because he confessed to being a Bircher. The social and historical origins of Orange County conservatism are clear enough. The last mass migration of white people into southern California was from the Bible Belt in the s, dust bowl migrants from Arkansas, Missouri, and Oklahoma.
They arrived poor but became, if not wealthy in every case, at least middle class and better off than the Mexican Americans with whom they share the region. Theirs is not a Philadelphia, Mainline, or New York, Wall Street-type conservatism based on clear class divisions and the preservation of traditional privilege. There are visible contradictions on the surface of this life, most of them silly or a little bit sad.
In , Schmitz had both a family and a mistress living in two adjacent Orange County housing tracts. The arrangement that Schmitz had is ethnologically unremarkable. It would be commonplace in Africa, for example. But this is certainly not the way in which the Schmitz family would want to understand itself. The fundamental feature of the Orange County ethos is the difference and distance between public self-understanding and the barely repressed underlying passions.
What is socially important in Orange County is not actual values, but the public expression of inflated values. The people who live in these over-sized tract homes sometimes imagine themselves to be Gentry, which is the name of The Magazine of Orange County People published by Gentry, Inc. These are mere surface contradictions, the sorts of things that could happen in any community in a hurry; matters that time, an election, or a little cosmetic surgery can heal.
There are other contradictions in the mental life of Orange County that are not susceptible to an easy fix. The soil is sandy loam, excellent drainage for growing citrus. And the same could almost be said of the sky. Super-saturated with automobile emissions, it is brown and heavy, more substantial than the San Gabriel mountains which it can hide even on a cloudless day. This mind survives contradiction by rejecting fundamental distinctions, accepting only minute and particulate matters. The Orange County mind identifies itself with the dirty indistinction of its earth and sky and shields itself with shining surfaces.
It is dirty on the inside, while assiduously maintaining sparkling exteriors. Once thought has moved itself to inhabit the framework of Orange County consciousness, every sign is drained of meaning and is only self-referential. Schmitz had only to make public re-affirmation of his conservative views and the evident passion leading up to the affair was buried. In this system of expression, auto-referentiality is all that counts. Owning a Porsche is supposed to mean that the owner is affluent, not insecure. Passions that bind and separate one person from another exist as they do in all human communities, but in Orange County they disappear in a literal and metaphoric smog.
Automobiles, invested with as much symbolic and libidinous importance here as anywhere else on earth, brilliant in every other way, are typically colorless. More than this, they are intentionally colored colorless. By overwhelming preference, they are metallic grays with just enough of a true color added to produce a Orange County, Yugoslavia 79 mysterious hint of some possible color. They are pure shining essences reflecting commitment to the appearance of cleanliness and precision but without any statement or mood. A true red or blue, anything that might lend itself to political or other interpretation is avoided.
This valorization of vagueness when it comes to basic values extends itself to the total arrangement of the housing tracts. The streets meander in overlapping spirals and ellipses. The total design is purposefully centerless; that is, without absolute internal distinction. This suggests we might learn something about the future, and perhaps gain some control of the future, by studying what is distinctive about Orange County values and the form of their expression, especially in politics where they are providing models that go beyond the county line.
Only about 70 per cent voted for Reagan, for example. But the organization of the communities is the most perfect expression of conservative values, even for those residents who would disagree, as those who disagree, especially, would affirm. The psychology is obvious: once the original contradiction is repressed, its ill effects are also hidden, or even transformed into beneficial results. There is never a direct confrontation with significant human differences or positive principles, especially those that might be widely shared, for example, a commitment to social equality.
There cannot be. The city of Irvine, a place now grown to more than , souls trapped behind the corporate curtain, was Orange County, Yugoslavia 81 centrally planned in every detail, including precisely controlled social class composition. An official Irvine Chamber of Commerce information bulletin mailed in reply to a query from a prospective migrant to the area reads, in part, as follows: If you are looking for a great place to live—Southern California style [try] Irvine, Calif.
Uniformly designed homes in Irvine, Calif. In this cluster of quiet villages the scent of the Pacific freshens the air above homes all painted in earth tones…. Life is zoned by master plan around the university campus, industrial parks, living and recreation areas, green belts and small shopping centers. Residents may observe the five-member City Council in action from their homes, all wired for cable TV. Neighborhood committees make sure that dwellings are painted in bland colors and that lawns are trimmed. Some may find the uniformity overpowering, but to most it is a small price to pay.
- Divine Invasions: A Life of Philip K. Dick.
- Empty Meeting Grounds: The Tourist Papers;
The schools are rated superb. Crime, though a problem, is not rising as fast as the population. Urban fears are no part of life in Irvine. Here I have everything. Bren, Henry Ford II, and several others. The land within the community was arranged, in advance, according to formula: 1. There is no housing for the poor. The effect of industry on residential property values has been controlled.
If there happened to be appropriate housing available near the university, students might remain in Irvine for longer than they are in school, 82 Empty meeting grounds potentially giving the place a shabby, leftist character.
The New Age of Tourism
So the area immediately surrounding the Irvine campus is purposefully kept free of all development. This set of ideals extends itself to the level of individual households and family life in the form of total subservience to corporate central control. The Chamber of Commerce document mentions that every house is wired for cable television. It does not go on to state that no house may display an external television antenna.