CXXXII - (Re) leituras -- The world until yesterday -- what can we learn from traditional societies ?, by Jared Diamond, comments by André Bandeira

People tend to make comparisons between vivid experiences they recently had, and reality as they see it. But it was'nt always like that .The way we see our experience also depends on the way we see imminence, emergence, and how we cope with reality. In the Middle ages, in Europe, people used to come across more often with the supernatural. In a world shaped by an atheist, of jewish background, such as Jared Diamond, reality is no epiphany of whatever supernatural, but just a neverending postponement of an overwhelming pain, simplily able to switch off our mind, for good, at a certain point. Jared is old, he won't be around for very long. He is no Darwin, maybe he was a little bit coarse in denouncing tribal wars in New Guinea, with names on it, which caused a lot of fear, as the western society began to take control of some, hitherto, «savage areas». This book is no emulation of that rhetorical device which mankind, compared to an woman called Earth, in her forties, is an event wich began happening some minutes ago. I seems to take the same path, when Jared explains how traditional societies display what we have been doing most of our time, as Homo Sapiens Sapiens, on Earth (60.000/100.000 years long). He takes samples of these once called «Primitive contemporaries», in the arctic regions (Inuit) in Africa ( the !Kung), in Bolivia(the Ashe) and, most of all, among the New Guinea mountain people, where he spent years in a row, as an ornitologist. But Jared, who would never be any Darwin, in a world of round-the-clock communications and self-expressive narcisism (where reflexion tends to be replaced by guess-work and obnoxious reactions), shows an incredible degree of egocentrism. This is no ornitologist book, neither an anthropological or geography one ( now, the once self-described, bio-geographer Jared Diamond, is teaching Geography in UCLA, the time when geopolitics has been resuscitaded, after the beheading of the double-headed tiranny of the Cold War). Among many reasonable advices, such as not allowing the remaining world languages to die out (poliglotism is, f.i., a preventive against Alzheimer), replace our proud civil rights, litigant-happy judicial system, with conciliatory mechanisms, and drastically change our diet, Jared Diamond doesn't put forward any compelling new theory. Should he do it, as a scientist, and not merely a Pulitzer Prize winner? The fact is that, between the lines, he furthers a very typical doctrine and a proud agenda. Therefore, if he, by all means, remains ideological, still he deserves to be challenged because he has fundamental flaws within whichever theory he made close tight to his field-notes In this book, he came a long way from being an ornitologist, as far as a social-engineer of self-help. Once got in here he just sounds as an old priest preparing his tomb in a closed building, while walled by determinism, scientific arrogance and a strange stubborn dyslexia. I give you just an example: all his work is in accordance with the late american anthropology, in the sense that the primitive societies were no paradise as the democratic and revolutionarist Europe assumed to be, all that with a tipping point at Rousseau´s influence. Honestly, there is no «state of Nature» besides a never-ending state of war. But he says that in New Guinea, the best show-case for those kind of «states of nature», there is an incredible number of living languages with completely different origins, being spoken in a very narrow, albeit until recently secluded area. All these languages seem to derive from very different sources. Well, it doesn't even cross his mind, while reading his carefully taken notes, that if that region has been secluded from the western civilization, may be it has also been crossed by ancient migrations and a complex archaic History which we're not discussing yet, perhaps because we can't take notes thereof. In conclusion: these «primitive societies» seem to be so primitive as our own primitiveness in a World History where we keep restraing the sources, for the sake of a ruminating heavy consciousness, and put it directly in the foundations of our Academy. No wonder that the new doctrine which the officiant of a tentative new world order, not strange to ecologist tiranny, has labeled it as «constructive paranoia». That means, we should take care with the potential lethality of things we do everyday in our ordinary lives. Yes,we should. And one of those lethal things we do, indeed,everyday, it is taking notes as in a detective story, without putting under scrutiny how much we load of ideological contamination, every step of the way, since we decided to have research, as a purpose in life. Jared Diamond didn't see it and he made us all look in just one direction. One day we'll all suffer from some kind of sclerosis. But some of us won't be longing any more for recognition as a hindsight. That his a step toward thought sclerosis: what we see well, that's only what we compulse from our notes.

CXXXI (Re)leituras -- La Arqueologia y la Etnohistoria - un encuentro andino, Edit. by John Topic, comments by André Bandeira


This is the ultimate in Archeoloy and Ethnohistory on the Andean region (Peru, Chile, Bolivia, Argentina) that means on the Inca civilization. It is a common task undertaken by the « Instituto de Estudios Peruanos» and the Institute of Andean Research, in New York. It is also an honour to the most famous ethnohistorian of Peru, Maria Rostworovsky. What do we learn about this? First, the book is built on a cumulation of field reports, produced by Archeologists, as well as reports made by Ethnohistorians, which are followed by the stocktaking of their discussions. Second: one learns more, by reading the final pages, than all the -- I would say forensic -- support reports from the field. Third: the conclusions are full of ideology, something which builds a rather steep contrast with the punctillious description of the field work. As someone states in the end: ethnohistorians have to transform words (in the documents) in words ( both in the discussions and in the conclusions) whereas Archeologists have to transform pottery and fragments in words, and, then, words of Archeology, again, in words of History.What are the main points? Well, what mostly caught my eye was the following 1 - The so called «socialist Empire» which, once upon a time, the cold-war Historian Arnold Toynbee (one of the creators of the most recent and influential ideological synthesis of History) was not what ideologues really wanted to, in their sociological endeavours. The Inca came a long way, from a hunter-gatherer background, to incremental agricultural communities and, then, state enterprises, but they managed a high degree of pluralism, and even put into practiece what Toynbee praised, in his theory of Empires' rise and fall.They entertained a vague border, where alliances and conquest set different standards. So, there is no reason for calling the Inca Empire as any reason for a looming latin-american national socialism.2 -- Maria Rostworovsky (I hope that nobody comes up with any suggestion that she «must be jewish»...!) says that in Ethnohistory, especially if one has to resort to mithology, there are much more things in common among the andean cultures, that in Economics, where one is confronted to a wide variety of patterns.3 -- The ending is perhaps much ideological, though. Rostworovsky ventures that andean myths have an absence of the patriarch, or of the father-model. Andeans prefer myths where the relationship between mother and child, and brother and sister, are much more vivid than that one of the father, who either is absent, he has died, or has been slayed. She states that neither the universal prohibition of parricide nor incest are visible in andean myths. She adds that the isolation which andeans have experienced, for centuries long, cuts them off from the asian and european pathway, despite having been built on a harsh struggle against deserts, droughts, tropical climate shifts, forests and huge natural barriers.

Conclusion: as a matter of fact, Maria Rostworovsky steps on the train of the previous ideological interpretations she criticizes. She only widens the ideological buzz floating about a still fragmentary archeological evidence. She even finds support in psychoanalysis, a very recent practice, which has so much successes spread around, as the millenia-experience of the andean people remains unknown. This book makes me so fearful of the «studies» which are always evoked to support a new ground-breaking ideology as the one of «marriage for all». Here, one can read extensively on a variety of clues to support incestuous relationships, as well as a case for a kind of extensive family appertunance, out of which no individual life is conceivable or even sensible. Ideology cannot be avoided, and there it is at full steam. Take care.