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Today, he died

by kcurie Wed Nov 4th, 2009 at 03:48:54 AM EST

Originally published on November 3

He was close to 101. Today Claude Levi-Strauss died.

This is a short diary so that anyone interested can post here whatever he/she likes.

For my part I will only make a short comment.

A Giant has passed - promoted by Migeru


It is really a sad day for my. what can I say? I liked the guy. He opened a new world to me.

I must thank Nigels Barley, Oliver Sacks, VS Ramachandran and Claude Levi-Strauss as the four great men that opened a new world of narratives and mythologies to understand the world out there (the world right here is physics, it is still the world I like most, you know).

Without them I would have not known enough of anthropology or neurobiology. They were my starting point. The ones I always come back to when I learn or read something new.

I did not agree with him on some things. I thought some of his statements where not backed-up my evidence.... but he was a great master.

Without him I would have not known the bororos. Without the bororos I would have though that my way of understanding time and consciousness were universal. And of course, they are not.

Without him I would have not known the basic structures of kinship.. and I could believe that the family I normally see around me is the only type of family. Without them I may have thought that the biological mother are the mothers.. thanks to him I know that my mother is the one that stayed at my bedside when I was afraid.

Without him I would have not known how important the "raw" is, an how important the "cooked" is.. and without that, how would I have known what's behind the dychotomies of the religious right? and how they are almost sacred to the movement...At the end of the day is the building blocks of any mythology.. so why not one entirely based on it if somehow the guy is in need of some powerful myth?

Well, without him, I could still think that black are more stupid than whites because of the genes, or that men only look for sex or that women use better a certain side of the brain but are awful scientists.

Yes, without him I would have never understood that the best way to push forward the enlightenment vision of the world was to understand it as it is, as a fragile myth that can collapse. So push, push ,and push new mythologies from other cultures that can broaden one's view of any situation: social or personal.

Without him and the other three I could have never understood how fragile my constructed self is, and how powerful at the same time (at the end of the day, I can control it). Meanwhile my unconscious is out of reach and even my more accessible conscience (thanks bororo again) is very difficult to reach because after all "anyone can think in it".

Now...I only hope that his knowledge is not lost, and that we keep repeating that most of our differences come from the different structural mythologies we inherit from our ancestors which are perfectly suited for our brain. A brain which needs to make sense of our conscience in society.

I also hope that we keep trying to broaden people's minds by providing more myths that they can think of as he wished. And that we never forget the mythology that make this community strong, the enlightenment.

RIP

PD The NYT take is here

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/11/04/world/europe/04levistrauss.html?hp=&pagewanted=all

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Not really. He's alive, still.

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.
by Cat on Tue Nov 3rd, 2009 at 08:16:04 PM EST
Nothing to add.

A pleasure

I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

by kcurie on Wed Nov 4th, 2009 at 05:05:19 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Differing narratives on death?

En un viejo país ineficiente, algo así como España entre dos guerras civiles, poseer una casa y poca hacienda y memoria ninguna. -- Gil de Biedma
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Nov 4th, 2009 at 05:07:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Indeed :)

A pleasure

I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

by kcurie on Wed Nov 4th, 2009 at 05:12:34 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Differing narratives on death?

And on what "living" means...

"Ce qui vient au monde pour ne rien troubler ne mérite ni égards ni patience." René Char

by Melanchthon on Wed Nov 4th, 2009 at 06:31:10 AM EST
[ Parent ]
kcurie:
Let us try to broaden people's minds by providing more myths that they can think of.

Nothing to add.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Nov 4th, 2009 at 02:12:31 AM EST
Science as an anti-racist manifesto... anthropology and enlightenment as an anti-racist /anti-sexism manifesto:

http://thelede.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/11/03/the-influence-of-claude-levi-strauss/?ref=europe

A pleasure

I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

by kcurie on Wed Nov 4th, 2009 at 05:11:59 AM EST
About racism, his powerful Book "Race et Histoire" is a must read.

Race et Histoire

La pente naturelle d'un individu tend vers l'ethnocentrisme, c'est-à-dire qu'il tend à considérer sa culture comme la Culture. Cela consiste à « répudier purement et simplement les formes culturelles : morales, religieuses, sociales, esthétiques, qui sont les plus éloignées de celles auxquelles nous nous identifions. »

...Cette attitude est paradoxale car « en refusant l'humanité à ceux qui apparaissent comme les plus sauvages ou barbares de ses représentants, on ne fait que leur emprunter une de leurs attitudes typiques. »
...
En réalité chaque culture possède une histoire, sans que l'on puisse affirmer dans l'absolu qu'une culture soit plus ou moins avancée qu'une autre. « En vérité, il n'existe pas de peuples enfants ; tous sont adultes, même ceux qui n'ont pas tenu le journal de leur enfance et de leur adolescence. »

I think that, together with Structuralism, his major contribution was to initiate a profound paradigm change: after Lévi-Straus, the colonial vision of the world, which was still dominant, including among the intellectual elites, was definitely discredited. He owed a lot to Marcel Mauss, too.

See also "Race et Culture"

   

"Ce qui vient au monde pour ne rien troubler ne mérite ni égards ni patience." René Char

by Melanchthon on Wed Nov 4th, 2009 at 06:54:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Melanchthon:
En réalité chaque culture possède une histoire, sans que l'on puisse affirmer dans l'absolu qu'une culture soit plus ou moins avancée qu'une autre. « En vérité, il n'existe pas de peuples enfants ; tous sont adultes
The same can be said of biological evolution. More complex life forms are no more or less evolved than simpler ones. The simple life forms of today are very advanced compared to their ancestors (hundreds of) millions of years ago. The conventional representation of evolution with Man at the pinnacle, or of trophic dynamics as a "chain" or a pyramid is also wrong in the same way.

Maybe we need to convince the Serious people that the same is true of economic organization and that a less sophisticated economy is not necessarily less mature or in need of overhaul. We see what "financial innovation" has wrought.

En un viejo país ineficiente, algo así como España entre dos guerras civiles, poseer una casa y poca hacienda y memoria ninguna. -- Gil de Biedma

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Nov 4th, 2009 at 08:47:32 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, man is little more than a local trend. Bacteria run the biomass show- even worms beat us.
by de Gondi (publiobestia aaaatttthotmaildaughtusual) on Wed Nov 4th, 2009 at 10:49:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It is good to remember that bacteria rule this world and worms run it.

We are the pinnacle of... nothing.

A pleasure

I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

by kcurie on Wed Nov 4th, 2009 at 12:10:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]
We are the pinnacle of... nothing.

Yet another myth paradigm to kick around.

by de Gondi (publiobestia aaaatttthotmaildaughtusual) on Wed Nov 4th, 2009 at 05:26:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
More complex technology doe snto mean more complex sexual relation, world view or kinship structure.

More complex technology and economy means just that, more complex technology...and, as you say and I now steal, less complex does not mean less mature. Sometimes more complex means less robust...

A pleasure

I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

by kcurie on Wed Nov 4th, 2009 at 12:18:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
kcurie:
Sometimes more complex means less robust...
Always, always...

En un viejo país ineficiente, algo así como España entre dos guerras civiles, poseer una casa y poca hacienda y memoria ninguna. -- Gil de Biedma
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Nov 4th, 2009 at 12:20:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I know a couple of exceptions :)

A pleasure

I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

by kcurie on Wed Nov 4th, 2009 at 01:43:30 PM EST
[ Parent ]
He not only discredited the colonial view with his scientific approach, but also show us a common denominator for all people, a positive manifesto, if you will. We are ruled by the structural myths we think, no matter where we come... we all act differently but we all have a bunch of things which are essentially the same.

Not to mention how useful is this knowledge to understand the world inside the "old metropoli".

And Marcel Mauss was the author of the most important book ever written in french...sur le don is still a masterpiece. Who can understand the present world without it? He was Levi-Strauss baseline, as now Levi-Strauss is the baseline of a whole new set of socioligists.

A pleasure

I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

by kcurie on Wed Nov 4th, 2009 at 12:15:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Quand Lévi-Strauss dénonçait l'utilisation politique de l'identité nationale - LeMonde.fr
n 2005, Claude Lévi-Strauss prononçait un discours mettant en garde contre les dérives de politiques étatiques se fondant sur des principes d'identité nationale. "J'ai connu une époque où l'identité nationale était le seul principe concevable des relations entre les Etats. On sait quels désastres en résultèrent", disait-il.
by Bernard on Wed Nov 4th, 2009 at 05:32:50 PM EST
"I lived during times where national identity was the only conceivable principle of inter-state relations. We know what kind of disasters resulted from this"
by Bernard on Wed Nov 4th, 2009 at 05:35:53 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Pile this up with all the other things I forgot to mention.

Amen

A pleasure

I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

by kcurie on Thu Nov 5th, 2009 at 02:59:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Even read late, it still makes for a moving tribute to a giant thinker.

Glad to have you around kcurie - otherwise I probably would not have heard about Levi-Strauss until the day the mortuaries hit the papers. It's a common way for me to find out about astonishing people and writers through their deaths. (For instance, I got to know the works of Joseph Heller and Paul Bowles because they passed away.) Similarly, Levi-Strauss' passing has made me aware of "Tristes Tropiques" - which I of course haven't read. Hope they'll feature it now in the bookstores.

Still, the surprise last week was that he was still alive... I had no idea.

More myths please!

by Nomad on Mon Nov 9th, 2009 at 05:28:24 AM EST
great man, great diary...

more myths may be fine, some less so.

i do believe the old and seasoned ones still have many clues.

many so called new ones are old wine in new bottles.

to study myths is to study the history of man's unconscious, my deepest concepts of europe are linked to reading hans christian andersen and the brothers grimm, centuries-old hymns and aesop's fables...

all flakes in the porridge...

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Mon Nov 9th, 2009 at 10:56:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]


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