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Earth and the Anthropological Effects of Malnourishment

In the Earths history human kind has changed and evolved and grown to become coarse to earth. Even though it is the place we inhabit many of the current majority populations seem to be discontented with earth and think that it is a large trash can for their industrialization. Personally I think that there is a key component that we are missing in the West today, even though we do have many people who are actively striving to help the earth. Malnourished is what I would call the earth, through my eyes I would say that there is a large problem with the earth nourishing and enriching human lives but an overall disdain for replenishing and caring for the earths needs.

downloadThe Earth is something that humans should care for and reside over, its our home! But something I think many people in the US can agree upon is that Earth is slowly dying and many are ignoring the problems and symptoms. There are even those that we know all too well who actively work to disprove Earths illness. But what exactly is earths illness? I think that the Earths diagnosis can be said plain and simple as a problem in the balanced reciprocity that humans should have with the earth.

Now, I understand that I am taking balanced reciprocity out of its original context since it is normally used to explain the exchanges between people through kinship or other ties. But I think that how humans relate to the earth is also a kinship type system, humans and the earth (so far) are inseparable, and I think that this proves solid grounds for me to use the idea of reciprocity in humans relationship to the earth.

From an Anthropological perspective we can see that while humans endure and are constantly in the grips of change and evolution we also are in the grips of our own self-made forms of change. Things like industrialization and government and trade are all forms of human made systems of change. And while we seem to be good(ish) at enduring our own forms of change we are failing to realize that some change needs to be exchanged back. When we strip a forest of its trees or a wood of its wildlife, we must replenish the Earth with something equal, otherwise our kinship system with the Earth will cease and the Earth will stop helping humans and we will meet our end. Which I don’t know about you but I am not looking forward too.

Luckily however, there still are people who are striving to keep the reciprocity alive and keep the Earth in a constant state of habitability. The more I get invested into anthropology the more I see the potential that people have to effect the industrialization and effects of major pollution. The integral work that anthropologist do in the field by documenting the advance technologies of people groups who know how to work with nature and not against her. I think that if we go out into the field and explore the world for answers to our own problems like responsible inhabitants of a planets then we will be able to discover new ways for our species to have a balanced reciprocity with their host. And I know this is a bit prep-talky but I really feel passionate and excited about our part on this blue/green marble and I think that we are rearing generation of people who know how to love the earth as the earth loves us.

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Patterns, in Theory

imagesRuth Benedict was a wonderful Anthropologist and was profoundly influential on how we view cultural patterns. A term that she uses to explain the components of them are “configurations” which is a very digestible term seeing how our smartphones all have settings that are configurations as well. And similarly to how our phones operate with the configurations and algorithms in the background so does Benedict show culture has a tendency to do as well.

Humans are obsessed with patterns, we see them in realms of mathematics with the Fibonacci sequence, we see them in spirituality with sacred geometry, we see patterns in art, music, literature, and plays because that is how the human mind absorbs and expresses certain meanings, emotions and thoughts. There is something soothing about patterns, something perfect and unlike anything else. In this same sense, the way that humans interact and communicate with the world around them is in line with their configurations.

I know from personal experience in my own life that I see these configurations occur, I always nicknamed it the ‘chameleon’ whenever presented with a situation similar to one I have dealt with I will slip into a pre-set mindset and tackle the situation head-on. I am sure that many other people feel the same way, even if they don’t recognize that they do it right away the subconscious will set up people in the mindset that last benefited them in the situation they are currently dealing with. This type of understanding how people operate with pattern and form is a great way to also do a study on things like PTSD or other similar ailments that spawn after a specific traumatic or impactful event has changed the ‘configuration’ for certain situations.

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One question that I had going into writing this blog post was about how Benedict perceived the flow of pattern, and its primary influences. In her writing and from what I can gather from Anthropological Theory, there is a certain understanding that “culture takes on the character of the member’s personality structure”. This in a way is the equivalence of the people influencing the pattern and the pattern influencing the people. So to ask this kind of question is to also equate it to the saying, which came first the chicken or the egg?

Dionysus and Apollo are two Greek gods, Dionysus the god of fertility and wine; and Apollo the god of poetry, the sun, and prophecy. The way that the ancient Greek’s celebrated each deity was vastly different. For Dionysus, there were rather festive and very wild displays of human indulgence. Apollo, however, was celebrations were orderly and more about self-control and thought. There are now houses of thought that were coined “Apollonian” and “Dionysian” by Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzche, a person who Benedict gained some inspiration from while writing her book. The idea that there is a sort of unconscious selection that a culture will go through that exemplifies particular characteristics and configurations and ignore others is one of the primary meaning of “Patterns of Culture”. Benedict also goes into different ways that the choices and trends that are exemplified by the cultures are exactly what helps to weave that cultural configuration. Through this mode of explanation, I came to the conclusion that people are inherently the same but that they differ in expression of the same basic traits and patterns. Which, in its basic understanding is something that I wish more people would realize around the world.

 

 

Citations:

Benedict, Ruth. Pattern of Culture. Mentor Book, 1948.

Moberg, Mark. Engaging Anthropological Theory a Social and Political History. Taylor & Francis, 2017.

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Tylor’s Misconception

Tylor proposed a very fascinating and very simple theory, that human religion can be tracked side by side with human advancement. That if we were to look at a culture that had religion in a specific form or function that we could extrapolate other information about how advanced or primitive that culture or society really is.  Of course, I think it is absolute horse shit, but for sanities sake and to challenge my own bias I think I will go a bit more in-depth and really try to give the theory a shot. The basic principle as quoted from Moberg is “their intellects move in a linear pattern from a belief in the soul to spirits to polytheism and eventually to monotheism.”

This theory would be accurate in the case that society was only one singular people who followed a system like this to the ‘T’ and who never influenced by anything external or internal to their society that would warrant any change at all. But I think through relatively common observations of any culture, even one’s own we can see that it is impossible for humanity to avoid diversity that would change this narrative over even a few generations. Social evolution such as noted by Darwin and Spencer was a progressive approach to adaptation through survival. Based on this theory we can add a proof to our list of reasons why Tylor was mistaken, no society is able to be measured by the means of simply analyzing their current religious state because the cultures will change that state intrinsically over time and will not stay at a complete state. On the other hand, we have seen through history that some religions stay the same over very large periods of time and some have not changed at their core since their inception. An example of this would be from my perspective Hindu faith, which translated from the oral tradition into a written form and has since been held in almost the same light for some time, serving and fulfilling the same or similar functions within the society.

Taylor’s view could only be right in a situation that was inherently inhuman. Humanity is too diverse and is too prone to change and adaptation for someone to be able to categorize with an overly simplistic method like this. I also want to end on a point that I felt very strongly about. If mankind is assigning traits to other beings like animals and plants and giving them attributes that are inherently human, then the humans are realizing their own consciousness and have a direct need to not be alone. They seek peers among the other living and wild things, but they also seek other conscious beings in realms that don’t exist within our tangible senses. Within many monotheistic religions, it is the sense that mankind cannot be the only being to have consciousness and that there must be a source. On either side of the coin, we see mankind exploring their collective consciousness to explain the world around them and to have a system that limits and categorizes one conclusion over another would be inadequate in any way shape or form.

 

Moberg, Mark. Engaging Anthropological Theory: a Social and Political History. Routledge, 2013

 

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