Thursday, September 09, 2010

Liberating The Savage Mind

Claude Levi-Strauss  is the father of modern anthropology because of his revolutionary conclusion that so-called primitive societies did not differ from modern ones. He banished the whole idea of primitive man as separate from civilized man, and he also concluded that the “savage mind” is necessary to the creative process and is something we all have access.

According to Strauss, the "savage mind" is in a conversation with itself throwing up new ideas in wild abundance but within those ideas there is order and pattern. It is in the imagination of people that we can see new things, new developments, new creativity.

“Intellectual thought is something like a wild flower that develops in certain conditions of life away from civilization or that which we deem to be. “ -- Claude Levi Strauss
Even in what we consider the most primitive states of being, or ways of life, as we see it, the people are still using imagination in the most elaborate manner. Rather than create an advanced industrial civilization, they create a wonderfully rich world of familial structure, art, ritual and pattern.
“In all matters touching on the organization of the family, and the achievement of harmonious relations between the family group and the social group, the Australian Aborigines, though backwards in the economic sphere are so far ahead of the rest of mankind that to understand the careful and deliberate system of rules they have elaborated, we have to use all the refinements of modern mathematics. It was they who discovered the ties of marriage represent the very warp and woof of society, while other social institutions are simply embroideries on that background; for, even in modern societies, where the importance of the family tends to be limited, family ties still count for much: their ramifications are less extensive but, at the point where one tie ceases to hold, others, involving other families, immediately come into play”. -- Claude Levi-Strauss
“International institutions must be aware...that progress is not a comfortable "bettering of what we have", in which we might look for an indolent repose, but is a succession of adventures, partings of the way, and constant shocks. Humanity is forever involved in two conflicting currents, the one tending towards unification, and the other towards the maintenance or restoration of diversity. ..The need to preserve the diversity of cultures in a world threatened by monotony and uniformity has surely not escaped our international institutions…We must hearken for the stirrings of new life, foster latent potentialities, encourage every natural inclination for collaboration which the future history of the world may hold. We must also be prepared to view without surprise, repugnance or revolt whatever may strike us as strange in the new forms of social expression. Tolerance is not a contemplative attitude, dispensing indulgence to what has been or what is still in being. It is a dynamic attitude, consisting in the anticipation, understanding and promotion of what is struggling into being. We can see the diversity of human cultures behind us, around us, and before us. The only demand that we can justly make (entailing corresponding duties for every individual) is that all the forms this diversity may take may be so many contributions to the fullness of all the others. -- Claude Levi-Strauss


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