Sunday, September 27, 2009

214. Deconstructing the Postmodern Condition 14 -- Myth and Counter-Myth

Are we having fun yet? :-) I am. But I'm afraid everyone else may be either yawning or shrugging by now. After all, this is an old old issue no one cares about anymore, right? Wrong. (Actually this blog has been getting quite a few hits over the last two weeks, with a fair amount of people spending quite a bit of time here, so there must be some interest. Though there have been very few comments, which tells me most of you might be feeling somewhat intimidated, either by me or your anthropology/ ethnomusicology professors, or overly professorial colleagues -- professors always worry too much about saying (or thinking) something "dangerous.")

This used to be an old old issue, I admit. One of the reasons I left the field of ethnomusicology (though I never really left it completely) was that the things I found most meaningful were becoming more and more unfashionable. I wasn't part of the "old guard," it was my contemporaries who rejected comparative studies, but as far as I was concerned comparative studies were the only way to go, so I just got bored and dropped out, more or less. Became a "creative artist," i.e., part of the problem, rather than part of the solution (inside academic joke).

But things have changed rather dramatically over the last few years and anthropology is about to be shaken to its foundations -- though you'd hardly guess it from the current state of the literature. Actually, it's already been shaken to its foundations. Just like the economy has already collapsed. Only no one knows it yet. It's the old Wile E. Coyote syndrome:

Wile E. is puzzled because he doesn't understand how he could be so far from our friend the Road Runner and yet not be hovering in empty space. What he doesn't yet realize is that he IS hovering in empty space.

What's about to change anthropology forever (and would already have changed it if it weren't for all those Wile E. Coyote types out there) is the revolution I've already been writing so much about -- no, not the musical part, though that's important too. The genetics part. Armies of vampiric population geneticists have been drawing gallons of blood from innocent people all over the world for many years now, and for just as many years they've been using it to do research of an absolutely extraordinary kind into the deepest depths of human history. We've all heard about it -- and I've been writing quite a bit about it here, as my most faithful readers know. But the meaning of this research hasn't really reached the groves of anthropological academe as yet -- maybe everyone is still out in the field somewhere, negotiating identity or situating themselves in contexts.

What the new research tells us, for one thing, is that the revisionists who for some time now have ruled the anthropological roost, are very probably wrong. The Kalahari revisionists are almost certainly wrong (as I demonstrated in my Kalahari paper) and their faithful disciple, Roy Richard Grinker, has in all likelihood been misguided. The Pygmies and the Bushmen are very likely for real, they very likely do in fact represent exactly what we've been told they do not and cannot possibly represent. And I myself, right here on this very blog, have upped the ante considerably, to suggest that they may be even more for real than anyone could have imagined. Strange things are happening! So stop yawning and start telling everyone you know to read this blog.

But once again I'm getting ahead of myself.

(to be continued . . .)

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