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.
PD The NYT take is here