A wild ‘pansee’ (or two)


Sept 08 004

The Pansy in the image above is domesticated, but it looks wild!

Note the little clay bird of peace on the window ledge to the left, which unintentionally crept into the picture – looking for a message to carry. See points 1 and 2 below.

Much of the work necessary for understanding how balanced though functions was done by Claude Levi-Strauss.

His book "The Savage Mind" was a bad translation from its French title of "La Pensee Sauvage" – a pun which, in French, provides a clear example of how abstract thought can be embedded at a ‘sensory’ level  to provide a kind of concrete logic.

Apparently the English publishers found allusions to ‘pansies’ a bit risque and opted for something dull in the tradition of "The Sexual life of savages". It is ok to refer to their sexual habits, but not to those which – at that time – were largely denied within modern life. By such respectable considerations – and forms of denial –  we may be denied the rich mind food we require.

While "The Savage Mind" is not an easy read Levi-Strauss provides a convincing demonstration of how, for our form of Being, this level of logic has provided the metaphors we require to connect to our surroundings in a more immediate means than those of abstract grand narratives. And – all things considered – served us well.

The hope for a form of super-rationalism, in which some form of universal reason will be once again integrated with sense experience, may be an illusion belonging to the modern past.

Of equal importance to the conceptual workings of ‘the human mind’ to produce balanced and embedded systems of signification, the work by modern anthropologists such as Levi-Strauss himself (and the lesser known Pierre Clastres) demonstrate the fundamental importance of an insistence to disallow any concentration of power in the hands of a few in one group..

"Moiety" systems can be characterised as having two complementary halves. While some may even be signified in relation to "Upper" and "Lower" they are most often finely balanced pairings.

If one of the sides of the moiety looks like becoming ascendant, trouble is sure to ensure until balanced relations are restored (and this may be a dynamic form of equilibrium, not necessarily a simple-minded form of stasis).

The forms of representation fashioned by these means must be different from those formed by processes which seek to find a universal form of truth (and corresponding control).

And so too are the metaphors by which our Earth-Being is connected with Cosmos.

Two factors are worth following up:

1. Any concentration of power in the hands of a single group can never be considered as ‘well-formed’. There must be more or less equal force between different groups. (Exit the modern nation state.)

2. The ‘moieties’ of modern anthropologists can be considered to be merely local arrangements of a much wider ‘force field’ extending throughout the cosmos of the peoples concerned.

The local arrangements (as artificially carved out by modern anthropologists and/or maybe groups of people themselves) are a fractal image of a complex life system which is both totalising and involves alliances and systems of exchange with the whole of the rest of life.

The ‘stress’ on these arrangements is ‘horizontal’ rather than ‘vertical’. There can be no ‘self- centred knowledge – while what is relevant to our part of life can and must be internalised, the role of significant others must replace the importance placed (in modern times at least) on individual creative genius.

Levi-Strauss’ later work on South and North American myth-narratives went on to show how a kind of global group mind is at work, shaping our mythology.

For that to happen again, all conceptual craftspeople have to free themselves from the constraints of their modern masters and fashion this stuff of dreams into new myths by which the whole of life can enjoy full well-being.

In short, a flowering collective:

fllowering collective crop