Mark Mosko and Frederick H. Damon, eds. On the order of chaos: Social anthropology and the science of chaos. New York and Oxford: Berghahn Books, 2005. xv + 276 pp, figures and tables.
How dynamic is the anthropology of chaos?
Returning to Cosmology—Thoughts on the Positioning of Belief
Cosmology may be helpful in positioning belief. I suggest, through discussing the contributions to this collection, that belief, especially propositional belief, is integral to monotheistic cosmoses that are constituted through gigantic fractures (like that between God and human being). Such fractures distinguish between cosmic interior and cosmic exterior. The fracture as boundary is absolute, paradoxical, not to be breached. Thus, the infinite Hebrew God integrates His finite cosmos by holding it together from its outside. The absolute boundary signifies cosmic discontinuity. Here belief in the unfathomable may be central to overcoming such discontinuity and, so, to integrating cosmos. By contrast, an organic cosmos is held together within itself, is more continuous within itself, is more holistic, and, in flowing through itself, obviates any centrality of belief.
Folding and Enfolding Walls
Statist Imperatives and Bureaucratic Aesthetics in Divided Jerusalem
This article discusses one vector of statist control in present-day Jerusalem, a divided city that is held together primarily by the bureaucratic and military grip of the Israeli state. This vector is composed through the positioning of four architectural forms, the last three of which have, in particular, qualities of walls, but of walls that enfold. I refer to them as the 'museum-wall', the 'mall-wall', and the 'separation barrier'. These physical forms are brought into conjunction through the idea of vector, used loosely in a topological way (as distinct from topographical), in which value is carried (non-linearly) through space—that is, it is enhanced and made more powerful as it is shaped in its continuing. These walls capture and contain, folding into themselves that which they circumscribe and thereby recursively fortifying themselves.
Why Ritual in Its Own Right? How So?
Calvin, who introduces this collection of essays on ritual in its own right, understands ritual as well as many anthropologists. Calvin is dramatizing thematics that I am trying to avoid. Complaining about the peanut butter, spoiled because his mother did not observe the proper ritual for scooping it out, he is telling us: do the ritual correctly. It exists because it has a function—control. Perform control in your ritual, and you will have control in your life. The ritual of how to scoop out peanut butter is a representation of life. Living produces its own symbols, its own reflections, and these are the ritual, existing to enact themes of living—here that of control. The ritual has meaning, otherwise why the argument between Calvin and his mother over its importance for living? For Calvin, scooping out peanut butter is akin to a Geertzian model of and model for living—you scoop peanut butter the way you live your life. One thing is certain: to understand the peanut butter ritual, one begins with life, not with a jar of peanut butter. First, though, let’s have a look at the peanut butter in the jar …
Toing and Froing the Social
Understandably, one would think, the social is the heartland of ritual studies. What is ritual, if not the Durkheimian effervescence of the social? Still, a number of the essays in this volume move towards the borders of the social. Perhaps this has occurred because the contributors were asked to think of ritual in its own right, thereby freeing them from the so deeply embedded anthropological stricture that ritual is social because it must be attached to, relate to, or service some group. Ritual is created by groups and expressive of groups, otherwise it is insignificant. This complicity of ritual and groupness implicitly demands that rite have meaning or function for the social, the raison d’être of ritual’s existence. Thus, the structures, dynamics, and processes of ritual are immediately oriented to the social. Rarely considered is that taking this tack eliminates other possibilities in which thinking on ritual ignores the borders of the social.
The Extended Case
Interactional Foundations and Prospective Dimensions
The extended case is inherently processual, continuously becoming prospective history. Therefore, the dynamics of the extended case are necessarily temporal; there is no separation between the practice of social life and micro history. Here I ground the emerging temporality of the extended case in interpersonal interaction, in the dynamics of the creation and emergence of micro forms that Erving Goffman called encounters. An extended case emerges from a series of encounters as it moves into its own futures. Therefore, the extended case opens time/space to the practice of process, to the foregrounding of practice as intrinsically dynamic. The prospective perspective of the extended case pays close attention to how social life is practiced into existence as emergent phenomena, without assuming or presuming how social order holds together and falls apart. The extended case argues for a dynamic rather than a structural anthropology.
What is happening to the anthropological monograph? (The onslaught of the journal article)
Enemy lines: childhood, warfare and play in Batticaloa by Trawick, Margaret
The companion species manifesto: dogs, people, and significant otherness by Haraway, Donna. Revolt of the masscult by Lehmann, Chris
Don Handelman and Galina Lindquist
We have discussed ritual between us for a long time—Don often from his suspicions of the canonical understanding of ritual as representation, Galina through her studies of healing and therapeutic efficacy