Thursday, October 16, 2008


My life at this time is sad and happy. confusing and profound. blissful and sorrowful. hectic and relaxed.
Balance is what makes the world go round.
I have a needing urge to write but don't know what to say.
Everything seems superficial and intricate.
I wrote a critical review for my anthropology class (Myth, Magic and Witchcraft). I love to write, it is my passion but sometimes I get so tangled up in my thoughts and the words don't come out right. I can write for hours at a time, I've stayed up many nights writing until dawn.
I wrote my first poem in kindergarten.
I wrote my first rap when I was 12, "My name is QT and not Roxanne"...maybe I'll post it someday.
I am greedy with my writing, paranoid that someone will steal my words (Really, I think this happened before and no I'm not schizophrenic. It was Enimnem. And I just found an anagram. Enimnem=Men I'm in...Men in men.
Whoa life is.
I need to read the dictionary and increase my vocabulary. I need to learn, to not write fragmented and run-on sentences. How do all of these ; - : , . (work)?
My grandmother had a Masters in Linguistics and I can hear her say,
You pronounce the word this way...The correct wording should be...That is a double negative...?!?
I write and read it over and over, correcting sentences, adding words, erasing sentences. I need write with a flow.
My life is flowing with the current of life.
(I say this, as well as, other affirmations everyday--see I totally screwed up that sentence).
I am happy and healthy and full of energy.
A girl at work is writing snippets of her life story and naming the chapters after song titles. She says my book should be named, "Bun in the Oven" because it is quite literally true when you have a schizophrenic mother. Who heard voices telling her to, put the baby in the oven.
I am stealing her idea and naming this chapter, "Collide." (period then quotation--right?!?)

In the article titled, Body Ritual among the Nacirema, Horace Miller (University of Michigan: 1956) describes Nacirema rituals as, "the extremes to
which human behavior can go." Miller's purpose for writing this article, was to
show the reader the diverse ways of culture and their rites, rituals and
ceremonies. He was permitted to examine their shrines and have their rituals
explained to him while being a participant observer immersed in their culture.
Miller concluded the Nacirema to be "magic-ridden people." In my opinion, his
article was interesting and thought-provoking in a way that makes you
astounded by the vast examples of human behavior; however, at times Miller
seemed judgmental. For example when he stated, "For most of the population
shows definite masochistic tendencies." Can someone state that something is
perverse and wrong because they don't truly understand why the behavior is
being exhibited?
The Nacirema is a North American group that believes the human
body is ugly and diseased so they perform rites, rituals and ceremonies which
are often done in privacy consuming a considerable amount of their daily life.
Their homes have shrines; a box built into the wall where their charms and magic
potions are kept. Medicine men write down the ingredients in an ancient and
secret language and the herbalists provide the magic remedy. Medicine men
help to mend the sick (if they can afford it) in a temple called a "lati pso" where
elaborate ceremonies are performed on them. "Holy-mouth-men" are visited
once or twice a year to exercise the evils of the mouth. They do this is an
extraordinary way using various awls, augers and probes which some would
consider dangerous. They also seek out special "listeners"; a type of witch-
doctor who rids people of the devils lodged inside their heads. The Naciremas
daily body functions are disposed of in a sacred vessel, which is done in secrecy.
Men perform a gruesome rite that involves scraping their own faces with a sharp
instrument. The women conduct an inconceivable rite where they bake their
heads in a small oven. Lucky women who are blessed with well-endowed
breasts, make a handsome living traveling to villages letting men lust after them.
In contrast, sexual intercourse is taboo and performed as a scheduled act and
children are conditioned to feel ashamed of their sexuality. Pregnant women
hide themselves from the villagers by wearing over-sized clothing. Some even
hide their entire pregnancy without their mothers knowing until they give birth.
Other rituals are performed to make fat people thin and vice versa, the bizarre list
goes on and on.
I feel Millers purpose for writing this article was to illustrate that magic is
exhibited through the eye of the beholder. From a modern day perspective,
many of these rituals are seen as unusual or different. Miller wrote about these
people and their cultural idiosyncrasies with vivid, repulsive descriptions. When I
read, "The ritual consists of inserting a small bundle of hog hairs into the mouth, " I choked on my saliva as I felt the hair going down my throat. While reading the article, I felt he was a spectator looking in on a alien culture with a twist of judgmental deliberation. As I read the article, it caused my mind to wonder...Who are these people and why do they display such odd behavior?
Miller claims the people to be barbaric and masochistic...but do they stand
out this way in the large scheme of humanity? Miller states, "It is hard to
understand how they have managed to exist so long under the burdens which
they have imposed upon themselves." But who is he to claim their rites and
rituals to be burdensome? I believe his purpose was to show that you literally
can't judge a book by its cover or judge a people solely on how they appear to
us. When we evaluate our behavior we can find similarities in most other
cultures, as well as differences. Miller's evaluations appear extreme until you
realize he is simply an outsider to a foreign culture.
The following week in class, I discovered Miller was actually describing
Americans. I was bedazzled! I read it over and over again and each time I found
another meaning that I'd missed from the previous reading. In my overall
opinion, I felt that this article was misleading and judgmental. I believe it is not not fair to judge humans by their cultural differences and it would be beneficial to
observe the culture with an open mind. One should use objective and unbiased
descriptions and try to view the world as a distinctive, diverse, collective whole
with the same basic needs for survival. I feel this article would become a
different story if it had been written today. A place where high-tech neon lights
drown out the devils that come to inhabit the bodies of the night. Where music
blares into the streets telling the people, " Abra-abra-cadabra, I want to reach out
and grab ya (Steve Miller)." "You know I got a strange magic. Yeah, I got a
strange magic (ELO)."

*whoa* I just previewed this and the formatting is screwed up. Go figure.
And now I'm going to pst it with not a care in the world or 1,000,000,000,000,000,000 cares for the world.

1 comment:

Melissa said...

I remember reading Cows, Pigs, Wars and Witches (Marvin Harris) for an Anthropology class and realizing that all cultures make sense when viewed through the eyes of the participants. It's neat the way Miller wrote the book there - challenges our assumptions!

Have a good weekend!

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