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24jgrstrltvmpire - 24 JAGUARS STARLETS AND VAMPIRES(5/05...

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24. JAGUARS, STARLETS, AND VAMPIRES (5/05) Lévi-Straussian myth analysis is often highly abstract: when set of myths analyzed, comes out to be structured by set of very basic and very abstract oppositions: raw/cooked. But L-S not entirely consistent: in some places says these are fundamental contradictions, discrepancies, problems, and myth is a way that society tries to bridge or mediate those contradictions: ultimately it cannot be done, but myth keeps trying. Many anthros who followed L-S, tried to use his methods, attempted to show how formal structures of myth related to particular society. One of L-S’s most famous early examples was analysis of myth from Tsimshian of Northwest Coast of North America, story of a hero named Asdiwal. Complicated story of his travels and marriages, to spirits as well as humans. L-S says to be understood in terms of local social structure, but often not as reflection or justification, but rather in opposition or distinction to it. L-S tries to classify different kinds of post-marital residence Asdiwal lives in. Critics have shown that his information was poor and his analysis forced. He says there is a series of oppositions, and though myth cannot resolve them, the scope or amplitude of the oppositions diminishes thru the myth: the oppositions get weaker and weaker. From water vs. land, to sea hunting vs. mountain hunting, to valley vs. peak. Many problems with analysis. Those oppositions don’t strike me as getting smaller. Been shown that L-S very arbitrary and careless in his use of myths. But interesting because raises issue of how the story is to be understood in terms of society. One interesting re-analysis by a local specialist, John Adams, says that the story really doesn’t seem the opposite of daily life in this society bur remarkably similar: often a dynamic outsider will marry into a local group. he isn’t a member of the hereditary power structure but he assumes de facto leadership, like Asdiwal. Asdiwal’s career is a possible one. (L-S, “The Story of Asdiwal” in The Structural Study of Myth and Totemism , Edmund Leach, ed., 1967; L. Thomas et al. 1976, “Asdiwal Crumbles: A Critique of Lévi- Straussian Myth Analysis.” American Anthropologist 3:147-173; John Adams, “Dialectics and Contingency in ‘The Story of Asdiwal’” in The Unconscious in Culture , Ino Rossi, ed., 1974.) The Legitimacy of Solomon Edmund Leach has very useful example of a myth analysis that related myths to contradictions in society, from Old Testament L points out that in the OT there are a longs series of strange marriages, in which people marry just the people they are not supposed to These marriages form part of a series of episodes that seem to echo each other, in which action in one episode seems similar to another episode but turned around or shifted or
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slightly changed: e.g., as a boy and young man, David is persecuted by Saul, but when
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