pological writings on death often achieved its effectssimply by shifting from the position of those leastinvolved to that of the chief mourners.Cultural depth does not always equal culturalelaboration. Think simply of the speaker who isfilibustering. The language used can sound elaborateas it heaps word on word, but surely it is not deep.Renato Rosaldo175
Depth should be separated from the presence orabsence of elaboration. By the same token, one-lineexplanations can be vacuous or pithy. The concept offorce calls attention to an enduring intensity inhuman conduct that can occur with or without thedense elaboration conventionally associated with cul-tural depth. Although relatively without elaborationin speech, song, or ritual, the rage of older Ilongotmen who have suffered devastating losses provesenormously consequential in that, foremost amongother things, it leads them to behead their fellowhumans. Thus, the notion of force involves bothaffective intensity and significant consequences thatunfold over a long period of time.Similarly, rituals do not always encapsulate deepcultural wisdom. At times they instead contain thewisdom of Polonius. Although certain rituals bothreflect and create ultimate values, others simplybring people together and deliver a set of platitudesthat enable them to go on with their lives. Ritualsserve as vehicles for processes that occur both beforeand after the period of their performance. Funeralrituals, for example, do not ‘‘contain’’ all the com-plex processes of bereavement. Ritual and bereave-ment should not be collapsed into one anotherbecause they neither fully encapsulate nor fully ex-plain one another. Instead, rituals are often butpoints along a number of longer processual trajec-tories; hence, my image of ritual as a crossroadswhere distinct life processes intersect.25The notion of ritual as a busy intersectionanticipates the critical assessment of the concept ofculture developed in the following chapters. In con-trast with the classic view, which posits culture as aself-contained whole made up of coherent patterns,culture can arguably be conceived as a more porousarray of intersections where distinct processes criss-cross from within and beyond its borders. Suchheterogeneous processes often derive from differ-ences of age, gender, class, race, and sexual orienta-tion.This book argues that a sea change in culturalstudies has eroded once-dominant conceptions oftruth and objectivity. The truth of objectivism –absolute, universal, and timeless – has lost its mon-opoly status. It now competes, on more nearly equalterms, with the truths of case studies that are em-bedded in local contexts, shaped by local interests,and colored by local perceptions. The agenda forsocial analysis has shifted to include not only eternalverities and lawlike generalizations but also politicalprocesses, social changes, and human differences.