pological writings on death often achieved its effects simply by shifting from

Pological writings on death often achieved its

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pological writings on death often achieved its effects simply by shifting from the position of those least involved to that of the chief mourners. Cultural depth does not always equal cultural elaboration. Think simply of the speaker who is filibustering. The language used can sound elaborate as it heaps word on word, but surely it is not deep. Renato Rosaldo 175
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Depth should be separated from the presence or absence of elaboration. By the same token, one-line explanations can be vacuous or pithy. The concept of force calls attention to an enduring intensity in human conduct that can occur with or without the dense elaboration conventionally associated with cul- tural depth. Although relatively without elaboration in speech, song, or ritual, the rage of older Ilongot men who have suffered devastating losses proves enormously consequential in that, foremost among other things, it leads them to behead their fellow humans. Thus, the notion of force involves both affective intensity and significant consequences that unfold over a long period of time. Similarly, rituals do not always encapsulate deep cultural wisdom. At times they instead contain the wisdom of Polonius. Although certain rituals both reflect and create ultimate values, others simply bring people together and deliver a set of platitudes that enable them to go on with their lives. Rituals serve as vehicles for processes that occur both before and after the period of their performance. Funeral rituals, for example, do not ‘‘contain’’ all the com- plex processes of bereavement. Ritual and bereave- ment should not be collapsed into one another because they neither fully encapsulate nor fully ex- plain one another. Instead, rituals are often but points along a number of longer processual trajec- tories; hence, my image of ritual as a crossroads where distinct life processes intersect. 25 The notion of ritual as a busy intersection anticipates the critical assessment of the concept of culture developed in the following chapters. In con- trast with the classic view, which posits culture as a self-contained whole made up of coherent patterns, culture can arguably be conceived as a more porous array of intersections where distinct processes criss- cross from within and beyond its borders. Such heterogeneous processes often derive from differ- ences of age, gender, class, race, and sexual orienta- tion. This book argues that a sea change in cultural studies has eroded once-dominant conceptions of truth and objectivity. The truth of objectivism – absolute, universal, and timeless – has lost its mon- opoly status. It now competes, on more nearly equal terms, with the truths of case studies that are em- bedded in local contexts, shaped by local interests, and colored by local perceptions. The agenda for social analysis has shifted to include not only eternal verities and lawlike generalizations but also political processes, social changes, and human differences.
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