Showing posts with label Claude Lévi-Strauss. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Claude Lévi-Strauss. Show all posts

Sunday, October 18, 2009

How The West Was Won

In the chapter of Tristes Tropiques entitled “A Little Glass of Rum,” Claude Lévi-Strauss observed that anthropology is born of remorse. In Of Grammatology, the now famous deconstruction of Tristes Tropiques, Jacques Derrida observed that Lévi-Strauss’s critique of ethnocentricism had the function of “constituting the other as a model of original and natural goodness,” by engaging in the act of “accusing and humiliating oneself. The impulse behind such reverse ethnocentricism is romantic and, ultimately, racist. Like Rousseaus Confessions, it imagines non-European peoples as the index to a hidden good Nature, as a native soil recovered, of a 'zero degree' with reference to which one could outline the structure, the growth, and above all the degradation of our society and our culture.

Several years prior to the 1967 publication of Derrida’s book, Theodora Kroeber, wife of anthropologist Alfred Kroeber, published Ishi in Two Worlds (1961), “A Biography of the Last Wild Indian of North America,” which explores the degradation of Ishi’s tribe and culture. A few years later, Kroeber issued a partially fictionalized version of Ishi’s story under the title Ishi: Last of His Tribe (1964). (Recently, in 2003, her sons Karl Kroeber and Clifton Kroeber co-edited a book on the Ishi affair, Ishi in Three Centuries, the first scholarly book on the subject to contain essays by Indians.) There were popular songs about Indians before the publication of Theodora Kroeber’s first book on Ishi in 1961, of course—“Indian Love Call,” “Oklahoma Hills,” and Hank Williams’ “Kaw-Liga”—but beginning in the Sixties, many songs were written celebrating the Indian as an emblem of natural goodness, mightily sinned against. They might be understood as songs expressing remorse, but by engaging in self-accusation and self-humiliation.

Songs About The Indian:
John Anderson – Seminole Wind
Brooks & Dunn – Indian Summer
The Cowsills – Indian Lake
Elton John – Indian Sunset
Merle Haggard – Cherokee Maiden
The Holy Modal Rounders – Indian War Whoop
Johnny Horton – Comanche (The Brave Horse)
Johnny Horton – Jim Bridger
Jeanette MacDonald and Nelson Eddy – Indian Love Call
Tim McGraw – Indian Outlaw
John Mellencamp – Hot Dogs and Hamburgers
Johnny Preston – Running Bear
Paul Revere & The Raiders – Indian Reservation
Hank Thompson – Oklahoma Hills
Hank Williams – Kaw-Liga