4 years ago
I think a key part of Benedict's chapter is the parallel she draws between Dobuans and Puritans (p. 167) because she is presenting us with a very harsh (in our minds) culture that is so radically different from our own; America began with Puritan refugees. Overall, though, I think this chapter unintentionally would serve to reinforce our ethnocentric values more than it does to dismantle them. "All existence appears to him as a cutthroat struggle in which deadly antagonists are pitted against one another in a contest for each one of the goods of life. Suspicion and cruelty are his trusted weapons in the strife and he gives no mercy as he asks none." (p. 172) I highly doubt that this is how a Dobuan would describe his life. "One of the most striking of all Dobuan beliefs is that no result in any field of existence is possible without magic." (p. 143) "In Dobu there is no propitiation... no gifts or sacrifices to cement cooperation between gods and petitioners... All the beliefs connected with them are related to name-magic rather than to religious propitiation of the supernatural." (p. 142) Benedict spends comparatively little attention to the supernatural beings in Dobu, which could present at least one alternate perspective on their motivations if the concept was explored a bit more. Where does magic come from here? (I either missed this or it was an unexplored subject.)I think Welsch and Vivanco were more explicit about what they wanted to communicate to the reader, but it had less of an impact on me than Benedict. Vivid examples are more memorable than a series of well-meaning definitions. Of course, Benedict probably did not achieve the exact impact she wanted. I detected a kind of incredulous attitude, though that could just have been a projection on my part.