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Between One and One Another

Between One and One Another

Michael Jackson
Copyright Date: 2012
Edition: 1
Pages: 230
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  • Book Info
    Between One and One Another
    Book Description:

    Michael Jackson extends his path-breaking work in existential anthropology by focusing on the interplay between two modes of human existence: that of participating in other peoples’ lives and that of turning inward to one’s self. Grounding his discussion in the subtle shifts between being acted upon and taking action, Jackson shows how the historical complexities and particularities found in human interactions reveal the dilemmas, conflicts, cares, and concerns that shape all of our lives. Through portraits of individuals encountered in the course of his travels, including friends and family, and anthropological fieldwork pursued over many years in such places as Sierra Leone and Australia, Jackson explores variations on this theme. As he describes the ways we address and negotiate the vexed relationships between “I” and “we”—the one and the many—he is also led to consider the place of thought in human life.

    eISBN: 978-0-520-95191-4
    Subjects: Anthropology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. [i]-[vi])
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. [vii]-[viii])
  3. CHAPTER 1 Preamble
    (pp. 1-21)

    In the late 1930s, Gregory Bateson and Margaret Mead did pioneering ethnographic fieldwork in a Balinese village, using still and movie cameras to capture some of the “intangible aspects” of Balinese culture and everyday life, including trance, eating, gesture, mourning, family interactions, children’s play, art, and shadow-play puppets. In her introductory essay to their 1942 monograph, Mead speaks of a Balinese passion for being part of a noisy, festive crowd. Whether a marketplace, temple court, theatrical event, elaborate carving, or close-packed array of offerings on an altar, “the crowd preference is seen everywhere in Balinese life.¹ Women are said to...

  4. CHAPTER 2 The Philosopher Who Would Not Be King
    (pp. 22-32)

    The day was hot. Trudging up the long avenue toward the university, I kept to the shade. The figs and eucalypts reminded me of Australia, bark stripped and straggling, or littering the dry ground. The oaks, myrtles, and phoenix palms took me back to the South of France. I imagined that I could feel at home here, this commingling of antipodean, Mediterranean, and American flora, this winterless climate. But the buildings, colonnades, tiled terra-cotta roofs, and open courtyards were a less congenial mix. Inexplicably, Rodin’sBurghers of Calaishad been made strangers to one another, standing alone rather than grouped...

  5. CHAPTER 3 Hermit in the Water of Life
    (pp. 33-58)

    If I have recourse to metaphors of water and darkness to describe myself at twenty-one, it is partly because I spent that turbulent year in a harbor city buffeted by high winds and ransacked by winter storms. In this emotional maelstrom, I knew only one person who seemed to have the knack of staying afloat. And so I clung to him as to a life raft, buoyed by his concern for my welfare, guided by his advice, secure in his example. In retrospect, I am amazed that Brijen Gupta was only ten years older than I was.¹ Yet the difference...

  6. CHAPTER 4 Writing Workshop
    (pp. 59-68)

    In his much-cited Letter of Lord Chandos, the fin de siècle Viennese poet Hugo Von Hofmannsthal describes the despair of a writer who has become so disenchanted with language that he can no longer write. In the winter of 2009, something akin to Von Hofmannsthal’s “inexplicable condition” afflicted me. At first I suspected that my inability to write stemmed from a disenchantment with language that had been deepening for many years—a doubt that words could ever capture or convey a sense of the life one lived or the world one lived in but only gesture pathetically and longingly toward...

  7. CHAPTER 5 How Much Home Does a Person Need?
    (pp. 69-78)

    At the heart of contemporary anthropology lies a dilemma: How can we do justice to what is at stake for people in their “local moral worlds”¹ andat the same timestrive to broaden our analytical horizons to encompass the general and global conditions of human life on earth? This dilemma is at once methodological and empirical. As Michael Herzfeld has shown,² the discursive tension between a localizing ethnographic gaze and a generalizing theoretical perspective echoes the social and political tensions between societies at the margins of the modern nation-state and the centralized, bureaucratized structures of the state. Moreover, there...

  8. CHAPTER 6 Clearings in the Bush
    (pp. 79-93)

    A recurring preoccupation of Arthur Schopenhauer was the impossibility of finding happiness in the company of others. Insisting that “no man can be inperfect accordwith any one but himself”¹ and extolling the virtues of self-sufficiency, Schopenhauer nevertheless acknowledges that, for many people, the inner life is so empty and unsatisfying that they are driven “to the company of others which consists of men like themselves, forsimilis simili gaudet” (Birds of a feather flock together).² Elsewhere, he makes this point with a parable. A number of porcupines huddle together against the winter’s cold, only to find that they...

  9. CHAPTER 7 The Gulf of Corinth
    (pp. 94-109)

    A recurring critique of the ethos of modernism is that it fosters alienation from and indifference to the world and a regressive absorption into one’s own personal situation. Faced with a macrocosm that is too overwhelming to contemplate and too complex to control, people take refuge in a narcissistic concern for their own survival and the emotional imperatives of the self.¹ “To live for the moment is the prevailing passion—to live for yourself, not for your predecessors or posterity.”² While it may be argued that being self-fulfilled is the best guarantee of being able to give support to others,...

  10. CHAPTER 8 It’s Other People Who Are My Old Age
    (pp. 110-115)

    In a series of interviews with Benny Levy in 1980, Jean-Paul Sartre—then seventy-five and in the last year of his life—asserted that he did not experience himself as an old man. Everyone treated him as an old man. But for himself, he was not old. “It’s other people that are my old age,” he said.¹

    The moment is poignant, because in the eyes of others Sartrewasold—blind, unable to write, unable to be alone, almost completely dependent, and not always lucid in speech or in thought. But those who spoke of Sartre in this way seem...

  11. CHAPTER 9 Objects in Mirror Are Closer Than They Appear
    (pp. 116-130)

    In 1999 the anthropologist Galina Lindquist returned to Moscow after ten years away. She walked around the city as a revenant, finding it familiar yet utterly strange. This was not only because she had changed; Russia itself was no longer the country she had known during the years of perestroika. The late 1980s had been a time of jubilant expectation; the despised Sovietsistemahad collapsed, you could buy books in subway kiosks that only recently you could have been sent to the Gulag for possessing, and you were ostensibly free. Ten years later, this mood of abundant possibility had...

  12. CHAPTER 10 I Am an Other
    (pp. 131-140)

    Thornton Wilder’s masterpiece,The Bridge of San Luis Rey, begins with a tragedy that seems to defy explanation. A rope bridge gives way as a group of travellers are crossing a deep canyon, and they are thrown to their deaths. A Franciscan priest who witnesses the accident is both stunned and mystified. “The bridge seemed to be among the things that last forever; it was unthinkable that it should break.”¹ Brother Juniper doubts that a benevolent God would allow this fate to befall innocent people. There must surely be some reason for their deaths. “Why did this happen to those...

  13. CHAPTER 11 Yonder
    (pp. 141-155)

    There is a compelling passage in Siri Hustvedt’s essay “Yonder” that immediately brought to my mind the life and work of the painter Ian Fairweather. Hustvedt was born in America of Norwegian parents, and her childhood map of the world “consisted of two regions only: Minnesota and Norway, my here and my there.”¹ This was the “yonder” her father described as a place “between here and there,” a place that could not be occupied without it becoming “here” and thereby creating another elusive and indeterminate yonder, elsewhere. As writers, Hustvedt and her husband, Paul Auster, were fascinated by the similarity...

  14. CHAPTER 12 Reading Siddhartha to Freya at Forest Lake
    (pp. 156-166)

    It was the summer before our daughter, Freya, began high school, and my wife and I had rented a cabin at Forest Lake. Freya brought Hermann Hesse’sSiddharthaalong. She was obliged to read the book before her first week of classes but was finding it hard going. The prose was tautologous and inelegant, the philosophy obtuse, and it was only a matter of time before she asked if I could read it to her and explain what it was about. And so we sat on the porch together in the evening, as a ruby-throated hummingbird flickered at the nectar-filled...

  15. CHAPTER 13 On the Work and Writing of Ethnography
    (pp. 167-188)

    Having explored several variations on the theme of human existence as a continual interplay between the hypothetical poles of being-in-oneself and being-with-others, it is only appropriate that I should consider in this closing chapter the methodological ramifications of this theme in the work and writing of ethnography.

    My focus is the ethical question of how it is possible, in our ethnographic fieldwork and writing, to reconcile our intellectual preoccupations with the often radically different preoccupations of our interlocutors. How, in brief, can we strike a balance between doing justice to the people who accept us into their communities, sharing their...

    (pp. 189-190)
  17. NOTES
    (pp. 191-214)
  18. INDEX
    (pp. 215-221)
  19. Back Matter
    (pp. 222-222)