Section I - Chapter 8 -- Patterning
Lights! Camera! Action!
As you can tell, this chapter was written and somewhat inspired by the televised Motion Pictures Academy Awards, which are given out annually to members of their profession. The trophy, or Oscar, as it is referred to in that profession, is given out to a number of different categories involved in the making of films as well as several special areas of acting and film classifications. This is a positive reward system or recognition for limited patterns of behavior or performance in action. The categories getting the most attention are those pertaining to best actor and actress and best film of the year. These are the glamour categories or popularity contests that are supposedly the top position (possession) anyone can hope to attain or obtain in our physical reality and our learning pyramid.
You would think that we are finally away from that dull, boring, technical information that I have been feeding you for some time now, but let me show you something interesting. Above, we are talking about self imposed limitations or classifications imposed by a special interest group in order to provide a direction to their profession. By honoring or rewarding and/or awarding trophies to these various people and sub-groups, this profession or a special interest group is attempting to influence the direction of growth, as well as the center position or point of reference for others to follow. Interesting, isn't it? You just can't get away from our learning pyramid! Reinforcement and limitations are all around us, and yet we never really see them or recognize them, but a lot of that problem has to do with consciousness.
Anyway, the reason I chose to start this chapter out this way is because I see an interesting analogy between the acting profession and our own lives in general. I also thought it was a clever way of getting your attention after some rather slow thought provoking ideas that really require some mental efforts to understand. Lastly, people generally pay more attention to things that they can personally relate to and/or have had a day to day diet or exposure to high media coverage items. In any case, I see in a slightly distorted way, that we are all actors playing in a long running series or full length feature entitled, "Life". Exciting, isn't it? I wonder how much it will gross? Better yet, I wonder if there will be a sequel?
Enough of this questionable humor. Let's get serious. That would make an interesting song title! Anyway, the point I'd like to make, is, that acting is an interesting profession. It is supposedly a vocation that is nothing more than individual expressing physical and emotional actions of another supposed individual or fictitious character in a short dramatized study or story. The real skill involved on behalf of the individual is that he must be convincing and as close to being a real life person in a real life drama or situation as much as possible and still maintain his own identity as well as that of the person and/or part that actor is trying to portray. This is difficult to do, because if you have never had the same real life experience, it is difficult to act in a convincing fashion. The ability of an actor to make this transition and convey the proper emotion, pretty much determines how well the actor(s) or motion picture is received and patronized. Naturally, the story also plays some part in it; however, it is the acting that really makes or breaks the film.
You might say that how well a person plays or acts his part in our real life physical reality, determines how well he or she is also received. There may be no awards given in an individual’s performance; however, the amount of popularity or patronizing one experiences, is perhaps, sufficient reward for a good performance in life. The only major difference in one's performance in life and that of an actor is that the individual does not have to memorize words or learn a script. Otherwise, there is little difference. Both situations primarily use the physical senses to understand and express one's self in this physical reality, and both accentuate certain actions by using emotions to dramatize those experiences which are really important to that individual or actor.
This emphasis on the physical senses and emotions is because it is in this same manner by which we communicate or outwardly transmit understanding about ourselves to others and our environment. This idea of communication is a complicated thing, and not to be treated lightly. An actor actively seeks and trains to master certain fundamentals of the physical anatomy in order to control certain muscles which are utilized to portray states of emotional excitement and/or compassion. These same muscles are often used to control the tone or inflection of the voice and/or speech. In any case, the art of acting involves a great deal of effort and energy directed at working with the muscles and physical senses.
The ability of an actor or individual to express and communicate his thoughts, feelings, and emotions to others, is also a form of control. In the act of communicating, one is trying to transmit thoughts and beliefs about the real physical world about him and its relationship to himself to those about him. That is, he tries to persuade and convince others to enter his world or reality, so to speak, in order to gain control over the situation which confronts that individual at that moment. There is strength in numbers. If that individual can successfully convey his thoughts, feelings and emotions to those about him, then in all due respect, he ought to be able to control the situation to his liking or his desired end results. In effect, he possesses a form of power and energy that can change physical reality, or at least, his immediate surroundings.
The power of communications to control man and/or behavior is also emphasized or demonstrated by the fact that all civilizations, societies, and cultures try to manipulate or control communications to some extent. Communications is so important that the United States Constitution was written to protect and grant the freedom of speech, press, assembly, and worship, as its first amendment. Why is communications so important? Because it has the power to affect people and changes and that means it has the power to affect our physical reality. Communications basically sets the limits and boundaries of nations and people. That in turn affects the wealth and prosperity of the people who form a common union or who are organized to communicate in a mutually beneficial relationship and that effectively determines the amount of physical resources or power one can control.
In any case, we were talking about acting before I went off on a tangent. What I wanted to say is that acting is very similar to true life. We are all acting in this full length feature called, "The Game of Life". We are all acting or playing our part in a growth process that involves experiencing the use of energy in some form or another. It really doesn't matter so much if we win or lose, but how we play the game....or is it? "Everybody loves a winner!" Like poles attract, opposites repel. It seems that everybody has to be a winner at the game of life, or so our current philosophy or trends in society, so indicates
To understand this game, let's take a look at some of the games that have been played, that are slightly different from the one which we are now playing. To do this, I will, for the first time, deal with major data composed and compiled by others. There are a few good case studies or research works that stand out as being exceptionally well documented. However, let me remind you again, you get what you are looking for. At the time of this writing, there was an accusation concerning perhaps the most influential anthropologist of modern time. I am referring here to that of Margaret Mead and her book on the Samoan culture, entitled, "Coming of Age in Samoa". *
Although the point I wish to make concerns differences in behavior patterns, which are the contents or findings of Margaret Mead's research study, I also want to caution you in your own growth and development in your own learning process. That is, I would like you to review this information for examples of contrasts, and yet, I want you to remember that differences are only in the mind of the beholder. Differences only exist, if you want them to exist. You make your own reality. You set your own limitations. To emphasize my latter concern for your well being, let's review the controversy that appeared in publications before we get into the research work on cultures.
In short, the article indicates that another anthropologist, named Derek Freeman disputes Ms. Mead's results as being incorrect. The main thesis of Mead's work was supposedly a study that was basically
* TIME Magazine, February 14, 1983. Article under "behavior" written by John Leo. Reported by Joelle Attiner/Boston and John Dunn/Melbourne. Note date.
an attack on conventional mores of the time, around the 1920's and 30's. In her book, she contended that sexual promiscuity of the Samoan culture encouraged a happier, freer lifestyle. Freeman suggests that Ms. Mead's study was an act of self-delusion; whereby, she isolated herself from the major segment of the Samoan society and relied solely on informants who told her what she wanted to hear. That is, her questions were arranged or patterned to reach a certain pre-destined conclusion. Supposedly, Ms. Mead chose not to work with a cross section of the populace and never consulted the male dominated culture or so says Mr. Freeman. Consequently, Ms. Mead portrayed a romantic vision or version about the south sea island culture.
To understand this biased problem a little better, you also have to or should have some knowledge of Ms. Mead and/or the times in which she lived. There is great probability that Ms. Mead accomplished or fulfilled the end results of her own self imposed limitations to which she herself was subjected to during her own educational learning or patterning process. So you see, in addition to empiric knowledge, one is subject to and is taught certain learning patterns in higher educational institutes. In any case, Ms. Mead was subject to the teachings, of yet, another anthropologist, named Boas. This fellow was supposedly committed to the philosophical belief that humans were born as blank slates and shaped by their cultures. Also, at the same time, there were a number of other people who subscribed to another philosophy or the idea that heredity, molded behavior. Among the most noted supporters of this latter cause, was Nazi Germany, which actually tried to alter human behavior by controlling and directing bloodline genetics.
As you can see and tell, this study had both political and ideology overtones, as well as scientific value. Boas' teachings were theory. He needed certain findings to substantiate this into reality. Enter Margaret Mead. Boas' idea was to find a culture relatively free of adolescent stress in order to come up with the blank slate type behavior and/or culture. Surprise! Ms. Mead found such a culture on her very first attempt to make a scientific study on the subject. This same situation occurred to yet another student of Boas and that was Ruth Benedict, who wrote "Patterns of Culture". This latter book is used a lot in the following pages.
As you can see, it is believed that Boas told his students what to look for, and they found it. Again, we are confronted with short beginnings and endings that leads or creates a pattern of growth. Apparently, this also leads one to question all such reports or studies, but strangely enough, it really doesn't. Man basically accepts reports or findings of people with credentials of supposed knowledge and higher learning. Ms. Mead and Ms. Benedict found what they were looking for and it served their desired end result. They neatly catalogued their studies and identified the differences as they were taught to do. Naturally, they had to end up with the results they did because of their own patterning behavior. They acted the part they were given in the game of life.
Patterns are like my earlier statement on sub-cultures. That is, they are very difficult to distinguish and consequently, you get overlapping areas. In such cases, the color that one is seeking is in reality a shade or hue of the original. However, because of this confusion and/or chaos, it is also easy to fit or impose limitations at the same time. This situation or lack of continuity and the need for such limitations or logical patterns simply results in someone arbitrarily assigning an identity or value to such a pattern. You will find that very few people will argue with such findings, unless they have something to gain in identifying with a specific study. The reason for this is clear and simple. Our physical reality demands that we separate and identify information into patterns for easy assimilation in our learning process. Unless we are directly affected, we will normally let other people make these determinations for us. This is one of the benefits of living in such a society or culture. We may act on the results of these studies, but we do not necessarily control or experience them for ourselves.
In effect you can say that Ms. Mead's book was not so much a scientific study of foreign culture as it was a critique of Western civilization. Supposedly, she indicates that Western civilization encourages fidelity, competition, overheated sexual arrangements, a tight nuclear family, guilt, stress and adolescent turmoil; while the supposed primitive Samoans live in an environment of cooperation, adolescent bliss, casual family ties and easy sex, all without any signs of guilt or neurosis. The success of this study and/or book propelled Ms. Mead to the forefront of the liberals and their causes. Her works were frequently quoted to stress and promote new ideas and encouraged new learning patterns. Ms. Mead became the focal point of the academia philosophies and in fact, took part in shaping and influencing public opinion. If her research work should be discredited in any way, she will always be known for her success in swaying the minds of liberal educators and psychologists in a way not intended but very effective anyway.
To emphasize my point about controversy and that you make your own reality, I'd like to quote a few more conflicting studies about others and their research. The article that I am using for reference here, indicates the following: "Robert Redfield's 1930 study of Tepoztlan people of Mexico", found warm, laid back peasants. Oscar Lewis studied the same people in 1951, and found that same cultures behavior full of murder, gossip and cheating. Another study of early African bushmen labeled them the "harmless people", later research revealed a distinct aggressiveness. Yet another study by Bronislaw Malinowski, in 1923 of the Trobriand Island people, found that the area's young boys grew up without the Oedipus complex, a refutation of one of Freud's presumed universals. But recently, anthropologist Melford Spiro, using Malinowski's own data, said, "Malinowski's conclusions were unwarranted". Well, I hope you get the idea. Be careful what you are looking for, because you will find it!
In my attempt at credibility, I seek comfort in someone else's work to prove another point. I am taking the easy way out, as do a lot of other people in our society. Perhaps this is a protective safety valve type approach to living. That is, in the supposedly moderate approach to life, people are afraid to offend and risk controversy or take sides on an issue. They try to take a flexible approach to matters; however, they sometimes mistake this balanced type of living for something else. They sometimes take this approach only until an issue or element of control is perfectly clear, then they usually take sides. Remember, everybody loves a winner, or wants to be on the winning side.
Another reason for reliance on predigested or compiled information is for personal gain or favor. That is, if one is good or skilled in the art of human engineering, one can rest relatively secure in a position of authority or siding with those in control. By a means of manipulation, one can use this interdependence in our society to escape responsibility or use it as a way to blame or transfer wrong to someone else. You know the type of people I am talking about. They are the ones that take the credit when everything goes right, but never accept blame if things go wrong. It's always someone else's fault. That's because these people were either supplied with wrong information or the information came from other sources or people with supposedly academic credentials; therefore, the information and/or decisions must be right and good, or else it is the fault of that academic institution for not teaching these support people properly. Do you believe that?
The last reason for relying on such compiled information is for a matter of expediency. I have to plead the latter case. I have already qualified the inherent problems associated with such studies; therefore, I have little to personally gain from the use of such information except, time and possibly, some relationship of association on your part with the examples cited. It nothing else, it is also interesting reading. As mentioned before, the following examples come from Ruth Benedict's "Patterns of Culture". She found and neatly categorized three cultures; One supposedly designated as Dionysian, the Dobu Indians of New Guinea, another is classified as Apollian, the Zuni Indians of Southwestern United States and a third group, is somewhere in between the other two, the Kwakiutl Indians of Northwestern United States and Canada. Now, we are still talking about behavior patterning, so I will continue this chapter; however, there is a slight change to the book format patterning, therefore, for the rest of this chapter, I will classify these sub-cultures with sub-title headings.
GROUND RULES OF PLAY
If we are finally going to talk about anthropology, we have to set some limitations or ground rules by which we are going to play the game. That is, anthropologists classify people or cultures into two main groups. They are either Dionysian or Apollian. They came up with these names because the study of people began to flourish around the time of the Greek Empire.
Dionysian refers to people who pursue arriving at a value of existence through "the annihilation of the ordinary bounds and limits of existence". They seek to attain his most valued moments by escaping from the boundaries imposed upon him by his five senses, to break through to another order of experience. Ones desire is to press through toward a certain psychological state to achieve success. Some analogy in modern times can be stated in terms of drunkenness, and/or the use of drugs as a means to justify an end goal. That which exceeds normal physical boundaries or creates states of non-ordinary reality, is a goal and is wisdom sought and valued, by the Dionysian. I have recently heard a lot of reference to our younger generation of non-conformist children, as our drug culture. You may draw your own conclusions or change their name.
The Apollian culture refers to those who seek states of being outside normal reality and the boundaries of the physical being but without outside aids. Such people have little or no idea of nature or the means used by the Dionysian. In fact, the Apollian finds means to outlaw such practices and/or pursuits from conscious life. He simply lives on a day-to-day basis and experiences that which is within the realm of his perception and/or inner senses, a middle of the road type approach at that, with no extremes. His altered states are achieved by meditation and/or diet control or fasting. This sounds something like the question of balance in the learning process.
THE DOBU INDIANS
The Dobu Indians were a group of people that exhibited Dionysian or great excitement and extreme behavior patterns. Their culture lives or lived in the Southwestern Pacific off New Guinea, on a smaller island appropriately named, Dobu. The island lies just south of New Guinea and near a group of fertile islands, called the Trobriand. The latter group of islands, are relatively low and quite beautiful; however, Dobu is a rocky volcanic island, that is poor in just about everything. In fact, the island is so poor, most neighboring people have left the Dobu alone and this relative isolation marked them as prime candidates for a research study.
The primitive natives are primarily fishermen; however, even the waters around this island, are not very bountiful. Therefore and consequently, these people were relatively fierce and at one time, were considered barbaric and cannibalistic. In any case, they didn't have a very good reputation as being friendly. Because of the scarcity of everything, the lifestyle of these people were considered hard and their hostile environment is a main contributing factor to their social behavior, or lack of it. You might say that these people pattern their life style on a kind of negative approach to social customs as we know them, because survival is the dominant thought among these people.
In looking at this culture, it is difficult to see any form of organization. In fact, this is characteristic of their society. There are no forms of organized institutions, and leadership is fragmented. Most of these people are in a continuous state of war with one another and any outsider or nearby neighbor. Lawlessness and treachery are a major trait of these people. The dominant theme seems to be cheat as much as you can, and that personal gain or achievement is derived at another person's expense. Hostility is a way of life and culturally accepted within each village, with slight differences. Hatred, suspicion and distrust, are common thoughts harbored by these people. Man is considered bad and friendship is regarded with terror and not at all practiced. Yet, a bad man in their society is considered poor in material goods. This negative attitude even goes beyond living. That is, these people believe in magic and the supernatural. There is nothing natural in life, and that all things are caused by, or are a direct result of man. Even natural death is still considered to be murder by human hands, but no one knows by whom.
As you can see, these ideas are radically different from those of you and I. Before the white man controlled this area, no outsider would venture into this area except to kill or raid, with but a few exceptions. One of these exceptions, was a rare and unusual form of trade or commerce they refer to as Wabu-Wabu which is our equivalent of a sham. This is a practice or style of trade whereby the Dobu would promise you anything in order to get the goods and run, without in fact, delivering anything in return. The Dobu did not abide by fair trade rules at all. This is a kind of something for nothing approach to life, or just another form of stealing.
Another example of their unusual behavior can be seen in their marriage customs. Marriage must take place with a spouse from another tribe. There are no marriages of people within the same tribe. It must be an outsider, or it is not a marriage. How this occurs, is interesting to say the least! When a boy grows old enough, he is encouraged to seek a mate among the neighboring tribes. He is permitted to sleep around, if you will. That is, he is encouraged to sleep with as many neighboring females as he wants and if she in turn, is willing. He may have sexual relationships with as many as he desires; however, this still does not constitute a marriage. Marriage must begin with a hostile act of the mother-in-law.
A marriage is only when a young man sleeps with a woman all night or stays beyond sunrise of the following morning and the mother-in-law blocks the doorway of the house so he cannot leave. The young man is then considered trapped. Supposedly, this usually happens when the man gets tired of roaming. In any case, the friends and neighbors in the village see the event and hear the bellowing and join the impromptu ceremony, which consists of the couple coming out of the house and sit outside, surrounded by all those who wish to take part or recognize the couple. There is also a period of silence and staring which lasts about a half an hour. The young man then becomes a member of his wife's village. Then, the mother-in-law puts the young man to work doing chores around the house or working the garden. This is still part of the ceremony. Also, or during this work period, the village crowd is encouraged to abuse and ridicule the new husband.
Now, there are still other obligations in this marriage that include the young man's relatives and family. Although the rules of marriage are informal, they are very strict and demanding. This union also becomes a strong bond which carries obligations for families to have sexual relations among each other's mates. Adultery is common and accepted. To complicate matters even more, the new couple lives under the rules of each parent's village and/or they alternate living in each other's village. Other obligations are the sharing of garden fruits and vegetables, with one exception. To these people, the jam is a cherished food item and is treated almost as an entity itself with certain or specific blood lines. The man maintains his jams and she maintains her jams. If the marriage is dissolved or the man dies, then all his shared food is tabu to his children and they become members of the mother's village. But for a period of one year after the death of the husband, there is a period of mourning and great demands on the part of the man's village. After that time, the wife and the children may not enter the husband's village again.
There are some other strange or foreign beliefs pertaining to magic and supernatural powers that greatly affect these people's daily lives. Among these, is the belief that nothing is possible without magic. A good crop is a confession of theft and magic, but a harvest is always kept secret for fear of theft. Suspicion of magical spells which are infested in disease charms is always feared to paranoid lengths. This can result in starvation if the food is thought to be contaminated and can only be cured with another counter spell. Spells are placed on trees and/or persons and are supposed to cause misfortune, but is good for the individual casting the spell. Therefore, materialism is not sought in this culture because of the fear of these evil spells or curses by others. As mentioned, death is caused by magic and sometimes a little help from poison. A death in retaliation for another threat is known and called, Budo. Apparently, this is a common practice, or else it wouldn't have a special name.
Although this is a relatively negative type society, they do have conflicting customs or beliefs on bad or wrong behavior. Among these, is the idea that any meeting between opposite sexes not married, is regarded as illicit if she does not flee. That is if she is seen by a villager. This taboo therefore, requires the husband to guard his wife while she is gardening. Also, she is not supposed to talk to anyone outside of her immediate family and never to outsiders. Another strange custom that is thought to be bad or evil, is, that no one must uncover themselves in public even when they are all alone with their own sex. If the men are out fishing and must relieve themselves, they must get into the water so they do not show themselves. They are not suppose to speak of sex either, but as you can see by their pre-marriage custom, sex is on their minds often and favored by all.
The Dobu were prudish and passionate people, consumed with jealousy, suspicion and resentment. A good man is one who has many conflicts to his credit and has moderate prosperity. Everyone believes he is successful due to his thievery, killing by sorcery and cheating. As mentioned, theft and adultery are valued as well as superstitious charms. Magic and witchcraft are also favored. A bad man has been injured by misfortune or by conflict, in which he lost out to the better man. A cripple or deformed man is always bad. He doesn't even have to do anything. Anything you can get away with is respected. There is no legal system and there is no such thing as mercy or kindness, nor do they get involved in challenges or insult. Resentment is their motivation which will bring anything to pass in spite of others. To kill another man, one seeks out his company and spends several days in a close relationship. And so it is!
THE ZUNI INDIANS
The Zuni are an indian tribe culture located in Southwestern United States, living along and between the Colorado and Rio Grande Rivers. This tribe is supposedly the descendants of the great ancient cliff dwellers which are located in the arid plateau valley of the San Juan River in Colorado and the bordering areas of Arizona and New Mexico. Although these people also live in a relatively harsh environment, they typify the Apollian quietness or non-aggressive attitude. Their outlook or lifestyle is completely different from the Dobu Indians off New Guinea. But like the Dobu, the land is again thought to play a significant part in the behavior patterns of this group.
This Indian culture is based upon the belief in moderation, or a middle of the road type approach to life, staying within the known realm of their physical limitations or reality. They do not meddle with disruptive psychological states to break into another order of experience induced by frenzy or outside stimulants. The Zuni are an unusually peaceful group of people who were surrounded by many known hostile warlike tribes until recent times. Their once flourishing civilization diminished greatly over the years, but not as a result of wars or direct conflict. The reason for this decline, is wrapped in as much mystery as the reason for the supposed abandonment of the now famous cave dwellings of their ancient ancestors. These are very secretive people as are most of their ceremonial practices.
These people believe that one should not indulge in any form of conduct, too much or too little. This attitude seems to foster a somewhat passive society with very little fighting, arguments or even, punishment. There is no sense of good and bad and therefore, there is no form of guilt or sin within their society. They, as a people, do not seem disciplined and there is no motivation to seek a position of authority. Even the sacred ritual of marriage, is held with little fervor. Death too, is considered a minor event, followed by a relatively brief mourning period. What little authority they have, is shared in a decentralized way with no main source of command or rule. Therefore, these people practice a type of permissive society, but one with strict guidelines where aggressiveness is discouraged and quietness and moderation, are encouraged and the norm. Survival and their group way of life, seems to be their main desire or goal.
The Zuni seek comfort and experience life in a passive way without external stimulus and they desire not to improve upon what already exists. This leads to a feeling of oneness, where man has a direct relationship to nature, in the same way that animals run free in nature without interference. In such a situation, change would then occur only if the natural balance of things was upset. In this environment, a kind of inter-relationship exists where each individual is independent of one another and yet, dependent on the land and its people to work together to conserve and treat their surroundings in such a way as to allow nature to support all things. This is a kind of self imposed limitation or responsibility of conservation which may be a direct cause for the tribal social behavior of moderation for these people.
As mentioned, the Zuni are very ceremonious people. Their daily life is centered around religious practices which are believed to be supernaturally powerful. Great emphasis is placed on rituals and exact details, especially the ceremonial dances for rain or fertility. Their culture is basically a theocracy with six secret societies of priests. No other aspect of their existence seriously competes with the dances and religious observances. Marriages and divorces, are casual and individually arranged, because individual matters are not considered that important. Rather, the Zuni search for supernatural powers and seek membership in one of their religious societies. Their culture only requires the individual to learn by intense and extensive ritual methods in the proper order of things. They are also taught not to indulge in the search for membership exclusively, or in excess, or as part of their religious rites. They do not use drugs or mind inducing vegetation, nor pain or pleasure to achieve an enlightened state of being.
In the pursuit of religious power, the Zuni tend to pattern their culture into a single principle or belief. However, this type of approach or pursuit of values, tends to also lead some groups within this culture to actually reject the principles or unity of mind. At the same time, this rejection also serves as a unifying force. Their ideas of individualism, are naturally disruptive in nature, at the same time, it is the single most important or dominant drive that is evident in their behavior pattern and consumes their whole cultural pattern. This is quite unusual, because most cultures are multi-theme oriented.
Our explanation of this group of people would not be complete without explaining some of their customs in detail. Therefore, we will begin with their marriage custom, just remember, individual matters are not considered important. In this society, there is no courtship in marriage. There is very little prior encounter between the sexes before marriage. When a boy decides to get married, he goes to the girl's house to taste her food. The father then asks the boy if he has come for his daughter. If his reply is yes, the father says he cannot have her. However, if she is willing, the mother makes their bed and they retire together. After a period of four days, she then dresses in her best and presents gifts of corn flour to the boy's mother. There are no other formalities and little social interest. There are no property rights or economic exchanges.
The rules of conduct and divorce are just as simple. To get a divorce, the woman merely packs up all of the man's belongings in a neat bundle and sets them outside. He has no recourse. He simply returns home, finds his belongings outside, picks them up and returns to his former family. There may be some weeping on his part and his family; however, the rules do not provide for violent emotions. In spite of this simple procedure, most marriages endure. Bickering is not liked, and most marriages are peaceful. But, no matter what happens to a marriage, the woman of the household remains with the house for life.
Wealth in this society exists to some varying degree; however, it is not as important as one's ceremonial role. Membership in one of the religious societies outweighs wealth. Personal gain is incidental, but can be accomplished modestly. However, the Zuni distrust individualism. An individual who excels at a competitive game is often barred from future events. The idea is that people should be interested in the game and equal chances and not the individual who plays the game. Moderation is key. This is again, something like our earlier concept of balance in the learning process; however, you might also consider this to be in an extreme condition in regards to the time element. That is, this moderation or balancing is done on a daily basis, rather than over the lifetime of the individual.
Although individual efforts are encouraged, authority exists to a limited degree; however, it is not sought. Selected men of council are chosen against their wishes. No one seeks such a position, but when elected to it by others, they are bound to serve. This attitude toward power involves leadership and consequently, no one in this position wishes to excel; therefore, the leader(s) seek to distribute their power or share responsibility with their people. Such an attitude toward power encourages independence and cooperation on an equal basis of moderation.
THE KWAKIUTL INDIANS
The last group of people that Ruth Benedict wrote about, ceased to be a viable culture or society in the late 1800's. Much of the information was handed down in writings by others and the remaining descendants have been integrated into the western culture. The Kwakiutl used to exist as a culture along the Northwestern coast of the United States and Canada, from Alaska to the Puget Sound region of the State of Washington. Perhaps, the best known feature or artistic trait for which they are known, are their sculptures known as Totem Poles.
Unlike the previous Indian cultures studied, the Kwakiutl lived in a land of plenty. The land was good to them, but they were not farmers. Most of their wealth came from the sea, hunting, fishing, and wood working which were their major occupations. In fact, their people were extremely gifted in wood working, producing boxes, planks for houses that were uniform, furniture, utensils, boats and very lavishly decorated items, not to mention joints and the joining of wood in such a way as to be difficult to detect, and this was all done without the use of metal tools.
On a whole, this culture had great materialism as primitives go, and an almost inexhaustible supply of goods without an excessive expenditure of labor. They were a vigorous, often overbearing people with no common order and a zest unequalled by neighboring tribes. Its values were not those commonly recognized by other cultures, but again the affluent wealth of the land is believed to be a major reason for this type of behavior, Perhaps the major difficulty that this culture had was the problem of language. The culture was really composed of several tribes, each speaking a different language, but also sharing the same customs.
The culture was rich in material wealth and wealth was highly sought. Because of this situation, their culture developed around a system known as Potlach. This is a kind of way to conduct economic warfare. This was a means to show wealth and strength, with an unusual custom whereby each party involved in such a conflict, was actually a loser. Physical wealth was complex. The natives used Dentalia sea shells as money, but real wealth was determined by the amount of moneys owed to them in interest which was extremely high. Native copper was also exchanged, but its value would constantly change and depend upon the latest transaction.
Marriage was also tied to wealth. One could get ahead and improve upon social standing by marriage and the bestowing of wealth associated with this institution. Marriage was treated as a business transaction with property rights and possessions. At the time of marriage, the daughter would receive wealth from the father and the new husband would control it.
Children born of marriage were given only the name of the village until it was time for them to have a name. A name was arrived at in this system of Potlach, That is, the children would be given blankets to distribute to their relatives; thereupon, the children would be repaid with a name and interest. Territorial ownership and commodities, as well as non-material things such as names, myths, songs, and privileges, were all signs of wealth and controlled by a family. The use of the family name was the right of the oldest born. In this manner, name and rank were given. Each time something was given, known as Potlach, a new name was bestowed upon that person.
Tribes were organized in lineages and societies with supernatural powers. Their calendar year was divided into two summers and two winters. In the summer, the lineage society was dominant, in the winter, the supernatural society dominated and used secular names and common names were taboo. Although wealth was the dominant trait of these people, religious rank and privileges also played some part in their behavior. One peculiar sect of ceremonial dancers were known as the cannibal dancers. This was the highest ranked society. These dancers strove for ecstasy and consequently, would lose control of themselves. Attendants would actually have to tie them with ropes to restrain them. During their dance, these people would actually take bites out of the arms and legs of spectators, and could eat from a slave specially killed for the ceremony. These dancers usually did not really eat or swallow their morsels of human flesh, but just the same, they were savage and barbaric and yet treated special. Supposedly, because of their altered state of being, it took four months of retraining to be able to bring these individuals back to re-enter society and another four years before he would again act normal.
The greatest act of nobility and/or rank, was the use of Potlach. Wealth was used to shame rivals. Everyone tried to distribute their own wealth more than others. These other people could not refuse accepting such wealth without admitting defeat. That is, unless that person could bestow a gift of equal or greater value, it was a sign of defeat. This bestowing of wealth was a way to gain in social position. Rarely, did they fight one another with weapons, but with property. However, murder was also a way to gain in this society and the man who killed another would take the name of the man he murdered, his dances, crests, supernatural powers and anything else that may have belonged to the other person.
The obsession for wealth was the object of the Potlach system. Wealth was so great in this culture that much of it was put away and never used, except for exchange and/or waste. The object of Potlach, was to show one's self superior to one's rival by possessing or destroying wealth. To out-Potlach a rival, was to succeed to heap scorn and ridicule upon one's opponent or guest. However, there were some rules placed on a chief in such Potlach ceremonies in that, he could not destroy property that would impoverish his people. In other words, there were certain understood taboos on Potlach. But to lose, was a complete disgrace and often resulted in suicide.
Now, this society, the Kwakiutl was determined to be a mixed or middle of the road type culture; however, according to the ground rules, it definitely has a tendency or leaning toward the Dionysian, rather than Apollian cultural pattern. The system of Potlach was a kind of relationship based upon the values of material goods and spiritual intangible items. How Ms. Benedict concluded this position is not explained very thoroughly nor can the records be verified any easier. However, it is an interesting group of people and it does relate to both material goods and spiritual matters in a somewhat moderate degree.
There are a lot more variations of human behavior than is represented here in these studies, and some of their characteristics are equally unusual and interesting. However, the purpose of this book is not to write about anthropology, but it is about the individual and that of morality. The latter issue, we haven't really pursued in depth. But before we leave this subject of cultural behavior, I thought that I would just mention a few more examples of different behavior in other parts of the world.
Among one of the more interesting variations, is found in Australia. The primitive aborigines use to practice a segregated society where the men and women would have completely different and separate social lives. In fact, this was an exclusive male cult whose fundamental trait is the exclusion of women. In fact, they would punish any woman who happened to intrude upon a man's secret ceremonies. A woman was put to death if they even knew or heard anything about the adult male rites or ceremonies.
On the other side of the world in Africa, there is another culture that is exclusively female dominated. In this society, beauty is identified with obesity. At puberty, girls are segregated, sometimes for years and fed sweet and fatty foods. They are also not permitted to exercise and they are attended to by others to groom and care for them. After this period of time is over, she is paraded through the village and ends up with her getting married.
In other parts of the world, there are situations where tribes living relatively close to one another have completely different life styles. In British Columbia, Canada, there used to be one tribe of Indians that included both boys and girls on the same terms, or equality, in puberty rights. While very close to them, the Carrier Indians used to ban or isolate their children for years as part of their puberty rites.
Lastly, the Eskimo has or had a custom that permitted the killing of another without any retribution for no reason whatsoever. This was not a frequent act, however, it was similar in fact to animal behavior, or the survival of the fittest type approach to life.