Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Essay --

‘Myths get thought in man unbeknowest to him’[1]; As a structuralist, Levi-Strauss ‘offers a number of important reinterpretations of the kinds of ideological thought and practice with ‘symbolic anthropology’, within his analysis of the four Winnebago myths, he sheds light on how change within myth reflects Winnebago society universally. Within each of these myths, the way one goes about living their life determines what happens to them after their life on earth comes to an end. Through using Levi- Strauss’ analysis of each of the four myths, I am going to demonstrate how spiritual change occurs within the Winnebago culture and ‘since structure is entirely relational [...] any content can only arise for us out of the form – the kinship, mythological, or social structures with which anthropology confronts us.’ Structuralism is in a way, attempting to ‘create codes by means of which to communicate.’ To be able to u nderstand our own culture it is simply ‘dialectic’, this is as it is content for our own society; yet when looking at ‘alien cultures it can only be structural – containing knowledge of- and, as such part of the subjectivity of our own society which communicates to us the objectivity of another.’ The chapter, which I am evaluating, is primarily based on myths collected by Radin whilst creating his ethnography of the Winnebago culture. Levi-Strauss chose myths that are all of the same belief but they differ slightly in their forms; the person experiences death but each form differs slightly in each myth, which further develops through the ability to renew lives through the act of heroic traits. Within the first myth, warriors die in battle defending their tribe. This highlights the concept of the capital of life... ...ve; that is ambivilant spirits combining good and evil features. So ends the myth.’ Levi-Strauss concludes that that this myth highlights the Winnebago believe that those who live extraordinary lives, yet have qualities that are negative, will neither live nor die.’ Through the use of cross analysis, Levi- Strauss was able to theorise how the people of the Winnebagos interpret and experience how the change affects the spirit of these people. In only pursuing the betterment of the group and not as an individual within the society you are rewarded by the spiritual world, which in turn affects the way in which the members of these tribes act; as they would be punished, which we see with the transformation from human to animal. He demonstrates how we can grasp a good source of information from the symbols that are represented within the culture. [1] Strauss, Levi,

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