The other reason for light blogging has been my reading matter lately, which has not easily lent itself to excerpting:
- Encounter with an Angry God, by Carobeth Laird (U. New Mexico Press, 1993; now apparently out of print), the wife of the most peculiar and productive linguist-ethnographer John Peabody Harrington (1884-1961); and
- two books whose copyright pages specifically discourage excerpting because they are both available in electronic editions: Hunger of Memory and Days of Obligation by Richard Rodriguez. Rodriguez and Clarence Page are my two favorite essayists on the NewsHour with Jim Lehrer.
I have never looked for utopia on a map. Of course I believe in human advancement. I believe in medicine, in astrophysics, in washing machines. But my compass takes its cardinal point from tragedy. If I respond to the metaphor of spring, I nevertheless learned, years ago, from my Mexican father, from my Irish nuns, to count on winter. The point of Eden for me, for us, is not approach, but expulsion.In the wake of Veterans Day, that passage seemed especially appropriate.
UPDATE: While I've been reading about John Peabody Harrington, Impearls has posted huge chunks of Harrington's contemporary (and my dissertation advisor's teacher) A. L. Kroeber's Handbook of the Indians of California, with some great maps, too.