What body of knowledge has been most revealing to you?
Anthropology as Guide
In college someone told me I might find it interesting to take a course from an anthropology professor by the name of Leslie White. Why not? I thought it might be interesting to find out about people across the world and how they were researched. Since it might relate to primitive cultures I thought I could get into mythology, spirit worlds, the paranormal and things primitive and spiritual in many ways. It proved to be a life changing experience.
He was the father of cultural anthropology. Before us stood an elderly man who was dedicated to teaching in addition to organizing his field. Few august professors of his age and distinction took the trouble to try to engage students so young. But his passion was comprehensive and his thinking cutting edge.
His tests were a revelation. They were all true or false questions. At first they seemed trivial. And then the storm struck. You could only answer them if you clearly understood what had been covered. When they were passed back to us we went over them. It was astounding. His logic and relationship to the subject was flawless.
Finding Something Fundamental
From then on considerations of the impact of culture was central to my thinking. He referred to it as the extrasomatic stream because it had a life of its own outside of the individual. The more we examined the concept, the more powerful it became.
Carl Jung had grasped at something similar when he posed the existence of the collective unconscious. It was never accepted, but when Leslie White posed it as extrasomatic, it took on inescapable meaning.
It becomes a little clearer if we think of it in terms of what we are seeing in information technology. We are experiencing the movement of massive easily available data which is shaping our thinking individually and collectively. In the huts of Africa people are charging their cell phones which they use to communicate and do their banking.
This flow of information and communication is affecting regimes and overall we are seeing how it can limit authoritarianism. We each carry within us our culture of origin and how it is being shaped. There is nothing which is not affected by culture. Jung observed that he saw alchemy as indicting that changes were occurring which led to the Enlightenment. The argument is complex, but fundamentally it speaks to the extrasomatic cultural stream.
Then There is the Implication of the Rise of Women
And today we have a new enlightenment in the rise of women. A number of forces are gathering together to create one of the most important shifts in human history. We are seeing a deep and broad reshaping of the meaning and place of women. It is of such depth that it is sweeping through the cultures of the world which probably suggests the impact of information technology. Leslie White shaped my thinking and opened the view to make sense of the swirl of forces in our cultures and it gives us an eye into our personal future and the future of humankind. How could I not bring the rise of women into the Gaia’s Majesty Trilogy.
If you haven’t delved into anthropology there is an illuminating and in depth article available on Wikipedia. It covers its many facets. American anthropology – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Who are your guides and where do you find them?