November 3, 2009

"French society, and especially Parisian, is gluttonous. Every five years or so, it needs to stuff something new in its mouth."

"And so five years ago it was structuralism, and now it is something else. I practically don't dare use the word 'structuralist' anymore, since it has been so badly deformed. I am certainly not the father of structuralism."

Said Claude Lévi-Strauss, asked, in the 1980s, about post-structuralists like Foucault, Derrida, and Barthes.
But Mr. Lévi-Strauss’s version of structuralism may end up surviving post-structuralism... "Mythologiques" ... ends by suggesting that the logic of mythology is so powerful that myths almost have a life independent from the peoples who tell them. In his view, they speak through the medium of humanity and become, in turn, the tools with which humanity comes to terms with the world’s greatest mystery: the possibility of not being, the burden of mortality.
"Mortality" is the last word of the obituary written by Edward Rothstein for Claude Lévi-Strauss, who died last Friday, at the age of 100.

19 comments:

Lem said...

Dare i say its an idea i would be curious to learn waht our friend Crack MC has to say..

i'm entirely beholden to his objective opinion in this matter b4I would hasten to form one of my own ;)

john said...

It affected me too. I recently moved up from the 501 to the more roomy 505's. I still hate advertising the waist size on my back side.

Lem said...

He had expressed the wish to have a discreet and sober funeral.

This is an example of the impossible burdens the dead leave their families to grapple with all too often..

Its a subtle scourge ;)

edutcher said...

He was more useful in the California Gold Rush.

WV "boarmou" What the wild pig said when he got the hots for Elsie.

john said...

I should add that the larger size jeans certainly reduces any thought of the possibility of not being. No mystery there.

traditionalguy said...

His death is not a myth. Now he can no longer call my thoughts myths. He loses.

Kirby Olson said...

Think more diachronically, and less synchronically.

Lem said...

I am certainly not the father of structuralism.

I should hope not.. or my architect shall be very put out

a family said after they hired ... an architect.

hheeeeey.

rhhardin said...

ends by suggesting that the logic of mythology is so powerful that myths almost have a life independent from the peoples who tell them.

Clouseau: Oh, you mean "meuths"!

ricpic said...

Structuralism is the doctrine - according to the NY Times article - that universal structures underly all human activity, even though human activity gives rise to "seemingly disparate cultures." I love that "seemingly." No, NY Times and no, Levi Strauss, if that in fact is your doctrine. Different cultures are disparate, deep down disparate. That's why, if you love your culture, you resist the tyranny that demands submission to the blender.

rhhardin said...

Structures are broken by forces; forces are resisted by structures.

That simple grammar allows a movement to take sides and thrive.

J said...

"But Mr. Lévi-Strauss’s version of structuralism may end up surviving post-structuralism"

Still, the sale of the Structure brand to Sears may well have been what killed him. The budget jeans they made for Target probably didn't help either. 501s, on the other hand, have a life independent from the people who sell them.

Henry said...

The New York Times Most Emailed list reports that Claude L?vi-Strauss has died. Distant cousin?

Kirk Parker said...

Laugh all you want, but in reality Levi-Strauss was enormously influential in anthropology and linguistics.

Chip Ahoy said...

That is a very good article. I enjoyed reading it.

... leaving Mr. Lévi-Strauss with the “impression that all the essentials of humanity’s artistic treasures could be found in New York."

I hold that truth to be self evident.

William said...

Mythology is like the metal rivets that gives structure and endurance to the stress points of denim garments.

The Crack Emcee said...

"The logic of mythology is so powerful that myths almost have a life independent from the peoples who tell them. In his view, they speak through the medium of humanity and become, in turn, the tools with which humanity comes to terms with the world’s greatest mystery: the possibility of not being, the burden of mortality."

In other words (and/or as I see it) only real atheists are actually handling life well, as the rest of y'all are hopelessly lost in a constant state of delusion because you can't really grapple with the idea you're gonna die.

I can live with that.

Otherwise, this guy's just another dead frog to me.

How'd I do, Lem?

kentuckyliz said...

Yuck, I had to read the deconstructionists in college, yuck.

$9,000,000,000 Write Off said...

Does it seem like the pantheon of French intellectuals feature notables that are notable for being notable intellectuals, but no one reads anything they write?

Sarte, Derrida, Rousseau, Malraux, Proust, Strauss-- who reads these guys' books (especially after our goofy college days)? Do we not read their impossible tomes because they're terrible or because their ideas are not difficult and easily synopsized (existentialism, deconstruction, social contract, sensuousness)?

I except Camus who was pretty damn smart, prescient, wrote good books and, for those sins, was ostracized by French intellectuals.

And Montesquieu, who received the same treatment.

Besides that, RIP