9780691016313

Verging on Extra-Vagance

by
  • ISBN13:

    9780691016313

  • ISBN10:

    0691016313

  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 1999-03-29
  • Publisher: Princeton Univ Pr

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Summary

In this book, James Boon ranges through history and around the globe in a series of provocative reflections on the limitations, attractions, and ambiguities of cultural interpretation. The book reflects the unusual keyword of its title,extra-vagance,a term Thoreau used to refer to thought that skirts traditional boundaries. Boon follows Thoreau's lead by broaching subjects as diverse as Balinese ritual, Montaigne, Chaucer,Tarzan, Perry Mason,opera, and the ideas of Jacques Derrida, Ruth Benedict, Kenneth Burke, and Mary Douglas. He makes creative and often playful leaps among eclectic texts and rituals that do not hold single, fixed meanings, but numerous, changing, and exceedingly specific ones. Boon opens by exploring links between ritual and reading, focusing on commentaries about the seclusion of menstruating women in Native American culture, trance dances in Bali, and circumcision (or lack of it) in contrasting religions. He considers the ironies of "first-person ethnography" by telling stories from his own fieldwork, reflecting on ethnological museums, and making seriocomic connections between Mark Twain and Marcel Mauss. In expansive discussions that touch on Manhattan and Sri Lanka, the Louvre and the "World of Coca-Cola" museum, willfully obscure academic theory and shamelessly commercial show business, Boon underlines the inadequacies of simple ideologies and pat generalizations. The book is a profound and eloquent exploration of cultural comparison by one of America's most original and innovative anthropologists.

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
xi
Preface AnThoreaupology: An Invitation xiii
Rehearsals 3(1)
An Endlessly Extra-Vagant Scholar: Kenneth Burke 3(6)
A Similar Genre: Opera 9(5)
Plus Melville, Cavell, Commodity-Life; Showbiz 14(7)
PART ONE: RITUALS, REREADING, RHETORICAL TURNS 21(80)
Re Menses: Rereading Ruth Benedict, Ultraobjectively
23(20)
Of Foreskins: (Un)Circumcision, Religious Histories, Difficult Description (Montaigne/Remondino)
43(30)
About a Footnote: Between-the-Wars Bali; Its Relics Regained
73(28)
Interlude: Essay-etudes and Tristimania
97(4)
PART TWO: MULTIMEDIATIONS: COINCIDENCE, MEMORY, MAGICS 101(66)
Cosmopolitan Moments: As-if Confessions of an Ethnographer-Tourist (Echoey ``Cosmomes'')
103(21)
Why Museums Make Me Sad (Eccentric Musings)
124(19)
Litterytoor `n' Anthropolygee: An Experimental Wedding of Incongruous Styles from Mark Twain and Marcel Mauss
143(24)
PART THREE: CROSS-OVER STUDIES, SERIOCOMIC CRITIQUE 167(2)
A Little Polemic, Quizzically 169(94)
Against Coping Across Cultures: Self-help Semiotics Rebuffed
176(15)
Errant Anthropology, with Apologies to Chaucer
191(7)
Margins and Hierarchies and Rhetorics That Subjugate
198(13)
Evermore Derrida, Always the Same (What Gives?)
211(10)
Taking Torgovnick as She Takes Others
221(9)
Rerun (1980s): Mary Douglas's Grid/Group Grilled
230(19)
Update (1990s): Coca-Cola Consumes Baudrillard, and a Balinese (Putu) Consumes Coca-Cola
249(14)
Encores and Envoi
Burke, Cavell, etc., Unforgotten 263(16)
Acknowledgments and Credits 279(4)
Notes 283(32)
References 315(42)
Index 357

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