[KS] Re: custom and new environment:dog-eating
Richard C. Miller
rcmiller at students.wisc.edu
Tue Jul 25 01:09:22 EDT 2000
Regarding Nancy Lee's comments on killing something with which you
acknowledge a relationship: I would hesitate to link this too closely (if
at all) to shamanism. To my mind, this falls more in the realm of "totem
and taboo," which, for all the criticism, is still best discussed by
Levi-Straus (<underline>The Raw and the Cooked</underline>, for example).
People, either individually or as groups, can acknowledge special
relationships with animals, plants, places, dances, you name it. That
relationship is often described metaphorically in terms of identity or
geneological (<italic>not</italic> "genetic") as, for example, "we are
parrots," or perhaps in the case of Korean Buddhists/Shaman, "we are
dogs". But there is no requirement that every such relationship demands a
taboo on killing/destroying. It can, in fact, act as a sort of patent or
copyright, if you will, reserving the right to
kill/destroy/consume/exploit to the person or group with the closest
relationship to the thing in question. A number of groups in New Guinea
(the Dani in West Papua come to mind) see an extremely close relationship
between themselves and pigs, to the point where (supposedly) women will
breast-feed piglets. Yet every major life-cycle event requires the
slaughtering of a pig. Another example would be the many bear-cults that
have existed and continue to exist in northeast Asia. It is not just
Koreans who have traced their ancestry to bears--groups all over Siberia
and into Japan have done the same. And they celebrate that link by
sacrificing and eating a bear.
You are what you eat, you know, or in this case, you eat what you are.
As an aside, an Australian friend of mine grew up on a cattle ranch where
she took care of the animals from birth to the dinner table. When she
moved to the US, she became a vegetarian because, she claimed, she
couldn't bear to eat an animal she'd never met.
For those folks interested in northeast Asian shamanism, you might look
for works by anthropologist Anatoly Khazanov. I haven't actually read his
stuff, but I've heard him talk several times. His more recent research
has been on Siberian shamanism since the collapse of the Soviet
Union--and explosive rebirth that brought about, among other things,
newspaper, radio, and television ads for specific shaman. The last talk I
heard, which was about two years ago, the shaman in one of the southern
parts of Siberia were discussing setting up a professional organization,
like a bar association, to control all the ambulance-chasers that had
suddenly discovered shamanism as a growth industry.
Ah, the beauty of capitalism...
--Richard C. Miller
--UW School of Music
--rcmiller at students.wisc.edu
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