Running through the jungle
Here's my latest recurring dream. As usual, my subconscious is behaving oddly: it has connected Napoleon Chagnon, a man I detest, with Margaret Mead and Marshall Sahlins, two scholars I admired, or at least thought I admired. (This superb article by David Moberg describes Sahlins' long and righteous battle against Chagnon, and explains why Chagnon's ideas about indigenous peoples are dangerous for the West, as well as for the Third World). The banyan forest in my dream comes from 'Eua, the Tongan island that James Cameron reputedly turned into a moon called Pandora.
The Fierce People
After dinner, on the lounge room
couch, I run through a banyan forest,
pursued by a noisy tribe
I don't turn my head
but I know, because I have studied the secondary literature,
that Napoleon Chagnon is waving a spear
as sharp as a syringe, and tipped
with syphilis; that sweat has melted
Jared Diamond's facepaint;
that betel juice dribbles out
Margaret Mead's puffing mouth.
"You will not find refuge
in any impenetrable forest"
I hear Marshall Sahlins explaining,
in his best lectern voice.
"The impenetrable forest
is a colonialist fantasy
abolished by ethnobotanists.
You must surrender
[Posted by Scott Hamilton]