Posted by: L | August 4, 2007

Mind in Body: worlds that die with people….

The massive disruption of the monsoons brought the tsunami of 2004 to mind. What faculties have we lost touch with that would help us in crisis?

When the mind and the body are in tune….

A piece by Gary Leupp in Counterpunch. at the time raised the question:

“I think of the words of the occasionally interesting Soviet-era poet Yevgeny Yevtushenko: “Not people die but worlds die in them.” It is one thing to lose tens of thousands from cultures that will endure, another to lose an entire culture that has endured tens of thousands of years. Even if it is one whose speech, god and government are unknown to us. Indeed, should the waters kill a small isolated tribe, they kill a world, denying us forever knowledge of it. What greater tragedy can nature inflict? And should human neglect and incompetence contribute to the extinction, what greater outrage could we (or those who govern us) visit upon ourselves?

But the happy news, from Press Trust of India, is this. A team from the Anthropological Survey of India reports Jan. 3 that the “five aboriginal tribes inhabiting the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, our last missing link with early civilisation [sic], have emerged unscathed from the tsunamis because of their age old ‘warning systems.'” ASI director V. R. Rao informs us that the “tribals get wind of impending danger from biological warning signals like the cry of birds and change in the behavioural patterns of marine animals. They must have run to the forests for safety. No casualties have been reported among these five tribes [Jarwas, Onges, Shompens, Sentinelese and Great Andamanese].” If this is true, as one hopes, it suggests that the diminishing number of humans enjoying what Marx called “primitive communism” require not officials, anthropologists, missionaries or alien humanitarians for their happiness or survival so much as the right to be left alone in their Stone Age classless societies.

“No better than wild beasts,” wrote Marco Polo, reflecting his civilized and Christian biases. Perhaps that’s not so much of an insult. Stone Age humans in touch with nature, able to read its signs in birds and fish, may have much to teach those of us out of touch, and to abet the preservation of the whole species. But how to acquire their wisdom, without deluging them under ours…”

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