Comparing the Incomparable (Cultural Memory in the Present) by Marcel Detienne

By Marcel Detienne

In evaluating the Incomparable, Marcel Detienne demanding situations the cordoning off of disciplines that hinder us from asking trans-cultural questions that may allow one society to make clear one other. a few years in the past, he undertook the research of "construction websites" grouped round normal inquiries to be placed to historians and ethnologists approximately their specific components of workmanship. 4 of those comparative experiments are awarded within the chapters of this booklet. the 1st issues myths and practices regarding the founding of towns or sacred areas from Africa to Japan to historic Greece. the second one appears at "regimes of historicity" and asks why we converse of background and what we suggest by means of it, which ends up in a comparability of cultural philosophies and of the methods diverse cultures convey themselves, be they oral, written, or visible. The 3rd bankruptcy, following within the footsteps of comparative philologist Georges Dumézil, turns to polytheistic pantheons, arguing that we must always not just examine the gods in and of themselves but additionally on the family members among them. the ultimate part of the booklet examines how, from old Greek democracy to the Ochollo of Ethiopia to the French Revolution, peoples shape a awareness of themselves that interprets into meeting practices. A intentionally post-deconstructionist manifesto opposed to the hazards of incommensurability, Detienne argues for and engages within the positive comparability of societies of an outstanding temporal and spatial variety. the outcome testifies to what new and illuminating insights his comparatist strategy can produce.

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9. See Brian MacFarlane, Geoff Mayer, and Ina Bertrand (Eds), The Oxford Companion to Australian Film (Melbourne: Oxford University Press, forthcoming) and Graham Shirley and Brian Adams, Australian Cinema, The First Eighty Years (Sydney: Angus and Robertson, 1983), esp. Chs. 3 and 4. The story of Australian cinema succumbing to American film production is certainly worth reading, together with Neal Gabler, An Empire of Their Own: How the Jews Invented Hollywood (New York: Crown, 1988). 10. The marketing goes beyond advertising or political conventions into large and terrible histories.

You snob,’’ Bligh calls Christian, as he does this last unforgivable act. He had been taunted by Christian’s aristocratic condescension into absolute inhumanity. ’’ He had read a hundred books on the Bounty to get it right. What he had right, no doubt, was his sense of cultural literacy. His script was not of what happened on the Bounty, but what would have happened if all the common expectancies of cultural literacy were true. The ‘‘natural’’ logic of the events is the reading to which cultural literacy responds.

3 The 1935 Mutiny on the Bounty came out of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer studios. ’’ Mayer had created MGM’s extraordinary success out of his chauvinistic view of American culture. He made movie versions of Norman Rockwell stills. That is, his films were full of the fantasies of stylized beauty, idealized families, and beatified mothers. Greta Garbo, Norma Shearer, Joan Crawford, Jean Harlow, Myrna Loy were some of his female stars. Mayer was not enthusiastic when Irving Thalberg, his vice-president, suggested a film about the Bounty.

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