What is the role of violence in the culture?
Is violence at the margin of civilisation, like an animal residue? Or the gesture of aggression or transgression, is it the secret cog that bases every culture? By bringing together the lectures and discussions of four anthropologists, Bloody origins illuminate the dark area of human progress. We find there is no single theory on the role of violence.
No dogma that monopolises each empirical evidence in its interpretative digestion, no truth in the third person.
We see here the researchers first-person transcribing the manufacturing process of the same ideas.
The process manifests its hazards, preferences and enmities finally its postulates, as rational than visceral. In other words, it is a manual dialogic anthropology. Either a theme: violence and the sacred.
Either a body of ethnographic data, mostly myths. Before our eyes unfolds the “power to do and undo the truths”, that is, to Paul Valéry more than truth itself. Similarly, the subject of research.
Indeed, from this data proliferation, every anthropologist will offer differing theoretical perspectives, by articulating and weighting the myths in various ways.
Thus, the Amazonian myth Milomaki, namely the story of the boy who sang wonderfully and was killed because those who ate fish, made the soul.
For René Girard, is a sacrificial victim of history, referring to its persecutor theory behind all the myths.
Walter Burkert the other interpreter, giving a critical weight to this passage: after the death of Milomaki, a kind of palm tree came out of the ashes, and “people have made huge flutes from the wood of this palm, and these flutes have produced the same marks as those that had wonderful Milomaki sung.
Even today, men continue to blow into these flutes during the fruit harvest celebrations.
“Stressing the link between death and celebration, Burkert chooses a perspective that makes trivial the problem of the sacrificial victim, and essential ritual dimension.
Jonathan Smith offers his variation on the theme of this myth. Concerned with the appearance of the flute, he made this story an answer to the important question for a culture:
How can something that did not exist come into existence?
Or: How appeared the flute? To understand the emergence of this object singing, we must articulate in affiliation with a known original musical, singing of man articulate the unknown to the known.
If the function of myth is to make the living world is giving intelligibility and meaning what is not ordered in the cosmos of the mind. Make the habitable world by multiplying attempts to think, this is what we are doing to these anthropologists offering their theories of myth.
Since Levi Strauss, we know that the dominant trait of the myth is its multiplicity:
Each story knows several versions and variations on these versions. Confront more idea.
On the role of violence in human culture is to fight against the unifying impulse of the mind.
Against this inevitable trend, that takes hold of myths to impose it the same unequivocal truth, this book by its very form, far from imposing the only theory of Girard, takes us back the multiple of the value.
The opposite effect, in our opinion, is complete problematic Clausewitz, the Prussian theorist, where armed conflict seems destined to contribute to the war effort of Girard’s theory.
René Girard is unfalsifiable and assumes totalling dimension of his theory.
Presented as an anthropological text of the present, this test is actual, according to the introduction of René Girard, “a more or less explicit apology for Christianity” as “in all his books.”
Regrettably this mix, which tends to give the Christian faith the symbolic authority of a scientific discipline.
Presented as an open discussion and removed, the book is very accessible.
For the same reason, he is not willing to provide great arguments, preventing the ideas presented to carry conviction of the reader – unless, of course, it is already convinced.