Thursday, 11 August 2016

The "cultural heritage" group neurosis 10: Collective "cultural heritage" and individual cultural evolution (iv).

My thinking about these topics has been greatly aided through reading about Symptom-Symbol Transformation (SST) in Remo F. Roth,  Return of the World Soul: Wolfgang Pauli, C.G. Jung and the Challenge of Psychophysical Reality, Vol. 1 and Vol. 2. While primarily used in therapy (linked page in German), Roth also explains how it might be used in more universal applications within the concept of the Unus Mundus.

In this section it is important to understand evolution as a system of adaptions to new realities. The idea of devolution gives credit to Neo-Darwinism which presupposes an ideal state to which evolution moves. We can actually quite easily evolve to a state of being where we would really not want to be. In fact, we seem (as a species) to be heading in that direction right now because of our (recent) move toward a smaller brain size. There are a number of theories that have been put forward for why this is happening but I feel that these are expressions of the blind men and an elephant parable. My American readers will happy to note that one study in the linked smaller brain size article revealed an example of the opposite:
"When anthropologist Richard Jantz of the University of Tennessee measured the craniums of Americans of European and African descent from colonial times up to the late 20th century, he found that brain volume was once again moving upward."
It did not say if American politicians' craniums were included in the study (sorry, I couldn't resist). I will offer my own interpretation of this anomaly tomorrow.

Collective "cultural heritage" is most often applied in a nationalistic manner (UNESCO, for example), but it is also marked by  great degree of fervor that is indistinguishable from religious fervor. Let us treat "cultural heritage" as a symptom and then look for the underlying symbol which will also reveal a very surprising example of the same thing: "cultural heritage" in its commonest application treats people as collectives bound by the state far more than even ethnic groups within a state (such people cannot, individually, obtain any rights through the various UNESCO conventions). What belongs to an ethnic group, belongs to the state. At the very bottom of the pile is the individual who is represented only within certain state-defined "stakeholders" representatives in any negotiations. Whether such people's opinions are actually taken into consideration or whether they are included to provide an apparency of such is a subject that has caused a considerable amount of discussion. I do know for a fact that the U.S. public's input and opinions about all of the recent U.S. State Department's Memoranda of Understanding (MoU's) with various countries concerning the import restrictions on ancient coins has been rejected in the final decisions to pass such MoU's despite overwhelming opposition from the public. The only public opinions which were followed came from those in academia, sometimes giving a "prepackaged" response. Nearly all of the responses, of course, were from individually motivated representatives of various cultural frames (i.e. stakeholders).

Another currently visible collective espousing "cultural heritage" is ISIS which takes the more obvious religious stance in the subject and bases its destruction of archaeological sites on its theories about iconoclasm  from the Islamic texts about worshiping graven images. Yet both groups are the same in that they reduce the free will of individuals in their interpretation of cultural matters to an overarching ideology. Both groups act with religious fervor but only ISIS cites that source. UNESCO-styled "cultural heritage" proponents offer up individuals as identical members of a state-controlled collective: "the public". They also appoint their group as overseers. Their (unconscious) religious fervor is exhibited by their moralistic terminology especially in the usage of the word "illicit". In Illicit heritage management in Austria? Raimund Karl says:
"For instance, a love affair may very well be illicit; that is, frowned upon by society because it is ‘immoral’; but perfectly legal; that is, not prohibited by any law. Calling something ‘illicit’ means ‘(some) people think it should not be done’, rather than ‘society has decreed by law that it must not be done’. And that is how we archaeologists like to use it when we talk about ‘illicit excavations’: excavations that ‘we archaeologists think should not be done’, rather than such that ‘the law says must not be done'.
Ray is very familiar with the religious and neurotic aspects of some of his peers as can be clearly seen in his paper on archaeologist's hoarding: Every sherd is sacred: compulsive hoarding in archaeology.

By taking the symptoms and transforming them into symbols we come closer to the root problem: both ISIS and the archaeological "cultural heritage" lobby are fighting a religious war and fanning each other's flames. It does us no good to ask who started it as each side will, like quarreling children, point to the other. But as a group of opposing energies united by the symbol matters will certainly escalate. Each benefits from this war, ideologically, and both gets lots of press through its sensationalism. They need each other to survive.

Scapegoating is another feature of this war: ISIS can point to people who are "falling from Grace" as it were and the archaeological  "cultural heritage" proponents can blame collectors for any looting (looting is always a phenomenon during wars). There is a recent, classic, example of the "scientific evidence-free" nature of reporting of the latter in Blood & Gold: Children Dying As Egypt's Treasures Are Looted . Its author, Owen Jarus being a Canadian freelance journalist who specializes in "Heritage" and archaeological reporting.

When you get such opposing forces both apparently surviving in a conflict it is a sign that the conflict is other that what it seems to be. I this case the conflict expresses a desire for power of the group over the individual and this is the base symbol. The conflict, on both sides, is really a political/economic power struggle.

The problem remains unsolvable (unless a third party come along to establish real power (like the parent or teacher who says "I don't care who started it...") because it only mimics any evolutionary process and can only result in its extinction for both sides. The reason being is that evolution is always energized through individual expression and without that as its source does not happen. I don't like to use the phrase "natural selection" as that opens up a can of worms noticed at first, statistically, by Wolfgang Pauli who envisioned some other force at play which later became part of epigenetics. I think "happenstance" is a better  word as it describes the phenomenon without assigning cause and some phenomena are acausal, anyway.

Heikegani crab (Heikeopsis japonica) photo: RD 77

My favorite example of this are some Japanese crabs that have a variable pattern of their surface shell structure: the Heikegani or "Samurai crab", which had been once assigned as an example of selective breeding, but more likely is an example of synchronicity where the archetypal Samurai face is an acausal creation of the Unus Mundus. But you would probably have to read Roth's book to understand how that can happen.

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