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ColoradoGuy
11-29-2008, 12:42 AM
Claude Lévi-Strauss turns 100 this month and is still working at things. In particular, he personally selected what to include in the just-released Pléiade edition of his works (virtually all French authors are dead by the time they get their Pléiade edition.) Amazingly, the 2,000 page book, which costs about 100 bucks, has already sold 13,000 copies in its first 3 months. Imagine that happening in our market. (Here's an interesting review of his career (http://entertainment.timesonline.co.uk/tol/arts_and_entertainment/the_tls/article5035934.ece).)

I remember slogging through a book or two of his, and I even once inflicted a structural analysis of the Cupid and Psyche myth on my academic advisor that made his eyes roll. Times have changed, especially for French Theorists. Yet even though structuralism has dated fast, the review makes a valid case for its continued influence.

Here's the great man's own assessment of his message:

Reality, wrote Lévi-Strauss, was like a club sandwich. It was composed of three similarly structured strata: nature, the brain and myth. Each of these elements cascaded from the other – the brain being merely one aspect of nature, and mythic thought a subset of mental function. These strata were separated by “two layers of chaos: sensory perception and social discourse”.

ColoradoGuy
11-29-2008, 10:39 PM
So -- no Lévi-Straussians out there, I guess.

AMCrenshaw
11-30-2008, 12:31 AM
Though I'm not a Straussian, thank you anyway for the link! [I'm only finishing undergraduate studies in Literature this December. I mostly ran into Levi-Strauss in the mythology courses. Always fun.]

AMC

Dawnstorm
11-30-2008, 02:35 PM
I'm not to familiar with Lévi-Strauss, I'm afraid. To me, structuralism means mostly Saussure and Jacobson, who dealt with language. The idea to generalise from language to culture is interesting, but I don't know too well what Lévi-Strauss's done with it to comment.

Higgins
12-01-2008, 07:17 PM
So -- no Lévi-Straussians out there, I guess.

What? Sorry, I've been away. Sure. I think Levi-Strauss has come up
with many useful structuralist approaches to various social phenomena. I think structuralism is the set of methods that underlies all of the advances in sophistication that set the post-modernist world apart from the modernist world.

So I'm happy to hear he is okay and 100 years old.

Ruv Draba
12-02-2008, 04:48 AM
Reality, wrote Lévi-Strauss, was like a club sandwich. It was composed of three similarly structured strata: nature, the brain and myth. Each of these elements cascaded from the other – the brain being merely one aspect of nature, and mythic thought a subset of mental function. These strata were separated by “two layers of chaos: sensory perception and social discourse”.
I love structure -- it's either that or hate it since my head latches onto it anyway and so I can't escape it.

As for what reality might be like, I can't presume to say -- but I'd agree that structure in myth arises from structure in either nature or mind -- myth can offer some peculiar insights about either of these things.

Whether sensory perception is chaotic or merely complex I don't know, but social discourse seems far more structured-and-complex than chaotic to me.

Joyeux anniversaire Claude! :partyguy:

robeiae
12-02-2008, 07:13 PM
So -- no Lévi-Straussians out there, I guess.
I've been on vacation.

sunandshadow
12-05-2008, 01:34 PM
I'm a Levi-Straussian, just haven't looked in this forum recently.

sunandshadow
12-05-2008, 01:38 PM
I'm not to familiar with Lévi-Strauss, I'm afraid. To me, structuralism means mostly Saussure and Jacobson, who dealt with language. The idea to generalise from language to culture is interesting, but I don't know too well what Lévi-Strauss's done with it to comment.
Some basic concepts: People everywhere have the same basic brain structure, and this is the cause of the same basic myth evolving many times in many different cultures. Myth structure is sort of a universal grammar. In particular people think in terms of binaries, and chains of these transformations (flip-flops) can be used to trace the relationship between different versions of the same myth in neighboring cultures, or different myths in the same culture that share some elements or characters.