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ZERZAN, John. "Language: Origin and Meaning".

Tuesday 19 July 2005, by CREAGH Ronald

Fairly recent anthropology (e.g. Sahlins, R.B. Lee) has virtually obliterated the long-dominant conception which defined prehistoric humanity in terms of scarcity and brutalization. As if the implications of this are already becoming widely understood, there seems to be a growing sense of that vast epoch as one of wholeness and grace. Our time on earth, characterized by the very opposite of those qualities, is in the deepest need of a reversal of the dialectic that stripped that wholeness from our life as a species.

Being alive in nature, before our abstraction from it, must have involved a perception and contact that we can scarcely comprehend from our levels of anguish and alienation. The communication with all of existence must have been an exquisite play of all the senses, reflecting the numberless, nameless varieties of pleasure and emotion once accessible within us.

To Levy-Bruhl, Durkheim and others, the cardinal and qualitative difference between the "primitive mind" and ours is the primitive’s lack of detachment in the moment of experience; "the savage mind totalizes," as Levi-Strauss put it. Of course we have long been instructed that this original unity was destined to crumble, that alienation is the province of being human: consciousness depends on it.


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