Marja-Leena Rathje
Home ::: diversions


I've recently come across some great links on a couple of interesting subjects - the first an important environmental story and the second a fascinating linguistic and ethnological one.


1. At Biodynamic Farming and Gardening I found out about a film called How to Save the World - One Man, One Cow, One Planet. View the short video excerpt about how India's marginal farmers are saving their poisoned land by reviving biodynamics, an arcane form of agriculture, based on the teachings of an elderly New Zealander many are calling the new Gandhi.

2. Brazil's Pirahã Tribe - Living without Numbers or Time (via mirabilis):

'The Pirahã people have no history, no descriptive words and no subordinate clauses. That makes their language one of the strangest in the world -- and also one of the most hotly debated by linguists.'

'Living in the now also fits with the fact that the Pirahã don't appear to have a creation myth explaining existence. When asked, they simply reply: "Everything is the same, things always are." The mothers also don't tell their children fairy tales -- actually nobody tells any kind of stories. No one paints and there is no art.'

Marja-Leena | 10/04/2007 | 4 comments
themes: Culture, Current Events, Environment, Ethnicity, Linguistics


I think I heard the American guy who'd lived and worked with the Piraha, he started as a missionary but soon realised there was no point as since they couldn't see any of the things he was talking about in the here and now, particularly Jesus, they said they had no use for them. He came to really love them and said they were the most peaceful people imaginable, but it's all so weird isn't it? So many things which we assume are hard-wired into us as humans they just have no sense of, need for or interest in.

Lucy, yes, our assumptions really are assumptions, eh. The way they live for the moment, not the past or the future, seems to be the basis for their knowledge and understanding. The article emphasizes their non-use of numbers, but I found it very surprising also that they do not tell stories nor do any art (my own assumptions showing!).

That article is totally fascinating and almost unbelievable - can we really be THAT culturally-determined? Maybe! Such a thing as no numbers, no art, no stories has never occurred to me. Thank you for the link!

Beth, yes, it does seem unbelievable. I can't grasp a world without art and stories, even the concept of time. Thanks for dropping by!