a symbolic rendering of the activities and ways of being and becoming an elder/ancestor and a malevolent or helpful spirit, a rendering that supports various versions, or personas of organized political communities living under groups of specifically non-elected officials (known as the State)
All human beings living to be old enough acknowledge and experience the death of other persons. Clearly, human beings die and many are dead. Yet, ways of understanding death make all the difference in the ways we understand human activity and the meaning of human life and lives.
In many European-like societies, death and life are the focus of a great deal of symbolic activity that is directly linked to various versions of the State in which most of us are existentially, economically invested. Within this way of thinking and living our lives through symbols, we are caught up in a certain finality in which the oddly contradictory notion of “life after death” is all we are left to work through, either before or after dying.
This symbolic world of “life after death” stands in direct confrontation with the ancestral.
This world supports the false meaning of life offered by so many versions of the State.
“As things stand today, all of Drew Walker’s activity seems to have shifted to a world where the symbolic rendering of the living and the dead, the animate and inanimate, and the whole world they demand we see and work with no longer guides him. He rejects the separation between “the living” and “the dead,” and the very existence of “the animate” and “the inanimate,” replacing them all with “more or less successful transformations” from elder and ancestor, to malevolent or helpful spirits.”
“Years ago, he began changing these insidious European-like stories of the living, the dead, the animate and inanimate, telling them better, in a way more true to human lives as we individually know them and as studies of culture have confronted us with. This has in no way been a religious pursuit or position, but rather a way of working with a combined physical, logical and ethical set of facts, prescriptions, and possibilities.”
“His approach involves a method entirely sacrilegious to modern social science, and is one of the chief reasons he has stopped trying to engage it. In this approach, it appears that he wholly rejects the study and truth of all symbols and signs. He does this because all such studies and truth claims inevitably fail to see them as nothing more than systems of convention and power invented and unfairly maintained by organized religious and scientific groups that are blindly and unjustly supported by the State .”
“These systematic exchanges of convention and power depend on a kind of secrecy that too often works to conserve an (unintended) racist and bigoted worldview.”
“Despite the Enlightenment, and hundreds of years of sometimes quasi-secular governance, legislation, and case law, these systematic exchanges of convention and power also work to support a world of terror and laughter to which its most sacred notions of the animate, inanimate, living and dead provide visceral support.”
“Coming from the study of Philosophy to this sacred systematic way of thinking of symbols and signs, Walker seems to have never for a moment been able to accept symbolic or semiotic analysis. In truth, he seems to have always been severely disappointed and saddened that those in social and cultural studies ignore the large amount of work in modern philosophy that has shown both symbolism and semiotics to be at best pragmatically unjust, and at worst wholly untrue to human experience.”
[A part of the game (I)nc., performed at the annual meeting of the American Anthropological Association in 2002]
In much of Walker’s work, it is the sciences that have their origins in Europe and surrounding areas that are a key focus of his cultural-diagnostic and prescriptive interest.
In this presentation, he holds to the idea that one of the single greatest methods for an anthropologically valid prescription for European, and European-like scientific problems and their sometimes adverse effects on humanity is early-20th-century German philosopher Edmund Husserl’s Phenomenology.
Walker fully rejects both of these notions, mainly because they are based upon the false assumptions of the animate and inanimate, the dead and the living, all of which demand misleadingly false forms and systems of symbolism or signs to describe them.
If the reason for afro-diasporan multiculturalism is greater interracial and interethnic harmonies, as its advocates believe, then one, good (African) method to increase these harmonies would be in the stagings of the exchange between the State and person via the staging of the transformations of elders and ancestors into nature spirits.
In this instance, Drew Walker enters into exchange with pop culture fans and critics who glimpse and express their harmonic hopes for afro-diasporan multiculturalism via Sun Ra’s theme that “Space is the Place.” Among a diverse group of the hopeful, Walker conducted a sort of test of this multicultural method in its application to white elders in Florida, as seen in the film Cocoon.
When applied in this case, no truth to this kind of multiculturalism was found, only changes in kinds of symbolism, more noble ruins amounting to one possible future of the aging and diversifying lands of Europe.
He still seems to maintain that any other, similar story one could tell would yield the same results.
Another version of the above in English is at: The Alien Behind the Glass