Category Archives: Uncategorized

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The Expoliter

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The Mistress

 

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The Judge’s Wife

 

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The Private Investigator

 

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The Cemetery Groundkeeper

 

 

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The Playwrites

 

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The Director

 

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The Suspect

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Aging

 

AGING

 

becoming an elder/ancestor

___________________________________

“Our attention should not be on life or death, nor on their kinds of symbolism that pervade some cultures.  It should instead be on transformations, from elders and ancestors to malevolent or helpful spirits, precisely because this focus can better describe and give meaning to human lives–past, present, and future.”

 

At the age of 28, Drew Walker returned to New York from Japan and began his affiliation with the Department of Performance Studies in New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts. Transforming the work he had started in Gunma Prefecture, Japan (on Shinto rituals), Walker became focused on the playfully serious exchanges of personas with the State in West Africa.

Much of Walker’s work since this time has had its origins in the study of this kind of exchange.

He has been continually refining his understanding of it via his own quasi-ethnographic and quasi-historiographic encounters with various groups throughout Europe and the Americas.

Most simply put, Walker has been taking ways of being and meaning from various extraEuropean-like contexts and using them to depict ways of being and meaning in European-like contexts.

He has mainly been using ways of being and meaning from a variety of African, Latin American and Melanesian contexts. Some of these uses have been in academic settings, some in the public/mass media space, and others in areas of government and policy creation.

All Walker has done and continues to do in this way seems to rest upon a three-part truth that:

(1) regardless of where or how they live their lives, all human beings and their lives are extremely similar,

(2) this extreme similarity makes the different ways of being and meaning we find in different groups very translatable and interchangeable between groups, and

(3) while there are very strong social pressures to prohibit these first two parts of this truth, they are nevertheless true.

Alz-

ALZ-

 

a prefix showing that something is an alternate version or subversion of something else

___________________

This prefix was named in honor of those suffering from Alzheimer’s and those caring for them, and to whom (I)nc. owes its conceptualization.

Alzheimer’s

ALZHEIMER’S

 

an often painful and tragic disease that is generally misunderstood and mistreated

culture, or an alternate version and subversion of large-scale global orders made up of persons caring for those afflicted, re-weaving them as humans into a material of insignificance via geographic, demographic, linguistic, historical, biological and chemical forms of affiliation

a culture, or an alternate version and subversion of large-scale global orders made up of persons afflicted, defying this re-weaving into a material of insignificance brought about through geographic, demographic, linguistic, historical, biological and chemical forms of affiliating

a material of insignificance that is woven by those afflicted and those who care for them, brought about through geographic, demographic, linguistic, historical, biological and chemical forms of affiliating

__________________________________

 

Drew Walker’s doctoral dissertation was a staging of an academic ritual as a truth test. As a game (which it is), it remains a kind of ordeal.”

While Walker had originally planned to spend two years in the Niger Delta region of Nigeria learning more of elders/ancestors/malevolent or helpful spirits in the exchanges of personas with the State, he instead decided to go a place where this exchange was being acted out on a mass scale in the context of transformations in Alzheimer’s disease.

In Miami, Walker sought to approximate a kind of Africa-centric exchange with (and thereby a critique of) the kind of science, history and philosophy that contemporary cultural anthropology pretends to rely on for its claims to truth.  In a sense, this work is a staging of an academic ritual as a truth test, a kind of ordeal–for Walker and its readers. For some sooner and for others later, it remains a kind of ordeal whose truth is always realized, in the hands of a terrestrial divinity.

Even though he was awarded the somewhat rare mark of Pass with Distinction for this dissertation by his doctoral examining committee, further, telling results of this truth test would emerge in different ways in the two years that followed.

In a certain sense, if taken as a book, the work as a whole comes off as a kind of collage made up of pieces torn from bodies of observation and understanding and pasted in a certain configuration to produce an image of what Walker at one time understood as “the State.”  There is so much unsaid, unexplained. There are too many things from so many areas of knowledge that could not be conveyed. There is too much patience demanded of too many readers, and not enough opportunities for summary. It both is and describes a massive exchange of personas with what Walker was ambiguously calling “the Alzheimer’s state.”

 

Naming the Cause: A Cultural Critique of the Alzheimer’s State   

[A part of the game (I)nc.published in 1998]

 

Preface

“The scene opens up on a day in late November, a Pietist gathering.  Among this group, (I)nc., (pronounced “aye”), is one Gabriél, a newcomer to this state.”

 

Chapter 1.  The Labors of Piety  

Persons with Alzheimer’s type dementia are said by some to seem to be “living in the past.” No one can actually live in the past. These persons are acting out memory in some way that leads people to describe their state of being in this way.

Persons with this type of dementia are like persons who are dreaming, yet like any other person one may encounter in one’s doing this or that, they are living in the here-and-now, yet in the past, in a dramatic way. I call this “dreama.”

While anthropology has spent a great deal of time and effort researching the kinds of envy driven human behavior called “magic” and “witchcraft or sorcery,” as its researchers have found them around the world, they have spent relatively little time studying their love driven forms. This is an important key not only to understanding what are called magic, witchcraft, and sorcery, but also in understanding Alzheimer’s type behaviors.

The kinds of magic, witchcraft and sorcery that are driven by love are important to all human beings, and are the subject of a great deal of attention everywhere in the world.

Many people with this type of dementia seem to spend a lot of time observing others in detail, studying their hair, their weight, their posture, their demeanor, their voices, their faces, their clothing.

Relationship, (I)nc.

“Among my people relationships are mysterious at best.  One might even say that we have little sense of them.  Maybe this is due to a trade-off in our lives, a giving up of what we know for what we wish to know.  This is what we acknowledge, in part, in saying “I can’t say.”

Bumpersticker

“One best comes back to it (and we all do) in flight. Soaring in over the aqua blue waves breaking white against its beaches, up and over the towering walls of its hotels our shadow crawls as one is greeted by the masses of Dade County and the sea of grass with its millions of blades erect and waving in the breeze.”

Adult Daycare  –  Pietist Colony

“This particular theater of encounter, yet it may only be a theater for some,  amounted, spatially, at least to my human sensibilities, to two fairly large rooms.”

$ense and Cents-ability

Sense, Sinn and Meaning are called into question.

“I was intrigued with the way in which Ernie seemed, as I saw it then, before I called it dreama, to be here, there and elsewhere, and to move back and forth in time.  He, like many people there, would talk of visiting dead parents, and needing to leave to go help them because their parents needed them.”

Alz-heimer’s

“From the German we get alt meaning old, and the sound “s” indicating possession,  the “z” giving us both the “t” for “alt” and the sound “s” for possession.  “Heim indicates “home” and the “er”  indicates belonging to the home.”  The  “s”  preceded by an apostrophe indicates yet another possession, meaning: that which those belonging to the home of the old possess.”

Like-Envy

The move from envy to love, combined with the rejection of sense/cents/scent and relationships, calls for the rejection of semiotics, all forms of symbolic systems analysis, and for all “meaning” based analysis that is not about the meaning of life.

“When one says that he or she likes something one is saying that he or she wants it, one is, in a sense, invoking it, calling for it.  Do we not say: “I’d like to see you again,” or “I’d like that one” meaning “Meet me again,” and “Give me that one” or meaning, magically and poetically, “That I see you again!” or “That I had that one!” as if in a conjuring or spell-binding which had risen from envy or love?”

 

Chapter 2.  The Labors of Knowledge  [Hypertext] [PDF]

Causality

The A (W. B.) Cs of Symbolism and Allegory

Alzpeech I

Harwood H., Alz Philosophe

Carmen L., Pietist Doctor

Enlightenment  and The Alzheimer’s State

The A (G.B.) Cs of Language and Eros

 

Chapter 3.  Do Kamo, or the Stoic Physics of Colonialism  [Hypertext] [PDF]

Sociobiology and Anthropomorphism

Cosmomorphism

 

Chapter 4.  Fictive History  [Hypertext] [PDF]

The Journals of Gabriel

Reformation

Pneumaticism and “The Symbol”

Iatro- animism

Organicism and/or Platonist Sympatheia

Pietist Mechanism

 

Chapter 5.  Life History/Natural History  [Hypertext] [PDF]  

Monkey See

The Predicament

The Solution

                                                         

Chapter 6.  Possession, Contact and the Image, Part I  [Hypertext] [PDF]

Support

Identity, Image and  Possession

Beyond Possession: Identity, Contact and Image

 

Chapter 6. Possession, Contact and the Image, Part II  [Hypertext] [PDF]

Bio-Masking or Secretions of Materiality

 

Chapter 7.  The Lyrical and the Dialectical  [Hypertext] [PDF]

Alzpeech II

Manifestations

Socrates, the Mask and the Material Spirit of the Dialogue

De-instru-mentia, or Meta-Dancing

Theresa, Mi Amor (A Fieldnote)

 

Chapter 8.  Possession, or the Name of Mo(u)rning  [Hypertext] [PDF]

Mom, or Naming the “Patient”

Enlightenment II

Melancholia I: Learning a System

 

Chapter 9.  Between “I” and “(I)nc.  [Hypertext] [PDF]

How (I)nc. Think

New Center, Alz Periphery

The Morgue

Medical Library

Chury, and the Pietist Ministry of Culture

Bobby, B., Alz Technician

Marina’s Project

New World (In Place of a Memory)

 

Chapter 10.  Elective Affinities  [Hypertext] [PDF]

Conclusion Before the Fact

Chemistrism

Chemistrism and Transcendentalism

Symbolic Anthropology

Energetic Materialism

 

Chapter 11.  Divinity and Mimesis  [Hypertext] [PDF]

Naming and Melancholia

Naming Divinity

 

Chapter 12. Conclusion  [Hypertext] [PDF]

Imagining the Cure

Healing, Imaging and the Stoic Body

Ethnography and/or Protocol

A Name for the Cause

Being Ancestral

BEING ANCESTRAL

 

being and becoming an elder/ancestor and a malevolent or helpful spirit

_____________________________________

In another respect, the ancestral has to do with what we today call genetics, free will, and determinism or fate.

These activities and ways of being and becoming are essentially imitative, funny, and fearful.

_____________________________________

The Ethics of Ancestral Secretion   

[a part of the game Masks in the Sun, published in 2001]

“In the annals of ethnographic writing from all parts of the world it has repeatedly been found, among countless groups, that ancestors are in some way directly involved with bringing, diagnosing, curing and preventing disease, illness and misfortune. In the science of anthropology this is an empirical fact of great weight and there is little clear reason to think that modern European cultures should (still) be any different.”

    

 

Being Animate

BEING ANIMATE

 

living

alive as witnessed by motion within a certain range and frequency

______________________________________

Various versions of organized political communities living under groups of specifically non-elected officials (State personas) symbolically deem objects to be animate or inanimate.

Many alternate versions and subversions of the State (cultures) defy the symbolic deeming of certain objects as animate or inanimate.

Being Dead

BEING DEAD

 

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 deadthe 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 governancelegislation, 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.”

 

 

Beyond the Living and the Dead   

[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.

The greatest barriers to making Husserl’s later philosophy work, he explains, are the notions of causality and the phenomenon.

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.

 

 

Ruinen des Jenseits  (Ruins of the Great Beyond)  

[A part of the game (I)nc., performed at the Volksbuehne in Berlin and text published by ID Verlag in 1998]

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

Being Inanimate

 

BEING INANIMATE

 

not living, i.e., not engaging in activities and ways of being and becoming an elder/ancestor and malevolent or helpful spirit that have been symbolically rendered, a rendering that supports various versions, or personas of organized political communities living under groups of specifically non-elected officials (known as the State)

not alive as witnessed by lack of motion within a certain range and frequency

being like a fetish

_______________________________________

 

Various versions of organized political communities living under groups of specifically non-elected officials (State personas) symbolically deem objects to be animate or inanimate.

Many alternate versions and subversions of the State (cultures) oppose the symbolic deeming of objects as animate or inanimate.

______________________________________

 

The Question “Why?” and Its Answers

[a part of the game Masks in the Sun, developed in 2003, unpublished]

In 2011, Doug Walters was asked by a nonprofit organization helping couples with issues of fertility to contribute to their organization by writing a piece for the organization’s magazine on how different American cultural groups view questions of fertility. He agreed to write the piece and began to consider how to address this topic in the most scientifically valid way possible. The article he sent them explained how in the wider American cultural context, fertility is divided into three, separate and basically incompatible areas. First, is the area that treats fertility as something biological. Second, is the area that treats fertility as a magical or psychological issue. And third, is its treatment as something political. In many American cultural groups today, however, it is often more common to blend rather than separate these three ways of viewing fertility. This being the case, he wrote, those involved in outreach or otherwise encountering this more blended view would be well advised to work with this fact.

Weeks passed since he had sent the article to the fertility organization’s magazine, but no acknowledgement of receipt, no thanks, or no plans for publishing were forthcoming.  Looking further into the matter, he concludes the magazine editors had been looking for something quite different from what he had given them, something that fit their own lay and ill-informed notions of how individuals could be dealt with according to things learned in simplified anecdotes of cultural differences. Despite the clear explanation in the article as to why what they wanted was not scientifically correct, the magazine and its nonprofit parent organization wanted something that was basically misleading and false.

From this point on, he began a staging of a response, of the impossible.

 

 

Staging the Legal System I: Anthropological Expertise in Military Research

[a part of the game Masks in the Sun, currently in development]

When Walters learned the magazine had found a colleague to write the article they had been looking for, he wrote the colleague, explaining his situation and why the colleague should not write the article they wanted. Being ignored by the colleague, he the decided to both sue the magazine and to seek to censure the colleague who wrote the misleading article.

Both actions lead to failure. The court dismissed the lawsuit, using the testimony of the colleague who wrote the article, and the university employing his colleague refused to review the situation.

These results lead Walters to then file another lawsuit against both the university and the nonprofit forfalse claims in their receipt of government funding. To back up his case, Walters linked his suit to the turmoil around the uses of anthropology within the US military.

 

Play of Secrets                                                 

A Feature-Length Film

 [a part of the game Masks in the Sun, currently in post-production

Under the direction of small town community leader Marla Larson, three local stage actors are drafting an adaptation of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol that makes Scrooge’s demise into the work of plotting friends and relatives. A local documentary filmmaker is following the production is intrigued to learn there is a dangerous reality to this play that no one could have imagined, and which is leading to dire consequences.

Players Guide

A Novel    

[a part of the game Masks in the Sun, currently in development]

While the story of the play unfolds, Marla’s son David, an investigator for the US Department of Defense,  is back at home investigating a series of disappearances linked to a local government bureau and pointing to international weapons proliferation scheme. Though unknown by Marla or her son, this intersection of the local and the global is leading to deadly consequences and deeper mysteries that extend far beyond the lives of those involved.

Syncretic Beings Labs 

[a part of the game Masks in the Sun, currently in development]

Walters for Congress

[a part of the game Masks in the Sun, developed in 2003 and published in 2011]

Curtis | Jacobsen | Lamb

[a part of the game Masks in the Sun, developed between 2010 and 2011, and published 2012]

The One Ten Society

[a part of the game Masks in the Sun, currently in development]

Nouning Productions

[a part of the game Masks in the Sun, currently in development]


Help Danny Wells

[a part of the game Masks in the Sun, currently in development]

Video Footage and Photos

[a part of the game Masks in the Sun, currently in development]

Sound Recordings

[a part of the game Masks in the Sun, currently in development]

Documents 

[a part of the game Masks in the Sun, currently in development]

The Pop Ethics of Special Interests in US Anthropology Today

[a part of the game Masks in the Sun, developed in 2010, unpublished]

“While anthropologists so often lament the lack of anthropological perspectives in ethical, legal and policy debates, the American Anthropological Association’s preamble to its own ethics statement opts for a pop cultural instead of anthropological consideration of anthropologists themselves.”

“Desert People”

[a part of the game Masks in the Sun, developed in 2010, published on Milanthro.net]

This is a brief response by Walters to a post on a discussion list dedicated to anthropology in the military. This post referred to the following article in Discover Magazine as “food for thought.”

Human Origins/ Mountain, Desert & ForestAre the Desert People Winning?

“Anthropologists say all the world’s cultures fall into two basic groups: those from forests and those from arid lands. Increasingly, the future looks treeless.”

Effending the Defensive

[a part of the game Masks in the Sun, developed in 2011, unpublished]

Acting as a consultant for the Syncretic Beings Labs, anthropologist Sandra Virtanen Cole write a defense of candidacy of Doug Walters for a contract position within Elder Systems working for the Department of Defense.

“Although it is hard to understand, you seem to consider the following points from nine years of non-area-specific work and experience as being unrelated to your need for a leader of a DoD social science research team dedicated to cultural analysis. For an organization whose greatest challenge is to strike a magical balance in achieving specific missions between the many shifting centers of power and influence that make up different spheres of influence , this is certainly curious.

state building,
governance,
state vulnerability,
non-profit communities,
transnational organizations,
international organizations,
military organizations,
anthropology is military organiztaions,
ethnic political organizations,
professional conflict and facilitation of solutions,
project management,
leadership of significant fact-finding groups,
“herding cats” to get projects to work in politically charged situations,
challenges in handling bureaucracies in various international settings,
disease in international contexts,
extensive experience in public health,
non-profit management,
major issues of conflict resolution,
post-conflict governance,
the anthropology of gender,
the anthropology of aging and eldership,
extensive knowledge of popular culture in Africa,
extensive knowledge of IT and web-based methods of data collection,
extensive experience building systems for data collection and analysis require inter-agency cooperation,
and dozens of other things directly relevant to working solutions with all African nation-states today?”

GPS-Based Caching Projects

[a part of the game Masks in the Sun, developed in 2008]

Phone Numbers, Email Addresses, and other means of contact information

[a part of the game Masks in the Sun, developed in 2010]

A Social Networking Site

[a part of the game Masks in the Sun, currently in development]

 

 

Staging the Legal System II:  Alliance of the Impossibles

[a part of the game Masks in the Sun, currently in development]

As the case proceeds, Doug Walters’ German-based work in bioethics becomes the focus of his critics, and they find German scholars to support them in US courts. This, in turn, leads to the anthropologist introducing a case into the German courts where he argues that the Federal Republic of Germany (FRG) is in support of a type of eugenic legal reasoning due to:

(a) its unwillingness to question patently false and disproven forms of cultural/practical reasoning, such as those of state locators and identifiers, and

(b) failing to integrate cultural anthropological knowledge into its legal system as a form of practical reason.

The argument against the FRG is that in a proper legal consideration, things the German attorneys are calling “amerikanisch” in distinguishing German society from the US are not simply products of a nation state or culture, but also products of a syncretic, European-based movement against a false form of cultural reasoning (a false meaning of life) itself.

So many in the US and Germany actively manipulate the ignorance of judges and the legal profession in order to use state-sanctioned force to empower the very forms of practical reason made the 19th and 20th centuries so violent and tragic.

Both nation states need to see this situation as a common dilemma.

As either a threat, a game, or a court case, I am somehow here to supply the incentive to help this process.

Which one I am remains continually in play.

 

Motel Algiers

[a part of the game Masks in the Sun, currently in development]

 

Cause

CAUSE

 

that to which all collective efforts are dedicated or sacrificed

the State and its various versions or personas, to which human and non-human efforts and lives are dedicated and sacrificed

Colony

COLONY

 

a sphere of influence, a spatial region or conceptual division over which a state or organization,even though wholly unable to understand and maintain so many of its key symbolic systems, has significant cultural, economic, military, or political influence

________________________________________

 

A colony depends upon those, usually local or specially educated persons who understand and maintain these key symbolic systems.

Biomedicine is one example of such a colony.

My use of the term “colonial” is simply the adjectival derivation of this term.

 

_________________________________________

Understanding the Defensive and Offensive Activities of Biochemical Weapons Research Programs in Relation to Forms of Discrimination: An  Anthropological  Perspective  

[a part of the game Masks in the Sun, developed in 2002, unpublished]

A great deal of work among anthropologists continues to concern the social nature of categories and forms of activity in and through which groups define and distinguish themselves from other groups.  These categories and forms of activity, often varying between social groups, include those of gender, kinship, race, ethnicity, nationality, and so on.  Most important to the subject addressed here, Anthropology has also shown that social and biological differences or similarities between human groups cannot be separated. The reason for this is that geographic, linguistic, historical and sociological categories and forms of activity make up the basis upon which biological research on humans is undertaken.

 

 

(Military) Anthropology  and Discrimination: An Anthropological  Perspective

[a part of the game Masks in the Sun, developed in 2012, unpublished]

Military anthropologists and other groups similar to them such as soldiers, psychological operations people, intelligence professionals, or arms industry workers, are not natural but rather cultural groups.

Like military anthropologists themselves, the target groups towards which their work is directed are primarily cultural.  This fact holds even where their targets are the living bodies, houses and other forms of livelihood.

 

 

Vulnerable States

[a part of the game Masks in the Sun, developed in 2010, unpublished]

 

The Rapid Ethnographic Assessment Program

[a part of the game Masks in the Sun, developed in 2010, unpublished experiment]

 

K Letter 

[a part of the game Masks in the Sun, developed in 2011, unpublished]

 

Commodity Cosmos

[a part of the game Masks in the Sun, currently in development]

 

Maynooth Piece

[a part of the game Masks in the Sun, developed between 2005 and 2007, and performed in 2007 at theNational University of Ireland (Maynooth)]


Cultures

CULTURES

 

alternate versions or subversions of large-scale, global orders

materials of insignificance

_______________________________________

 

To describe a culture, one need only take any large-scale global order, from telecommunications technology to textile work, from seafaring to writing, to any religion or -ism, and so on, that one can find or describe, and truthfully show a version of it that is an alternate version, or subversion of that large-scale global order.

A culture does not have a reference point or symbolic system through which its history, origin, and makeup can truthfully be determined. This is because the large-scale global orders they are versions and subversions of have no actual origins, but are rather timeless, in time immemorial. Even telecommunications technology (which there are written histories of) lives in time immemorial. It is an alternate version or subversion of a large scale global order that has either not yet been explained, or whose explanation has been actively opposed by various forms of symbolism supported by European-like states.

Elder/Ancestor

ELDER/ANCESTOR

 

those in some way affiliated with you who are of a different cohort than yourself

those who are probably more further along in transforming into a malevolent or helpful spiritas judged by their cool

 

__________________________

One need not in any way genetically or familially descend from such a person for him or her to be an elder/ancestor.

What European-like groups, in English, call “elders” and “ancestors” are basically two expressions of one form of being.

It simply does not work to say ancestors are dead and elders are alive, as this makes a separation that misrepresents the essential connection between the two in the first place.

Being alive or dead does not change their status as elders, or ancestors.

European-like

EUROPEAN-LIKE

 

Something liking (liking, similar to, resembling, or imitating) the ways Europeans describe themselves, often via symbolic systems supported by States.

Something being Ahn-like, being a-kin to, elder/ancestor-like, to the ways Europeans describe themselves, often via symbolic systems supported by States.

________________________________

 

To say something is “European-like” in no way suggests any historical or geographic reference point. Things that are European-like are in time immemorial.

Saying something is European-like is a note by someone, like the one you are reading now, made in what might be loosely called a European language or translated from it. It points to a similarity, resemblance, imitation, liking, or to an attribution of ancestrality that specifically focuses on symbols.

The similarity, resemblance, imitation, liking, or attribution of ancestrality in saying something is European-like points to the State-supported symbolic systems that are common to all things European-like, in so far as this is the way Europeans describe themselves.

________________________________

 

“This capitol of Europe is an allegorical “Kantgrad/b,” both the city (-grad) and the grave (-grab) of Kant.”

 

 

Before Doug Walters came back to New York from Berlin in 2001, he made a trip to Kant’s hometown of Kaliningrad. There, Walters came to the notion that Kaliningrad Oblast, a part of Russia, is a shrine for both Kant and his vision of an enlightened Europe.

This shrine is dedicated to a practical reason that could not be. This capital of Europe is an allegorical “Kantgrad/b,” both the city (-grad) and the grave (-grab) of Kant.

Back in New York, Walters began to further explore exactly how Kant’s screwed up notion of an enlightened state still plagues Europe. Pursuing the irony that Kantgrad/b is a European shrine, in late 2001 he was able to become situated within Columbia University’s Harriman Institute, in its School of International and Public Affairs, a world-renowned institute for Russian and East European Studies. There, he began the next phase of the staging exchanges between ancestors/elders and malevolent or helpful spirits, and the State. Walters began to base this upon both Kaliningrad Oblast and russified Immanuel Kant (today known in my work as KAHT).

 

Staging Fertility in Russian and East European Studies

[a part of the game Masks in the Sun, developed in 2001, performed at the annual convention of the Association of the Study of Nationalities in New York 2002]

 

The subject of reproductive technologies in relation to the nation-state is important to the area of policy for two main reasons. First, this subject is one of the key elements affecting the roles of women in nearly all aspects of society. Second, policy and law in the area of human genetics and genetic technology will be based on policy, law, and ways of acting involved in new reproductive technologies.

 

Staging Berlin as a Mnemonic Device  

[a part of the game Masks in the Sun, in development between 2002 and the present]

 

The dermis is perhaps the most sacred boundary of human life. The demosnot unlike the dermis, is an expedient and false meaning of life, a subject of public secrecy on behalf of some yet undefined whom or what. For years Walters had been very interested in a mural at the U-Bahn platform at Berlin’s Savigny Platz that says “we,” humanity (?), are the skin disease of the earth. He had also for some time been interested in the idea of certain kinds of behavior among those with Alzheimer’s in Germany and the US, and how it is interpreted in different cultural contexts.

Walters’ knowledge of Berlin as a flaneur had begun in 1984 and had continued to that day. He had come to know both West and East Berlin as times and spaces of structural and personal ruin and re-composition that are in some sense blended like a pallete of colors with the mass of blood shed in the bombing, by the state police, and subsequent battle for the city. Following this, Walters began to consider aging in the city and how the wartime generations from the city now dealt with certain strange symptoms associated with dementia.

Perhaps to further remove himself from the perspective of the flaneur, Walters began studying pre- and post-war maps and aerial photography from the 1930s on, gaining the perspective of both Wernher von Braun and the allied bombers, while losing the intimacy of being in situ. Could he come to imagine the people, buildings, and infrastructure of the city as patch of the earth’s diseased skin?  Wasn’t this task, in fact, the legacy he had been given from my parents’ generation and the one before them? Didn’t Kurt Vonnegut describe this legacy, this odd staging of the transformation of aging within this generation of Americans—as a kind of generational ethos?

 

From this, Walters began drawing up a series of stagings between elders/ancestors and malevolent or helpful spirits, and the State. He had begun to seriously construct these stagings in 2008, and is only now in the process of bringing the first of them to realization. This series of staged exchanges began with the idea of Berlin itself as a mnemonic device, and has evolved into a novel-length project he is simply calling “The Device.”

 

Devices are plans, schemes, contrivances. They are stratagems, tricks, inventions. They are inventive skills, designs, figures, patterns. They are where symbols take the form of  emblems or fanciful designs. Devices are fanciful ideas, conceits, dramatic entertainment, masks.

 

West Berlin was a city left to its own devices. It is where Heinrich Böll and Joseph Beuys merged to form a national ancestral masquerade.

 

Berlin is mnemonically fanciful in its device-iveness. The question is what, exactly, this device of Berlin helps us remember.

Part of the answer is in this painting by Hans Baluschek, another is with the Coyote that roams this space at night. I will say no more for now.

 

 

Is There and Anthropological Imperative?: Bioethics, Cosmopolitics and the  Ethnological Representation of Things German

[a part of the game Masks in the Sun, performed at the National University of Ireland (Maynooth) in 2002]

 

“One of the challenges within the possibly all-too-Berlin-centered Germany I know is coming to terms with the demands of cosmopolitical elements within a cosmopolitan (anti-)nationalist ethos. ”

 

 

Exchange

EXCHANGE

 

an act or instance of giving and receiving

the activity of making sense, scents, and cents of and from

_____________________________

 

CESIT

[a part of the game Masks in the Sun, developed in 2010 as an experiment]


 

Insignificance

INSIGNIFICANCE

 

having little or no importance or consequence in comparison to what symbolism maintains

being almost or relatively meaningless in comparison to what symbolism maintains

being small or inadequate in comparison to what symbolism maintains

not being distinctive in character, in comparison to what symbolism maintains

__________________________________________

 

Clifford Geertz and Max Weber inaccurately depict human beings as animals suspended in webs of significance they themselves have spun.

Geertz takes culture to be those webs of self-spun significance.

This is no good.

Cultures are alternate versions and subversions of large-scale global orders, and human beings are beings woven in materials of insignificance that they themselves have woven and rewoven.

These materials have all of the qualities of insignificance I give above.

Human beings live in spite of and in contradiction to these materials of insignificance, sharing true meanings of life beyond them.

Romanticism is a clever attempt to capture these true meanings of life and render them insignificant.

_________________________

 

Walker began an ongoing staging of Existenzexchanges of personas between himself and the State that continue on into the present.”

“Walker continues to explore the obvious yet overlooked effect of what one does for a living, what one must or should do, on oneself as a seeker of truth or builder of reality. He seems to be doing this mainly via the German concept of Existenz, through which one might combine ones means of subsistence, ones livelihood and making of a living, with the notions of character and actually existing.”

“Walker’s own Existenz continues to be an ever expanding series of exchanges of personas with the State. Many of their effects have been noted by him, and many no doubt not.”

“Through these exchanges of versions of self and liability, of personas, the community members and non-elected officials making up the State:

(a) have maintained a monopoly on the use of force either opposing me or on my behalf that is not always recognized as physical or legitimate,

(b) have maintained spheres of influence,especially over spatial and conceptual divisions, either opposing me or on my behalf.”

“Relatively few of these exchanges of personas have taken place between Walker himself and larger organized political communities living under some group of specifically non-elected officials called “the government.” In fact, most of these exchanges have actually been with smaller versions of, personas of, the State, not even commonly thought of as being part of ‘the government.’”

“Ironically, this situation of exchange with the State as opposed to government also applies not just to Walker, but to all persons working for the government as well.”

“These exchanges with the State have not only been confined to exchanges with “the public sector” but have also taken place throughout the private and non-profit sectors, including religious organizations and bodies.”

 

Reweaving Politics

 

What if that great entity known as “politics” was a subject that always required a predicate?

What if the predicate “Alzheimer’s” were but one of a great many predicates that could equally be applied to this entity and, in doing so, what if it opened whole new dimensions of politics to empirical investigation, policy construction, and law making?

How would this work to redefine “political activity?”

 

 

Staging Galileo via Kosovo

[part of the game Masks in the Sun, performed in 2002]

 

“Unhappy is the land that needs a hero.” – Brecht/Galileo

In the Summer of 2002, Doug Walters went to Kosovo to teach a course in Bioethics at the University of Prishtina, using Galileo (and Galileo via Brecht) as scientific model for engaging Europe in the vision of Edmund Husserl [English] [Deutsch]. The course itself was a staging of the spirit of Kant in a space of conflict.  This staging concluded with a party in honor of Stanley Kubrick’s film Dr. Strangelove, to which a wide range of shadowy figures were invited.

 

 

Clark Campaign

[part of the game Masks in the Sun, public policy positions developed and published in 2002]

 

 

After several months of study via the German Acadamic Exchange Service, hosted by the Free University of Berlin’s Interdisciplinary Center for Historical Anthropology, Drew Walker returned to New York where he began learning more about the Albanian American community in the New York area and it’s work in influencing foreign policy. Through his relations with this group, in the Fall of 2003, Walker was able to become involved in the political campaign of Wesley Clark, for whom he came to write policy statements on issues of healthcare and older persons. This path led him further into the theater of the political in the US, a theater in which he had no real experience and to which neither he, nor any anthropologist he ever knew, had any real access.

 

 

Walker for Congress

[part of Masks in the Sun, developed and performed as a broad series of events and printed materials making up an entire political campaign, 2003]

 

 

Visiting his home state of Michigan during Christmas of 2003, it had already become clear to Walker that Clark was not going to win the nomination for president. It was at that time he stumbled into an opportunity that he had never imagined.  Via a series of changes in the political landscape in his own home congressional district, various supporters of Clark he was meeting with began urging Walker to run for an open seat in the US Congress. After assessing the situation, it became clear to Walker that this was an experience he would never be able to replicate. It would be a doorway into the theater of the State he needed to go through. The results of this eight-month staging of his own campaign would call for self-sacrifices he had only understood theoretically, but had never actually rendered. It was this experience that led him to the staging of policy making, legislative theater, from which he still chiefly derive my means of existence.

 

Final Report   

[part of the game Masks in the Sun, developed 2004-2005, and published in 2006]

  

MRSN          

[part of the game Masks in the Sundeveloped 2006]

(I)nc.

(I)NC.

(pronounced “aye”)

 

persona with limited liability

a kind of purposeful mistake in grammar

a game by the Syncretic Beings Labs 

 

Variants are:

I(nc.)      (pronounced “aye”)

G.mbH   (pronounced “aye” or, in German, “iech”)

mwe        (pronounced “mee” or “wee”)

mwichruns  (pronounced in German as “miech,” “mier,” “wier,” or “yns”)

________________________

 

While some use the terms like “sey,” “ieyu or “zihm,” I do not think it is right to point out  that someone or even some group he or she is a part of is acting via a certain persona.

Only he, she and they (often only a few others) really know this, and these others cannot say or point this out.

These terms are not variants of “(I)nc.”

Liability

LIABILITY

 

something that is a hindrance or puts an individual or group at a disadvantage

something that someone is responsible for

something that increases the likelihood of something occurring


Living

LIVING

 

symbolic rendering of the activities and ways of being and becoming an elder/ancestor andmalevolent 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 were conceived, born and are developing/transforming. Clearly, human beings live and many are living. It is a fact that one does not lose the status of being a human being or a person simply by not living, and usually not for a long time after ceasing to live and breath. Yet, ways of understanding living make all the difference in the ways we understand human activity and the meaning of human life and lives.

In many European-like societies, life and death 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 “a living person” is all we are left to work through, either before or after birth.

This symbolic world of “living persons,” all in some sense possessing dignity through simply being alive(or recently deceased) stands in direct confrontation with the ancestral.

This world of “living persons” supports the false meaning of life offered by so many versions of the State.

Malevolent or Helpful Spirits

MALEVOLENT OR HELPFUL SPIRITS

 

Over the span of time, (extremely old ) elders/ancestors are forgotten. Their names are not remembered, nor are the stories of their lives. They become from time immemorial, time out of time, a kind of extra or original historical and legal space.

These elders/ancestors become spirits, sometimes strange beings, sometimes somewhat familiar wild animals that live in woods, under water and other natural places. At certain times, some of these spirits come to visit where people live, where they themselves used to live. These spirits are strange and unpredictable. They are sometimes helpful, and sometimes harmful.

Everything in life shows the spirits are real. No one dies, and all become spirits. Like the elders/ancestors they were, they are not worshiped, but respected.

Some in the community claim special relationships with certain kinds of these spirits, and they are thought by many to have more power than most to either use these relationships to harm or to help/heal others.

____________________________

 

“Most ethnographic exchanges are between various individual and State personas, though they are seldom recognized or depicted as such.”

At the age of 30, Doug Walters began creating and performing dramatic paper readings all reflecting exchanges between elders/ancestors and malevolent and helpful spirits and the State, as he then understood them. This was the beginning of a long series of academic stagings of exchanges between the State and the persona of Drew Walker–the academy being a key staging area for the State itself.

To some extent, Walker was taking what I had learned from performance innovators from Artaud and Brecht to Grotowski, and Boal (among many others akin to them), and was applying this experience in a career-based setting. In the staging of knowledge and power, of symbolic and semiotic reality,  he had moved these methods from the theater to the lecture stage.

In a way different from theater audience members who passively make it hard to see themselves as subjects and participants, academic presentation audiences actively oppose even hinting that they might see themselves in such a way. This was also unfortunately true amongst so many cultural anthropologists who, while self-consciously political, too often fail to realize that most ethnographic exchanges are exchanges of personas with the State, though they are seldom recognized as such.

This being the case, each of my stagings were meant to in one way or another work with the power of the truths Walters had been developing. By rejecting life, death, the animate, and inanimate, and by not respecting the Symbol of sociocultural anthropology itself (i.e., symbolic and semiotic analysis), these stagings, this persona named Drew Walker, produced a certain amount of what I can only call indignation opposing shame.

 

 

 

Uprising of the Garden Gnomes

[part of the game (I)nc., developed in Berlin, and performed in Berlin and Tipperary, Ireland]

In this work, Walker was particularly focused on what can best be called the sacred nature of garden gnomes seen in their silliness and absurdity. Among other things, he was interested in how it mixed with a kind of self-staging of “Germaness” via: (a) Gemuetlichkeit, (b) accusations of Spiessbuergertum, and (c) unconscious racial or ethnic imaginings.

Spending a lot of time in the Small Garden Colonies of Berlin, he came to focus on the alcohol/spirit-soaked, delirious nature of a kind of self-fetishism, continually drawing parallels to similar work in Michigan and Nigeria.

A common question Walker has encountered for years is whether in my performances of papers I have been talking about actual gnomes, delirium symptoms, or the small ceramic statues? The answer is all of the above, as they are one and the same. There is no animate or inanimate, and there are no phenomena. Many small garden colonists actively defy such notions. Gnomes exist in the only world there is– the ancestral, imitatively construed, defying world of mocking laughter and terror to which sacred notions of the animate, inanimate, living and dead provide visceral support.

As this persona performed this work on gnomes in academic settings, the performances were generally taken to be too artistic and not pretending enough to be the kind of science that sociocultural anthropology likes to pretend to be. They were also taken to be too philosophical for the uses that this anthropology pretends to make of philosophy. They also played with History, which made many quite angry.

 

Oily Sinclair
[part of the game (I)nc., performed in the Department of  Anthropology, Columbia University, 1995]

 

A tale of water spirits and accumulations of Orange Fanta bottles on two continents. The ability of the individual to somehow divine and extract a nugget of gold from a mountain of muddy bottles, buried in time immemorial and pre-legal.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Plantation and Collection

[part of the game (I)nc., developed in Michigan and performed at Columbia University in 1993]

Susan is a middle-class white executive with a collection of 19th century slave objects. A fetishist for sure, like all humans, she is best understood as a scientist and materialist philosopher of the ancestral, researching her destiny, miming the ancestral with a greater or lesser knowledge of her own will to power and the roles she plays in various Causes.

Masquerade

MASQUERADE

 

when a member or members of a secret society dress up as one or more malevolent or helpful spirits and come into the place where people live

________________________

 

A few members of this society usually guide them.

While all adults of course know these spirits are masked persons, usually in full-body costumes, it is forbidden to say they are.

It is an even bigger transgression to say there are no real spirits, but just masked men.

________________________

In West African societies, exchanges of personas with the State are very often defined in terms of the various transformations associated with the course of being human and aging. The individual is meant to transform into an elder/ancestor, and eventually into a malevolent or helpful spirit from beyond (below, above, hidden from) where people dwell. The individual’s behavior or actions are to become more ancestral. The success of these transformations transcends what symbolic systems of religious and scientific cultures refer to as life and death of a person.

My focus is neither on life nor death, nor on their kinds of symbolism that pervade some cultures. It has instead been on the continual transformations from elders/ancestors to malevolent or helpful spirits, precisely because this focus can better describe human lives–past, present, and future.

This transcendence of individual life and death is due to what anthropologists and African scholars have for several decades noted as a pan-African, combined conception of elders, ancestors, and malevolent or helpful spirits.  According to this kind of conception:

(a) exchanges with elders/ancestors are

(b) exchanges with malevolent or helpful spirits, which are, in turn,

(c) exchanges of personas with the State.

One can witness the above through watching this short video of a Bamana masquerade in Mali. While I cannot explain so much here, I urge you to simply take note of how the different individuals act according to the stage of eldership/ancestor-hood they possess. Note who possesses the cool personas in the face of the malevolent or helpful spirit, and who does not.

 

Persona

PERSONA    

 

a version of self presentation

a version (or degree) of liability

a mask

_____________________________________

Versions of self presentation and degrees of liability are selected according to the desired impression an individual wishes to create when interacting with other people. A person may inhabit various social roles through intentional or unintentional expression of behaviors and appearances that convey meanings maintaining these roles during social interactions. Therefore, the persona one presents to other people varies according to the social environment (including culture) the person is engaged with.

Piety

PIETY

 

(see Plato’s Socrates in the dialogue Euthyphro)

_________________

 

 

In further pursuit of his issues with the symbolism of neurology and Alzheimer’s (1)(2)Drew Walkerentered into a postdoctoral fellowship amongst a group of German and Eastern European bioethicists affiliated with the Interdisziplinaeres Zentrum fuer Ethik, at Europa-Universitaet Viadrina, Frankfurt (Oder). It was here that he developed a direction that still seems to drive some of his work.

In the preface to his book Critique of Practical Reason [E][D], the German philosopher Immanuel Kant tells us that while we acknowledge that physics has both an empirical part and a rational part, it is also the same with ethics. In ethics, says Kant, the empirical part should be called “practical anthropology” and the rational part “morality.”

Explaining more of what he is getting at, Kant asks if there can be an ethics that is perfectly made up of everything that is only empirical. Can I determine what is right and wrong by anthropologically studying the causes and effects of my own or others’ actions, actions that are psychologically, politically, socially, and economically determined by the cultures I am invested in?

If I can determine what is right and wrong in this way, he asks, can or must Ethics therefore be studied and understood through the study of mankind (Anthropology), allowing us to see how cultures influence our own and others’ behavior?

Kant’s answer is ‘No.’  To study and understand Ethics in this way is actually not possible, he says, because there exist common ideas of duty and of moral laws that transcend what we can learn and know from the study of Anthropology. The basis of the precept ‘Thou shalt not lie,’ for example, cannot simply be researched and understood by studying what humans do, nor in particular situations. Such a precept, he says, can only be known à priori, only by using pure reason. There is no culturally determined. psychological, political, social, and economic rationale for why all humans agree it is wrong to lie. We cannot defend this idea through anthropological studies of the psychological, political, social, or economic factors, but only through the process of reason that transcends such studies. That is Kant’s position.

But what if the process of reason does not transcend such studies anymore? What if Kant had had the benefit of 130 years of anthropological research into such questions, as we have today? What if a human universality of this process of reason has itself been discovered and described via anthropological research?

Walker posed and answered these questions through a series of stagings showing what Kant’s Categorical Imperative would look like in light of 20th-century ethnological knowledge.

 

 The Anthropological Imperative

[a part of the game Masks in the Sun, developed in New York and Berlin in 2002, and performed at theNational University of Ireland (Maynooth) in 2002]

  


Player

PLAYER

 

a person who is playing

a person who is being played

a participant, especially a powerful one, in a particular field of activity

an actor

_____________________________

Most especially powerful participants in a particular field of activity are players in this combined sense

Relation

RELATION

 

telling

____________________

 

 

Telling Relations   

[part of the game (I)nc., performed in the Department of Anthropology at Columbia University in 1994]

 

“This is a combination essay and didactic play dealing with the essence of those odd things/non-things we call ‘relations.’”

“If relations are to be rejected for being bad stories to believe in, and I say they are, then what about the economic, political and otherwise social relations so dear to Karl Marx, making up so much of the Symbol of contemporary, progressive social critique?”

“Showing a way to save “relations,” while fully abandoning all ways they might be used to support the power of sign and symbol systems, Walker plays with the notion in different ways.”

“If you already think of relations as part active storytelling, and part ancestral mourning and remembrance, and you accept that all relations are both, then you will get nothing from this.”

Serious Game

SERIOUS GAME

 

game whose primary purpose is other than pure entertainment

___________________________________

 

The “serious” adjective is generally prepended to refer to products used by industries like defense, education, scientific exploration, healthcare, emergency management, city planning, engineering, religion, and politics.

Sphere of Influence

SPHERE OF INFLUENCE

 

a spatial region or conceptual division over which a state or organization has significant cultural, economic, military, or political influence

_____________________________

“To date, all testing has confirmed that there is no truth-based study that affects scientific, historiographic, or philosophical practice.”

Walker tells us that he grew up in a world infused with stories, through which aeons of experience were conveyed in ways he now see were as strange as they were mundane. He tells us that he has long seen that more of these stories came from science, history, and philosophy, than from my family, friends, artists, and the world itself. He says he has also come to see the purposes for these stories and their roles in human lives.”

“Having found many of these stories either lacking or outright suspect,” he writes, “I have assumed the right, responsibility, and have paid the price to make them better.”

 

Engineering Syncretic Beings 

[(1) a performance piece,  part of the game (I)nc., performed at the annual meeting of  Committee on the Anthropology of Science, Technology and Computing, New York, 2008 | (2) a video production in development, based on (1)]
Walker was once given the opportunity to prepare a presentation for the annual meeting of a group working on the social and cultural study of science and technology. To do this, he constructed a small ball made up of a wide range of fibers to illustrate how ethnographic knowledge of New Caledonian understandings of persons and bodies would be able to challenge many contemporary assumptions in medical and biological science. His reception was less than welcoming, and this test yielded disappointing, yet not unexpected results.

 

The Gift of Voice 

 [ (1) an essay, part of the game (I)nc., never published | (2) a video production in development, based on (1)]

“It was in the crying, against the sign, that Walker was often hearing, here and there, that he first came to what became one of my most important realizations.  This crying, never with tears, was always subdued.  It was a sort of desperate attempt to cry out. It came only as a muted outpouring of sobbing sounds which those uttering them seemed unable to control.  When listened to very closely, this sound became a bit uncanny. This crying, this present and poison combined, it struck me, with its sort of whine searching for a voice, without tears, was one he himself had felt, had cried, but only in dreams.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lukasa: African Inspirations and Western Objects 

[(1) an experimental essay, part of the game (I)nc., published in Archiv Orientalni in 1994 and Afrika Focus in 1996 | (2) a video production in development, based on (1)]

“A pocket calculator from Walker’s childhood is posed as a means of telling histories via tactile reminding.”

“He looks at both this calculator’s renderings and at texts as if they were mnemonic devices and not symbol or sign systems, and he asks what this means in regards to the history of cultures and states.”

 

               

 

 

 

 

  

Colonial Physics

[(1) a performance piece, part of the game (I)nc., never performed | (2) a video production in development, based on (1)]

“Since Walker was a child, he says he has been disturbed by the stories of physics (and math). Yet it was not until he came to study ethnographic descriptions of other ways of viewing the world that he became able to fully appreciate the power these stories depend on and support. Overall, from a more informed, more comprehensively human perspective, so much of physics (and math) is either lacking or outright suspect. Their stories, he tells us, can be made better.”

 

 

 

Dog Breath

[(1) a performance piece, part of the game (I)nc., performed in the Department of Anthropology, Columbia University, 1998 | (2) a video production in development, based on (1)]

“When he first read the book No Aging in India by anthropologist Lawrence Cohen, Walker says he was dismayed by the way it attempted to treat Alzheimer’s by depicting it in terms of symbolic Hindu physical conceptions of bodies and the physical world. Cohen seemed to have  no appreciation for the relation of Hinduism to the State, the monopoly of the legitimate use of force these conceptions of bodies and the physical world maintain, and the false meanings of human life they offer.”

 

 

 

 

 

Where We Meet

[(1) a performance piece, part of the game (I)nc., performed at the California State University at Santa Cruz, 1999 | (2) a video production in development, based on (1)]

“As he later continued to create different stagings from my work in Miami, Walker also began looking for ways back to Berlin, to begin weaving together his earlier, delirious work on gnomes with medical science. The results of his stagings of his Miami work had led him away from my critique of cultural anthropology, which tests results had basically proven hopeless, to an even more ambitious but necessary critique of neurology. Along with this, came a real frustration and dilemma with seeing certain culturally based problems with neurology’s approach to Alzheimer’s, but not being able to affect it in any way that could help those suffering from this disease. This would occupy Walker for the next few years.”

 

Staging Neurology as Figurative Representation

[ (1) a performance piece, part of the game (I)nc., developed in Berlin 2002, and performed at the California State University at Chico, 2002 and the University of Leipzig, 2002 | (2) a video production in development, based on (1)]

 

A dramatic text reading that depicts neurology as a form of figurative (Symbol-determined) artistic expression. Presented by Walker in Germany and the US.

Symbol

SYMBOL

 

A token, pledge, or sign by which we can experience some reality through another reality. Most often, symbol is used in connection with the liturgy. Through symbols, we can participate in the saving mysteries of Christ’s passion, death, and resurrection. This is preeminently true in the celebration of the Eucharistic Sacrifice. The Word of God and the bread and wine are symbols that make present again the redemption won for us on Calvary by Christ. A symbol, in the religious sense, is cognitive and evocative. As such, it bids us look beyond what our senses tell us is present and available to us and elicits from us a belief in a more transcendent, mysterious reality that the senses cannot apprehend.  – The Catholic Dictionary

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All other definitions of symbol, including those used by Cultural Anthropology, are derived from and evocative of this definition and its themes.

Even the most banal and seemingly non-religious tokens, pledges and signs fit this description.

The State

THE STATE

 

the organized political community of persons living subject to a group of specifically non-elected officials

the group of specifically non-elected officials themselves (themselves living under others of the same group)

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This group implements the rules, laws, ideas, and functions that seek to control the community at a given time.

This group maintains monopolies on the use of physical force.

This force is not always recognized or legitimate.

This group maintains spheres of influence.

This group is not the same as what we call a nation or a government, and is in fact much greater than any nation or government.

This group’s organization as a political community varies, has varied, and will vary a great deal.

The origin of this group is human, but not in time.

This group has countless versions or personas.

This group is timeless.

This group is (not) a terrestrial god.

Syncretic Experience

The essence of syncretic experience is the development of the ability to experience everything in the universe as in some sense the same. Instead of focusing on difference, it focuses on sameness and similarity. While experience as we know it does not allow this, syncretic experience shows that we can experience the universe in this way without having to discard the differences with which we work today.

Syncretic Human Life

In seeking to determine causes of bodily injury from three different things, SBL determined that when it came to being a causal agent, there was no necessary opposition or contradiction between dead or living persons, nor between animate or the inanimate things.

Our first case study involved a man of 27 years of age who was shot with a 38 caliber handgun in the head .

Our second case study involved a woman of 27 years of age who ran into the side of a door, bruising her forehead.

Our third case study involved a 38 year old man whose foot was injured by a falling rock while hiking on a mountain trail.

Our overall study found that in all three cases it was not the inanimate things themselves (the gun, bullet, door, or rock) that caused the trauma, nor was it the animate person (his behavior or intentions), the blow itself measured in terms of force, the act of striking, nor the event itself.

What we observed was rather a movement from one state to another through one form of body or person imitating another form of body or person. We observed a physical tension of material contrasts changing, one affecting the other in kind.  We observed an imitation of one thing caused by imitation of another.

Since no strict opposition between the living and the dead, animate or inanimate was observed, neither the dead nor the living were observed acting as the dead or the living alone, but rather acting simply as persons both alive and dead, animate and inanimate.

We observed that the result of the so-called inanimate things striking the so-called animate bodies and persons was that bodies or persons changed in the same way. The bodies and persons became to a greater degree like (i.e. imitated) the things and the things became to a greater degree like (i.e. imitated) the bodies or persons.  All subsequent trauma, related behaviors, dreams, and so on in between were observed to be imitations of the things.

When it came to determining cause and effect, we found that there were no absolute opposites but only matters of degree or ratio of contrast.  Things were more or less dead, more or less alive, animate or inanimate, but never absolutely only one of these.

In this and a range of other, related cases, we observed that very seldom was such imitation total and permanent.  Instead, we observed a constantly shifting change in ratio and degree of imitation, between degrees of continuity and discontinuity, changes that were wholly material and physical.

Above all else, we concluded that these changes were material and physical changes and not phenomena, signs or symbols of these changes.  The trauma was not primarily a sign, symbol, or phenomenon but rather an imitative cause in itself leading to other instances of imitation, to other forms of physical change, which could have been, as they often are, described and placed in some order that is referred to as social, mental, linguistic, symbolic or semiotic.

These observations support the overall SBL hypothesis that physical and material persons, places and things are essentially imitative, standing as an imitative and imitation inducing realm of persons, places and things in themselves from which even language, symbolism, signification or thinking does not escape.

Lukasa TI-30

Neural and behavioral correlates of drawing in an early blind
painter: A case study

In 2008 two researchers from Harvard, Dr. Amir Amedi and
Dr. Alvaro Pascual-Leone, tried to find more about neural
plasticity using Turkish painter Esref Armagan as a study case.

Both scientists had evidence that in cases of blindness, the
“visual” cortex acts differently than how it acts with the non-blind.
Pascual-Leone has found that Braille readers use this very same
area for touch. Amedi, together (with Ehud Zohary) at the Hebrew
University in Jerusalem, found that the area is also activated in verbal
memory tasks. When Amedi analyzed the results, however, he found
that Armagan’s visual cortex lit up during the drawing task, but hardly
at all for verbal recall, meaning that some unused visual areas might

be used in collaboration with ones needs from the brain. Moreover in scans
that were held while Armagan drew, his visual cortex signals seemed as
if he was seeing to the extent that a naive viewer of his scan might assume
Armagan really could see.

Activation of the primary visual cortex by Braille reading in blind subjects.
Sadato N, Pascual-Leone A, Grafman J, Ibañez V, Deiber MP, Dold G, Hallett M.
Nature. 1996 Apr 11;380(6574):479-80.



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