Jul 2, 2009
Review of Claude Levy-Strauss's The Savage Mind
I suffered through this dense twaddle because the "critics" said it was profound. Foucault and CLS have in common a designedly dense prose that doubles back on itself and aims to thwart comprehension of simple ideas tortured into twisted linguistic shapes to make them seem profound. I call this style pretentious flapdoodle.
After wading through every nuance of primitive people's relationship with totems--bears and opossums get their totemistic due-- to a degree never imagined by a sane soul and undoubtedly never invented by the natives but by Mr.CLS's cross-eyed imagination, the final chapter administers the coup de grace by exploring without mercy Mr. CLS''s disagreements with Sartre. He shreds existentialism and Satire to tatters and kicks them to the curb. This act shouldn't surprise since CLS has sneered at just about every big-time thinker in Western history throughout this book. Beating up on Sartre seems ungallant inasmuch as Sartre is only recently dead and Mr. CLS still alive at 100.
CLS savages Sartre I wager because the latter occasionally writes a coherent sentence.
The fool reviewers at the flossy publications of the New York Times, The Observer, and The Saturday Review quoted in the back-cover blurbs do obeisance before this clotted production to make people think they are among the elect that can appreciate this opaque tome on totemism with its cover-to-cover intellectual pretension, opaque allusions, and God knows what all.
The NYT acolyte of nonsense says this: "every word, like a sacred object, has its place. No précis is possible. This extraordinary book must be read." Translated: "I didn't understand a word of The Savage Mind and hand the task off to the reader to make of it what he or she can." Had he said what he really thought of the book, his review would have been word for word like mine.
lee drury de cesare, Madeira Beach, FL