Adventures and Difficulties In Space and Time
When experience -based descriptions and functional explanation were written up in the ethnographic present, a third ‘now’- writerly and generic- was made the medium of a presentism that was simultaneously methodological and theoretical. The consistency of this high valuation of the ‘here and now’ elevates it to my mind, beyond mere preference towards an aesthetic disposition characteristic of its time;
A quality of now-ness recommended whatever it touched; and ‘pastness’ seemed correspondingly unattractive. Those of us trained by the mid-century modernists probably absorbed presentism as we acquired a sense for the aesthetics of properly proportioned anthropological argument.
I have a slightly different issue I don’t find history unattractive, but for the moment it’s going to prove rather time consuming and will take a lot of time.
Can I take the text, alter the inflection and use it to do something else, while doing the historical grunt work required? I suspect this something else has a relationship with its history but I don’t want to get attached to that idea or let it fully fuse with the sense that it is a pure historical processes that is being uncovered.
R. Fardon, Tiger In An African Place