Re: [xmca] torturers, Moyers, and Uncle George

From: bb (
Date: Mon Apr 24 2006 - 14:19:44 PDT

Reads like one of the rituals one goes through to get phd in physics, with
the part about the cutting cut out. The one subjected to the ritual does not
nearly know what is the setting as well as those doing the subjecting. e.g.
What will be the problem to solve in each of the two oral qualifying
examinations? Structure of the helium atom? Zeeman effect?
Born-Oppenheimer approximation? Which of the gods... Fermi, Dirac, (gods of
spin), Heisenberg (god of uncertainty), Schroedinger (god of the wave
functions), Einstein (god of certainty) ... will they summons?

This bullroarer was used in a Crocodile Dundee movie. Sound file in mp3
format is attached.


On Monday 24 April 2006 4:22 pm, Peter Smagorinsky wrote:
> I don't have any of the recent posts handy on the extent to which we
> construct our own settings, but I've found the discussion problematic
> because it assumes that we know what our setting is and so can act
> knowledgeably in relation to it. But is this always the case? I offer the
> following story, excerpted from a talk recently given by Bill Moyers, that
> suggests that we don't. p
> Its fascinating what is revealed to you. Joseph Campbell told me a story
> (also recently recounted by Davidson Loehr) about the Australian tribe that
> used the bullroarer to keep people in awe of the gods. The bullroarer is a
> long flat board with notches, or slits, at one end, and a rope at the
> other. When you swing it around your head, the action produces a musical
> humming. The sound struck the primitive tribes as other-worldly, causing
> them to tremble in fear that the gods were angry. So the elders would go
> into the forest and come back with word of what it would take to placate
> the gods. And the people would oblige.
> Now when a young boy in the tribe was ready to become a man, a ritual took
> place. Wearing masks, the elders would kidnap him and take him into the
> woods, tie him down, and with a flint knife slice the underside of his
> penis. It was painful, but the medicine man said this is how you became a
> man. It meant shedding ones innocence. At the end of the ritual one of the
> masked men dipped the bullroarer in the boys blood and thrust it in his
> face, simultaneously removing his mask so the boy could see its not a god
> at all its just one of the old guys. And the medicine man would whisper,
> We make the noises.
> Ah, yes its not the gods after all. Its just the old guys Uncle
> George, Uncle Dick, Uncle Don. The "noise" in the woods is the work of the
> old guys playing gods, wanting you to live in fear and trembling so that
> you will look to them to protect you against the wrath to come. It takes
> courage to put their truth-claims to the test of reality, to call their
> bluff.
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