Man's Own Show: Civilization

Man's Own Show: Civilization

Man's Own Show: Civilization

Man's Own Show: Civilization

Excerpt

It is next to impossible, I suppose, for anyone to see his belongings or himself without some prejudice; nor, presumably, can any human being write about human beings or civilization quite free from personal bias. Yet that is what I have attempted to do in this volume: discuss human beings and civilization as objectively as though I were neither human nor civilized, but nevertheless had retained my human right to be curious about everything, my acquired interest in anything or anybody, and my constitutional privilege to speak my mind about anything I am taxed to support. On the other hand, I have not tried to prove something or improve anybody; exploit somebody or expound anything; point a moral or point with pride; sound a warning or forecast the future.

Man has done the few simple things he has to do (or die) in so many different ways, and has thought up so many ways to beat death, that the anthropologist has been swamped in the attempt to find out and describe the vagaries of human culture. He could not see Man for the men, women, and children; he could not see Civilization for the manners and customs; he could not see Life for the skulls and souls.

Man had to take to culture or perish: no man-made additions to man's natural endowment, no human race. Culture was a biologic necessity. As culture helped man to supply his physiologic needs, it had survival value in the struggle for existence--and still has. As culture was man's answer to the will-to-live, civilization is his answer to the will-to-power, to live more, bigger, faster, longer, for ever: insurance for life and immortal glory in death; to live like a magician, like a king, like a demon, like a god.

More questions are asked today about more things than our ancestors had names for, and about thousands of things they took for granted because named or unheard of, or because grandfather had divined or grandmother dreamed the answer. This revolt against ancient beliefs and vested ignorance has produced a new world--

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