03 November 2009

Scientific Poetry

"I began with physical anthropology. I was taught how to measure the size of the brain of a human being who had been dead a long time, who was all dried out. I bored a hole in his skull, and I filled with grains of polished rice. Then I emptied the rice into a graduated cylinder. I found this tedious.
"I switched to archaeology, and I learned something I already knew: that man had been a maker and smasher of crockery since the dawn of time. And I went to my faculty advisor, and I confessed that science did not charm me, that I longed for poetry instead. I was depressed. I knew my wife and father would want to kill me if I went into poetry.
"My advisor smiled. 'How would you like to study poetry which pretends to be scientific?' he asked me.
"'Is such a thing possible?' I said.
"He shook my hand. 'Welcome to the field of social anthropology,' he said. He told me that Ruth Benedict and Margaret Mead were already in it- and some sensitive gentlemen as well."

Kurt Vonnegut recounting anthropology at the University of Chicago
Wampeters, Foma & Granfalloons


Sam said...


jess said...

Hi! I am doing an undergrad in anthro and I stubled on your blog when was google random things about anthrpology ( I do that when I have writers block). I like your blog!