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  1. Dec 2021
    1. Historians are aware of all this. Yet the overwhelming majority stillconclude that even when European authors explicitly say they areborrowing ideas, concepts and arguments from indigenous thinkers,one should not take them seriously. It’s all just supposed to be somekind of misunderstanding, fabrication, or at best a naive projection ofpre-existing European ideas. American intellectuals, when theyappear in European accounts, are assumed to be mererepresentatives of some Western archetype of the ‘noble savage’ orsock-puppets, used as plausible alibis to an author who mightotherwise get into trouble for presenting subversive ideas (deism, forexample, or rational materialism, or unconventional views onmarriage).11

      Just as Western historians erase indigenous ideas as misunderstandings or fabrications or outright appropriation of those ideas as pre-existing ideas in European culture, is it possible that we do the same thing with orality and memory? Are medievalists seeing mnemotechniques of the time and not properly interpreting them by not seeing them in their original contexts and practices?

      The idea of talking rocks, as an example, is dismissed as lunacy, crazy, or some new-age hokum, but in reality it's at the far end of the spectrum. It's so unknowable for Western audiences that it's wholly dismissed rather than embraced, extended, and erased.

      What does the spectrum of potentially appropriated ideas look like? What causes their adoption or not, particularly in cases of otherwise cultural heterodoxy?