And someone to make the association.


Edward Rothstein, writing in the New York Times this month, reports on how he recently stumbled upon a connection between seemingly unrelated subjects:
News of the death of the philosopher Richard Rorty on June 8 came as I was reading about a small Brazilian tribe that the French anthropologist Claude Le'vi-Strauss studied in the 1930s. A strange accident, a haphazard juxtaposition but for a moment this pragmatist philosopher and a fading tribal culture glanced against each other, revealing something unusual about the contemporary scene.
Rothstein is surely right that this is "a haphazard juxtaposition". Numerous other times could have been the precise time at which he might have been reading about this particular Brazilian tribe. And since his thoughts about this tribe were clearly influenced by his thoughts about Richard Rorty, had he not heard of Rorty's death at that time, those thoughts would most probably have been quite different. I trust, however, that Rothstein's personal web of associations is rich enough so that similar thoughts might have sprung upon him had news of someone else's death, or a report of some different event, "accidentally" reached him while reading about this tribe.

And most important of all, this particular juxtaposition wasn't only of the news of Rorty's death and the reading about the tribe, but also of the perceptions of a particular observer who was able to observe the possible relationship between those two events.



Go to: and that, and that, oh, and that ...