The Bottom Petal

Claude Lévi-Strauss at Machado in Brazil.

While purging my active RSS opml, I noted a feed from the Mind & Culture blog (@Mind&Culture.Net.) “This is a blog for students who are taking the course in Mind and Culture at the Institute of Cognitive and Evolutionary Anthropology, in the University of Oxford.” From there, it’s a skip via the link roll to Cognition & Culture Net. On the blog there is a memory of Claude Lévi-Strauss by Scott Atran. Lévi-Strauss passed away October 30, a month short of birthday 101. The brief memory is diamond-like. Read the whole piece.

In 1974, when I was a graduate student in anthropology at Columbia University, I wanted to organize a discussion of universals with people whose ideas I wished to know more about than I thought I could get from their writings. At the time, I was working for Margaret Mead as one of her assistants at the American Museum of Natural History, so I asked her how I might go about getting my wish. She said “talk to these people and see if they’ll meet.” So I went to see Noam Chomsky in Cambridge, Jean Piaget in Geneva, and Jacques Monod in Paris, and they agreed; but I wondered if Levi-Strauss would because he seemed so aloof . Margaret licked her lips and laughed: “Well, that’s his look, aloof and frail, but he’s more playful than he lets on and he’ll outlive me by thirty years if a day. Just tell him I sent you.” Scott Atran: A memory of Lévi-Strauss (Cognition & Culture Net)

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