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The Dionysian Innovation
ALFRED G. SMITH Univeristy Oregon of INTRODUCTION
HEstudy of culture is itself a culture. Anthropology itself is a learned and patterned way of life of a group of people. It is, in fact, the behavior of one group of people toward other groups of people. Anthropology also has a history. Like any other culture, anthropology changes-through innovation, diffusion, and other processes. It is a tradition that studies other traditions. American anthropologists are now beginning to study their own traditions in the way they have long studied those of other peoples. In the spring of 1962, the Social Science Research Council held a conference on the history of anthropology (Hymes 1962; Mitchell 1962). The importance of that conference, wrote Hymes, lay "not in the intrinsic value of what occurred-but in the fact that it did occur." It inaugurated a development that led within six months to a plenary session on the history of anthropology at the annual meeting of the American Anthropological Association. These beginnings in America coincide with a new interest shown by British anthropologists. They too are re-examining the relation between ethnology and history (Evans-Pritchard 1961; Smith 1962; Schapera 1962). They admit that synchronic and diachronic analyses of cultures are essential to each other. This turn in British orientations should make us recognize an obvious corollary: studying the history of anthropology also involves studying the culture of anthropology. We are studying our own ethnohistory. One approach to the study of any culture is through its artifacts and mentifacts. In anthropology the ideas of "race," "culture area," and "the superorganic" are what potsherds and cult gods are for other tribes and traditions. In this paper I consider the history of one mentifact of the anthropological culture. I aim to show that this serves the same function as the study of any other phenomenon in any other culture: it adds to our understanding of human behavior in general. In 1928, Ruth Benedict introduced the term "Dionysian" to cultural anthropology. Since that time this Benedictine innovation has been accepted, rejected, and modified, and it has generated elaborate discussions. Many of these discussions have tried to evaluate the concept and judge whether it is legitimate or out of bounds (e.g. Nadel 1937; Williams 1947). This normative approach has been common in our discussions of other anthropological mentifacts. Anthropologists have long argued about such concepts as cultural evolution, cultural logics, and even that of culture itself (e.g. Kroeber and Kluckhohn 1952). These discussions meet significant needs, but the normative way
they approach anthropology is not the way anthropologists approach other cultures. The ethnohistory of anthropology, however, considers the Dionysian innovation without accepting or rejecting it. To the ethnographer and historian of this culture the innovation is not a topic for debate but a phenomenon to be observed and explained. In this study I survey the anthropological literature and take a historical inventory of definitions, contexts, and evaluations of the Dionysian concept. I regard the acceptance and rejection of the innovation as choices made by anthropologists. These choices are based on values, and there is a standard set of values throughout the anthropological tradition. These choices also reveal behavioral moieties among anthropologists, and reveal their statuses and roles. Finally, anthropology is regarded as a subsystem of a larger cultural setting. This setting changes and as it does, anthropology and the Dionysian innovation change with it. The basic thesis of this study is that the history and culture of anthropology can be analyzed in an anthropological manner; that one approach to this kind of analysis is through the artifacts and mentifacts of the culture; and that such an analysis can provide new perceptions for the study of other cultures.
VARIETY AND CHANGE IN THE INNOVATION
The historical inventory reveals that the Dionysian concept has, and always has had, many different meanings. Today many popular accounts about anthropology, accounts written for non-anthropologists, accept the Dionysian innovation. However, they give the term seemingly contradictory and incommensurable meanings. Herskovits (1955:339), for example, states that Dionysian is "equivalent to the extraverted," while Keesing (1958:157, 427) states that it is "introverted behavior." Neither introvert nor extravert is correct or incorrect. The meaning of Dionysian is whatever meaning it has for any acceptor or rejector of the innovation. Hoebel (1958:647) states that Dionysian "emphasizes sensate experience," while Benedict (1934:79, 80) wrote of the Dionysian "escape from the boundaries imposed on him by his five senses, to break through . . . the usual sensory . into another order of experience." Herskovits' extravert (1955) routine..
and Keesing's introvert (1958), Hoebel's sensate (1958) and what we may call Benedict's exosensate (1934), are only four of the seemingly contradictory meanings that anthropologists have given the term. Titiev gives its meaning still another turn when he identifies Dionsyian with Sheldon's somatotonic type (1954:436). Other anthropologists identify it with the conventions of a group, while still others identify it with individual inspiration. Some regard it as a release from inhibitions, and some as a pursuit of things beyond the pleasure principle. These are not full definitions, but all of them do refer to a characteristic pattern of behavior, or to a personality characteristic, or to some characteristic beliefs, or experiences, or goals. However, they do not concur in what these characteristics are, how they are characteristic, or what they are characteristic of. These various meanings of Dionysian are themselves innovations. They
The Dionysian Innovation
stem from the fact that the concept has many features. Each anthropologist selects different features for emphasis, and then equates his own Dionysian concepts with another concept, from Jung, Sorokin, Sheldon, or some other typologist. Herskovits and Keesing used the Jungian concepts of introvert and extravert. These concepts also have many different features, and here again each anthropologist selects different ones for emphasis. Herskovits regarded the Dionysian to be passionate, suspicious, magical, and extravagant; he regarded the extravert to be emotional and aggressive. These perceptions of passionate and of emotional have common denominators and led Herskovits to identify Dionysian and extravert (1955). Keesing selected other features. His Dionysian was individualistic; his introvert saw the world from a subjective point of view. Keesing's perceptions of individualism and subjectivism also had common denominators and led him to identify Dionysian and introvert (1958). All of these anthropologists followed one of the processes of innovation that Barnett has isolated and analyzed: identification (1953:189-207). They equated different features from different contexts. Incidentally, Jung himself, the innovator of the terms "introvert," "extravert," and "sensate," regarded Dionysian as a sensate extraversion (1923:179-180). These anthropologists did not, of course, take their definitions from Benedict alone. They also defined the term through other sources, such as nonBenedictine information about North American Indians, and the ethnopsychological orientations that were developed by Boas, Sapir, and Mead. Earlier analyses of Dionysian cults by classical scholars such as Harrison, and by Spengler, had also prepared anthropologists for the concept. It was Nietzsche's descriptions of Dionysian rites, however, that were the primary prototypes for Benedict's own innovation (cf. Mead 1959). She, for her part, quietly ignored what these rites symbolized for Nietzsche. He glorified Dionysus as the apotheosis of the Natural Man in whom "the illusion of culture was cast off from the archetype of man; here the true man, the bearded satyr revealed himself,
shouting joyfully to his god . . . Nature which has become estranged, hostile,
or subjugated, celebrates once more her reconciliation with her prodigal son, man" (Nietzsche 1872:989, 955). Benedict adopted Nietzsche's typology but ignored his ideology. By and large, her innovation was a product of what Barnett has called "simplification" (1953:218-220). Benedict wrote that she used only those aspects of Nietzsche's conceptions that were pertinent to the Indian cultures she was studying (1930: note 2). It is obvious, however, that she used only what was pertinent, not to her Indian cultures, but to her own anthropological culture. It was her culture that would not accept Nietzsche's ideas of the Natural Man and of the illusion of culture. Benedict's simplification and her rationalization of pertinence to Indian cultures, reveal a guileless ethnocentrism that even an anthropologist can exhibit toward his own traditions. Nietzsche in turn had developed his typology from the cults of the Greek god Dionysus. This was not a native Hellenic god, but an interloper from Thrace whom the Greeks had adopted and Hellenized. As a late arrival, and
through a series of identifications, simplifications, and other innovative processes, Dionysus appropriated from the older Greek gods many of their attributes and functions. At different times and in different places he acquired at least 60 different cult names (Farnell 1909: 118-170). Under the cult epithet Aigobolos, the goat-shooter, he was worshipped with human sacrifice. As Aisumnates, the arbiter, he was revered for the abolition of human sacrifice. As Bakxeios, a vegetation and chthonian deity, the primary component of his orgiastic rites was intoxication. And so on through the alphabet. Whether there are any common denominators among these related cults has long been a source of disagreement among Hellenists (Harrison 1922:424-5; Rohde 1925:259-260). In short, the Dionysian concept has always had many different meanings. Its polymorphism simply conforms to the processes of innovation that artifacts and mentifacts observe everywhere. Since tools change and vary largely as the rest of the culture changes and varies, these innovations can often serve as diagnostic traits of a culture.
THE VALUE SYSTEM
We can study the innovations in a culture in order to discover the values of that culture. The acceptance and rejection of an innovation involve choices, and values are the criteria used for making these choices. Thus the vicissitudes of the Dionysian concept mark the things that anthropologists value. They reveal first of all the prevalence of ambivalent values in anthropology. That is, most of the values that lead to acceptance also lead to rejection. The Dionysian innovation is accepted for the same reasons it is rejected. For example, Driver (1961:536) accepts the innovation "as far as it goes" because it fits the life ways of the Plains Indians, while Lowie (1937:279) rejects the innovation because it does not fit Plains culture. Both Driver and Lowie in reaching opposite conclusions invoke the same criterion: let the concept fit the culture. As we shall see, most of the criteria that anthropologists use for making choices-most of their values-are ambivalent in that they lead to contradictory choices. This also means that widely differing choices are based on a common set of values. The correspondence between concepts and cultures is itself valued throughout the anthropological tradition. Some anthropologists accept the Dionysian innovation because they recognize a correspondence between culture and personality as expressed in such concepts as introvert and extravert, Other anthropologists reject the innovation because they do not see such a correspondence. Anthropologists also value wholes. The Dionysian innovation is most often accepted because it applies to cultures as wholes. This is its greatest attraction in the popular accounts about anthropology. The innovation is also rejected because it does not apply to cultures as wholes. This is the most persistent charge leveled against the innovation, and it was fired against Benedict's original papers. Radin, who urged that anthropology study any part of a culture only for its relevance to the whole culture (1932:27), rejected the
The Dionysian Innovation
Dionysian innovation because it "dogmatically includes and excludes in an unjustifiable and arbitrary manner" (1932:179). The concept is selective. It separates and divides the parts from the whole. Thus Barnouw (1949) even charged that the concept is atomistic. Both the acceptors and the rejectors prize the whole, and impugn the complementary disvalues of selectivity and atomism. Some anthropologists (e.g. Lowie 1937:288-291; 1940:383-390) accept the ideal of seeing cultures as wholes, but doubt that it is a practical or attainable ideal. Dionysian may have a meaning that gives it a high intrinsic value, yet it may be difficult to apply, giving it a low extrinsic value. Anthropologists also value differences. Popular accounts accept the Dionysian innovation because it serves to contrast cultures. It emphasizes cultural differences: some peoples are Dionysian and others are not. This emphasis on distinctions is also a popular ground for rejecting the innovation: the Dionysian concept ignores differences. For example, the Plains Indians and the Kwakiutl are not Dionysian in the same way. Moreover, no one tribe is altogether Dionysian. traits ... "Extravagant sensation seeking .
is not the configuration
of Plains culture, for equally strong, if not so spectacular, is another web of
" (Hoebel 1956:179). This devotion to differences leads to a scepti-
cism about cultural similarities and generalizations. Common denominators are based on simplification, the blurring of distinctions, and over-simplification is a common charge against Benedict, and by Benedict against Spengler, and by others against the concept as a whole. The simplicity of the Dionysian concept contributed to its popular acceptance, but for professional acceptance it had to be qualified. Its simplicity also permitted the concept to be interpreted in various ways and this led to its ambiguity. Differences, selectivity, and simplification are of course matters of degree. Anthropologists show a high regard for such degrees, whether they accept or reject the innovation. Driver (1961:536) accepted Benedict's innovation "as far as it goes"; Kroeber (1935, 1955) said it does not go far enough; and Lowie (1937:279) said it goes too far. Anthropologists value degrees as well as differences. They also value consistency. Most acceptors like the Dionysian innovation because it gives the various traits of a culture coherence and consistency. It makes a culture hang together. Both the acceptors and the rejectors look for consistency, but they look for it in different places. The acceptors look for it mainly in the cultures, while the rejectors look for it more in the approach to cultures. This leads them to opposite conclusions. Thus the ambivalence of consistency, as of many other values, is often a corollary of ambiguity. Many rejectors maintain that the criteria for selecting traits and for interpreting them are not constant and consistent from one culture to another. Therefore they reject the Dionysian innovation with the popular complaint that it involves artistic perception rather than a rigorous methodology. The innovation is also rejected because it overstresses consistency. It makes a culture appear too rigidly structured. The rejectors' concern for consistency is tempered by their devotion to differences and their regard for degrees. Finally, many principles are valued by the anthropological culture as a
whole, but some are valued by only one or another segment of the culture. For example, the innovation is sometimes rejected on the ground that it is static. Dionysian cultures "spring, fully grown, from history like Minerva from Jupiter's head" (Nadel 1937). Like any of the Utopias from Plato's Republic on, Dionysian cultures have no history. The concept does not explain what gives rise to a Dionysian way of life. These rejectors value causality and dynamics in anthropological descriptions and analyses. All segments of the culture do not value dynamics equally, and the acceptors tend to ignore it. These values have all been identified by analyzing the acceptances and rejections of one innovation. This method may reveal only one kind of value. Here it reveals such values as the devotion to differences and degrees, and the high regard for wholes and consistency. It has not revealed how anthropologists value such things as bravery, reputation, and power. It may be that when anthropologists discuss their own mentifacts they are only concerned with methodological ideals and avoid social ones. The method of analysis that is used here can, however, be applied in different cultures and the results compared. Are Samoan values as ambivalent as these anthropological ones? Do the Eskimo have as high a regard for wholes?
ROLE AND STATUS GROUPINGS
The foregoing analysis considered the values leading to the acceptance and rejection of the Dionysian concept, but it did not consider who accepts and who rejects. To that end we can analyze the contexts of explicit statements on the Dionysian innovation in the anthropological literature. This also involves the more delicate task of noting those contexts where the concept might have been used but was not used. In these cases the innovation was probably rejected, for it is unlikely that the writers were unfamiliar with it. It is particularly difficult to investigate such rejections, for the innovation can be quietly ignored without explanation. Nevertheless, this procedure reveals several sets of behavioral moieties that crisscross the anthropological culture. There is a chameleon-like quality in anthropological writings. The same anthropologists who accept the Dionysian innovation when they write a popular account about anthropology, reject it when they write a research study in anthropology. They discuss it in almost all introductory textbooks, but almost never in professional journals. Although the Dionysian innovation was made in two research publications (Benedict 1930, 1932), the term is conspicuous by its absence in practically all research studies afterwards. It does not appear in the indexes of the AMERICAN ANTHROPOLOGIST, where such other terms as "folk-urban" and "themes" are listed. It is not indexed in other anthropological journals. Nor has the concept been used heuristically for further research, although comparable innovations such as "cultural focus" have been used as a guide for new inquiries (e.g. Wheat 1954). The fact that the Dionysian concept may be used by an anthropologist in a textbook, but not in a monograph or article, is a cultural phenomenon that calls for an explanation. It suggests a behavioral moiety based on roles. It is also evident that there are status moieties in anthropology. Research
The Dionysian Innovation
studies are written for a peer group, while popular accounts are written for a patron group. The peer group includes professional anthropologists, such as professors, curators, and other initiates. The anthropological patrons include students, the public, and professionals in other fields. As patrons they are both the sponsors and the clients of the peer group. Of course, both the peer and the patron groups include a range of statuses. The patrons, for example, range from housewives who happen to pick up a book about anthropology to professional sociologists for whom anthropology is a collateral field. The popular accounts are written by peers for patrons. Thus they reveal only the peers' perceptions of the patrons. This is the way the patrons will be considered here, although it is like describing the Navaho from a Hopi conception of them. The peers will speak for themselves. The historical inventory of statements about the Dionysian concept reveals that the peers and patrons have different expectations of anthropology. It is clear that the Dionysian concept meets the expectations of the patrons and not of the peers. Differences between the two groups in their approach to seven anthropological concepts and methods were noted: ethnocentrism; cultural relativism; explanations; values; personal identifications; academic identifications; and technical analyses. The approach of the patrons to each of these items is compatible with their acceptance of the Dionysian innovation, and the approach of the peers with their rejection of it. The patrons often study other cultures in order to answer questions about their own culture. All popular accounts state this as an aim of anthropology. Thus the patrons often look to anthropology for cultural alternatives to their own way of life, and they tend to regard the polygyny of the Paiute with an ethnocentric interest. The peers generally have a less personal and less ethnocentric interest in other cultures. Their monographs and articles generally study other cultures for their own sake. This point requires a full elaboration and it is the topic of the next section of this paper where the Dionysian innovation is related to this ethnocentric interest. The personal interest in cultural alternatives leads most patrons to become concerned with cultural relativism. They generally understand cultural relativism to mean that each culture has its own standards of values (cf. Herskovits 1955:348-366; Honigmann 1959:113-117). It is research rather than personal alternatives that leads the peers to become concerned with cultural relativism (cf. Beals and Hoijer 1959:674-5). The peers generally understand cultural relativism to mean that cultural laws have limited generality. This is a different kind of relativism. Thus the peers tend to look for constants and variables, while the patrons tend to look for the uniqueness or difference of each culture. The Dionysian innovation describes a unique and distinctive way of life. This is more what the patrons expect of anthropology than what the peers expect. The patrons also prefer a high ratio of explanation to information. They always call for more interpretation and commentary. The peers often feel that if there is enough information it will explain itself. They always call for more data. This is illustrated by the proportion of description to interpretation in
popular accounts and in journals. Proportionally, the popular accounts have much less description. The primary aim of the Dionysian concept is to explain and interpret the behavior of various tribes. This makes it attractive for the patrons and precocious for the peers. When the peers write for patrons, they assume that the patrons are interested in anthropology as part of a quest for personal values and purposes. Patrons commonly seek explanations in terms of good and better, or interpretations expressed through goals and human destiny. Within the peer group, however, values are often thought to be elusive and difficult to investigate scientifically. Peers sometimes believe that explanations in terms of goals are teleological, which assumes that the future determines the present. This they consider to be a pre-scientific direction of inquiry. The peers prefer to look for explanations in causes, which assumes instead that the past determines the present. One of the greatest attractions of the Dionysian innovation is its value oriented formulations and goal directed explanations. These value orientations distinguish the Dionysian concept from such other typologies as Steward's formative cultures or Mead's event-triggered and calendricallytriggered cultures. Patrons who come to anthropology in pursuit of values can identify themselves with the Dionysian way of life, whether that way is perceived as a sensate extraversion or an introverted transcendentalism. They can recognize many of the Dionysian traits in themselves. They can imagine themselves playing Dionysian roles and acting extravagantly, passionately, and individualistically. Moreover, the Dionysian concept gives these traits coherence. Patrons can appreciate that this unity of characteristics can give meaning to a man's life. Thus the patrons can see that the Dionysian path to self-fulfillment is a possible model for themselves. The peers are less concerned with finding these kinds of personal identifications in anthropology. Instead they generally seek to identify themselves with their peers and with scholarship and research. The popular accounts about anthropology also suggest that patrons tend to identify anthropology with sociology and psychology. These fields are known for such typologies as sensate, introvert, and extravert. The Dionysian concept in anthropology supports these academic identifications. The peers, however, are not so ready to identify their academic domain with these behavioral sciences. They tend to emphasize the distinguishing characteristics of anthropology and to separate cultural analyses from social and psychological ones. With this they reject such typologies as sensate and introvert, and they reject the Dionysian typology. In general, patrons do not turn to anthropology in pursuit of technical analyses involving subsistence patterns, kinship systems, or material culture. Most popular accounts either explain that they do not present these topics fully, or they excuse themselves for presenting them. The peers are often immersed in these kinds of analyses. Instead of broad concepts that may be esthetically satisfying, the peers seek conclusions warranted by scientific evidence. The Dionysian concept is not formulated from this kind of tech-
The Dionysian Innovation
nical evidence. It is not based, for example, on the ratio of movement responses to shading responses in a Rorschach. Thus the Dionysian innovation is again more acceptable to the patrons than to the peers. These differences in the perceptions of ethnocentrism and cultural relativism, of values and explanations, of personal and academic identifications, and of technical analyses reflect the differences between two status moieties: patrons and peers. These status moieties also explain the role moieties within the peer group. The same anthropologists accept the Dionysian innovation when they write for patrons, and reject it when they write for fellow anthropologists. These moieties are not like the structural divisions of the Toda and the Iroquois, but they are organizational divisions within the anthropological culture (cf. Radcliffe-Brown 1952:11). Naturally, the social organization of anthropology involves much more than these particular divisions and groupings. But whatever its social organization may involve, it is important to the historian and ethnographer of this culture. Statuses and roles define and regulate the behavior of the anthropologist. They entail obligations to act in appropriate ways, and they permit others to anticipate appropriate behavior. Without an analysis of role and status groupings, the traditions and changes in anthropology would be incomprehensible.
RELATION TO THE CULTURALENVIRONMENT
As there are these subsystems within the anthropological culture, so anthropology itself is a subsystem in a larger cultural setting. Anthropology is that part of a broader cultural tradition that studies other cultural traditions. When its own cultural environment changes, anthropology and the Dionysian tradition change with it. Therefore, anthropology is likely to exhibit some ethnocentric orientations. The relation between a culture and its setting is often indicated by its artifacts. A Paiute seed grinding stone indicates clearly if not completely how the Paiute were related to their environment. Similarly, the Dionysian mentifact indicates how the anthropological culture is related to its environment. The Dionysian concept is an example of what Boas (1902) called an esoteric doctrine. These doctrines are ethnologically significant because they express "the reaction of the best minds in the community to the general cultural environment." The publication of Patterns of Culture in 1934 introduced the Dionysian artifact to patrons. The book was a phenomenal success. It sold over half a million copies in twenty years (Ray 1956). It owed a part of this success to the anthropological peer group. They promoted the book by assigning it in classes, and even its rejectors recommended it widely (e.g. Linton 1952). Nevertheless, the book really succeeded because the patrons felt that it met their personal needs. It related anthropology to the life and problems of the day. Patterns of Culture in general, and the Dionysian concept in particular, explained and illuminated many aspects of American life in 1934. After the title page of Patterns of Culture there is an inscription page which bears a single proverb from Digger Indian lore: "In the beginning God gave
to every people a cup of clay, and from this cup they drank their life." After an introductory chapter, the book begins by putting this epigraph in its historical setting. In the beginning the Digger Indians had a cup of clay, but now their cup is broken. "Our cup is broken. Those things that had given significance to the life of (the people) were gone, and with them the shape and
meaning of their life . .. There were other cups of living left, and they held
perhaps the same water, but the loss irreparable" (Benedict 1934:22). This was not only an epigraph for the Digger Indians and for Patterns of Culture: it was also a keynote of American life in 1934. The depression shocked the faith that Americans had in their own traditions. Coolidge had said that the business of America is business, but now business was bankrupt. At the same time, droughts turned the land of plenty into dustbowls and wastelands. Okies and Arkies and 15 million unemployed: their cup was broken. Perhaps there vjere other cups of living left-in New Deal reforms, or across the sea in fascist demagogues and communist revolutionaries-but the loss was irreparable. When the cup was broken, norms were shattered. A fundamental premise of Benedict's book was that norms and customs differ from place to place and time to time. Economic competition, for example, is not a basic trait of Human Nature; among the Zufii it is an aberrant form of behavior. "The statistically determined normal on the Northwest Coast would be far outside the extreme boundaries of abnormality in the Pueblos" (Benedict 1934:254). In other words, norms are variables. This variety of norms calls for tolerance, an acceptance of cultural differences, and even of individual abnormalities. If some individuals are misfits in their society, they "are, as Sapir phrases it, 'alienated from an impossible world' " (Benedict 1934:270). Given the opportunity, however, they can make a significant contribution to the life of their people. This spoke to the America of 1934. Following the upheaval of the first World War, Harding had inaugurated the 'twenties with the solecism of returning to normalcy, meaning a return to the traditional ways of the good old days. This ideal or normalcy came tumbling down with the crash. In the old time traditions, being out of work was a social abnormality and a personal disgrace, but in the depression it became almost normal and accepted. Fifteen million unemployed were "alienated from an impossible world." The optimism that had been a normal part of the American dream became an abnormal fear, even a Roosevelt fear of fear itself,-and Benedict offered the fearful Dobuans as a mirror for America. The country could not return to normalcy. That cup was broken. So it turned to reforms instead. Benedict's Zufii, Dobuans, and Kwakiutl are folk cultures. The appearance of her descriptions of them complemented a renewed interest in folk societies throughout America. The country had become disenchanted with its traditional symbols of success and the good life. Time magazine's man of the year in 1929 had been Walter P. Chrysler, and in 1930, Owen D. Young, but in 1931 it named Mahatma Ghandi (Wecter 1948:2). The millionaires were succeeded by a man who wore no shoes and represented a folk society. The depression increased the interest in the little man and the under-
The Dionysian Innovation
privileged. There was a heightened concern for minorities, for the first man fired and the last man hired. One of these minorities was the aged who were memorialized in Life Begins at Forty, the Townsend Plan, and the Social Security Act. Another minority, the American Indian, received new recognition and a New Deal in the Wheeler-Howard Act in 1934. The Okies and Arkies of the dustbowl, the poor Whites of Tobacco Road, the poor Negroes of Porgy's Catfish Row became symbols of the cultural diversity of America. Regionalism became a byword in social studies and literature. WPA writers and TVA planners cultivated grass roots and the concern for poor agrarian areas. A country that had awakened to its own folk was ready for the Zufii, the Dobuans, and the Kwakiutl. It was also ready for the Dionysian innovation. Benedict was explicit about the relevance of her folk cultures to American society. "The understanding we need of our own cultural processes can most
economically be arrived at by a d6tour . . . I have chosen three primitive civilizations . . . " (1934:56). One of these civilizations was the Kwakiutl
whom she labelled as "typical Dionysians" and as "a parody on our own society." The parody is graphic and sweeping. Basic to both the Kwakiutl and the American cultures is a "will to superiority" that is rooted in economic competition. The potlatch of the Kwakiutl economy is the conspicuous consumption of the American economy. These forms of displaying wealth symbolize that both societies are made up of status seekers and self-glorifiers. Both societies are dedicated to rugged individualism and free enterprise. All this is part of the Dionysian way of life as Benedict defined that way. In the America of 1934, however, the Dionysian way, as Benedict defined was the way of the past. The Dionysian ways of the American frontier had it, ended in Oklahoma in 1890, and the Dionysian ways of the American economy had ended on Wall Street in 1929. The symbols of American culture changed. Social planning replaced rugged individualism. A managed economy replaced free enterprise. Welfare legislation replaced laissez faire. The recovery program instituted broad controls. It regulated the banks and stock exchanges. The AAA created a kind of agrarian collectivism. The NRA established industrial syndicates. Lacerated by the depression, the country sought social solidarity more than individual autonomy. The new emphasis on restraint and controls and the de-emphasis on individualism marked a transition in the character of the American culture, from a Kwakiutl to a Zufii configuration. Of course, the American culture, or any other, has never been consistently Apollonian or Dionysian in these terms. The men who symbolized the Dionysian orientations of the 'twenties-Chrysler, Young, Hoover-exhibited an Apollonian restraint and formality in public relations. Likewise, the people who symbolized the Apollonian orientations of the depression years-the Roosevelts-exhibited personally a Dionysian flamboyance. The repeal of prohibition, the epidemic of candid cameras, the swing to jazz, John Dillinger, Jean Harlow, these were not Apollonian aspects of life in the 'thirties. At best there were conflicts between the Apollonian and the Dionysian. For
Benedict and for most of the social scientists of that time, the fundamental conflict was between the older Dionysian individualism and the newer Apollonian social consciousness. In this conflict, Benedict placed herself firmly on the side of the Apollonians. She did not hesitate to take a side. Indeed she made a strong plea for "passing judgments upon the dominant traits of our own civilization" to "cast up their cost in social capital." For some of these traits "the price is great, and the social order may not be able to pay the price" (1934: 248-250). Her specific judgments were unequivocal. The Kwakiutl ethos "is sufficiently close to the attitudes of our own culture to be intelligible to us and we have a definite vocabulary with which we may discuss it. The megalomaniac paranoid trend is a definite danger in our society . . . Rivalry is
notoriously wasteful. It ranks low in the scale of human values. It is a tyranny from which, once it is encouraged in any culture, no man may free himself. The wish for superiority is gargantuan; it can never be satisfied. The
contest goes on forever . . . In Kwakiutl institutions, such rivalry reaches its final absurdity ... The social waste is obvious. It is just as obvious in the
obsessive rivalry of Middletown where houses are built and clothing bought and entertainments attended that each family may prove that it has not been left out of the game. It is an unattractive picture" (1934:222, 247). For the American public of the 'thirties, Benedict's judgments had the weight of anthropological science behind them, and she gave solid support to the popular values of the day. Thus the Dionysian innovation related anthropology to the larger cultural setting, and Patterns of Culture won great popular acceptance. As a paperback Patterns of Culture has sold a million and a quarter copies 1964 (Dempsey 1964). In 1964, however, the book does not bear the same by meaning that it did in 1934. In 1964, it is read more for its overall thesis of patterning, for its eloquent interpretations of the Zufii, Dobuans, and the Kwakiutl, and for its prestige as a classic. It is read less for its application of the Dionysian concept to life in the United States. Today, the Dionysian innovation is still popular in textbooks, although its acceptors have modified it radically. As the culture changes and its environment changes, the tools that relate the one to the other also change. For a while old tools may survive in the inertia of cultural lag. One day, however, the Dionysian concept may no longer be meaningful in the larger cultural setting. Then it may join the button hook and the pen wiper in a museum of the obsolete. AND CONCLUSIONS EXTENSIONS mentifact can be informative, even a minor one like the Dionysian Any concept of the anthropological culture. In this paper the Dionysian innovation has served as an example and a point of departure. We can extend the analysis of this mentifact to others in order to expose other values, other status groupings, and other parts of the culture. For example, the Apollonian innovation has been more widely accepted than the Dionysian one. There is a far greater
The Dionysian Innovation
literature on the Apollonianism of the Pueblos than on the Dionysianism of the other Indians of North America. Other conceptual artifacts, such as "animism," "relativism," and "structure," are also rich ores for the historian and ethnographer of anthropology. They are what Lovejoy called "unit ideas" in the history of a tradition (1936:3). They are for anthropology what "primitivism" and "the great chain of being" are in the tradition of European speculative thought. For anthropology, however, they are not ideas to be analyzed philosophically, but mentifacts to be studied culturally. They are products and functions of social organization, value system, and other parts of the culture. Our analyses of processes, such as innovation, acceptance, and rejection, can also be extended. Benedict herself, for example, rejected a major part of her own Dionysian innovation. In one of her original papers (1932) she established a realist-nonrealist division. Although Plains culture is Dionysian and the Pueblo culture is Apollonian, they are both realist cultures. The Plains and non-Pueblo Southwest are both Dionysian, but one is realist and the other nonrealist. "The two categories operate at a different level and cross-section each other." This realist-nonrealist antithesis does not appear in Patterns of Culture, and it has completely disappeared from the literature. What values did it violate? Perhaps typologies in the sciences are like species in nature: extinction is the rule and immortality the miracle. We can also extend our knowledge of how anthropological innovations are made. What are the characteristics and circumstances of the innovator? Is acceptance an anonymous process, or does anthropology maintain sentries at its gates? And besides acceptance and rejection, the processes of culture change also include diffusion, competition, and identification. To what extent, for example, had professional works diffused to the patrons and prepared them for Benedict's work? In the competiton among anthropological ideas, were Benedict's ideas, because she was a lady, treated with more respect than seriousness? When do anthropologists identify themselves with the larger culture and when do they act purely as scholars? Naturally, the history and culture of anthropology can extend well beyond the study of these particular processes and mentifacts. Such studies may make anthropologists more objective, for objectivity increases as knowledge about the observer's point of view increases. It is easier, however, to demonstrate that such studies are important because they apply the methods and hypotheses used in the study of other cultures; and in applying them, they test them, reformulate them, and foster new methods and hypotheses. For example, the present study identified an innovation within a culture and then analyzed its rejections and acceptances in order to identify the values that are held in that culture. It also found that most of the values in this culture are ambivalent. These methods and hypotheses can be further tested and reformulated in studying other cultures. The new interest in the history of anthropology gives anthropologists one more culture to study. We study the culture of anthropology itself, and thereby
American A nthropologist
we promote the same methods and concerns that we have in studying the Dyak, Eyak, or any other culture. We investigate the same general problems of human behavior.'
1I am grateful to Theodore Stern for his helpful reading of the final draft.
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The Dionysian Innovation
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