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Two people have been really liberating in my mind; one is Wittgenstein and the other is Burke. I read Burke before he was a secular saint, before everyone was reading him.
The way in which mathematicians and physicists and historians talk is quite different, and what a physicist means by physical intuition and what a mathematician means by beauty or elegance are things worth thinking about.
The point of literary criticism in anthropology is not to replace research, but to find out how it is that we are persuasive.
The North African mule talks always of his mother's brother, the horse, but never of his father, the donkey, in favor of others supposedly more reputable.
People keep asking how anthropology is different from sociology, and everybody gets nervous.
My instincts are always against people who want to fasten some sort of hegemony onto things.
Most anthropologists are doing straightforward ethnography, and should.
Meaning is socially, historically, and rhetorically constructed.
It's always amusing to look at how something early in the 20th century was written in anthropology and how it's written now. There's been an enormous shift in how it's done, but yet you can't put your finger on someone who actually did it.
If there's ever a place where you can't argue that you can put the facts over here and the text over there and see if they fit, it is surely in anthropology.
If I remember correctly, a writer is someone who wants to convey information. Language or writing is a code.
I've written a lot of books which are written from the moon - the view from nowhere.
I've often been accused of making anthropology into literature, but anthropology is also field research. Writing is central to it.
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