Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Quote of the day

Prompted by this (h/t), a quotation from Marshall Sahlins's Islands of History, p.153, explaining why the distinction between "structure" and "event" is, in his view, "pernicious":
[A]ll structure or system is, phenomenally, evenemential. As a set of meaningful relations between categories, the cultural order is only virtual. It exists in potentia merely. So the meaning of any specific cultural form is all its possible uses in the community as a whole. But this meaning is realized, in presentia, only as events of speech and action.... The converse proposition, that all events are culturally systematic, is more significant.... "Events are not just there and happen," as Max Weber said, "but they have a meaning and happen because of that meaning." Or in other words, an event is not just a happening in the world; it is a relation between a certain happening and a given symbolic system.... The event is a happening interpreted -- and interpretations vary.  

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