12: Totems

EUC NMC Lecture 12: Totems The early totemic images familiar from caves such as Lascaux focus on a small number of animals and figures. Their purpose seems to ahve been to identify the hunter with the hunted and also to give hunters in a given tribe a special identity. Recent studies confirm that Lascaux (17,000 B.C.) has a clear depiction of the Pleiades. so their primitive expressions may belie a less primitive tradition of careful observation of the skies. Totems became masks and masks evolved in a variety of ways. In some traditions, e.g. Venice, amsks of a certain general kind, unite citizens in a uniform anonymity. In other cultures, e.g. Maastricht, the carneival becomes an expression of coherence within a family. In Brazil, by contrast, carnival marks a brief moment to express an inividual dream even if it is far removed from everyday reality.Freud focussed on Totem and Taboo. There is another dimension whereby what began as totems become new ways of open expression. Themes discussesd include Festivals Symbolism Totems