Tag Archives: E. Wyllys Andrews V

Harvey M. Bricker and the Passing of the Great Race’s Memory of Facts: the Culture of Traditional Education

Memories of Memorization, Traditional Education, and the Old Archaeology that came from WASPY Old “Traditional” Harvard.  Education of a kind that almost no one has anymore, from an Educator without fair modern parallels, because of my Memories of a serious man with a wry and dry sense of humor who wore bow-ties and proudly (if somewhat ironically and daringly) sported a Hitler-style “toothbrush” mustache….

Word has come to me second-hand via HSC from the desk of my old honors’ thesis advisor E. Wyllys Andrews V that Professor Harvey M. Bricker of Tulane University passed on, joining his professors and other “Dead White Men” of Academic History in the the Great Symposium in the Sky last Sunday January 15, 2017.  I rarely have occasion to write  or even think about my undergraduate college professors in the 1970s, but Harvey without any doubt was one of my two top favorites out of a faculty of Archaeology and Historical Anthropology that I simply loved, really idolized, and almost worshipped as a younger than average teenager in New Orleans.

It is hard to believe that he must have been 76 or 77 when he died.  Harvey and his wife Victoria R. were among the young generation of professors who totally remade Tulane as a modern university in the 1970s.  (Vicky Bricker was, in fact, my very first professor of Anthropology, and the reason I switched from Political Science to Anthropology as my freshman declaration of major).  

Harvey was an uncompromising traditionalist, an “Old Archaeologist” of the Hallam L. Movius (Harvard) and Francois Bordes/Bordeaux French Palaeoloithic School of careful excavation and stone tool typologies.  Harvey made no attempt to conceal his contempt for the “New Archaeology” of the “Processualists” and for that I absolutely loved him.

He was a great classroom professor, although I’m sad to say I apparently only managed to take two classes from him, namely “Man in the Pleistocene” and “Rise of Civilization”, then catalog numbered Anthropology 625-626.

Today, I am most grateful to him for emphasizing a much maligned feature of learning: memorization.  “Memorization of Facts” is denigrated in the modern world as almost beneath contempt.  “Give me Big Problems; Teach me how to think outside the box; don’t try to lock me in” whine the modern millennial students.

I have always wondered how you ever think outside of the box if you don’t know what’s IN the box.  It’s a serious question.  I firmly believe that thought unanchored in knowledge of all that came before is pretty much worthless.  But that is the way and the story of the modern world: “let’s forget everything that the Dead White Men thought day before yesterday” and “let’s just think whatever we want to think and do whatever we want to do”—that’s a surefire strategy for disaster, and it’s what the cultural marxists are doing with modern education at all levels. 

Harvey Bricker awarded high grades ONLY for recitation of facts.  “Facts are low level observations” which do not require much in the way of comparative thought, while “Theories are Higher Level, synthetic observations.”  Or so I learned another (much  more “Processual”, “New”) Archaeologist, Columbia’s Barbara J. Price, who herself died in New York City, February 18, 2016, at the age of 75.  

To look at the forest or the trees, that is the question.  Except it is really no kind of question: if you don’t look up very close, you won’t, you can’t possibly, know what kind of trees are in the forest, what is the mix of species.  And to really study forest ecology you need a pretty exact census of each tree, vine, and bush in your study area, together with the contents and depths of the soil, the worm and insect population, not to mention the birds and mammals.

So Harvey M. Bricker taught like they did back in my grandparents’ days, back in the time of Madison Grant (the one who wrote of “The Passing of the Great Race”), and Harvey expected students to learn the names of local site phases and radio-carbon dates and the typological contents of tool assemblages.

I was fortunate because my grandparents had required me to memorize lists since I was a kid, and to recite them and test my memory was our family’s version of fun and game time.  My grandfather’s practical point was simple: “Memorization is the key to any kind of business success. I have companies (H.B. Meyer & Son’s, Al Meyer Company, Bell Chemical Company) that depend on sales to very sophisticated corporate and government customers who have “procurement departments” whose employees do nothing but look at the available products’ cost benefits all day long.  If my salesmen can’t remember every single product we have without consulting a catalog, they won’t be able to push the right product to the right customer.  If they can’t remember every chemical component of every product, when it was patented, by us or someone else, and how it was used, they won’t be effective in presenting the substance of what we offer. So these are the same games we play at the office: who can remember the most detail. You’ll never regret learning how to memorize.”

So the attack on memorization of facts is part of the modern “dumbing down” of people to serve computers.  Computers are based on memory, but can a computer really sell a product, or an idea, as effectively, or with as much flare and enthusiasm, as a personal conversation can do?

Academics, of course, both creates and consists of (at least theoretically, ideally) the great marketplace of ideas.  Harvey Miller Bricker belonged to this old school that an archaeologist needed to be (in essence) as good a salesman for his ideas as anyone on my grandfather’s well-disciplined sales team.  In the modern world of “safe spaces” and “trigger words” and political correctness gone mad, well, forcing people to memorize facts is tantamount to forcing them to work, and to accept the world as it is.

But if we haven’t studied the world as it REALLY is, how can we even know for sure that we don’t like it?

I remember my big bulging blue spiral ring notebooks with gold embossed “Tulane University” on the covers, chocked with page after page of notes in my fair-to-awful handwriting and internal manila “pocket” containers stuffed with class handouts, quizzes, and graded tests and papers.

For Anthro 625, “Man in the Pleistocene” (a survey of Old Stone Age/Palaeolithic Archaeology) from the first choppers below the bottom of the earliest floors at Olduvai Gorge to the final end of the ice age and dawn of the Mesolithic, Harvey’s lectures were filled with facts, and I basically couldn’t write down the facts he gave in those speeches fast enough.  I wrote my paper for that course, “Comment Vivaient les Rennes a l’Age de l’homme Préhistorique” hypothesizing that the Later Magdalenian people of Upper Palaeolithic France had domesticated the reindeer, at least to the same degree that the Lapp of Finland have done so in modern times.  (It was at least two years before the release of the Christmas kids’ song, “Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer”… but “L’Age du Rennes” or “the Reindeer Age” is an old-fashioned French expression naming the Upper Palaeolithic.  Harvey made me rewrite it about four times.  It was a great experience.  I remember reading and criticizing the work of an English archaeologist named D.A. Sturdy, and Harvey told me (wrote on one version of my paper) I shouldn’t be so hard on him, that Sturdy wasn’t necessarily “that stupid.”  I was only 17 but Harvey spent a great deal of time with me.

For “Rise of Civilization”, Harvey required us to memorize the local sequence of Mesolithic, Neolithic, and Bronze Age in each sector of Europe, including the infamous “Reinecke” series.  Thanks to Harvey, names like “Starčevo-Körös-Cris”, Vinča, Vinitsa,  Lepenski-Vir, Dolni Vestonice, Dunaújváros, were fixed in my mind and remained ready to resuscitate talking to archaeologists in 1989-90 when my former Greek wife and I toured Central, Eastern, and Southeastern Europe during and after the fall of the Iron Curtain while I had a Volkswagenwerk Fellowship at the University of Bonn….  In essence, Harvey  in New Orleans had taught us about local sequences as well as and as thoroughly  as locally specialized archaeologists learn about their own backyards in (the former) Czechoslovakia, Hungary, (the former) Yugoslavia, Romania and Bulgaria.

I never got to go on a dig with Harvey at the Châtelperronian site of Les Tambourets in the Pyrenees in southern France or ever even to see him in action, except in the classroom, but I heard so much from him, and found him so inspiring, that I feel like I did.  

http://www.worldcat.org/title/chatelperronian-of-les-tambourets-haute-garonne-france/oclc/907679210

http://www.paleoanthro.org/media/dissertations/Scandiuzzi2008-abstract.pdf

I don’t know how it is now, but in those days the Anthropology Professors at Tulane all ate at the University Cafeteria with the students, and so we got to spend lots of time with them out of class.  Harvey at a table with students was always funny in his stern dry way, twitching his mustache  meaningfully in ways that the Führer himself could never have matched.  He and Vicky had their share of the Anthro Department parties, including the annual Ritual of the Passing of the Golden Bough, at their home on Cherokee Street.  I miss those days…. they were so carefree and fine and fun…. and so very interesting.

The passing of a great old fashioned professor like Harvey is a very sad moment.  He and Vicky, starting 42-40 years in the past, so long ago, played a major role in shaping my life, my mind and intellect, such as it is….and they definitely formed a large part of how I look at the world…. through their very conservative lenses of cultural evolution and archaeological prehistory, the evolution of civilization and the development of cultures.  I did not know them when they were focused on Maya astronomy and all that has remained pretty much beyond my grasp until the present day anyhow…. I am ashamed that I do not even own their magnum opus as of today, although I plan on buying it immediately:

https://www.amazon.com/Astronomy-Codices-Memoirs-American-Philosophical/dp/0871692651

But above all I remember them walking across the Tulane campus together looking so dedicated, so serious, and determined.

America in general, Tulane in particular, was different back then.  But if we remember and rebuild, mixing memory and desire, as T.S. Eliot wrote in the Wasteland, perhaps it could be that way again.  Perhaps students will rediscover the joys of memorization and building knowledge carefully and slowly, one brick, one stone tool, one Palaeolithic burin or type of clay at a time…. and both our theories and the world may be better for this.

SEE ALSO:

http://obits.nola.com/obituaries/nola/obituary.aspx?n=Harvey-Miller-Bricker&pid=183715426

http://www.legacy.com/memorial-sites/tulane-university/

Colonialism and Race as Transformational Issues in Barack Obama’s life and policy? Dinesh D’Souza’s movie: 2016, Obama’s America

Well, OK, I just saw Dinesh D’Souza’s “2016 Obama’s America“.   It’s an absolute “must see” before the election because it imparts vital evidence concerning our 44th President and an interpretation of his policies which everyone should consider.  

Now Dinesh D’Souza is a young man (one year younger than I am in fact, so he’s really young, just like Obama….) so he may not suffer from this problem but he kind of reminds me of some of the legendary professors I’ve heard of (but never experienced in person) who actually fall asleep during their OWN lectures…

So far as story telling goes, for narrative quality and dramatic effect, it is really fairly dismal, especially when compared with “The Big Fix“—last year’s astounding movie about the BP Oil Spill and it’s impact on New Orleans and Louisiana generally.  Dinesh is an Ivy League academic from India and he SHOULD have hired Josh & Rebecca Tickell or someone to bring life to what, honestly, SHOULD have been a very compelling story and COULD have been presented better.   

His Rebus Dictis  (these things having been said)—I highly recommend the movie for its informational content (just don’t expect to be entertained or to enjoy the experience even a little bit—if you’re tired, have a coffee or two before hand—because you NEED TO HEAR THIS STORY).

To make a long story short—Dinesh D’Souza presents Obama as the ultimate con-man and traitor, the last person ON EARTH who ever should have been President of the United States (though the narrative never actually says this in so many, or so few, words).    To use one of my old Tulane University college archaeology advisor’s favorite phrases, this movie clearly portrays Barack Hussein Obama as a Classic “Nigger in the Woodpile” The_Nigger_in_the_Woodpile.jpg 760×524 pixels.  The phrase means (according to Wikipedia, and Will*), “some fact of considerable importance that is not disclosed – something suspicious or wrong: Especially a stowaway or “sleeper agent” type spy — in short, a bunch of Greek Soldiers hidden inside, say, a wooden Horse mistaken by the apparently “Born Yesterday” Trojans as a Gift from the Gods (I have always wondered how the Trojans could possibly have been this dumb?  Had ten years of siege weakened their intelligence through malnutrition and lack of exercise?  Why didn’t anyone (besides Cassandra) ask: WHY would the Gods make such a strange gift?  The Gods gave the people sun and water and grain and cattle, which are all very useful, but what can you DO with a wooden horse that big, exactly, I wonder, that would make it an appropriate gift from the Gods as opposed to a trick by the “Wily Odysseus”).  

Anyhow, Obama entered the Presidency as a Communist Nigger in the Woodpile  OR as a Communist Trojan Horse—take your pick, but Obama became President, according to D’Souza, and I have to agree, for the SOLE purpose of destroying America’s (1) economic, (2) military, (3) political, (4) intellectual, and (5) moral strength.  This is no modest undertaking, not an inconsiderable set of goals, but look how well Obama has done in just his first term!!!!   That is the long and short of Dinesh D’Souza’s movie.  Except to point out: Obama has done so much to destroy America in ONE term, he’ll probably transform us into a lower-ranking Third World Country somewhere beneath Belize and Burkina Fasso but above Bangladesh and Haiti if elected to a second term. 

According to D’Souza, Obama WANTS to do this because he is fulfilling his father’s dream of destroying the most successful product of the White Anglo-Saxon Race and Nation of England (that most successful product being the USA) because England had intentionally (in the Obamas’ opinions, both junior and senior) conquered, colonized and underdeveloped Kenya in particular and 1/4 of the African continent in general.

Empires are majestic and romantic, but they are inevitably built on conquest and cruelty, whether we’re talking about Xerxes (“Ahasueras”), Alexander the Great, Julius Caesar and all the Roman Emperors (“Caesars”) who followed him, at least up through Marcus Aurelius but probably straight through to 1453 and the Fall of Constantinople, the Sassanian Empire, Mongol Empire, Charlemagne’s Empire, the Caliphates of Baghdad and Cordova, the Ottoman Empire, the Aztec Empire, the Inca Empire, the Spanish Empire, or the British Empire.   Charlemagne’s Empire and the British empire were possibly the “Kindest and Gentlest” of this list, but it is simply not in human nature for local groups and societies to give up their freedom and autonomy voluntarily, and so “to make an Imperial omelette, you have to break quite a few local small-to-medium size eggs, and a few really big eggs” sometimes, like the Aztec and Inca Empires being incorporated into the Spanish Empire, or the Mogul Empire being incorporated into the British.

I grew up with a very mixed up perspective on Empire.  On the one hand, everyone in my family agreed that the British Empire and the Pax Britannica were great things, but also that the British were almost congenitally stupid in their handling of their imperial possessions, starting with the USA.   It would have been so easy, and so completely reasonable, to give three million American “colonists” direct representation “across the water” in the Parliament of the United Kingdom in London.  Why, oh, WHY did the British Parliament and crown not extend ALL the rights of Englishmen to ALL the King’s subjects in North America?   And by the time they got to India, South Africa, Australia, and New Zealand, the British had (apparently) learned almost nothing from their experience in America.  TO THIS DAY I look at Canada, the most loyal of all the British Dominions, and think that Britain and Canada should share a single parliament—especially in this day and age of jet travel, telephones, faxes, and e-mail.  

The ROMAN Empire was always extending full citizenship to the conquered peoples—as was Napoleon’s “New” (if short lived) Franco-Roman Empire of 1803-1814.   Now, admittedly, the Romans did not go around extending citizenship owing to any romantic precursor philosophy ancestral or antecedent to the French “Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité“, but because, face it, mere conquest is NEVER enough for the conqueror; a real conqueror wants to keep gouging the conquered people for taxes so long as his empire endures…. and you can ONLY Tax Citizens (or in Rome, you could only tax citizens).

But Britain never learned from its mistakes and never extended any sort of rights to the colonial peoples except to self-government UNTIL THEY ABOLISHED THE EMPIRE—and then, by the British Nationality Act of 1948 they basically admitted that all their former and soon-to-be former “Colonials” were going to be British—and thus they set up the uncontrolled colonization of Britain by former colonials.  Truly, there must be a defect in our Anglo-Saxon genes when it comes to conquest and colonialism, because the British, really and truly, honestly and sincerely, never got ANYTHING right at the right time, not even once.

But anyhow, Dinesh D’Souza basically presents the hypothesis that the British conquest and colonization of Kenya was something that Barack Hussein Obama, Sr., really resented, and Barack Hussein Obama, Jr., has sought to use the Presidency of the United States to wreak vengeance on the Anglo-Saxon peoples of the world for his father’s sake.  This is kind of a “reverse Oedipus-syndrome”, I guess, where Obama is symbolically killing his mother (by killing and impoverishing “her race, her people”) for his dead and always absent Father’s sake.  Except of course, that Obama’s mother was one of those early 1950s and 1960s communist traitors herself, from a family and long line of communist traitors, who already WANTED to wipe out her own culture and civilization (and apparently divorced her second husband Lolo Soetoro because he DIDN’T).

I have no idea how real American conservatives can look at the history of Stanley Ann Dunham and the Obama family and NOT be totally in favor of abortion.  Not just wishy-washy “abortion on demand” but mandatory, Chinese-style forced abortion for any father who already has at least two children…..as Obama’s father did back home with an (unfortunately undisclosed) first wife.   In every sense Obama is the product of the Brave New World and the more I learn about h Barack’s mother the more I think Montana Judge Richard Cebull of the United States District Court for the District of Montana (born 1944) has been the victim of a real “politically correct” hatchet job….**

In any event, one of the most interesting moment’s in D’Souza’s movie is when Barack Obama’s brother, who lives in a slum dwelling in Nairobi, comments that Barack and his (own) father were both wrong: the British were GOOD for Kenya and should have stayed until Kenya was actually ready for Independence.

Any way you look at it, whether it’s a good movie or not, and as movies go, it’s really not, Dinesh D’Souza makes some really interesting points.  I’m not at all sure that his pseudo-Freudian psychoanalysis of Obama is correct, because, basically, Obama was raised by his white mother and SHE was a communist, Obama’s white GRANDPARENTS were communists, and they (the Dunham family) apparently associated primarily with black communists.  

It is beyond incredible that anyone like Barack Hussein Obama ever became President of the United States.  It is a tragedy of almost unparalleled proportions.   I personally wish we had been conquered by the Soviet Russians during the Cold War instead of betrayed by our own mind-dead, media manipulated electorate into electing this Trojan Horse for President—it would have been a MUCH more honest and sincere way to introduce communism to North America.  

*AKA E. Wyllys Andrews V, Ph.D. Tulane, born October 10, 1943, retired in 2009, son of Harvard & Carnegie Institution of Washington archaeologist E. Wyllys Andrews IV, 1916-1971)

** Cebull “reported himself for judicial misconduct” to the Ninth Circuit under extreme pressure to resign after he circulated an e-mail about Obama’s birth: “A little boy said to his mother; ‘Mommy, how come I’m black and you’re white?’ His mother replied, ‘Don’t even go there Barack! From what I can remember about that party, you’re lucky you don’t bark!‘”  I rarely endorse a vulgar joke, but I would tend to nominate Cebull to the next vacancy on the Supreme Court, myself….  I would simply add to the joke, after the word “bark”, the words “in Russian or Chinese”, because all evidence is that Obama’s mother and all of what Dinesh D’Souza calls Obama’s “founding fathers” were all the reddest of the red in the USA…. candidates for the firing squad after trial and conviction for treason, every one of them.