Anthropologist, ethnographer Grant McCracken, coined the term “Diderot effect” (1988:128) in his book entitled Culture and Consumption: New Approaches to the Symbolic Character of Consumer Goods and Activities (1988). When Diderot replaced his old, shabby but comfortable dressing gown with a newer more elegant and eventually ‘imperious” scarlet robe, he changed not just a piece of clothing but by trading up he unsettled, interrupted and changed his established consumer patterns and began moving towards upward mobility. His old shabby study left unchanged exerted an inertia. McCracken calls these newly acquired items like the new gown, bridging goods. With the acquisition of a new fridge, sofa, rug, etc the consumption mechanism seeks to rebalance itself. Diderot redecoration project left him feeling compelled to acquire new things even though they made him less comfortable.

McCracken used Diderot’s brilliant description of this behavioural phenomenon to enhance understanding of connections between cultural anthropology and consumer behavior.

Our possessions tend to have an internal consistency that follows from their cultural meaning. The inertia exerted by familiar possessions preserves that inner meaning. Familiar objects and sets of objects contribute to conserving one’s self-concepts and self-definition so that the consumer maintains a consistent, unchanging pattern of consumption. Diderot unities then insulate this consumer from marketing influences.

However the radical Diderot effect can lead to a consumer surrounding himself with new sets of objects that bear no relationship to his concept of the self and the world can alienate him from himself (McCracken 1988:128).

Selected Bibliography

McCracken, Grant Culture and Consumption: New Approaches to the Symbolic Character of Consumer Goods and Activities. Indiana University Press, Bloomington and Indianapolis, 1988 ISBN 0-253-31526-3; pp. 118–129.

Diderot, Denis (1875-77) (in French). Regrets sur ma vieille robe de chambre [Regrets on My Old Dressing Gown]. Paris: Garnier. Wikisource. [scan]

Pantzar, Mika “Domestication of Everyday Life Technology: Dynamic Views on the Social Histories of Artifacts” in Design Issues, Vol. 13, No. 3 (Autumn, 1997), pp. 52–65
unity of consumption patterns, consumer researchers, striving for conformity, “Diderot effect”, Domestication of Everyday Life,

Diderot. 1875. “Regrets for my Old Dressing Gown, or A warning to those who have more taste than fortune (1769).” Oeuvres Complètes, Vol IV. Paris, Garnier Fréres, 1875; Trans for marxists.org by Mitchell Abidor; CopyLeft: Creative Commons (Attribute & ShareAlike) marxists.org 2005.

In the end Diderot was willing to give up all of his new acquisitions except his Vernet and the love of his life.

Joseph Vernet [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.


Claude Joseph Vernet (1714-1789). 1759. “Shipwreck.” Oil on canvas. 96 x 134.5 cm. Groeninge Museum. Bruges.

Oh holy prophet! Raise you hands to the heavens and pray for a friend in peril. Say to God: If you see in your eternal decrees that riches are corrupting the heart of Denis, don’t spare the masterpieces he idolizes. Destroy them and return him to his original poverty. And I, on my side, will say to the heavens: Oh God! I resign myself to the prayer of the holy prophet and to your will. I abandon everything to you. Take back everything, everything except the Vernet! It’s not the artist, it is you who made it. Respect your own work and that of friendship.

See that lighthouse, see the adjacent tower that rises to the right. See the old tree that the winds have torn. How beautiful that masse is. Above that obscure masse, see the rocks covered in verdure. It is thus that your powerful hand formed them. It is thus that your beneficent hand has carpeted them. See that uneven terrace that descends from the foot of the rocks to the sea. It is the very image of the degradation you have permitted time to exercise on those things of the world that are the most solid. Would your sun have lighted it otherwise? God, if you annihilate that work of art it will be said that you are a jealous God. Have pity on the unfortunates spread out on these banks. Is it not enough for you to have shown them the depths of the abyss? Did you save them only to destroy them? Listen to the prayer of this man who thanks you. Aid in the efforts of he who gathers together the sad remains of his fortune. Close your ear to the imprecations of this madman. Alas, he promised himself such advantageous returns, he had contemplated rest and retirement. He was on his last voyage. A hundred times along the way he calculated on his fingers the size of his fortune and had arranged for its use. And now all of his hopes have vanished; he has barely enough to cover his naked limbs. Be touched by the tenderness of these two spouses. Look at the terror that you have inspired in that woman. She offers you thanks for the evil you did not do her. Nevertheless, her child, too young to know to what peril you exposed it, he, his father and his mother, takes care of the faithful companion of his voyage: he is attaching the collar of his dog. Spare the innocent. Look at that mother freshly escaped from the waters with her spouse: it is not for herself that she is trembling, it is for her child. See how she squeezes it to her breast, how she kisses it. O God, recognize the waters you have created. Recognize them, both when your breath moves them and when your hand calms them. Recognize the black clouds that you gathered and that it pleased you to scatter. Already they are separating, they are moving away; already the light of the day star is reborn on the face of the waters. I foresee calm on that red horizon. How far it is, the horizon! It doesn’t end with the sea. The sky descends beneath it and seems to turn around the globe. Finish lighting up the sky; finish rendering tranquility to the sea. Allow those seamen to put their shipwrecked boat back to sea. Assist in their labor, give them strength and leave me this painting. leave it to me, like the rod with which you will punish the vain. It is already the case that it is no longer i that people visit, that people come to listen to: it is Vernet they come to admire in my house. The painter has humiliated the philosopher.

Oh my friend, the beautiful Vernet I own! The subject is the end of a storm without a harmful catastrophe. The seas are still agitated, the sky covered in clouds; the sailors are busy on their sunken boat, the inhabitants come running from the nearby mountains. How much spirit this painter has! He needed but a small number of principal figures to render all the circumstances of the moment he chose. How true this scene is! With what lightness, ease and vigor it is all painted. I want to keep this testimony of his friendship. I want my son-in-law to transmit it to his children, his children to theirs, and these latter to those that will be born of them.

If only you saw the beauty of the whole of this piece, how everything there is harmonious, how the effects work together, how everything is brought out without effort or affectation. How those mountains on the right are wrapped in vapor. How beautiful those rocks and superimposed edifices are. How picturesque that tree is and the lighting on that terrace. How the light there fades away, how its figures are laid out: true, active, natural, living. How interesting they are, the force with which they are painted. The purity with which they are drawn, how they stand out from the background. The enormous breadth of that space, the verisimilitude of those waters. Those clouds, the sky, that horizon! Here the background is deprived of light, while the foreground is lit up, unlike the usual technique. Come see my Vernet, but don’t take it from me!

Sitting in her forest green long velvet dress storyteller and word magician Orunamamu perused the small book of poetry looking for the poem our host had read just before her arrival at the neighbourhood friendship potluck gathering. I had told her about it because I knew she would like it. Something about the combination of courage, gaiety and the quiet mind.

On my hands and knees in my ridiculous but practical hort outfit I spend hours tending to dozens, maybe even, hundreds of plants, perennials, heritage, gifts, volunteers, seeds, flowering, vegetables, herbs, invasives (too enthusiastic at the wrong place and time).

The garden is one place where some of us find courage as we see the tiny new growth on a plant that has looked forlorn for months, barely alive in the fall many of them transplanted perhaps too late in the season surviving somehow the trauma of roots being wrenched apart, moved far from the others in a cold place that will only get colder. Death would have been a logical conclusion but somehow they survived protected by layers of mulch and snow and God’s grace.

I never use the old word gaiety but it does describe the “sweet moment” of gardening when you see a clump of early blue violets flourishing in an urban garden in Calgary, a reminder of my older sister’s uncanny ability to speedily find and make a wild blue violet bouquet; single shooting star plant chosen for the garden because of the Garry Woods fields on Vancouver Island; a single brilliant orange poppy opening in May; and too many to describe because the garden and the robins are waiting.

A quiet mind in an anxious world where even one’s own home and garden is temporary and insecure.

Two years ago the 1950s bungalow across the street with its very old heritage garden was demolished, the fertile ancient river bed soil was scraped away and a duplex quickly filled the entire lot. The front landscaping is as polite as that in any new development.

Last year a neighbour sold and moved back east. The new owner tore out the old garden that had been tended for 15 years replacing it with more practical grass which requires less work in their busy schedule.

On the corner one of our oldest neighbours has finally agreed to his family’s desire to sell. The house was built in 1945 and moved in the 1950’s and is surrounded by a horticultural heritage garden, sun rooms, inviting comfortable sitting areas in every corner, sheds overflowing with tools . . . It too will be sold, demolished, the garden uprooted, the topsoil scoured and replaced by other built forms like the one next door, and the one next to that and the next one: walls of sensible stucco with ubiquitous earth colours coordinating with other homes, designs and forms. Perhaps its what postmodernism has become in the booming housing market, picking up on details from Tudor, Victorian, Queen Ann, etc from here and there and tacking them on superficially. Their height is maximized to the zoning limits and the walls extend to the edge of the property. The intelligent pragmatic architecture and materials of these buildings will be easily recognized in the future as D1 of the 21st century many surviving only as photos since the actual buildings are not made to the same standards as pre-1980s. Fortunately the set back gives room for some old trees and tasteful, smart urban landscapes spaces.

This is not “my” garden. I for a short period of time am simply the worker for the robins, plants and the worms. It is a gift to the street. I work outside the fence. I have to be realistic.

As I dig up ancient river stones I write on them, words that I then reread when I am taking out the braids in the rhizome of roots.

But for today I will compost, mulch, feed, plant, transplant, water, tidy, admire, get tired, feel courage, gaiety and enjoy fleeting moments of a quiet mind.

Locating the Concept of  Success

"We thank Thee for this place in which we dwell;
for the love that unites us;
for the peace accorded us this day;
for the hope with which we expect the morrow;
for the health, the work, the food, and the bright skies,
that make our lives delightful;
for our friends in all parts of the earth,
and our friendly helpers in this foreign isle.
Let peace abound in our small company.
Purge out of every heart the lurking grudge.
Give us grace and strength to forbear and to persevere.
Offenders, give us the grace to accept and to forgive offenders.
Forgetful ourselves, help us to bear cheerfully the forgetfulness of others.
Give us courage and gaiety and the quiet mind.
Spare to us our friends, soften to us our enemies.
Bless us, if it may be, in all our innocent endeavours.
If it may not, give us the strength to encounter that which is to come,
that we be brave in peril, constant in tribulation,
temperate in wrath, and in all changes of fortune,
and, down to the gates of death,
loyal and loving one to another.
As the clay to the potter,
as the windmill to the wind,
as children of their sire,
we beseech of Thee."
Robert Louis Stevenson

Stevenson wrote the Valima Letters after he and his wife Fanny settled In the village of Valima on Upolu island, Samoa. He also became an much-appreciated activist highly critical of European colonial administrators worked very hard on land he had purchased in Vailima. He published A Footnote to History. He died in 1894.


Death of paradox

April 30, 2011

James Arthur Baldwin (August 2, 1924 – December 1, 1987) was an American novelist, writer, playwright, poet, essayist and civil rights activist. Baldwin described the ambiguous situation of black Americans in the 1950s as Kafkaesque. He predicted that American nation will be put to death by paradox, itself a paradox since Americans seemed intent on putting paradox to death. He then situates American author Richard Wright fictional character Bigger Thomas in Native Son (1940) as a character controlled, defined by hatred and fear as a descendant of Uncle Tom. Bigger Tom’s hatred and fear later drive him to murder and rape. Baldwin saw Richard Wright as the 1940s Negro novelist locked with the 19th century New England author in a deadly timeless battle. He decries the fact that Bigger Tom’s tragedy is that he has accepted a theology that situates him as subhuman eternally constrained to fight for his humanity. Baldwin then summarizes, “But our humanity is our burden, our life, we need not battle for it; we need only do what is infinitely more difficult, that is accept it. The failure of the protest novel lies in its rejection of life, the human being, the denial of beauty, dread, power, in its insistence that it is his categorization alone which is real and which cannot be transcended (Baldwin “Everybody’s Protest Novel” in Zero 1955: 58).”

1852 American author Harriet Beecher Stowe published her anti-slavery novel entitled Uncle Tom’s Cabin; or, Life Among the Lowly. Although some argued that the novel “helped lay the groundwork for the Civil War” (Will Kaufman) James Baldwin claimed that is reeked of self-righteousness and virtuous sentimentality. Baldwin argued that sentimentality is the mark of dishonesty which betray the sentamentalist’s aversion of experience, fear of life and an arid heart. Baldwin states that sentimentalism is a signal of secret and violent inhumanity, a mask for cruelty. Uncle Tom’s Cabin is a “catalogue of violence”. He described Harriet Beecher Stowe as an impassioned pampheteer not a novelist who wrote solely to reveal the immorality of slavery (Baldwin “Everybody’s Protest Novel” Zero 1955: 57).

1924 James Baldwin was born

1938 Shoghi Effendi (1938:36) Guardian of the Bahá’í Faith, wrote that racial prejudice was the most vital and challenging issue confronting the Americas.

“Freedom from racial prejudice, in any of its forms, should, at such a time as this when an increasingly large section of the human race is falling a victim to its devastating ferocity, be adopted as the watchword of the entire body of the…believers, in whichever state they reside, in whatever circles they move, whatever their age, traditions, tastes, and habits (1938:36).”

“The ceaseless exertions which this issue of paramount importance calls for, the sacrifices it must impose, the care and vigilance it demands, the moral courage and fortitude it requires, the tact and sympathy it necessitates, invest this problem…with an urgency and importance that cannot be overestimated (1938:34).”

” [Freedom from racial prejudice] should be deliberately cultivated through the various and everyday opportunities, no matter how insignificant, that present themselves, whether in their homes, their business offices, their schools and colleges, their social parties and recreation grounds, their Bahá’í meetings, conferences, conventions, summer schools and Assemblies (1938:36).”

1940 American author Richard Wright published Native Son. James Baldwin in his essay entitled “Everybody’s Protest Novel” (c. 1950s?: 54-59) published in Zero situated American author Richard Wright fictional character Bigger Thomas in Native Son (1940) as a character controlled, defined by hatred and fear as a descendant of Uncle Tom. Bigger Tom’s hatred and fear later drive him to murder and rape. Baldwin saw Richard Wright as the 1940s Negro novelist locked with the 19th century New England author in a deadly timeless battle. He decries the fact that Bigger Tom’s tragedy is that he has accepted a theology that situates him as subhuman eternally constrained to fight for his humanity. Native Son is number 71 on the American Library Association’s list of the 100 Most Frequently Challenged Books of 1990-2000. The Modern Library placed it number 20 on its list of the 100 best novels of the 20th Century. Time Magazine also included the novel in its TIME 100 Best English-language Novels from 1923 to 2005.

1941 Seventeen-year-old James Baldwin studied at The New School, Greenwich Village, New York City.

1948 James Baldwin lived in Paris, France and became involved in the cultural radicalism of the Left Bank. His work started to be published in literary anthologies, notably Zero.

1949-1956 Albert Benveniste and Themistocles and Hoetis were editors of Zero, Gotham Book Mart Selection. James Baldwin’s essay entitled “Everybody’s Protest Novel” (pp 54-59) was published in Zero. http://books.google.com/books?id=9wdVDKAZZFoC&pg=PP5&lpg=PP5&dq=New+York+Times+’Zero’+Themistocles+Hoetis&q=New+York+Times+’Zero’+Themistocles+Hoetis&hl=en#v=snippet&q=New%20York%20Times%20’Zero’%20Themistocles%20Hoetis&f=false

“It is the peculiar triumph of society – and its loss – that it is able to convince those people to whom it has given inferior status of the reality of this decree; it has the force and the weapons to translate its dictum into fact, so that the allegedly inferior are actually made so, insofar as the societal realities are concerned. This is a hidden phenomenon now than it was in the days of serfdom, but it is no less implacable. Now, as then, we find ourselves bound, first without, then within, by the nature of categorization. And escape is not effected through a bitter railing against this trap upon us. We take our shape, it is true, within and against that cage of reality bequeathed us at our birth; and yet it is precisely betrayed. Society is held together by our need; we bind it together with legend, myth, coercion, fearing that without it we will be hurled into that void, within which, like the earth before the Word was spoken, the foundations of society are hidden. From this void – ourselves – it is the function of society to protect us; but it is only this void, our unknown selves, demanding forever, a new act of creation, which can save us – “from the evil that is in the world.” With the same motion, at the same time, it is this toward which we endlessly struggle and from which, endlessly, we struggle to escape(Baldwin “Everybody’s Protest Novel” Zero 1955: 57).”

“It must be remembered that the oppressed and oppressor are bound within the same society; they accept the same criteria, they share the same beliefs, they both alike depend on the same reality. Within this cage it is (Baldwin “Everybody’s Protest Novel” Zero 1955: 57) romantic, more, meaningless, to speak of a “new” society as the desire of the oppressed, for that shivering independence on the props of reality wyhich he shares with the herrenvolk makes a truly “new” society impossible to conceive. What vengeance will be exacted; either there will be no oppressed at all or the oppressed and the oppressor will change places (Baldwin “Everybody’s Protest Novel” Zero 1955: 58).”

1955 James Baldwin published Notes of a Native Son. The title refers to Richard Wright’s 1940 protest novel entitled Native Son.

1963 James Baldwin’s book entitled The Fire Next Time was considered to be one of the most influential books about race relations. In it Baldwin predicted, “The Negroes of this country may never be able to rise to power, but they are very well placed indeed to precipitate chaos and ring down the curtain on the American dream.” Could he have imagined President Obama?

“James Baldwin’s collection of essays, The Fire Next Time, is considered one of the most influential books on race relations published during the 1960s. Divided into two sections, the book urges the politicization of both African Americans and European Americans on the issue of racism. Baldwin explains that the radicalism and militancy of many prominent African Americans is a reaction to feelings of alienation inspired by traditional American society. Originally published as two separate works – “Letter from a Region in My Mind” in The New Yorker and “A Letter to My Nephew” in the Progressive – the essays were retitled “Down at the Cross” and “My Dungeon Shook: Letter to My Nephew on the One Hundredth Anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation” for their appearance in book form. Using rhetorical devices learned in his youth as a Pentecostal preacher and examples from his own life, Baldwin argues for an end to racism (Gale Free Resources).”

“In order to survive as a human, moving, moral weight in the world, America and all the Western nations will be forced to reexamine themselves and release themselves from many things that are now taken to be sacred, and to discard nearly all the assumptions that have been used to justify their lives and their anguish and their crimes so long (Baldwin).”

1979-1981 Atlanta Child Murders were a series of murders committed in Atlanta, Georgia, United States in which a minimum of twenty-eight African-American children, adolescents and adults were killed creating an atmosphere of panic and paranoia. James Baldwin documented these murders in his nonfiction book entitled The Evidence of Things Not Seen. Although Atlanta African American Wayne Williams was convicted of two murders and suspected to be guilty of more Baldwin criticized the “untidy” criminal investigation process and felt it was incomplete.

1987 James Baldwin died.

Who’s Who

James Arthur Baldwin (August 2, 1924 – December 1, 1987) was an American novelist, writer, playwright, poet, essayist and civil rights activist.

Webliography and Bibliography

Baldwin, James. 1962-11-17. “Letter From a Region of My Mind.The New Yorker. “Letter from a Region in My Mind.” p. 59.

Baldwin, James. 1963. “Down At the Cross; Letter From a Region of My Mind.” The Fire Next Time. Dial Press. USA.
Baldwin, James. 1963. The Fire Next Time. Dial Press. USA.
Baldwin, James. 1964. The Fire Next Time. Penguin Books. UK.

Wilson Duff’s dystopia

February 23, 2010

The World Is As Sharp As A Knife
“There are no laws,
which you can trust to work.
There are just rules,
which you must make to work.
In the one hand,
you are holding the mirror.
On the other hand,
you are the mask.
Put on the mask and look in the mirror.
What you see
(the mirror does not lie)
is that which is common to both,
the truth you can believe (Wilson Duff).'”
1763, “[While Chief Pontiac and the Ottawa tribe lay siege to Fort Pitt, Lord Jeffrey Amherst, commanding general of British forces, Colonel Henry Bouquet, Captain Ecuyer, and Commander William Trent conspired to intentionally infect the tribe with smallpox via blankets, handkerchiefs, and linen. While the practical ramifications of this act are disputed, the historical significance of one of the first documented acts of directed biological warfare is staggering.” Singh, Rondeep. “Smallpox in the Americas: from Imperial to Germ Warfare.” The University of Western Ontario http://helios.e-e-e.gr/medicine/files/History_of_medicine_days.pdf#page=132
1770 30% of West Coast Native Americans were killed in a smallpox epidemic.
1800s-1850 At their largest, the Haida numbered 8,000 in the first half of the 19th century. But after suffering through the ravages of foreign diseases such as smallpox their numbers dwindled. The Haida observe an ancestry of matriarchal lineage. Families are divided into subgroups of eagles and ravens according to their mother’s ancestral lines. Renowned for their expert fishing abilities and techniques, the Haida are also celebrated for their exquisite crafts and carvings.
1800-1801 Smallpox epidemic among the eastern Puget Sound Indians (Sources: Robert Boyd, The Coming of the Spirit of Pestilence (Vancouver, BC: UBC Press, 1999), 22-24, 27-30, 34, 36-37, 55, 204-205, 273, 293-295; Menzies’ Journal of Vancouver’s Voyage April to October, 1792 ed. by C. F. Newcombe (Victoria, B.C.: Printed by William H. Cullin, 1923), 29, 53-63; George Vancouver, A Voyage of Discovery to the North Pacific and Round the World … Vol. 2 (London: G. G. and J. Robinson, 1798), p. 229-230, 241-242; Peter Puget, “Log of the Discovery. May 7-June 11, 1792,” Pacific Northwest Quarterly, Vol. 30, No. 2 (1939), p. 198; Robert T. Boyd, George M. Guilmet, David L. Whited, Nile Thompson, “The Legacy of Introduced Disease: The Southern Coast Salish” American Indian and Culture and Research Journal Vol. 15, No. 4 (1991), p. 7-8, 11.
1862 Smallpox epidemic among the eastern Puget Sound Indians (Sources: Robert Boyd, The Coming of the Spirit of Pestilence (Vancouver, BC: UBC Press, 1999), 22-24, 27-30, 34, 36-37, 55, 204-205, 273, 293-295; Menzies’ Journal of Vancouver’s Voyage April to October, 1792 ed. by C. F. Newcombe (Victoria, B.C.: Printed by William H. Cullin, 1923), 29, 53-63; George Vancouver, A Voyage of Discovery to the North Pacific and Round the World … Vol. 2 (London: G. G. and J. Robinson, 1798), p. 229-230, 241-242; Peter Puget, “Log of the Discovery. May 7-June 11, 1792,” Pacific Northwest Quarterly, Vol. 30, No. 2 (1939), p. 198; Robert T. Boyd, George M. Guilmet, David L. Whited, Nile Thompson, “The Legacy of Introduced Disease: The Southern Coast Salish” American Indian and Culture and Research Journal Vol. 15, No. 4 (1991), p. 7-8, 11.
1860s Traditional art forms such as the carving of totem poles that preserved a family’s heritage throughout the years began to be threatened as so many First Nations die during smallpox epidemic. Since the arrival of settlers, entire villages of 500 or more are emptied of their living inhabitants because of the disease. Their artifacts remain.
1879 Mungo Martin was born in Fort Rupert, British Columbia. He was of the Kwakwaka’wakw (Kwakiutl) tribe and was known as Chief NaKePenkim in his culture. Mungo Martin (1879-1962) learned from his stepfather Charlie James, a well known Northwestern artist. He became one of the first traditional artists to deal with many types of Northwest Coast sculptural styles.
1879  I.W. Powell took a Tsimshian mask with closed eyes from the Tsimshian village of Kitkatlawas and brought it to Ottawa. http://www.abcbookworld.com/view_author.php?id=3015

Alphone Pinart took a Tsimshian mask with open eyes from Metlakatla or on the Nass River. It was brought to the Musée de l’Homme in Paris where it was stored. http://www.abcbookworld.com/view_author.php?id=3015

1890 A few Indian oral histories survive that may describe the 1770s epidemic. In the 1890s, an “aged informant” from the Squamish tribe, located near the mouth of the Fraser River, related the history of a catastrophic illness to ethnographer Charles Hill-Tout. The ethnographer wrote:

“[A] dreadful misfortune befell them. … One salmon season the fish were found to be covered with running sores and blotches, which rendered them unfit for food. But as the people depended very largely upon these salmon for their winter’s food supply, they were obliged to catch and cure them as best they could, and store them away for food. They put off eating them till no other food was available, and then began a terrible time of sickness and distress. A dreadful skin disease, loathsome to look upon, broke out upon all alike. None were spared. Men, women, and children sickened, took the disease and died in agony by hundreds, so that when the spring arrived and fresh food was procurable, there was scarcely a person left of all their numbers to get it. Camp after camp, village after village, was left desolate. The remains of which, said the old man, in answer by my queries on this, are found today in the old camp sites or midden-heaps over which the forest has been growing for so many generations. Little by little the remnant left by the disease grew into a nation once more, and when the first white men sailed up the Squamish in their big boats, the tribe was strong and numerous again” (Boyd, 55).http://historyink.com/index.cfm?DisplayPage=output.cfm&File_Id=5100

1920 Bill Reid was born in Victoria, BC. His father William Reid, an American of Scottish and German descent, came to BC to run hotels in two northern British Columbia towns.

1929 Barbeau, Marius. 1929. Totem Poles of the Gitksan. Upper Skeena River, BC.
1925 Wilson Duff ( (1925-1976) was born.
1932 Bill Reid’s father abandoned his family leaving his wife to raise the children alone. Sophie Gladstone, a Haida from the Queen Charlotte Islands, was educated at the Coqualeetza residential school. My mother thought it was a good place to live since it was full of English people and she was a life-long, ardent anglophile. She is the best example of brainwashing that the Indian residential school system ever turned out.” — Bill Reid in Saturday Night, February
1932. Sophie Gladstone supported her family by working as a dress-maker and designer in Victoria. When he was young, Reid knew little of his mother’s Native heritage. Although the young Reid had some interest in carving,
literature, music, and poetry, his development as an artist was a prolonged process which stretched over several decades.
1943 Bill Reid was twenty-three when he first visited Skidegate, his mother’s home town, and met his grandfather, Charles Gladstone. Gladstone was a carver and engraver who had learned his art from his uncle, a man named Charles Edenshaw, who was, perhaps, the best-known nineteenth-century Haida carver. At the time he met his grandfather, Charles Gladstone, Reid was already working in radio and he soon moved to Toronto to take up a job with the CBC.
1947 In his sixties, artist Mungo Martin (1881-1962) accepted UBC’s offer to oversee the restoration of totem poles. Mungo learned his craft from his stepfather Charlie James. He restored totems and taught others the skill until he died in 1962. He began replicating old poles for the British Columbia Provincial Museum’s outdoor display in Thunderbird Park. Mungo taught his son-in-law Henry Hunt and his grandson Tony Hunt, both of whom worked with Mungo at Thunderbird Park. In the 1980s his grandson Richard Hunt continued his work. Mungo also taught the Haida artist Bill Reid the traditional woodworking techniques of the Southern Kwakiutl, and worked with Doug Cranmer, the grandson of Mungo’s second wife Abayah.
1949 29-year-old Bill Reid became discontented with his CBC job as night-time newsreader in Toronto. At first he had wanted to be the best soap salesman chief salesman for Procter and Gamble but he soon became bored and
disillusioned although he remained with the CBC as a honey-voiced announcer for 20 years. Working the 6 p.m. to 1 a.m. shift, Reid was at loose ends during the day and enrolled in a jewellery-making course at Ryerson Institute of Technology to occupy himself during his time off work. Reid also served an apprenticeship there. He visited the Royal Ontario Museum to study totem poles (which had been “purchased?” or stolen? from northern BC Native peoples) , all the while continuing his work in radio. Bill Reid scraped by working as a CBC newsreader in Toronto to support his family.
1949 Wilson Duff earned his BA UBC, Vancouver at 24-years-old; Based on his fieldwork with six main informants in the summers of 1949 and 1950, Wilson Duff provided the first modern ethnographic study of the Cowichan group in 1952. Who were these informants?
1950 Barbeau, Marius. 1950. Totem Poles. 2 volumes. National Museum of Canada.
1951 Bill Reid worked for the CBC in Vancouver. Here he visited the UBC Museum of Anthropology. He set up his own jewelry shop, and began to work on totem pole replication and restoration projects. He began to study Haida
art and culture as a white man investigating a set of formal design problems. See art critic Roger Downe. He first worked on a replication project in Thunder Bird park where he met Mungo Martin, a highly-skilled Kwakwaka’wakw
carver who was overseeing the project. Martin helped Reid to develop his skills as a carver. He next worked on a project sponsored by the University of British Columbia Department of Anthropology restoring a Haida house and
totem pole.
1951 Wilson Duff earned his MA at 26-years-old; His MA was based on fieldwork with the Stó:lõ Salish people of the Fraser River in B.C.
1952 Duff, Wilson. Totem Poles of the Gitksan Totem-Poles 1952. a survey of those totem poles in Barbeau (1929) that were still standing in 1952. Totem Poles of the Gitksan. Upper Skeena River, BC.
1952 Based on his fieldwork with six main informants in the summers of 1949 and 1950, Wilson Duff provided the first modern ethnographic study of the Cowichan group in 1952.
1950- 1965 Wilson Duff was Curator of Anthropology at the British Columbia Provincial Museum. At 25 Duff became the first anthropologist to be fully employed by the provincial government of B.C. as its curator of anthropology at the provincial museum in Victoria (from 1950 to 1965).
He was involved with Mungo Martin in the reclamation of totem poles.
“Having served as a consultant for the Kitwancool in northern B.C., Wilson Duff served as an expert witness for both the Calder Case and the ensuing Nisga’a land claims case before the B.C. Supreme Court. As an avid photographer and a carver of no small skill himself, he published a guide to Victoria’s Thunderbird Park and he made an important contribution by identifying personal art styles among Aboriginal artists, particularly Charles Edenshaw. This work led others, such as Bill Reid, to believe that most of the finest carving on Haida Gwaii was accomplished by relatively few gifted artists.”
1950s Wilson Duff was only in his twenties when he decided to take the last remaining Haida Gwaii (Queen Charlotte Islands) totem poles by having them removed from their village Kitwancool (a.k.a. Gitanyow) and brought to the Royal British Columbia Museum or RBCM) in Victoria for preservation. They were cut down with chain saws and hauled to Victoria by boat.
1957 Wilson Duff, Bill Reid and … went to Haida villages and used power saws to cut down totems.
1957-11-01 “Carvers of the totem poles.” CBC. “It’s 1957 and Bill Reid is an announcer for CBC Radio in Toronto. In this CBC Radio clip, Reid takes a reprieve from his news-announcing duties and narrates a program about totem
poles. But in the meantime, Reid’s two passions of art and broadcasting are colliding. In various CBC Radio and Television specials, Reid acts as the unofficial spokesman on Haida art and culture. In this clip, Reid praises the Haida
carvers’ unparalleled virtuosity.”
1958 Bill Reid worked on a project sponsored by the University of British Columbia Department of Anthropology to restore a Haida house and totem pole. Bill Reid became a full-time artist at the age of 38. He resigned from the CBC where he had worked as the honey-voiced announcer for 20 years.
1958. Duff, Wilson; Kew Michael. 1958. “Anthony Island, a Home of the Haida.” British Columbia Provincial Museum Annual Report for 1957. pp. 37-64. An account of the expedition which salvaged sections of 11 poles.
1959 Duff, Wilson. “Histories, Territories, and Laws of the Kitwancool.” Anthropology in British Columbia. pp 21-30.
1960-1966 Wilson Duff chaired the Archaeological Sites Advisory Board.

1963 Wilson along with Willard Ireland and Dr. Clifford Carl, provided the impetus for the formation of the BCMA, and served as the Associations third President from 1963-1964 and was active in encouraging native participation in the Association.

1964. Duff, Wilson. “Contributions of Marius Barbeau to West Coast Ethnology. Anthropologica. Review of the existence of totem poles at the time of European contact.
1965 40-year-old Wilson Duff resigned? as Curator of Anthropology at the British Columbia Provincial Museum (1951-1065). He became Associate Professor/Professor of Anthropology, UBC (1965 on)
1967 Duff, Wilson; Holm, Bill; Reid, Bill. Arts of the Raven: Masterworks of the Northwest Coast Indians. Vancouver: Vancouver Art Gallery. animal forms.
1967 Following his preparation of the 191-page Arts of the Raven catalogue for a Vancouver Art Gallery exhibit in 1967, Wilson became obsessed with the notion of bringing together the only two stone masks known to exist from the Northwest Coast; the other with open eyes was kept in Paris.
1969 Wilson Duff served in court as an expert witness in the Nisga’a land-claims case Calder vs. Attorney-General of B.C., the famous “Calder case.”
1970s By the early 1970s Wilson Duff was consumed with studying Haida art in all its formalistic and cosmological complexity — taking in structuralist and psychoanalytical insights — an endeavour which he undertook with his friend the Haida artist Bill Reid but which never resulted in a comprehensive published articulation. His immersion in the Haida thought-world was so total that, as he wrote in the early 1970s, colleagues “are concerned about my sanity and reputation.”
“His profound admiration for the arts of the West Coast was obvious at all times, and so was his anxious need, always unsatisfied, to penetrate their most secret meaning, even beyond the meaning assigned by the artists themselves… He was, one felt, tormented by problems related to the psychology–I would even say the metaphysics–of art.” — Claude Lévi-Strauss
1973-02 Hesquiat Band Cultural Centre: Lack of funds hit by Chief Rocky Amos. Nesika. Vancouver. Indian Affairs denied Hesquiat Band’s request for funds for their proposed Cultural Centre.
Chief Rocky Amos argued that UBC was granted $10 million to house Indian artifacts so “more white people could study Indians.” Chief Rocky Amos also cautioned that the linguistic programme which includes language lessons prepared for pre-school children in Hesquiat dialect of central Nootka language, is on the verge of closing due to lack of funds. http://qmackie.files.wordpress.com/2010/02/nesika-1973-volume-2-number-1.jpg
1973-02 By a member of the Hesquiat Band. Whitemen Stole Indian Artifacts: People now demand own museums. UBC basement storage has an unsurpassed collection of Northwest Coast Indian art. These Indian artifacts have no didactic material on who did the carving, what family owns the crests, who obtained the art work, was it purchased or stolen?
“I have seen places in the Queen Charlottes where ancient totem poles have been cut off at the base with a power saw, dragged to the sea and towed behind a tug through salt water to be relocated. I have seen groups of Indian children escorted through government-run museums; small brown-eyed children under the watchful eyes of white museum guards, looking at glass cases in which lie the history of their people. A history made odd, different, and strangely foreign because it is lying in a glass case in a white man’s institution. [] Who ever asked for permission to remove our heritage and place it in glass cases? [] Why are there no funds for museums for us? [] There is money for a boat to take archaeology students up and down our coastline to dig up the bones of our grandfathers and sift, sort and label sacred objects from our burial grounds, but no money for us to treat our heritage with the dignity it deserves?”
Nesika. Vancouver.
1975 Wilson Duff and Vancouver Art Gallery director Richard Simmins succeeded in obtaining permission from France to transport their priceless Tsimshian mask to British Columbia. Wilson Duff retrieved the twin Tsimshian mask from the Musée de l’Homme for a one-year period, bringing it to his home in Vancouver; Hilary Stewart transported the mask from Vancouver to the Victoria Art Gallery where it was reunited with the mask from Ottawa. Hilary Stewart transported the mask from Vancouver to the Victoria Art Gallery where it was reunited with the mask from Ottawa. “The sightless mask was lifted carefully and placed over the face of its seeing twin,” Stewart recalled. “…the two nested together in a close, snug fit. It was a deeply moving moment as the two masks came together again for the first time in a hundred years or more.”  After consulting with Musqueam Della Kew, Duff ensured the twin stone masks were henceforth stored together, one cradled by the other, each an equal part of a whole. He later wrote, “Life is a pair of twin stone masks which are the very same but have opposite eyes.” The masks represented the “living paradoxes in myth and life” that he believed were near the source of Northwest Coast Aboriginal art.”http://www.abcbookworld.com/view_author.php?id=

1976 Duff, Wilson. “Mute Relics of Haida Tribe’s Ghost Villages.” Smithsonian.
1976-08-08 “Wilson Duff committed suicide on August 6, 1976 in Vancouver, at age 51, hoping to be reincarnated as an Aboriginal from Haida Gwaii or the Tsimshian First Nation. Claude Lévi-Strauss wrote, “I wonder if it was not, after all, this desperate quest for infinite mysteries–perhaps because they were above all an exigency of his mind–that killed this unaffected, charming, altruistic and kind man, who was also a great scholar.” For his 50th birthday, Bill Reid had given Wilson Duff a silver medallion with a Haida design with an inscription on the back saying “survivor, first class.” He was wearing the medallion when he shot himself to death.” “He as on the planning committee for the new Vancouver Museum, consultant to the National Museum of Man, Ottawa. His publications were classics in the field – contributions to the study of First Nations cultures that added considerably to the development of museums around the province. He was recognized as one of the leaders I the “redefinition of ethnological materials as fine arts” within the early Canadian museum community. see
1981 Donald N. Abbott edited The World Is As Sharp As A Knife: An Anthology in Honour of Wilson Duff . The title was drawn from a poem by Wilson Duff of the same name.
1998 Bill Reid died. He had become an internationally-recognized artist whose work earned him wide praise. He is likely the best-known of all the artists who contributed to what is sometimes referred to as a renaissance in Native
Canadian art.
1999 Bierwert, Crisca. 1999. Brushed by Cedar, Living by the River: Coast Salish Figures of Power. Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 1999. Reviewed by Brian Thom, McGill University. [this review is to be published in American Anthropologist]
“In Brushed by Cedar Bierwert takes us to two Coast Salish Native communities (Stó:lo and Lushootseed) on the Northwest Coast and explores Coast Salish ways of making sense of current moral, intellectual, political and spiritual issues and dilemmas.” Bierwert was aware of the dangers inherent in writing about the power of the spirit dance.
“When told about one initiate dying and another losing the ability to write when they had both joined the spirit dance in order to write about it, she reflected with some concern on the death of the two other scholars who published on Stó:lo spirit dance practices (Wilson Duff’s suicide and Oliver Well’s accidental death while vacationing in Scotland) and the controversy surrounding the publication of Jilek’s self-serving psychoanalytical text on spirit dancing. She describes the subsequent tension of being engaged in the community, even participating in a spirit dance, and the degree of circumspection needed in writing about spiritual matters, which she is left to figure out for herself. She finds that writing about these things is a part of a larger social dynamic, where “the boundaries of practice allow for variation, for deployment at different limits and different times” (133) and it is the movement of these boundaries which reveal the processes of power which give tension to these dynamics. Coast Salish people see syowen (the spirit which empowers the dancers) as an active agent, much the same way particular places are seen as containing power. Coast Salish people are motivated by the power of the syowen to respond to ritual, political and everyday situations with attention to the unique ways that the power may manifest itself. It motivates Bierwert to respect a boundary of appropriateness in her own writing about spirit dancing, staying clear of describing or trying to explain the details of the practice, while at the same time giving a sense of its power. In the most emotionally potent chapter Bierwert grapples with the ongoing problem of family violence in Stó:lo communities. She first brings forward the voices of some of the Stó:lo women – her friends – who discussed with her the violence which had occurred in her own marriage. The chapter sensitively moves back and forth between their commentary, their descriptions of their own experiences, and Bierwert’s discussion of how this unfortunately common violence may be uniquely understood in particular Coast Salish ways. Her friends respond the violence in their lives in various ways, but almost never did they or their families intervene. Like in spirit dancing, there are different boundaries of power which must be respected. Bierwert concludes that while traditional family structures which may have kept past violence in check have been disrupted by colonial institutions, the violence is now perpetuated by a difficult configuration of Native men appropriating the kinds of violence that is more widely present in non-Native communities and Coast Salish ways of thinking about how bad things need to run their course (Thom’s review).”
2001 Marjorie Halpin was curator of ethnology at UBC MOA until her untimely death. She studied under Wilson Duff?
2004 approximately 2,000 Haida lived in Canada, almost all in Haida Gwaii.
2010 Artistic Directors Dennis Garnhum (Calgary) and Max Reimer (Vancouver) presented the world premiere production of Beyond Eden, written and composed by Bruce Ruddell, during their 2009-10 seasons at Theatre Calgary and the Playhouse Theatre Company of Vancouver. Beyond Eden will be featured as part of the Vancouver 2010 Cultural Olympiad.

See also Rhyne, Charles S. 2000. “Changing Approaches to the Conservation of Northwest Coast Totem Poles.” Tradition and Innovation: Advances in Conservation Contributions to the Melbourne Congress, 10-14 October 2000. London: International Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works, 2000. Pp.155-160, color plates 7.1-7.4.

http://academic.reed.edu/art/faculty/rhyne/papers/approaches.html http://home.istar.ca/~bthom/brushed.htm http://gsdl.ubcic.bc.ca/cgi-bin/library?e=q-11000-00—off-0nesika1-nesika1,ubcicnew,unitybul,ubcicbu1-01-1–0-10-0—0—0prompt-10—4——-0-1l–11-en-50—20-about-archaeology–00-3-1-01-0-0-11-0-0utfZz-8-00&a=d&cl=CL1″ target=”_blank”>http://gsdl.ubcic.bc.ca/cgi-bin/library?e=q-11000-00—off-0nesika1-nesika1,ubcicnew,unitybul,ubcicbu1-01-1–0-10-0—0—0prompt-10—4——-0-1l–11-en-50—20-about-archaeology–00-3-1-01-0-0-11-0-0utfZz-8-00&a=d&cl=CL1 http://qmackie.files.wordpress.com/2010/02 http://qmackie.files.wordpress.com/2010/02/nesika-1973-volume-2-number-1.jpg http://historyink.com/index.cfm?DisplayPage=output.cfm&File_Id=5100 http://www.abcbookworld.com/view_author.php?id=3015 http://helios.e-e-e.gr/medicine/files/History_of_medicine_days.pdf#page=132 http://academic.reed.edu/art/faculty/rhyne/papers/approaches.html

In the 199os an artist-musician and close friend originally from Haiti, Emmanuel Printemps, used to visit us regularly on Friday evenings and we would ask him to share his music with us and our other guests. We always requested one of his most moving, enchanting Creole songs, the powerful but sad story of the local butcher who lost his livelihood during the pig slaughter. As I follow the events in Haiti since the earthquake, I think of these precious friends from another time and place; they and their families are in our hearts and prayers.

Rural peasants in Haiti raised a very hardy breed of creole pigs which along with goats, chickens, and cattle served as a savings account. It was argued that from 1978 to 1982 about 1/3 of Haiti’s pigs became infected with the highly contagious African Swine Fever (ASF) in an epidemic that had spread along the Artibonite River shared with the Dominican Republic whose pigs had caught the virus from European sources. At first peasants were encouraged to slaughter their own pigs but then the Haitian government proceeded on a total eradication program that virtually wiped out what remained of the 1.2-million pig population by 1982. Farmers argued that they were not adequately compensated for their losses. The more robust creole pigs were replaced with a sentinel breed of U. S. pigs that were not adapted to Haiti’s ecosystem or market. For Haiti’s rural peasants the loss of income due to the virus and the government’s controversial eradication and repopulation programs led to further impoverishment and greater hardship, ultimately resulting in greater political instability.


In two webviral posts entitled “The Hate and the Quake: Rebuilding Haiti” by scholar, historian Sir Hilary Beckles of the University of the West Indies, (Beckles 2010-01-19) that are now circling the globe , we need to do some memory work before we conclude that Haitians are the architects of their own impoverishment.

In this seminal retelling of Haiti’s history,  (Beckles 2010-01-19) reminds us all that when Haiti provided freedom and the right of citizenship to any person of African descent who arrived on the shores of the newly formed Haitian republic (1805), the newly formed nation-state (1804) was strategically punished by Western countries, through economic isolation ( (Beckles 2010-01-19)).

From 1805 through 1825 Haiti was completely denied access to world trade, finance, and institutional development in “the most vicious example of national strangulation recorded in modern history ( (Beckles 2010-01-19)).”

In 1825 in an attempt to be a part of international markets, Haiti entered into negotiations with France which resulted in payment of a reparation fee of 150 million gold francs to be paid to France in return for national recognition. The installments were made from 1825 until 1922. From 1825-1900 alone this amounted to 70% of Haiti’s foreign exchange earnings. Beckles (2010-01-) argues that this merciless exploitation caused the Haitian economy to collapse  (Beckles 2010-01-19).

Furthermore, when Haiti’s coffee or sugar yields declined, the Haitian government had to borrow money from the United States at double the going interest rate in order to repay their punishing debt to the French government (Beckles 2010-01-19) .

From 1915-1934 the United States occupied Haiti under orders of President Woodrow Wilson in response to concerns that Haiti was unable to make its considerable loan payments to American banks to which Haiti was deeply in debt. The brutal U.S. occupation of Haiti caused problems that lasted long after 1934.

Webliography and Bibliography

Beckles, Hilary. 2010-01-19. “The Hate and the Quake: Rebuilding Haiti.” Posted by Sir Hilary Beckles on Jan 19th, 2010 and filed under Caribbean.

Beckles, Hilary. 2010-01-31. “The Hate and the Quake: Part 2” Sir Hilary Beckles, Contributor