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Posted by Alan Nagel on December 17, 1998 at 10:18:35:

Two qualifiers on valuing primitivity :

1. Arts do not _necessarily evolve_ from rough to smooth, casual to mindful: witness Greek and Roman sequencing of similar pieces and --for my case-- grant that it is not simply and entirely attributable to mere imitation or commerce-driven simplification.

2. As we get back further in time, the folk piece that survives is not _necessarily_ one of the good ones: classic examples include the extreme rarity of artifacts that were in the most frequent use--they got used up--and the corresponding survival of artifacts relatively peripheral to the cultural system,
...and maybe even the embarassingly bad ones, not used because who'd want to look at one. Stick it away to wrap the whatsis in, and miracle of miracles, it survives intact: but it survives as a whatsis wrapper at least as much as anything else.

Caution is in order when whatsis wrappers become prime artifacts of the 'authentic' cultural difference between us and them.


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