This collection of essays and articles are the culmination of many years of study and research, euphemistically called The Collected Works. They are simply offered here for others to read, to peruse at their leisure and hopefully pleasure. Perhaps others will find my efforts interesting and informative and that the somewhat eclectic range of topics and subjects does indeed have the appeal which I intend and would like to share.
This ‘collection’, and seemingly amorphous assemblage, may seem unconnected at first encounter but does, I hope, show a humanistic orientated social awareness and consciousness. As such it encompasses subjects that range through the domains of the human sciences, social and biological anthropology, archaeology, ethnology, mythology, folklore, and a section called Notes and Queries which consists of recorded and annotated oddments of interest that were never worked up into a finished essay or contribution. For me mythology in many cases is a form of ideology – myths of appropriation that allow the gods and priests demanding and receiving a surplus or justifying an invasion. After all, when one builds a model of Noah’s Ark for one’s young son from instructions in Genesis, and ends up with a miniature ziggurat or storage house for those who did not produce – there is nothing wrong with believing that Jason and the Argonauts were piratical raiders, or that the Trojan War was fought to wrest control of the trade routes to Hither Asia.
In some ways the ‘collection’ is really a Rites de Passage that is the result, and accumulation of, studying warmly welcoming, richly smelling and musty tomes, journals, documents and readings. A life , some of which only has been spent in the quiet seclusion of libraries, spent in the company of skilfully and attentively bound and equally silent companions. Time spent in the Bodleian and other libraries in Oxford. Other occasions included time in the Archives of the Indies in Seville; the national archives in Madrid, Paris and the Scheepvarts in Amsterdam, the British Library, the Balfour Library and Pitt Rivers Museum in Oxford, and not forgetting the enchanting and lovely Radcliffe Camera.
Some of the topics here have some anecdotal connections – the Bogeyman stems from a time of young childhood in the late 1940’s when my father was required somewhat bemusedly to rattle under by bed with a broom to drive away this potential nocturnal visitor. Similarly, the Sandman brings back student memories in a local tavern of the cloaked and mysterious black hatted character on the label of a Sandeman’s port bottle. Again, this ‘collection’ has its share of goblins, hags, werewolves, goddesses, and totems, all of which still retain echoes of our folklore past and which I have tried to preserve more openly in the public domain. For me the contributions about museum artefacts result from a job I once had and hopefully reflect not just family origins (both Newcastle and London) but also my belief in the fact that we all share a common humanity, that we have not only a biological existence but also an all important social essence.
I welcome comments both supportive and critical. Whilst I pursue my retirement from being a onetime youthful student of theatre design (which inspired a lifelong passion for the history of art), a many times industrial worker, student psychiatric nurse, A level student of zoology and botany, Oxford undergraduate in human sciences at New College,, postgraduate in human variation, race biology and coronary disease research preceded by osteoarchaeological analyses in Oxford City. My final employed sojourn in the Pitt Rivers Museum and its Balfour Library was both illuminating and enjoyable and many of its fruits are within this blog site. I have referenced as completely as I can and all illustrations are from the public domain and which I hope add to the timbre of these ‘works’ as all may find them. Essentially as the Old Time Music Hall adage says – “For your delectation.” I have a number of contributions still in the pipeline, still in preparation, projects that will eventually empty my filing cabinet of its notes and jottings, as well as my ambitions.
Prolegomena to the Study of Shamanism
The unlikely interbreeding between Homo neanderthalensis and Homo sapiens
Bear Worship and Bear Cults
Maritime anthropology of the Manila Galleon Trade
The ABO Blood Group system, Rhesus Incompatibility and disease
Notes and Queries: The obscurantism of phenomenology
Notes and Queries: Critique of post-modernism
Notes and Queries: Totem and taboo
4. Fictions and Fragments
6. Historical Studies
7. History of Art
8. Human Sciences
9. Ischaemic Heart Disease