The Culture

Indian Classical Dance And Temple Prostitutes (bharatanatyam And The Devidasi Tradition)

I want to begin this post with a video of an Indian classical dancer performing ananda tandavam with a move called urdhva tandav, in which she lifts her leg to side of her head. It is not the best example because she is a little unsteady, but its still a good example (you only need to watch the first 45 secs).http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n69BvdimSbMAs with most things in India, there are several variations on the story of this dance. It is always associated with Shiva as nataraj, the lord of the dance, but it's origin is the indigenous goddess traditions. The pose is [...]

Gifted Kids: Severn And Sarika Cullis-Suzuki

Of course, it helps to have good genes, but I rather suspect that nurture has more to do with how these remarkable sisters have turned out. Severn and Sarika are the daughters of Dr David Suzuki and Dr Tara Cullis. Severn Cullis-Suzuki Sarika Cullis-Suzuki Severn became famous when she addressed the UN at age 12. Her address is a remarkable feat for a girl of her age, unless of course the girl is gifted and encouraged (rather than dumbed down).http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uZsDliXzyAYIn the video below Severn talks a little about her influences as a child. From what I can gather she [...]

The Erotic As One Of The 64 Arts Of Saraswati

I've been building up to this point for some time. It forms the backbone of my novel Navaratri. It is also forms the core of what I believe is the most intelligent and sanest approach to sexuality. And it is this: that the erotic is an art. Just as we have turned taste into the art of gastronomy, sound into the art of music, vision into, well, the manifold visual arts, movement into the art of dance, and so on, we can and should turn sex into an art form.Except of course for one major obstacle. The Judeo-Christian teaching that [...]

Transgressive Children In History: Patyegarang

This is a story about Australia that should be made into a film, but it won't. I'll explain why later. Patyegarang was a young Aboriginal girl who was the first to teach the white settlers of Sydney her language. This story is told in the journal of lieutenant William Dawes and fictionalised in Kate Grenville's The Lieutenant.Her age in unknown. Grenville suggests she is pre-pubescent. Some historians have suggested she was around 15, although I think this is a polite lie to avoid the fact she was likely 12-13; given that Dawes's journal hints that she was going through puberty. [...]

Gifted Kids: Danica McKellar

Danica wasn't asked to perform any transgressive roles like Jodie Foster or Dakota Fanning, but she certainly had the intelligence to do so. She's best known for playing the part of Winnie Cooper in the Wonder Years.She  is reported to have an IQ around 158, which makes her highly gifted. When she went to UCLA her first choice was cinema studies but she also did a few maths units. Reminded of her talent for math, she changed direction and graduated summa cum laude. She also coauthored a paper called the Chayes, McKellar, Wynn theorem.She is now the author of two [...]

Child Prodigy: Jackie Evancho

I've said that one of my primary ethical considerations is that people should be able to achieve their highest potential. If that means a child actor such as Jodie Foster or Dakota Fanning taking on transgressive roles then no one should stand in their way. But talent comes in all forms: sport, academics, writing, music - and in the case of Jackie Evancho, classical singing. Of course Jackie will be the darling of the moral conservatives because outwardly she conforms to the stereotype they like.This has nothing to do with her talent, which is exceptional. So, more strength to Jackie [...]

Ninja And Samurai Women

The reason I'm fascinated with Japan at the moment is because it is one of the few highly advanced industrial countries that is not Christian. I do not include China or India because they are still developing and I do not include South Korea because it is culturally very close to Japan (having once been a Japanese colony).Because it is not a Christian country, it is not subject to Christian values or cultural biases. However, because it is not a Christian country it can be difficult to understand Japanese culture from 'inside' another Christian country. The reason is crude but [...]

The Anthropology Of Sex: The Female Breast

At some point in our history we chose to sexualize the female breast. Americans in particular seem to have fetishized the female breast, especially the nipples (something women share with men).This is NOT something we can blame the Judeo-Christians for. Whilst the Judeo-Christian tradition demands we cover our bodies in the name of modesty, it does not treat the female breast as sexual. Mary breastfed Jesus.Needless to say there are many cultures in which the female breast is NOT seen as sexual. So how did we begin to see the female breast as sexual? It's difficult to say. Certainly there's [...]

The Anthropology Of Sex: Sexual Maturity

This is a controversial and highly contested issue in industrialized countries. I say 'industrialized' because it's a bit of a non-issue amongst pre-industrial cultures. When is an individual mature enough to engage in sexual activity? What is the evidence from anthropology?

The Anthropology Of Sex: The Japanese Sento

This post follows on from my entry on privacy. Not only did the traditional Japanese sleep in the same room, they had the custom of communal bathing, or sentõ.