A complex web of cultural relations had developed between Europeans and American Indians long before Champlain came to the new world. The northern coast acquired a unique trading language, a pidgin speech borrowed from many tongues. Much of it was Basque and Algonquian.
A startling example is the word Iroquois. Linguists conclude that it was a complex coinage in the pidgin speech of the North American coast — a French understanding of an Algonquian version of two Basque words that meant “killer people”. The term was well established when Champlain became the first to publish it in 1603.
— David Hackett Fischer, Champlain’s Dream.
This is fantastic.
Anthony Goodman has a good little OpEd in the Financial Times, exploring the problems that arise when a leader’s attempts at being “authentic” — in either a corporate or political setting — run up against the limits imposed by his or her constituents. The key point, I think:
authenticity can also be awkward when a leader is so wrapped in their own need to be real that they cannot compromise with others.
The link is here.
[T]hat quest for the authentic, is the very thing that causes the world to seem so unreal and staged.
People can’t stop themselves from competing for status. It is branded into the side of the brain before you are born. As a primate, status hierarchies are a part of life, and when you remove yourself from the competition in the mainstream you just join the competition in the counterculture. As long as there are clusters of people bent on avoiding what is most popular, within those clusters people will compete for status through conspicuous consumption of art and fashion, music and movies, furniture and gadgets, signaling to insiders the quality of their taste or the ingenuity of their search for the authentic, and signaling to the outsiders that they are not one of them. —
David McRaney of You Are Not So Smart fame interviews Andrew Potter, author of The Authenticity Hoax.
(As James Thurber famously put it, “Why do you have to be a nonconformist like everybody else?”)
(Source: , via explore-blog)
Dear Editor: Update On Aliens. I get reader mail…
Death, here is thy sting -
My review of Christopher Hitchens’ last little book, Mortality.
My city editor went to America and all I got was this awesome t-shirt.