These four statements are the basis of the method of Aesthetic
Realism, somewhat as the formula E = mc2 is
the basis of Einstein's Theory of Relativity. In this thesis, I will attempt
to demonstrate that they explain Oksapmin culture.
Illustrative of the first principle,
in Oksapmin culture we find people trying to be selfish and generous at
the same time (see for example Chapters 2, 7, and 8), harsh and useful
to each other (see Chapter 12), both angry with and grateful to the world
or the unknown (see Chapters 12, and 13), both free and secure (Chapters
6 and 13), both energetic and reposeful (Appendix III).
The second statement finds expression
also in Oksapmin, for we see people, and indeed a whole culture, having
criticisms of itself. The people unconsciously see themselves as incomplete,
not worthy of entire respect, their interest in the world outside themselves
as disproportionately small. Oksapmin ethics center on this self criticism
(see particularly Chapter 12), and Oksapmin art stresses both the criticism
of selfishness and the necessity to appreciate the world (Chapter 13).
Every instance of competition
in Oksapmin is explained by the third statement. In competition one person's
advantage is seen as another's misfortune. The fact that importance can
come from weakening another is best shown in Chapters 2, 8, and 9, but
it is also found in Chapter 12 and elsewhere throughout this thesis. Contempt
for one's enemy, or simply for another person, is a value in Oksapmin.
And the fourth statement says
that the conflict of opposites is resolved in art, and indeed in all beauty.
This explains why opposites are made one in the Oksapmin arts, as discussed
in paragraphs before this one and in Chapters 6 and 13. It also explains
why the beauty of a person's character can be seen as made up of affability
and justice, sharpness and kindness, or courage and tenderness (see Chapters
9, 12, and elsewhere).
The four principles of Aesthetic
Realism provide an extremely economical way to find and describe essential
structures in any culture. I have found them capable of resolving problems
in understanding Oksapmin culture when no other method I knew would work.
Without wishing to lessen the value of other valid approaches in anthropology,
it is my careful opinion that the method of Aesthetic Realism can give
more clarity and organization to our analyses. It will, I believe, give
us a greater understanding of culture.