In 2006, when my dissertation supervisor Bruce Trigger passed away, I was assigned the task of supervising the distribution of his books, offprints, etc. to various individuals and institutions. Mostly that didn't give me any real power but it did have some perks, like getting to read all his old correspondence that was tucked away inside his books. But perhaps the most awesome thing about it were the offprints. For, you see, Bruce had a massive collection of offprints, some of which dated to the 1930s and 1940s, and others of which were signed by super-famous folks in the world of anthropology and archaeology. Which was all cool.
But then there was the weird stuff, like old copies of mimeographed working papers by people whose relationship to data was tenuous at best. Or the photocopied version of a manuscript entitled 'Proto-Indo-European-Beothuk: Beothuk as an Indo-European Language with Proto-Celtic Loans', which, the title page informs me, can be obtained from the author at $10 per copy but which Bruce received for free. There's more like that. It's awesome.
But my very favourite of all is the following manuscript:
For those of you who may not be up on the nuances of early 1970s archaeological theory, this is a parody of the work of two of the chief figures of the processual archaeology movement, Lewis Binford
and David Clarke
, which, loosely and probably unfairly put, is a species of positivist ecological determinism, a la Jared Diamond. The author, Donn Bayard
, had just finished his PhD at the University of Hawaii based on fieldwork in Thailand, and was in the process of moving to the University of Otago in New Zealand, and was one of the fiercest critics of the processuals (as if 'Crescat theoretice, data reducantur' weren't enough). I knew of Bayard's work because he had crossed between archaeology and linguistic anthropology, just as I did, and because he was just generally awesome. But I didn't know until today, when I finally got around to pulling out this old offprint and scanning it into a pdf, that he was in fact 'Binclarke'. (The non-Western script is Thai, including the Thai numeral 2514 next to 1971, which was the year in the Buddhist calendar. It's meticulous and ridiculous, all at once.
Here is the link
to the full PDF (1.2 MB), which I am putting up for the sake of posterity (barring a request to remove it). It is, may I remark, made of incredible awesome sauce, as the kids these days like to say. The text is, well, it's like the Postmodernism Generator, only for archaeology of a certain day and age, but also chock full of oblique references to actual stuff including actual archaeologists, references to fictitious books like Our Finny Friends through Prehistory
by Phokos P. Seal, and other things that could only have been written by a human. But as if that weren't enough, the maps and charts stand above all other academic parody I've ever seen. Check this out (Fig. 3):
I have to stop now. I'm laughing too hard at the 'Neolithic Regulators' and the 'Cul-de-Sac' and the 'Sociocultural Exoskeleton' and 'Racial Memory' all tucked away down there. You'll either have to read it yourself, or just trust me that the 'Wild Composite Ancestor with Earliest Patrilineal Food' is a thing of beauty, or that there is a thing called the 'Zone of Multidimensional Balls of All Sorts.' No, wait. Don't trust me. Go and read it.
Tags: anthropology, weird