Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Andean Logic

High up in the Andes lives Latin America's most 'backward' people, the Aymara.

Backward, in terms of both their resistance to imposed notions of progress, but also in that they have a different spatial metaphor for chronology than every other culture in the world.

When talking about future events they tend to gesture behind them, using qhipa the Aymara word for 'back' to signify the future. In such a mindset the future is something unseen which approaches stealthily from behind; perfectly logical really. In their everyday statements they are uniquely strict about qualifying every observation in terms of whether it was indeed actually observed by them in person, which might explain their less anticipatory perspective on 'upcoming' events than most westerners.

They are also said to utilise a ternary form of logic, which includes values for true, false and unknown, are are consequently inclined to asign the third of these to situations we would normally expect more certainty from.

Coming into work the other day I had an interesting chat with Stefan about his own country's indigenes, the Thracians. He'd recently seen a documentary which laid the blame for their rather apathetic attitude to cultural achievement on a traditional religion which defined this world as a temporary waiting room outside the doorway to 'real' life.

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