“participant observation, so central to the discipline of anthropology, so revered and fetishized, included in each and every grant proposal under “method”, is in fact never taught but left intangible and auratic, as if it is a secret only to be revealed to the initiated, by which time it is unnecessary and the initiated have in turn become guardians of the secret.”
Michael Taussig (2009:128), What Color is the Sacred?
“for many people the struggle to be alive is the same as the struggle against the constant corrosion of the present, both by change and by uncertainty”
“Malinowski wrote a note to himself at the back of his diary: “Main thing to do, is reflect on the two branches: my ethnological work & my diary & take the clue from both. They are well-nigh complementary as complementary as can be.”
Michael Taussig (2009:113), What Color is the Sacred?
“To propose that something like pagan magic was alive and well in the secular world around us and that this was not despite modernity but because of it - this was no less appropriately inappropriate than Leiris’s question as to the color of the sacred. As a question that tore at its own moorings, as a question that begged the question, it was no less bewildering than it was mocking, light hearted, and unsettling”
Michael Taussig (2009:34), What Color is the Sacred?
“Marlowe’s ‘Tragical History of Doctor Faustus’ concerns a German scholar who sells his soul to the devil so as to unlock the secrets of nature and conquer the world, very much including the fabled Orient from where the richest colored fabrics and dyes came. ‘Faustus’ can be read today as an old-fashioned morality play, and no doubt even in Marlowe’s time it was a delight for its exaggeration. But the images and the language endure. The devil may have been banished to the world of fable and children’s literature, but the poetic truth of selling one’s soul to the devil is probably more relevant today than it was in 1600, for now it is an everyday occurrence and technology can be truly apocalyptic. Who needs the devil when you have MBAs and AK-47s, his favorite calling cards?”
Michael Taussig (2009:227), What Color is the Sacred?
“the profession of the drysalter in eighteenth-century Britain [was] A “vital adjunct of the textile industry”, such a man dealt chiefly in dyes but also in drugs. Many dyes had medical uses and, in addition to those, the drysalter traded in pure medicines as well, such as licorice juice, talap, and quina-quina. Drysalters in fact called their wares “drugs”, sometimes specifying “dye-drugs”.”
Michael Taussig (2009:146), What Color is the Sacred?
Michael Taussig (2009), What Color is the Sacred?