Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Tribalism Alive & Well

Enduring Tribalism
Look at this picture of today's victorious Champions League winners, Liverpool FC. Let it be admitted first that academic interpretations of cultural and anthropological phenomena can be, on occasion, to say it kindly, a stretch. What the heck: say it unkindly, pompous and preposterous. That being said, the picture here shows me that primitive emotions and forms of behavior are still part of lad nature. The leader of the tribal warrior (i.e. the team captain) lifts the "trophy" over his head. Now here is my typing of the OED definition of trophy.
Gr. and Rom. Antiq. A structure erected (originally on the field of battle, later in any public place) as a memorial of a victory in war, consisting of arms or other spoils taken from the enemy, hung upon a tree, pillar, etc. and dedicated to some divinity. Hence applied to similar monuments or memorials in later times.

What I saw when I watched this live after class was some chieftan lifting the decapitated head of the defeated rival before the tribe dances in ecstasy of celebration. Sir Walter Scott clearly represents Rob Roy as an eighteenth-century avatar of such behavior. The cover painting to our PenguinClassics edition of Rob Roy is well in line of this. [Posted below.]

At the moment, I find no better explanation for the peculiar nature of the ritual depicted in this photograph, or the intensity of the passions of those involved -- both victors and those defeated. Your thoughts?


Vesper said...

Trophy = phallus? Yes? No?
I think so.

Dr. S.A. Ogden said...

A severed phallus?