The paradox of civilisation …

“To me, this contrast illustrates the paradox of civilization: its charms are due essentially to the various residues it carries along with it …”

Claude Levi-Strauss (1955), Tristes Tropiques

This quote from Claude Levi-Strauss appears on Alan Jacobs’ More than 95 Theses blog, and comes via Nicholas Carr’s Rough Type.

I love the full quote.  It’s beautifully written and highlights a real paradox that we all recognise in the things we value: the best rum (Levi-Strauss’s example), wine, cheese, suits, guitars and cars and not the product of advanced production methods but of the care and craft of individual artists and artisans.  It’s a paradox worth pondering.

I haven’t read Tristes Tropiques and I’m not over-familiar with Levi-Strauss’ work but I’m not sure I subscribe to the blogger’s (Jacob’s) comment on liberalism and consumer culture.


About Andrew Munro

An independent business consultant, interim manager and writer, Andrew operates through his company, Burning Pine Ltd (
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