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One of the aspects of conscious purpose that most concerned Gregory Bateson was its linearity. Acting on conscious purpose, we only see “a small arc of the larger circle.” If the arc is very small and the circle is very large, it’s easy to mistake it for a straight line. Life and the biosphere work on cyclical principles; linear change, if it happens, occurs very slowly. Very quick linear changes (ones that can be seen in one human lifetime, for example) are nearly always toxic to the biosystem.
Odysseus, as a hero, seems to be driven by conscious purpose. His way of seeing and perceiving, as well as acting, appears to be defined by a straight line of conscious purpose, one which seems to him to be constantly thwarted and ‘bent’ by the gods.
In a brief essay (500-700 words), examine how Odysseus’ way of seeing and acting represents a system of values that presumes linearity to be the proper and best mode of seeing the world, and show how it contrasts with the ways of seeing and the values of the Trobrianders.
The essay must be organized into distinct, meaningful paragraphs. A paragraph should, in most cases, be more than three sentences, but less than ¾ of a page. Your paragraph separations should reflect the organization of your examination of the texts.
If your essay does not include direct and precise citations of the texts by Homer, Malinowski and Lee (preferably with at least two or three brief direct quotes), the grade will be lower, on grounds of lacking precision. Please include page references in brackets, specifying which source if it’s not clear from the context.
The point of this test is to evaluate your comprehension of Homer, Malinowski and Lee. Outside references or extended discussions of non-relevant topics will incur a penalty on grounds of lacking coherence (focus and relevance).
Because the three sources for this essay have been specified, and are the course readings from the syllabus, no works cited list is necessary.
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