I Walked On Air Last Month

So, it’s been a while.. this blog, which was started probably a month ago, has to do with my trip to Chicago the last week in February (yup one freakin cold place to another). I went to Chicago for a forensic conference hosted by the American Academy of Forensic Sciences, where I officially became a student member. Yay!

I’ve got two things for yas.. 

 1. I walked on air. 108 stories up, 1451 feet in the air I stood on a clear plastic box protruding laterally off of the Willis Tower (formerly known as the Sears Tower). Looking down to the streets and straight out over the city. This was our first day in Chicago, a day for minor exploration in anticipation and preparation for 3 days of forensic conferencing. We stayed at the Swissotel, a rather luxurious dwelling, located at the junction of the Chicago River and Lake Michigan. Conveniently there was an underground walkway from our hotel to the hotel the conference was being held in. It was odd just meandering around the city via corporate-enfused-underground-railroads but then man, it was nice to walk around that city (take a look at my facebook pictures for more).

 

2. Still walking on air? At least that’s what it feels like when things go smoothly. In nearly all situations, I don’t think things go good by chance, something good happens to you, you earn it. Humans shape what goes on around them, whether or not it’s intentional. The spatial relationship between all things (human and nonhuman) is something not even worth noting in most people’s eyes. Well let’s see now… peoplewatchers! rubberneckers! People love watching other people and people love getting into other people’s business.. I expeditiously digress..

James Fernandez and his discussions about participant observation:

“Participation enables us to feel someting of what our informants feel in the spaces they occupy in which they act. It is essentially a method aimed at the experience of place. For me the term “architectonic” raises the question of the feeling tones that activity in various constructed spaces envokes and that makes them places”. This modern social anthropologist interpretates symbolism in sacred African places through the evaluation of social structures among groups (Fang and Zulu). How we all live and move can be viewed (like proposed by Fernandez) by the lay out, the architecture, the social structure of human beings in a natural and “man made” environments. What does this have to do with Chicago? Well take a look at this picture. How many inhabitants do you think this city occupies? From the so-called “primitive” (obviously I disagree with that label) African groups’ spatial, social, environmental interaction of what was viewed by some as simplisticly structured and cultured differs greatly from the Chicago city life based on the number of people involved. Spatially, a city with skyscrapers and grid like street structure, such as Chicago, sets physical boundaries for the inhabitants. Zulu people are bound to their rituals and hut orientation, as Chicagoans are ritualistic in work, eating, sleeping, commuting patterns. After all there is only one species of human.. and we all choose different ways to practice spatial and cultural relationships. How many people are going to Easter dinner to sit around a table and eat a meal that an elder female family figure has prepared for a ritualistic activity in which several individuals are sitting in a closed structured pattern (circle or square) commonly folding their hands in unison for less than one minute right before they dig in with their heads down looking at their laps? A lot.

 

Another thing about space, forensic anthropology style..this just should be added.. is the mentioning of stratigraphy and mortuary practices. Real quick..stratigraphy=the layers of soil in the ground, the layers closest to the top are the youngest and the layers on the bottom are the oldest. These spatial relationships of earthly layers are important for when you’re digging up bones! When were these bones found in relation to the time period of a particular layer? If it was a recent grave, it is likely only 3 feet below the surface (it gets tiring digging a grave after committing a murder, carrying dead weight, and you have time constraints.. so the whole 6 feet under thing is not a likely outcome). Where are the bones in relation to other artifacts? Well.. this could go on forever.. but one example in an archaeological context is.. when prehistoric humans would bury their dead they would leave artifacts in specific places around the body in the grave (there I go with symbolism again) and/or the body is oriented towards a certain direction (i.e. by custom/when possible Muslims are buried (and pray) facing Mecca and Jewish + Christian followers are buried (and ideally pray) facing the east).

Last thought.. Easter eggs are symbolic of new life, yet on this day we kill tons of baby chickens by dumping them in boiling hot water then decorate them with vibrant pastel colors to be cute before we eat them (take that however you want to- I’m exaggerating, but too much money is spent on holidays).

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