The Benefits of Backwardness


"Heroes." Courtesy of Flickr.com member, Gastev. Sculpture of Don Quixote & Sancho Panza, by Lorenzo Coullaut-Valera (1876-1932). Installed at Place d'Espagne Brussels, Belgium.

From Don Quixote to Seinfeld, there have always been individuals (fictional or real) who behave contrary to the social, cultural and physical norms. Aside from the shock and perhaps humorousness of these acts, are there other reasons for why we are compelled to look at those who do the “wrong” thing in a situation where the “right” choice may seem obvious?

Describing his own unusual adventures surviving a lightning storm atop Gros Ventre Butte in Wyoming, weaving a “behavioral hair shirt,” fording icy creeks on the highest point of the Pacific Coast Trail, and rejecting airplane flight as a means of long-distance travel, GLIMPSE‘s Visions issue contributor and artist Peter Bergman attributes his wanderings not simply to desultory, college-age behavior, but to an important dream-vision-based, coming-of-age ritual rooted in Native American culture. Quoting the anthropologist Victor Turner, Bergman notes of his own behavior: “A normal man acts abnormally because he is obedient to tribal tradition, not out of disobedience to it.”

Find out why those who enact and create images that are counter to a dominant culture, may have more to teach us than we think in GLIMPSE’S upcoming issue, Visions.

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