Thursday, April 21, 2005

Lame in London

Following our month-long stay in the Trobs, we had a stop-over in Singapore, dubbed the cleanest city in the world. This just happened to be the place where Zach developed a severe infection in his foot that, two days later, put him overnight in an emergency room in London.

London. That was the start to our British experience. Zach and an IV. Thank god for free health care.

Most of our time in London was spent with Helena Wayne (Malinowski's youngest daughter) and Michael Young (Malinowski's biographer) who are currently collaborating to finish the second volume of Malinowski's biography.

Helena was a fascinating subject and an expert storyteller. She was Malinowski's favorite daughter and this has certainly influenced her relationship with his legacy. The other two daughters didn't have it quite as good. As a result, she's spent the past 40 years devoted to compiling his papers and researching his legacy, even though some of the things she found along the way were not what she hoped...including countless affairs with women. Her only consolation being that she doesn't have any half-sisters or brothers in the Trobriand Islands (ha!). While it seemed quite clear to us that Malinowski was self-centered, career-driven and shirked his fatherly responsibilities, Helena has decided to remember her father and his legacy in a postive light. This was definitely a lesson to us in forgiveness.

Michael has spent the past 7 years devoted to the ins and outs of Malinowski's tempestous life. We're starting to get fed up with the guy and it's only been a few months. But Michael's kept a cool distance and an extremely even-handed approach. He guided us through Malinowski's extensive collection of archives at the LSE, which included the original versions of the infamous personal field diaries which scandalized his name when his second wife published them in the 1960's. The diaries are filled with sexual longing for the young Trobriand girls, oedipal echoes, self-castagation and a dream about having sex with his doppleganger. Talk about egomaniacal. However, they were most shocking because of the use of the word 'nigger'.

Michael and Helena were both extremely generous with their time and we got HOURS of footage. Unfortuntately, towards the end, they became suspicious of our line of questioning which did at times veer towards the negative. How could they suspect this??? No - everyone thus far has lauded Malinowski as their long-lost relative, their mentor, their inspiration for living - we need some of the negative and let's face it, there's plenty of it to be had.


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