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  • Chris Davy

S is for... Strauss, Claude Lévi-Strauss



Everything has an opposite. I believe that. And I believe that because of Claude Lévi-Strauss. And I believe that because of Mr. O’Mahoney; who was my media teacher at college.

When I was in college the band that I played in, which was more like a group of mates that used to hang out and jam, we made a music video for a song that I had written called Shine. The band was called The Fiction.

Ironically, Shine was pretty dark in terms of lyrical content. The irony wasn’t intentional. It was one of my first songs. Consciously or not, I guess I was just practising writing therapy on myself. But that’s how I know we all share anxieties, fears, desires and ambitions. On a fundamental level we are all the same. We are all scared of or were once scared of something. We all want to achieve or have achieved something. We have all failed at or will fail at something. That’s basically what Shine was about. Wanting to shine and be something.

The reason I learnt about Claude Lévi-Strauss was because I had to apply a theoretical concept to the music video we had created. So the whole project had to be contextualised. Now, I had just written Shine with little to no premeditated thought. I was going with the flow writing it whilst at the same time thinking that sounds cool, go with it. Does that really class as premeditated thought? In a way yes. But not in the way I experienced it. I think if I write now I do it with much more clarity, self-awareness and maturity.

The video was created with basically no budget. We used one of the drama studios at college and bought some tea lights. With some crafty camera work and editing we made a pretty solid looking music video. Not bad for a bunch of teenagers in the early 2000s.

One of the main tricks with music videos is lip-syncing. That in itself is a whole different skill. Lip-syncing is a mad concept, you can easily lose your mind trying to ensure bang on lip-syncing. But if you nail it and make it look convincing, then you are harmonising one of the most vital elements involved in making a music video.

Anyway O’Mahoney is like, you need to apply a theoretical concept in the written part of the project; to explain why you did the things you did. If you use Lévi-Strauss’s theory of binary opposites you can elaborate on how you’ve tried to represent binary opposites in your song and music video.

Now, I can’t remember what I wrote in my essay. But I know I spent fucking ages writing the song and ages making the music video. I think I got full marks. If it wasn’t for the music video it was for a short film I made in a different year. That was one of my proudest moments at college. Because, even if it wasn’t, it seemed to me like it was a rare occurrence.

But check this out, forget about making a square peg fit a round hole. This whole apply a concept to a project thing; I was making the hole fit the peg. Because I was applying the theory after the practise had taken place. Now that is weird. It’s kind of a backward way of working. It’s almost cheating and in a way it possibly is in this instance. But it’s also learning how to criticise and see things from a different perspective. From a different starting point. Truth is, you can take any concept and theory, and if you are good enough at arguing you can make any hole to fit any peg. It’s just a matter of how good is that fit? How snug is it?

You can draw conclusions and argue about anything being the way it is for any reason. It’s about whether or not you can convince the audience of that, that is what creates influence, impact and change. Just don’t back down and stay the course. It just depends on whether or not you are met with an opposition that wants what they want more and has what it takes to get it.

But yeah, binary opposites, a very prevalent topic these days. What people need to remember is that it’s not just the two opposites in question that are the only options to choose from. It just means that they are opposites. And they may only be opposites in a particular context.

When it comes to applying choice between opposites it’s probably easier to say ‘option a’ and/or ‘not option a’. Rather than an exclusive either or mindset.

Like, take the whole gender debate that ripples around the world these days. I’ll give you my thoughts on it now. The opposite of male IS female. The opposite of female IS male. Male and female ARE binary opposites. But they aren’t the only two genders. Before I go much further let’s just make it clear, gender and sexuality are two totally different things.

As for gender, I believe at THE MOST basic and fundamental level, there are four:

Male - has male genitalia

Female - has female genitalia

Hermaphrodite/Intersex - has complete or partial male and female genitalia

So here lies the issue....it would appear there isn’t a commonly accepted term for someone with no sexual organs. We live in a very ‘politically correct’ world. Which wouldn’t be a fucking problem if the fucking politicians actually provided us with the tools to be politically correct.

So, I’m going to put it out there and say for now at least, because I’m not afraid of setting a bench mark, is that the opposite of hermaphrodite is ahermaphrodite.

Ahermaphrodite - someone with no sexual organs.

Linguistically in makes sense. That’s not something I came up with by the way. But I’m not going to credit my source because...well 1. I don’t have to and 2. It’s more important that everyone agrees on something rather than being able to pin the blame on any one person. The opposite of blame is credit(that’s a positive/negative spin).

If you know what the actual word is let me know. It really helps to simmer down any bullshit conversation that crops up about this sort of thing. You will know as well as I do it probably happens everyday.

Here are a few examples of binary opposites that depending on the context fall into totally different areas of conversation.

Bright and Dull

(Think of the concept of light and the concept of intelligence)

Tight and loose (How taut Something is)

Tight and generous (How someone handles their finances)

Dark and Light (In terms of brightness)

Light and Heavy (In terms of weight)

Some other interesting shit:

Nomenclature - The devising or choosing names for things

Lexicon - The vocabulary of a person, language or branch of knowledge

Neologism - New coined word or expression

Neology - The coining of new words

Corpus - A collection of written or spoken material in machine-readable form, assembled for the purpose of linguistic research.

So yeah, in terms of why am I writing about this..............well...............why not?

*bows*

Who doesn’t love a good quote?

“The wise man is not he who gives the right answers; he is the one who asks the right questions.” - Claude-Lévi Strauss

Songs to listen to now:

Opposites Attract - Forever Your Girl

Poison - Prodigy

Heroes and Villains - The Beach Boys

Black and White - Michael Jackson

Cruel to be Kind - Nick Lowe

With or Without You - U2

Should I Stay or Should I Go? - The Clash

Hello, Goodbye - The Beatles

Good Times, Bad Times - Led Zeppelin

If 6 was 9 - Jimi Hendrix