84 von 97 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
Herbert L Calhoun
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As I was entering my sophomore year of college, Michael Rockefeller, the son of the then Governor of New York, Nelson Rockefeller, was reported missing when the catamaran he and a friend were sailing on collapsed. This had happened near a remote island off the southwest coast of New Guinea, deep in the Pacific Ocean. What was reported in the newspapers at the time is that his friend chose to wait on floating debris and was rescued, but Michael chose to try to swim the five miles to the island in question, in a rather desperate personal search for primitive artifacts for his museum featuring items form the Asmat people. The Asmat tribe was a small group of pre-stone Age people, having little or no contact with the outside world.
At first it seemed it would just be a matter of days before Michael would be found and reported alive -- after all he was a Rockefeller. But as the time stretched out, the chances that he would be discovered at all, dimmed. The conventional wisdom had it that undoubtedly he had drown. And then the reports petered out altogether ...
Over the years, intermittent reports trickled-in but became more and more speculative and more and more macabre, until there were only a rash of unconfirmed reports of a death due to cannibalism? Those reports were received with equal measures of tantalizing shock and incredulity; and as often as not, were dismissed.
Now with this book, it seems that after nearly 50 years, we do finally get the full story of what happened to him. And if this story can be trusted, and I believe many parts of it can, it is indeed a story worthy of the long wait.
Apparently, Michael did not drown as many had speculated, but did indeed manage to swim to the Dutch island in question safely. Only to then be quickly captured, summarily executed and "ceremoniously cooked" and eaten by a local Armat tribe, apparently still in search of revenge for an earlier attack by the guns of white men who had shot and killed several of them three years before. Thus, the story reported here is that Michael was a victim of tribal revenge due to the earlier shooting.
It is based on research and interviews of tribesmen and a careful study of documents and other forensic artifacts, and does go into great detail about the ritual of cannibalism -- so much so that a prudent reader might leave the book as I did, thinking that the author had a particular cannibalism fetish? Or at the very least, will leave one with the idea that he had an undue fascination with the tribal ritual of cannibalism?
That part of the story actually gave me the creeps because it reminded me of a book I had read about six months ago about the revolution in Indonesia, a war that was taking place around the same time as the search for Michael's disappearance was still in full force. As is the case in this book, in that book too, Western reporters seemed to "zero-in" on the several claims of cannibalism on both sides of that conflict -- to the complete exclusion of the war itself!
But in that case, it turned out (rather disappointingly for the cannibalistic thrill-seeking reporters), that the "so-called" incidences of cannibalism, were in fact staged symbolic chest-beating acts of war: mutual mockery of the adversary. A symbolic bite was taken out of the head of the adversary as part of their warrior victory dance.
However, as this author reports it here, it is cannibalism in the flesh (excuse the horrible pun), that is, cannibalism "for real," conducted as a purification ritual that is intended to endow "the consumer" with the best qualities of the head of "those consumed."
But here is this book's "kicker:" the fact that Michael Rockefeller may have been killed and eaten by a primitive tribe, is not the worse part of this story. That distinction must must be reserved for the cowardly Dutch government, which for decades knew the truth. However, since at the time they were the custodians of the islands in question, they were simply too embarrassed, to busy in a global CYA exercise that failed to report the truth of Michael's death.
This book is an interesting read for those who want the author's speculative theories about why Michael was obsessed with collecting the art of primitive tribes, and thus about why he was willing to take the risky chance of swimming five miles to a remote island after his catamaran had collapsed. Although I found the story about what happened to Michael credible, I found the book itself altogether a bit to "campy," too much "inside Harvard baseball" and not enough compassion for Michael's death or hard cold analysis of the facts. Three stars
31 von 38 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
David Roy, Ph D
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Format: Gebundene Ausgabe
In 1961, Michael Rockefeller, son of Nelson Rockefeller disappeared on his second trip hunting for primitive art in Papua New Guinea. Despite intense searches, officially, the cause of his disappearance and presumed death has remained unknown, a mystery, since. The speculations ranged from his going native, drowning at sea, and being killed and eaten by members of the Asmat cannibal headhunters in the region. Recently, author Carl Hoffman set out to find better answers, and this the story of his experiences.
Hoffman chooses to dispense with anything like an introduction. He offers no calm, rational overview of his report on what happened to Michael Rockefeller. Instead, he opens this masterful account with a body slam followed by knockout blow to the jaw: a detailed account, albeit speculative, of how the murder and following rituals of consuming Michael, body and spirit, might have taken place. When you wake up and shake off this stunning blow (never totally), he takes you on an extensive journey into the hearts and spirits of humans who are radically different from those of us in the "civilized" Western European world. Alien and Other, they truly are.
Hoffman speculates that he and Michael Rockefeller were both lured by the opportunity to know first hand these differences, to know them from the inside. The outcome for Hoffman - the experiences that led to this book - is radically different than for Rockefeller's. His was a killing done by those whose world included spirits of their dead who create havoc if not avenged. Hoffman's well-supported speculation is that the Rockefeller scion most likely was a victim of a ritualized murder done to balance the earlier killings of indigenous cannibal headhunters by (white) Dutch soldiers. He would have been the first white man to be killed by these indigenous people; and only after white soldiers in [date] had shot several from the same village as those who killed Rockefeller.
Hoffman's style and approach includes the ability to observe and narrate detail and present it without dramatic interpretation. It seems to blend the best of investigative journalism with a more scholarly style as exemplified by presenting well-documented interpretations and conclusions.
Further, Hoffman goes deep enough into the culture to be able to lift out the very different spirituality and worldview (one in the same) for these people. While their biology, based on their DNA, is the same as any other Homo sapiens, interiorly they seem so difficult to understand, to "know" in the fullest sense possible, as to be truly and fully alien.
Part of my interest in this book stems from a quest to discover a fuller picture of our species' basic nature when it comes to violence, particularly against other people. This is an ancient question: Are we inherently and irrevocably violent? A strongly related issue is to understand better the impact of killing a human being on the killer. For some in our culture, this is deeply unsettling. This can be true even when the killing would be considered justified, as in law enforcement, the military, or in situations of personal danger.
Hoffman emphasizes that the Asmat for countless generations had a worldview that required a ritualized approach to killing in order to avenge those of one's own village killed by those in another village. When I asked if killing for them might be "disturbing" at some deep level, he felt that it would have been instead "emotionally powerful."
Hoffman explained: "It may have been necessary for them; it may have been triumphant; it may have been morally or ethically just, but it's always a powerful act. To kill is to take, possess, take power, consume the other. If it had no power, no importance, it wouldn't happen on purpose, wouldn't have the sacred importance it did. For the Asmat, I think, head hunting and cannibalism was a product of a certain kind of self, a certain kind of stark dualism, one that defined the self via the other."
Yet, in Hoffman's account in the book, shortly after the murder of Rockefeller, several Asmat men approached the area's resident Dutch priest, and allowed themselves to be questioned as to the details of what happened. Why? Were they disturbed and unsettled by what had been done? Or, as Hoffman suggested in an email, was this actually an effort to get the village of the men who killed Rockefeller in trouble (since this group either came from the other village or were related to someone in the village). It could not have been because of any Christian-informed guilt because at that time, their culturally defined spirituality was their controlling worldview.
I am not any clearer on this question at this point. What does make sense to me, and is reinforced by Hoffman's account of the Asmat people, is that we Homo sapiens sapiens are malleable to a significant extent. We are hardwired to kill under a variety of circumstances. Yet we also seem to be hardwired to seek more caring and compassionate responses to others. To survive the next few decades, let along centuries, we are going to have to deliberately choose to cultivate the second position and not the first, something for which Hoffman's extensive work implicitly provides strong support.