Anthropology At Work

Anthropology At Work


After my Saturday classes in Cosmic Anthropology, I usually spend my time “unwinding” with my friends in our watering hole, sipping glasses (sometimes bottles) of wine, with cheese and bread, followed by dinner until just before midnight when traffic is already light. But sometimes the “unwinding” becomes a “rewinding” of what transpired in class.


Like many of my classmates, I am also asked about the course that I am taking. The dialogue usually goes like this:


FRIEND:         What are you taking?

STUDENT:     Anthropology

FRIEND:         What branch of Anthropology?

STUDENT:      I major in Cosmology

FRIEND (with a look of surprise in face):  This is the first time I hear of this field of Anthropology. Is this new? What is it all about?

STUDENT:      It's a new way of looking at humanity.

FRIEND (with the right eyebrow raised):  You mean, “studying humanity from

                       the  perspective of Cosmology?”

STUDENT:      Right.

FRIEND (now two eyebrows raised): Wow! This is a tall order. You mean your course studies us human beings from the perspective of the Cosmos?

STUDENT (silent): Uhmmm? …

FRIEND (teasing persistently, this time smiling sarcastically): Our thoughts, feelings, behavior, and actions studied from the viewpoint of the universe?

STUDENT:     Uhmmm? …

FRIEND (a look of curiosity): What has the universe – our Sun, our moon, and the stars, planets, galaxies –got to do with us? You mean they influence our thoughts, feelings, and behavior too? Including our relationship with each other?

STUDENT:     Uhmmm? …

FRIEND (already thinking I’m weird): Aha, you’re into Astrology – it says that the stars rule our life. So, you’re into Horoscope. Are you also into Palmistry?

STUDENT (feeling all the more challenged): In the course that I am taking, we study Cosmology from the perspective of the physical and social sciences.

FRIEND       But the hard sciences—e.g., physics, biology, chemistry—is heavily into the physical and material world, not into the mental world?

STUDENT (now perspiring, addresses the Bar lady): More wine please … Thank you.

STUDENT (feeling relieved of the short interruption … but gaining enough time to compose his thoughts … continues): To a great extent, yes, especially the classical ones. The mental world used to be the domain of psychology, psychiatry, etc. But today, as in the recent past, many of those in the hard sciences that you’re talking about are now studying and talking about the mind, about thoughts, emotions, free will, consciousness, and many other issues which used to be the exclusive subjects of the soft sciences, like psychology, sociology, and anthropology.

FRIEND:         Why? What challenged them to cross disciplines?

STUDENT (after gulping more wine): They are slowly realizing that there is a connection between the physical and material world on the one hand and the mental world on the other.

FRIEND:     So, you’re telling me that they are also now into dreams, extra-sensory perceptions, and other paranormal phenomena?

STUDENT:    Quantum physicists are now talking about free will, mind reading, clairvoyance, invisibility, mental telepathy, bi-location, near-death experience, and the like.

FRIEND:      This is the field of Edgar Cayce, Padre Pio (the bi-locator), but certainly, not scientists like Albert Einstein.

STUDENT:    Many scientists, Einstein included, talks about the God of elegance, beauty, and order; Stephen Hawking used to talk about a non-interventionist God. Other scientists are into Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, and other religions.

FRIEND (now getting more intoxicated, not so much because of the wine): Don’t tell me that contemporary science is now into the supra-natural world, also studying and talking about spirits, life after death, souls, and ghosts.

STUDENT:     A recent theory in quantum physics, called the M Theory which sprung out from the String Theory, comes out with its discovery of Parallel Universes, or the existence of other cosmic dimensions that is beyond our dimension of time and space. Not only this, it advances that these extra dimensions of reality could be populated by beings possessing higher intelligence and much advance civilization than ours. And the idea is that the UFOs which have been sighted again and again over the past decades everywhere around the world could be the inhabitants of these extra dimensions of life and existence.

FRIEND (feeling dragged into the world of science fiction): My, this is scary … an impending invasion to our Planet Earth?

STUDENT (pursuing the subject even farther): Scary indeed, but this has greatly inspired even today’s science to go deeper into experimentation in the areas of teleportation, time travel, space travel, sending messages into space, building time machines, space stations, sending space ships to Mars and beyond. Billions of dollars have already been put as research grants into this kind of endeavors. We have also been invading into space, conquering the Moon, so far.

FRIEND:         And how do they expect to go to a Parallel Universe?

STUDENT:   Scientists talk about black holes, worm holes, saying that these can be entrances into the other dimension of life and existence. They theorize that it is through these doors that UFOs enter into or communicate with our world of time and space.

FRIEND (can no longer take it anymore, turns to the Bar lady ordering for another bottle of a Chilean wine): I think I deserve another round. Let’s drink to that.

STUDENT (feeling victorious this time, but almost totally drained and exhausted): Don’t forget the water. Wines are fast dehydrators of our body.

FRIEND (seeming finally relieved by the spirit of the wine, after feeling choked by a slice of German hotdog and Swiss cheese): What you’re just telling me is that the Cosmos we live in is composed of three realms—the physical, mental, and supra-natural.

STUDENT:      Uhmmm? … Any problem?

FRIEND:         Not really … give me some time to digest things.


In the background, the TV starts feeding the football game between Germany and Spain. Everybody in the bar begins to be quiet, intently listening to the blow-by-blow account of the commentator.


(Watch for the second installment, perhaps after another round of visits to the Bar).