“Why exactly do you think you want to stay in anthropology?” has been the big, operative question over the last couple of weeks while I’m doing the graduate applications thing. Today I woke up and it hit me. I want to be an anthropologist because anthropologists are happy.
I was back at the department yesterday talking to Dr. Loeb and I enjoyed myself immensely. Every faculty member I’ve met in the anthropology department approaches life with a sense of humor and terrific perspective. I think this comes from the nature of anthropology as a field — it is by nature the field of acceptance, understanding and solidarity within the boundaries imposed by the human condition.
I had occastion to study in a lot of departments while I was at school — psychology, sociology, philosophy, computer science, film, theatre, art, art history, history, linguistics, mathematics, physics, English of course (my second major) and so on. And I’ve had occasion to visit a number of universities as well. Wherever I go, only anthropologists seem fundamentally happy about life, about the world. I believe this is because of their unique perspective — the foundation of cultral relativism in sociocultural anthropology and the ever-present undercurrent of evolution’s influence in biological anthropology. You can’t possibly take yourself too seriously when you and everyone else around the world are just another monkey in a village of monkeys trying to get by, and you know that no monkey or village of monkeys has a monopoly on monkey-knowledge or monkey-goodness. It’s all pretty much ape, and we’re in it together.
I realize that I can’t give this answer as a research proposal or statement of purpose to a Ph.D. program. But the fact is that I want to be a professional anthropologist because I feel great when I’m around other anthropologists and I feel great when I’m thinking like an anthropologist. And like everyone else on the planet, I just wanna be a happy monkey.