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Re: The Last Dinosaur Book
>>From my understanding of the concept, I'm not sure that totem is the best
>analogy. Isn't a totem a living animal, an individual exemplar of a
>spiritual power able to imbue followers with power or counsel? In that sense
>an extinct animal is an extinct god. Saturn was not extinct, and the
>Saturnalia represented upheaval, a contrast to the present order. The
>dinosaur may be comparable in the sense that it represents a different world,
>distant in time rather than space, and may indicate a happy disruption, a
>palliative for someone feeling powerless.
>This is different from the other cultural use of dinosaurs, the slow and
>obsolete creatures inevitably replaced by something better. In fact, the
>view of dinosaurs as efficient and powerful might then be cultic, a
>supportive ingroup separated from the rest of the world.
>Comment very much appreciated.
'Dinosaur" and "Neanderthal" serve a similar function as codewords for
obsolete and outdated. You'll find dinosaurs waiting for the asteroid of
the next great technology in technical trade-magazine illustrations. Sexist
males are commonly regarded as "neanderthals". The recent controversy over
whether or not modern humans have some neanderthal ancestors has some
interesting parallels with arguments that dinosaurs were anything but
sluggish. -- Jeff Hecht