Suit the action to the word, the word to the action;
with this special observance that you o'erstep not the modesty of nature.
For any thing so o'erdone is from the purpose of playing,
whose end, both at the first and now, was and is,
to hold, as 'twere, the mirror up to nature;
to show virtue her feature, scorn her own image,
and the very age and body of the time his form and pressure.
(Hamlet, Act 3, Scene 2)
In teaching cultural anthropology we face a disturbing paradox: we
bring students' attention to the lives of what are often very
dissimilar human beings, and to sometimes radically different ways of
looking at the world, of representing it, and feeling and acting in it.
Yet we, as academics, find ourselves mainly working with often very
abstract mental constructs, categories and concepts, and in any case
our mental formulations are very different from those used by the
subjects we refer to. Real life, ultimately, is reduced to schemes,
patterns and systems which monopolise all our considerations.