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Old 1st May 2013, 06:37 AM   #16
A. G. Maisey
Join Date: May 2006
Posts: 6,259

Thank you for your detailed response Ariel.

I find it an intensely interesting response because it very probably is an accurate reflection of the world and profession that you know, and I guess, know very well. As such, I can appreciate your point of view and considered in the light of the society and background that has helped you produce these remarks, I can probably endorse them.

However, as extensive as it may be, your background and experience do not equip you for an informed opinion on matters that apply to either the World of the Keris or Javanese society, ethics and modes of behaviour in general. The overwhelming difference between Javanese society on all its levels and the society which has helped to provide your experience, and given you the necessary foundation to enable you to form opinions is that Javanese society is a society that is based upon hierarchical principles, even now in the 21st century at least two levels of speech are in common use, the hierarchically superior person using the lower level of speech and "speaking down" to the person who sits below him in the hierarchy. To act in any other way would be to act in a way that was totally gauche in this society. It quite simply would not be understood and would be viewed at the very least as an eccentricity.

Now, within Javanese society the World of the Keris is perhaps the most traditional of all the sub-sectors of this society. The keris, the wayang, the Court, these are all corner-posts of traditional society, as such the Javaneseness of these sectors is magnified in comparison with the standards that apply with the greater body of society.

Within a society based upon hierarchical principles that in effect reflect the standards of a bygone feudal age the leaders of that society have not only the right, but the obligation to act in a way that reinforces their superior hierarchical position. To fail to fulfil the expectations of those below them on the societal ladder would result in undermining the very foundations of the sector of society of which they are a part.

You regard the remarks I have repeated as snide.

In the context of present day Australian society I may well do the same, however over a very lengthy period I have made the effort to gain an understanding of the way in which Javanese society functions, and within the context of that society I cannot regard these remarks as being in any way snide, nor as being anything less than would be expected of men who have a status that approximates that of Gods. Gods make their own rules, and mostly they are not known for having very forgiving natures. In a hierarchical society, those who do not behave in the manner expected of them soon find that they are replaced by more lowly placed people who have no hesitation in using every means at their disposal to climb the ladder to a higher position.

In Java, and possibly in Indonesia in general, the way which we function in American, Australian and other societies with an Anglo heritage, would see us buried in very short order, and being regarded as fools into the bargain. In Rome we act as do the Romans.

Ariel, I have reviewed your posts to this Forum over a very lengthy period, and I have found that overall your remarks are well constructed and often very well informed. I like your posts and often will read them even though they deal with subjects about which I know nothing.

The remarks that I have reported in a previous post were made within the context of a very traditional sub-sector of a society that is organised in accordance with completely different principles to the ones with which you are familiar.

I accept that within the context of the society with which you are familiar, you, personally, may find these remarks to be less than admirable.
However, I most humbly suggest that before you take it upon yourself to pass judgement upon the nature of the remarks which I have reported, you take the time, and make the effort to gain at least the beginning of an understanding of the societal context in which these remarks were made.

Your assurance that people who are placed upon a relatively lowly level in the medical profession do not publish books reinforces precisely the point I was attempting to make:- if one is recognised as being extremely unlikely to possess any worthwhile knowledge, one is best advised to refrain from providing others with his as yet inadequate opinions by the publication of books that contain no new or worthwhile information.


I just now noticed your comment on this matter of "snide" remarks David.

Your point of view had not occurred to me, but you are of course absolutely correct. Even in our own societies there are people who are so universally respected and whose knowledge and ability is so far in advance of any others that not only are they exempted from the rules that apply to the rest of us, we mere mortals more or less expect these luminaries to act and react in a way that is simply not available to the rest of us.


Ariel, there's probably something else I should mention in respect of this keris book matter we've been discussing, and that is the sheer cost of the present crop of coffee table publications that keep coming out of Indonesia.

These are heavy books, by the time you add cost of postage or transport of the book to the original $100 or so price tag, cost can easily double.

I've been very fortunate, because a generous friend has given a number of these books to me as gifts, but if it were not for his generosity, I doubt that I would have seen these books. The cost would quite simply deter me. I'm in a position where I can get probably any book published in Indonesia that I really want, but for people who do not share my resources the actual acquisition of these books can be almost impossible. It is just not all that easy to do business with Indonesian booksellers.

So, by the time we measure cost + plus difficulty of acquisition against gain in knowledge the bottom line does not really show any profit.

I do enjoy looking at the pics in any of these books that I've seen, but the inaccuracies and plain misinformation that is contained in most of the more recent productions would not seem to encourage anybody looking for knowledge to purchase them. There have been notable exceptions to this, "Keris Jawa", Keris Bali", Tony Junus' book, but many of the other books have unvetted captions that could probably be considered as no more than bad advertising copy. This type of thing does educate, but perhaps not in the way that we might desire.

Even "Keris Bali" is more notable for its superb photo presentation than for anything that can be found in the text.

There is another thing too, one that I do not feel at liberty to expand upon, but the philosophy behind the writing and publication of a book in Indonesia, particularly a book that deals with an area of knowledge that is connected to money, is completely different to the philosophy of book production in western society. A western writer in most cases will seek to impart knowledge , in some other societies this is not necessarily so.

The whole thing gets back to what I was trying to express earlier:- we simply cannot measure the standards that apply in another society against the standards that apply in our own.

Last edited by A. G. Maisey; 1st May 2013 at 12:54 PM.
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