By Thomas Gregor
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Additional info for Anxious Pleasures: The Sexual Lives of an Amazonian People
The emotional emphasis is displaced, and what appears to be detail emerges as the myth's central meaning. To the analyst of the dream, these distortions are commonplace. They are what Freud called "the dream work," the dreamer's effort to conceal unacceptable wishes or conflicts and still discharge their energy. The major difference between the dream and the myth is that the mechanism of the dream work is only rarely successful in making the dream entirely palatable. As a result, recollection of the dream rapidly disappears in the cloud of amnesia that fogs our waking moments.
As we shall see, men may even assume a quasi-parental role in relation to the children they have fathered. As of my last visit to the Mehinaku, the thirty-seven adults were conducting approximately 88 extramarital affairs. This figure is only an estimate because the relationship is noncontractual, and opinions vary within the village as to who is having a genuine affair, and who is engaging in an occasional liaison. To put this number in perspective, it would be possible for the villagers to pair off in 340 extramarital (heterosexual) partnerships if they were unrestrainedly promiscuous.
When at last the string is untied, a wife knows that her husband will return no later than the next evening. On one occasion, I recall that Kikayala did not return after the final knot had been loosened and night had fallen. Even though his wife, Pialu, had never seemed to display any special affection for her husband, she became increasingly concerned. Anxiously peering down the trail, she wondered if her husband had been carried off by a forest spirit or attacked by a jaguar. She finally borrowed my flashlight and walked with her son to the edge of the woods to wait.
Anxious Pleasures: The Sexual Lives of an Amazonian People by Thomas Gregor