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October 2016, vol 12 no 3

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Bob Lucky

Ethnographic Vignette #2

afternoon glare
I follow the shade
across the street
an hourglass on its side
in a pawnshop window

In the 1950s, Bedouin came out of the desert to be plowed down by the cars in Morocco’s growing cities. Anthropologists were curious how space and time are calculated, how the cultural measurement of speed is made. It turns out the Bedouin were on camel time: nothing could move faster than a camel (except, of course, a car, which was the point of the study). It may seem obvious to us now, but it took many dead Bedouin to confirm that what we don’t know can kill us, even if we look both ways when we cross the street.

Note: reprinted from KYSO Flash 1, Oct 2014.