whose lifetimes are <primitive>

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kiddo73

Senior Member
Hi!

I have problem figuring out what this sentence might mean:

"Being surrounded by stones and dirt whose lifetimes are primitive"
Ana Mendieta, A Search For Identity, Finkelstein

The question is, I can't understand how one could possibly attribute "primitive" to a "lifetime". Does it simply mean they belong to a primitive era or am I missing something?



Thanks a million in advance!
 
  • Greyfriar

    Senior Member
    The word 'primitive', I believe, is referring to the stones and dirt. They have a primitive life in as much as they are inanimate things which have stayed on Earth without evolving in any way. They have remained 'what they are' since the dawn of time, even though they may have been changed physically by wind and rain, etc.

    A very tricky one, this!
     

    kiddo73

    Senior Member
    Oh, I see. I didn't see it that way! :) Would it be still right if I rephrase it like this: "Stones and dirt who lead a primitive lifetime", or "Stones and dirt who remain primitive during their lifetime"?

    Thanks for your reply! :) It really helped!
     

    Greyfriar

    Senior Member
    I still dislike the word 'primitive' in this context. Stones and dirt have an eternal lifetime however much they are changed physically by the weather, man, animals, plants. The essence of stones and dirt (their physical components) can never be destroyed.

    If you have to use 'primitive' you could say, 'Stones and dirt which remain eternally primitive.'
     

    PaulQ

    Banned
    UK
    English - England
    Hi!

    I have problem figuring out what this sentence might mean:

    "Being surrounded by stones and dirt whose lifetimes are primitive"
    Ana Mendieta, A Search For Identity, Finkelstein
    The main problem is that your example is not a sentence. Can you give us the words that are before and those that are after your example?

    To be honest, I cannot see how "lifetimes" and "primitive" can be together, some more context will help solve this one.

    Edit to add:

    Am I correct?

    The title of the book seems to be "Where is Ana Mendieta?: Identity, Performativity, and Exile" By Jane Blocker, Ana Mendieta

    The quotation is
    Pointed downward, the camera captures Mendieta’s … naked body lying … at the bottom of a rocky tomb. She is surrounded by stones and dirt whose lifetimes constitute the geological calendar.
    The act of stripping off her clothes to climb down into the sepulchre engages a familiar set of binaries: essence/inessence. nature/culture, primitive/civilized, and cosmos/history.
    From Google Books
     
    Last edited:

    kiddo73

    Senior Member
    Oh, I didn't see your response!

    No, it wasn't taken from that book! It was taken from an article: "Ana Mendieta: A Search for Identity"

    Here's the complete sentence:
    "Being surrounded by stones and dirt whose lifetimes are primitive shows the earth as an eternal force existing before “history” as we know it."

    I can't understand how lifetime and primitive can be put together, either. It makes a quite confusing significance. How can a "lifetime" be "primitive"? Yet, Greyfriar kind of helped me to realize what the writer probably meant by that. And what she/he said kind of made sense to me in the context in which the article was written.

    I'd be more than grateful to hear your interpretation.

    (Apparently, it doesn't make much sense to native speakers, either.)
     

    Kwistax

    Senior Member
    français - Belgique
    it's quite simple: primitive here means "from the origins", "primordial". From a poetic point of view, contrary to a human lifetime, stones are from all eternity.
     

    Parla

    Member Emeritus
    English - US
    The actual original sentence, of which the OP's quote is only a part: Being surrounded by stones and dirt whose lifetimes are primitive shows the earth as an eternal force existing before “history” as we know it. (It was apparently later rewritten for a book.) It's from "Ana Mendieta—A Search for Identity", a University of Missouri (Kansas City) Master of Arts thesis by Stephanie Lynne Finkelstein. Google found it.

    Not the most felicitous writing around, but then she wasn't seeking a degree in English.
     
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