From Round to Square (and back)

For The Emperor's Teacher, scroll down (↓) to "Topics." It's the management book that will rock the world (and break the vase, as you will see). Click or paste the following link for a recent profile of the project:

A new post appears every day at 12:05* (CDT). There's more, though. Take a look at the right-hand side of the page for over four years of material (2,000 posts and growing) from Seinfeld and country music to every single day of the Chinese lunar calendar...translated. Look here ↓ and explore a little. It will take you all the way down the page...from round to square (and back again).
*Occasionally I will leave a long post up for thirty-six hours, and post a shorter entry at noon the next day.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

The Accidental Ethnographer (2a)—Ocean and Isle

One year ago on Round and Square (31 May 2011)—The Death of Captain Cook.
Click here for the introduction to the Round and Square series "The Accidental Ethnographer." (Coming Soon)
Click below for other posts from Ocean and Isle:
Isle 1            Isle  2            Isle 3           Isle 4            Isle 5            Isle 6            Isle 7

[a] Beach RF
I am scheduled to give a lecture on tomorrow at the Doylestown Historical Society, as part of Doylestown, Pennsylvania's big bicentennial celebration. The subject is the American explorer and evangelist William Edgar Geil (1865-1925). This is part of a larger project that I will be working on this summer in Doylestown with the help of Beloit College anthropology major Megan Nyquist '14. As I did a few weeks ago in preparation for another lecture (on another subject), I am going to spend the next few days posting some of Geil's own writings. This was enormously helpful to me the last time I tried it, and I think it is worth another try. 

[b] Hillside RF
William Edgar Geil was a world famous figure in his day, and the reasons he has been lost to history (from his death until now) are as interesting as the underpinnings of his fame. Here is a very brief overview. In a day before anthropology or Chinese (or African or Micronesian) studies had a toehold in world universities, William Edgar Geil traveled the world, took extensive notes, returned to Doylestown, and wrote books. Depending on how you count them, he wrote almost a dozen—many of them thick and substantial in ways that a turn of the (last) century reader would understand, even if many people today would not. He traveled across central Africa in the first decade of the twentieth century, spent a year in Australia and New Guinea, and then found an abiding love for the study of China (which is where I "met" him, in a manner of speaking). He traveled the length of the Great Wall, journeyed the Yangzi River from Shanghai into southeast Asia, visited all of China's provincial capitals, and is the only Westerner to have written a book about his travels to all five sacred mountains of China.

He wrote about it all, and he took pictures. The former is not without problem; the latter is easily his legacy. It is all a fascinating picture of an American abroad in a peculiarly resonant time in American history—from the Chicago World's Fair of 1893 to the end of World War I. This series will grow as my research does, but let's get started with Geil's own words—a little from each of his published books.
 ***  ***
Today's entry doesn't have Geil's own words. What's up with that? It's all part of the plan. William Edgar Geil was happy to invoke the words of others in his larger cause. In this case, he relied upon his pastor from Doylestown, Pennsylvania. It is telling, and it speaks to issues that go to the heart of Geil's world travels and educational mission. 

[c] Reef RF
Geil's second "big" book, Ocean and Isle, is his first foray into the material that anthropologists would study in earnest two decades later. But Ocean and Isle doesn't "read" like Argonauts of the Western Pacific, Coming of Age in Samoa, or Naven. This is partly because Geil lived in a different world—a different generation—than Bronislaw Malinowski, Margaret Mead, or Geoffry Bateson. That is not all of it, though. William Edgar Geil was a very different interpreter of culture, even though he was as well-traveled as any famous anthropologist. His pastor's introduction to his second big book gives some context to the complex life of travel and faith that Geil was crafting as he came of age in his thirties.

Ocean and Isle—The Author's 
Worldwide Tour of Observation
By His Pastor, John Howard Deming (1901)
One of the prominent features of the opening of the New Century is the increased interest in Foreign Missions. As an expression of the spirit of the times we call attention to the projected world-wide tour and circuit of all the chief missionary stations of Heathendom to be begun this month by the brilliant American Evangelist, Author, and Traveller, Wm. Edgar Geil, whose inspiring and successful work in many parts of our country is well known to the Christian public. The purpose of the tour is that of independent observation of the whole missionary field, in its actual condition, operations, modes of organizations, instruction, and efforts, its different peculiarities, its needs, its difficulties, its relations to existing forms of Heathen religion, to international and denominational policies, to political events, and what of encouragement or discouragement may exist in the great work of extending the gospel to the world, and especially to the neglected parts of Heathendom. A special object is to minister spiritual comfort and cheer everywhere, to all laborers in the field, as opportunity may offer; to visit schools, colleges, and institutions of sacred learning in connection with missionary operations, and report the results to the whole Christian church.
[d] Floral RF
The observations, made from a wholly independent standpoint, will be impartial, yet without prejudice to any denominational interests and activities. Independent of any ecclesiastical relations, and untrammelled by any favorite theories or considerations, one great aim of the tour is to give to the Christian public a truthful view of the whole situation of the foreign field, kindly suggesting whatever may be deemed advisable for the more energetic and successful prosecution of the work, and noting whatever may be regarded as impeding it, so seeking to arouse a more ardent interest and united effort in the rapid evangelization of the world.

The competency of this self-denying and brave evangelist for the task undertaken is beyond question. His able and attractive work on "Patmos" (the result of a previous tour of observation), guarantees the value and success of the correspondence. The entire course of travel has been carefully mapped out, and is expected to occupy over three years. Very naturally we may expect that as the observation is independent, many things will come to light not hitherto known to the Christian public—what the real value of statistics is, what the effect of the commercial war-spirit and policy of the Christian world powers is upon the heathen, in how far they are responsible for impressing a false idea of the Christianity, and to what extent their influence has been for good, what the present attitude of the competing heathen religions towards the cause of missions, what the real reasons of the Mohammedan success, now that it has to so great an extent used other means than the sword for its propagation, outstripping in many regions the Christian progress; and what the decided anti-Christian forces which the missionary has to meet.

A tour of visit so unique and rate—the first of its kind—cannot fail to be welcomed by every missionary on the field. This unique journey, so full of Christian heart, energy, activity, and prayerful consecration, and deep sympathy, must be greatly blessed to all concerned in the mission work, at home and abroad. The observation will be made not alone in reference to Protestant missions, but Roman Catholic as well. We have only words of encouragement for Mr. Geil. He holds a ready pen, and in addition to his general observations we may expect many a graphic sketch of local coloring and incident, full of interest to all his readers. We invoke God's blessing upon him. 
                                                                 Doylestown, Pa., U.S.A
                                                                                     May 2, A.D. 1901
[e] Interest RF
Click below for other posts from Ocean and Isle:
Isle 1            Isle  2            Isle 3           Isle 4            Isle 5            Isle 6            Isle 7 
William Edgar Geil, Ocean and Isle (Melbourne: Wm. T. Pater & Company, 1902), 1-3.

Geil, William Edgar. Ocean and Isle. Melbourne: Wm. T. Pater & Company, 1902.

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