Our solid American citizen awakens in a bed built on a pattern which originated
in the Near East but which was modified in Northern Europe before it was
transmitted to America. He throws back covers made from cotton, domesticated
in India, or linen, domesticated in the Near East, or wool from sheep, also
domesticated in the Near East. He slips into his moccasins, invented by the
Indians of the Eastern woodlands, and goes to the bathroom, whose fixtures
are a mixture of European and American inventions, both of recent date. He
takes off his pajamas, a garment invented in India, and washes with soap
invented by the ancient Gauls. He then shaves, a masochistic rite which seems
to have been derived from either Sumer or ancient Egypt.
Returning to the bedroom, he removes his clothes from a chair of southern
European type and proceeds to dress. He puts on garments whose form originally
derived from the skin clothing of the nomads of the Asiatic steppes, puts
on shoes made from skins tanned by a process invented in ancient Egypt and
cut to a pattern derived from the classical civilizations of the Mediterranean,
and ties around his neck a strip of bright-colored cloth which is a vestigial
survival of the shoulder shawls worn by the seventeenth century Croatians.
Before going out for breakfast he glances through the window, made of glass
invented_in Egypt, and if it is raining puts on overshoes made of rubber
discovered by the Central American Indians and takes an umbrella, invented
in southeastern Asia. Upon his head he puts a hat made of felt, a material
invented in the Asiatic steppes.
On his way to breakfast he stops to buy a paper, paying for it with coins,
an ancient Lydian invention. At the restaurant a whole new series of borrowed
elements confronts him. His plate is made of a form of pottery invented
in China. His knife is of steel, an alloy first made in southern India ,
his fork a medieval Italian invention, and his spoon a derivative of a Roman
original. He begins with an orange, from the eastern Mediterrianean, a canteloupe
from Persia, or perhaps a piece of African watermelon.With this he has coffee,
an Abyssinian plant, with cream and sugar. Both the domestication of cows
and the idea of milking them originated in the Near East, while sugar was
first made in India. After his fruit and first coffee he goes on to waffles,
cakes made by a Sandinavian technique from wheat domesticated in Asia Minor.
Over these he pours maple syrup, invented by the Indians of Eastern woodlands.
As a side dish he may have the egg of a species of bird domesticated in
Indo-China, or thin strips of the flesh of an animal domesticated in Eastern
Asia which have been salted and smoked by a process developed in Northern
When our friend has finished eating, he settles back to smoke, an American
Indian habit, consuming a plant domesticated in Brazil in either a pipe,
derived from the Indians of Virginia, or a cigarette, derived from Mexico.
If he is hardy enough he may even attempt a cigar, transmitted to us from
the Antilles by way of Spain. While smoking he reads the news of the day,
imprinted in characters invented by the Semites upon a material invented
in China by a process invented in Germany. As he absorbs the account of foreign
troubles he will, if he is a good conservative citizen, thank a Hebrew deity
in a Indo-European language that he is 100 percent American.
From The Study of Man, by Ralph Linton (New York: D. Appleton-Century
Co., 1936), pp.326-327.
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