Archive for June 2013

Saving the New York Public Library

Two days ago, I wrote about why I thought it was so important to attend yesterday’s hearing “The Sale of Public Libraries in New York City” convened by the NY State Assembly’s Committee on Libraries and Education Technology, chaired by Assemblyman Micah Kellner. For those of you who missed the hearing and want to see and hear for yourself what happened, keep an eye on the website of the NY State Assembly, where video of the entire session will be posted in a few days. But be prepared with several buckets of popcorn before you sit down to watch: The session started at 10:30 a.m. and went on until something like 6:30 p.m. – that’s my best estimate, anyhow; I had to duck out at 5:45 at make it to Sunset Park in time to help my friend Chris Russell celebrate the official opening of his bee gates there. But the 7+ hours of testimony I heard were truly eye-opening. Four members of the State Assembly attended the hearing: Kellner, Joan Millman and Walter Mosley (representing districts in NYC) and Samuel Roberts, who traveled in from Syracuse for the day. At the opening of the hearing, there were at least 125 people packed into the Assembly Hearing Room on the 19th floor of the mixed-purpose government building at 250 Broadway. Around 50 of those present had signed up to testify, which involved registering two days beforehand and submitting twenty copies of a written statement. So it’s clear why the hearing lasted so long. And while the crowd thinned out in the course of the day, quite a few attendees stayed on to the end, because the testimony being presented was pretty fascinating.

The day began with opening statements from each of the Assembly members on the Committee (all spoke strongly in support of saving our public libraries from being sold off), followed by presentations by the presidents/CEOs of the New York Public Library and Brooklyn Public Libraries, Anthony Marx and Linda Johnson. As a Manhattan resident, I hadn’t been aware that the Brooklyn libraries are in just as much danger as their Manhattan counterparts, so I was surprised to hear Johnson arguing in support of closing and selling off two branches: the Brooklyn Heights and Pacific branches. On the other hand, I had already heard plenty about the controversial Central Library Plan (CLP) being championed by Marx, so his corporatese testimony defending his plans to sell off the popular and heavily used Mid-Manhattan Library as well as SIBL (The Science, Industry and Business Library) came as less of a shock. He emphasized the importance of minimizing all the “non-public spaces” in our libraries (i.e. all the spaces in which books are cared for and stored) and touted his successes in getting library patrons access to digital versions of “the entire corpus of commercial books.” I was very pleased to see the Assemblymembers present take both CEOs quite aggressively to task. Assemblyman Kellner remarked at the end of Marx’s testimony that it had left him “with more questions than answers,” and Assemblywoman Millman (who holds a degree in library science) pointed out that the selling off of public buildings is at best “a one-time fix for a recurring capital need”; a library that has been closed and sold off is gone forever, while the moneys from its sale may soon be exhausted.

The ghost of the Donnell Library hung over the day’s proceedings, a grim specter. This popular five-story library at 20 West 53rd Street – just north of Rockefeller Center, whose architecture it was designed to compliment – was closed in 2008 and sold to a real estate developer that at first planned to put in a hotel but instead, after the financial crisis struck, sold it to a second developer that is in the process of constructing a high-rise condo tower on the property. Part of the deal was that any new development would incorporate a new library into its design. Indeed, a new Donnell library is scheduled to reopen in summer 2014, and it’s going to be located – wait for it – in the basement. The new developers have allocated 28,000 square feet for the library (less than a third the size of the old library – 97,000 sq. ft.) and almost all of this will be distributed among the two basement floors of the building, with only an entryway on ground level So, you’re thinking, clearly this enormous sacrifice of a beloved neighborhood library building must have netted the library system some big bucks, right? Guess again. As came out in yesterday’s hearing, the sale of Donnell brought in a paltry (in real estate terms) $39 million. The penthouse apartment in the new building just sold for more than that.

The Assemblymembers referred repeatedly to the fact that the Bloomberg administration, which is on its way out, has been aggressively handing out construction contracts. They encouraged both CEOs to hold off on the further sale of library buildings until a new administration is in place; and both CEOs explained that the current climate of permissiveness suited their needs, which was why they were both hurrying to move their plans forward. In fact, the sell-off has already begun: Marx confirmed yesterday that five floors of SIBL had already been sold for $60.8 million, quite a bit less than the $100 million the NYPL spent acquiring and renovating the building in 1996. (For background on the construction and sale of that library, see the Noticing New York website.) The ghost of Donnell still walks among us.

Oh, and let me throw in some book math. Yesterday Marx estimated the collection of the Research Library as containing 8.2 million volumes (half of which are currently housed in off-site storage in Princeton, New Jersey). The Mid-Manhattan Library and SIBL together have another million, Marx said, and the new stacks that are tentatively planned to be built under Bryant Park (possibly pending a structural review?) will hold 3.2 million. This means that the number of books on site at the research library will drop by roughly half under the CLP, assuming it really is possible to house that many books in the new under-the-park stacks. So if you’re doing research at the Research Divison of the library, many of the books you request will involve a waiting period of probably three days (since that’s the length of time I’ve generally had to wait to receive books from the library’s off-site storage). Marx keeps saying off-site books will arrive in 24 hours, but given past performance, I wouldn’t be so quick to believe that claim.

As the hearing progressed, it soon became clear that our libraries have strong advocates both in the State Senate and on the City Council. Senator Velmanette Montgomery has been an outspoken supporter of beleaguered Brooklyn libraries (“The sell to save mentality is something we should get away from”), as are Councilmembers Letitia James (“Selling off libraries diminishes democracy”) and Stephen Levin (“Public land is not there to be sold off for profit – that is not its purpose.”) I hope their advocacy will be successful.

Meanwhile the rest of the hearing demonstrated that the elected officials who are fighting to save our libraries have a lot of citizen backup. The two groups Citizens Defending Libraries and Committee to Save the New York Public Library each sent a number of speakers to testify, as did the Historic Districts Council, Society for the Architecture of the City, Harlem Historical Society, Defenders of the Historic Upper East Side, the New York Landmarks Conservancy, the Park Slope Civic Council, Carnegie Hill Neighbors and Save the Pacific Street Library. There were also a number of scholars and authors (many of them with prizes like the Pulitzer and National Book Award under their belts), several retired librarians (those currently employed are apparently afraid to speak out) and a land use attorney. If I understand correctly, the written testimony submitted by each speaker will be made available on the Assembly website. I’ll add a link at the bottom of this post as soon as the information is available. To start with, here‘s the list of speakers.

So much of what so many people said was worth repeating, but I’ll be writing a book here if I try to record all of it. Author Edmund Morris described the CLP as “replacing the solidity of the stacks with the vacuousness of ‘public space.'” Several scholars spoke about what it means to do research in a research collection. Pearl Hochstadt of Citizens Defending Libraries elucidated the expression “the lion’s share” by reading lines from a LaFontaine fable she translated. Poet Justine Swartz rapped about our “library-slayer mayor,” urging us: “renovate, don’t terminate” since “It’s not pretty New York City has no pity for the nitty-gritty.” Followed by juggling, which she swears she “learned from a book.” That was the aesthetic-pleasure part of the day. There were also lots and lots of hard facts slung around, certainly more than I am used to encountering in a seven hour period. Let me pass on a few of the things I learned during the hearing:

Christabel Gough, Secretary of the Society for the Architecture of the City, noted that the NYPL website prominently announces “Landmarks Preservation Commission Votes in Favor of Central Library Plan.” The claim, Gough said, is misleading, since the Landmarks Commission rules only on the exteriors of buildings declared historic monuments and has nothing to say about interior renovations. Assemblyman Kellner noted that approving the interior renovation plans of historic buildings fell under the auspices of the New York State Historical Preservation Office (SHPO). Gough added that the Buildings Department has already issued seven permits for the construction work on the library. Architectural historians are particularly concerned, she said, about the plan to demolish the stacks – the books have already been removed from them in preparation – because in a stunning instance of form following function, the original library building was designed in such a way that the stacks physically support the Rose Reading Room. Isn’t that amazing? I had no idea. Marx explained in his testimony that the engineering firm Sillman and Associates was going to take over the job of removing the structural support from beneath the Reading Room without any damage whatever to the room itself (which, unlike the stacks, has been declared a historical landmark). Does that sound to you like a good idea?

Meanwhile in Brooklyn the Pacific library is under fire, as Therese Urban (and others) testified. Built in 1903, this is one of the earliest historic Carnegie Libraries in New York City and was the only one of them to be designed specifically as a children’s library with a unique configuration of stacks (the building is rectangular in front, semi-circular in back) arranged to allow a librarian to easily keep an eye of what all the kids in the back were up to. Brooklyn Public Library President Linda Johnson testified that closing this library would have little impact, as she is supporting the construction of a new library just south of BAM a few blocks away. But as a number of horrified Brooklynites pointed out, getting to this new location from the old one would force children to cross one of the most dangerous intersections in the entire state (Flatbush Ave where it crosses Atlantic), which has a shockingly high incidence of pedestrian accidents. Despite this danger, Urban said, there are strong indications that the Pacific Library will be going the way of Donnell: the building occupies 1/3 of a city block, and the other two-thirds have been leased by the city; these leases expire in two years, just when the BPL is hoping to close the Pacific Library for good. That means that this entire city block in the middle of downtown Brooklyn will be available for lucrative high-rise development at that time. This all makes perfect sense in terms of a real estate investment; the only question (given the NYPL’s recent record) is who exactly will profit from such a deal if indeed it is forced on us. As Patti Hagan of Citizens Defending Libraries pointed out, the developer Bruce Ratner (who apparently already owns 22 acres of property in downtown Brooklyn) has expressed interest in acquiring this block as well.

Even more urgent is the plight of the Brooklyn Heights library. Carolyn McIntyre and Michael White, the co-founders of Citizens Defending Libraries, are particularly concerned about the fate of this one. The Brooklyn Heights Library is housed in an 1857 building that was heavily renovated in 1991. Just last week, the Brooklyn Eagle reports, “the Economic Development Corporation released a Request for Proposals (RFP) to find a developer for the roughly 26,600 square foot site at 280 Cadman Plaza West.” So it’s actively on the chopping block as we speak. The grounds for the sale? The air conditioning is broken, such that the library is forced to close on hot days. And the BPL claims that repairing or replacing the system would cost too much. As Rita Bott testified (she’s a retired librarian who used to work on 53rd St.), this is exactly the same rationale that was used in 2008 to justify the closing and sale of the Donnell branch. Which pretty much everyone (even Anthony Marx) is now willing to admit was a complete boondoggle.

Some of the most alarming testimony came from land-use attorney Michael Hiller, who specializes in protecting public property from private developers. He said that a construction project like the CLP (a “Type 1 action“) requires an environmental assessment and environmental impact statement to be made publicly available before any sort of work is allowed to begin, but when he asked to inspect the paperwork for the CLP at the Department of Buildings, he was told that the papers had been sealed with a waiting period of several weeks to several months because the library was a potential “terrorist target.” Meanwhile the statute of limitations for registering objections to an action is 120 days. Which means that the CLP might be able to go ahead without appropriate review unless the paperwork is quickly made available. Assemblyman Kellner promised to look into this quickly.

Several times during the hearing, Assemblyman Kellner reiterated: “This is just the first hearing. There will be others.” He also pledged to tour the Brooklyn libraries threatened with closing to draw his own conclusions as to their purportedly terminal obsolescence. I’m so grateful for his engagement with this issue. I think it may have something to do with the fact that when he was a kid (as he confessed at one point during the hearing), his neighborhood library was the Donnell branch.

Oh, and just for the record (and thanks to Therese Urban for pointing it out), kids don’t like digital books. They want books printed on paper, with pictures. And as Paula Glatzer pleaded, remembering how Penn Station (the beautiful old one) fell victim to real estate developers and “progress”: “Don’t let our children ask: Where were you when we gutted the lion library?” How about we band together to save it instead?

Postscript: A reader just drew my attention to this New York Times article from 1987 announcing plans to build stacks beneath Bryant Park. Construction on these stacks was completed in 1989. This means that my “book math” is off – the CLP would mean moving even more books to New Jersey than I calculated above, since some of the research library’s holdings are already stored under Bryant Park. In another correction: the Rose Main Reading Room isn’t yet officially landmarked, though efforts are underway to secure landmark status for it.

A Library for the People

So right now I’m in a relatively privileged position: As a professor at Columbia University, I have access to one of the best research libraries in the world. And at other times in my life, I have been able to pursue my work in other world-class libraries like those at Harvard and Princeton. And I can tell you that this is a completely different experience from working at an underfunded library with limited resources. You’re reading an article to help with something you’re studying or writing about, and it references a book on the subject that you never heard of? No problem, just hop over to the catalog, look it up, and boom, you’re reading that other book. And then that other book probably has a bibliography with at least a handful of references relevant to your own project, so you look them up too. This is how research gets done, in the excitement of learning that lets you climb a mountain of knowledge one handhold at a time.

When I translated Ludwig’s Harig’s German-language novel The Trip to Bordeaux, which is chockablock with unattributed quotes from Montaigne’s essays, I made simultaneous use of several brilliant reference books available at the wonderful public library in Berlin, Germany: the Staatsbibliothek preußischer Kulturbesitz. Using an older-vintage French-German bilingual dictionary, I back-translated enough of each sentence that I thought had a Montaigne-ish vibe to locate the quotes in the big multi-volume French-language concordance of his works that was right there in the reference section; then I looked them up in the complete edition of Montaigne’s writings that the library also had, and found the corresponding quote in an older English-language translation (I was going for a collage effect that I didn’t think I’d get by translating the quotes myself). Try doing that online, or in a run-of-the-mill branch library. Simply not possible.

When I was writing my 2005 book Foreign Words: Translator-Authors in the Age of Goethe, I no longer had a library card that would get me into a fancy-pants university library, and so relied entirely on the New York Public Library’s Research Division at 42nd St. The building had not yet been renamed after donor Stephen A. Schwarzman, a name I am now reluctant to refer to the building by after last week’s revelations (on which more in a moment). For my work, I needed to consult books published in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries as well as the twentieth and twenty-first, and the NYPL came through for me. Yes, some of the volumes I requested were rarely-used works that were located in off-site storage, and in those cases I often had to wait two or three days for the books to be retrieved. But most of what I needed was available the same day, and I was able to pursue my work with the seriousness it deserved.

I cannot stress this enough: all of New York’s major university libraries are currently closed to the public. This applies even to the City University of New York, NYC’s public university. The NYPL is the only research facility open to the general public, and now we stand to lose it as part of a grotesque renovation scheme that is poised to sell off public buildings for private profit. It came out last week, in an interview on Charlie Rose, that Schwarzman, the library’s biggest donor, made his $100 million contribution in 2008 with the understanding that the library would sell off some of its local branches and undertake a massive renovation project designed to result in enormous construction contracts (most of which will be funded at taxpayer expense). In short, he bought the right to determine the New York Public Library’s future, something that should not have been for sale at any price.

And it is clear that the Central Library Plan is not in the best interests of library patrons. Under the plan, the Mid-Manhattan branch of the NYPL – heretofore one of the biggest, best-stocked and most-patronized of the branch libraries – would be incorporated into the Research Library (think: fewer books, more computer terminals), and the wonderful research collection that has always made the 42nd St. library one of the best places in the world to do research is going to be moved off-site. Indeed, this is one “fact on the ground” that has already been created, even though the renovation plan is so actively under fire: The books have already been removed from their shelves in preparation for the removal of those shelves. Once they are gone, doing research at the NYPL will never be the same again: You’ll have to wait days for the books to be trucked in from New Jersey, and only those scholars and students with the luxury to spread out their research visits over long periods of time will really be able to get their work done. This will be a major hurdle in the accessibility of high-level knowledge to New Yorkers who are not among the city’s educational elite. Schwarzman supported Mitt Romney in the last presidential election, so I’m going to go out on a limb here and assume he doesn’t care.

Those who do care are the scholars, writers and students who depend on the NYPL for their research. Everyone I know who’s ever used the library is against the plan. Two very famous architecture critics (Ada Louise Huxtable and Michael Kimmelman) are against it. And I’ve heard through the grapevine that the librarians at the research division are overwhelmingly against it too, but have been encouraged to keep their mouths shut; as a friend of a friend who works there remarked: “They fire people on a dime around here.”

And now we have one solid chance left to defeat the Central Library Plan. There will be a public hearing TOMORROW at the New York State Assembly in lower Manhattan to debate the plan. A lot of people, including me, will be presenting testimony. And our best shot at success is having huge crowds of people show up to demonstrate to the Assembly how much public support there is for preserving the Research Library as a research library. Please, can you come? The hearing will be held at 250 Broadway, Room 1923 (between Murray Street and Park Place, across from City Hall) on Thursday, June 27. The hearing is scheduled to start at 10:30 a.m., but please arrive at 10:00 because you’ll have to show photo ID and go through a security line, and this takes a while in my experience.

For more information, please visit the website of the Committee to Save the New York Public Library. You can also find them on Facebook and Twitter.

I hope to see you at the hearing tomorrow!

Apply for Translation Lab at Ledig House

I blogged Ledig House’s Translation Lab last year, and am delighted to blog it again, especially as this year’s program – which allows translators and their authors to work together on the beautiful grounds of Art Omi – has been expanded from a week to ten days, allowing for an even more intense collaboration. This year’s Lab, scheduled for Nov. 6 – 15 2013, will involve four writer-translator teams (translating into English), in all sorts of genres. DW Gibson, Director of Writers Omi writes:

All residencies are fully funded, including airfare and local transport from New York City to the Omi International Arts Center in Ghent, NY. Please note: accepted applicants must be available for the duration of the Translation Lab (November 6-15, 2013). Late arrivals and early departures are not possible. Please do not submit a proposal unless both parties involved (translator and writer) are available for all dates. Writers Omi will be accepting proposals for participation until July 15, 2013. Translators, writers, editors, or agents can submit proposals. Each proposal should be no more than three pages in length and provide the following information:

• Brief biographical sketches for the translator and writer associated with each project
• Publishing status for proposed projects (projects that do not yet have a publisher are still eligible)
• A description of the proposed project
• Contact information (physical address, email, and phone)

All proposals and inquires should be sent by e-mail to DW Gibson at Ledig House.

French-American Translation Prize Winners 2013

Since I announced the awards ceremony for the French-American Translation Prizes a few days ago, I thought I ought to let you know the winners. Alyson Waters took home the prize for her translation of Prehistoric Times by Eric Chevillard (published by Archipelago Books), and the non-fiction translation prize went to Nora Scott for The Metamorphoses of Kinship by Maurice Godelier (Verso Books). For further details about the books and their translators, see the announcement on the website of the French-American Foundation.

New Bridge = German Quartet

This month’s Bridge Series event, coming up one week from today, presents four translators from the German: Ross Benjamin, Isabel Fargo Cole, Tess Lewis and Tim Mohr, quadrupling your chances of finding a translator to your taste. They’ll be gathering to discuss the publication of two new books, The Jew Car (Seagull Books, June 2013), by Franz Fühmann, translated by Isabel Fargo Cole and Wrecked (Grove, May 2013), by Charlotte Roche, translated by Tim Mohr. Fühmann is a very great East German writer who has hitherto been ridiculously neglected in English – so glad to see this book come out. I did a translation of his fairy tale “Anna, genannt die Humpelhexe” (Anna the Hobbledy-Witch) twenty years ago that got turned down by every kids’ magazine I sent it to (“No stories about witches!”, “No stories about disabilities!”) even though it was a story about a girl’s self-discovery and triumphant adventures. Maybe I should try again. And Roche is the author of Wetlands, also translated by Mohr, which made quite a splash (sorry) when it came out a few years ago. See, plenty to talk about already! There’ll be readings by all four translators, there’ll be translation talk, there’ll no doubt be a glass of vino before the evening is done. Hope to see you there.

There = the Goethe Institut, 72 Spring St., 11th Floor., Thursday, June 13, 6:30 p.m.

Reminder: Launch for In Translation Tomorrow

Please come and help Esther Allen and me toast the arrival of our beloved new child: the anthology In Translation: Translators on Their Work and What It Means, containing many of our all-time favorite essays about translation by some of the best translators in the world. It was just published last week by Columbia University Press. We’re excited to be launching it as part of a joint event at the Goethe Institut: We’ll present the anthology and tell you about some of our favorite bits and some of the things we learned about translation while editing it; and then we’ll all clap for the 2013 winner of the Gutekunst Prize for young translators – a prize connected to a contest in which all the competitors translate the very same short prose work, a great way to see what kind of chops everyone has and how many different responses can be found to a particular translation challenge. This year’s talented winner is Alta Price, and we’ll hear Tess Lewis from the Gutekunst Prize jury praising her before we all raise our glasses. There’ll be copies of the anthology offered for sale at a discount, plus excellent views of Lower Manhattan from the windows of the Goethe Institut. Event details here. The Goethe Institut’s at 72 Spring St., 11th Floor, and the event starts at 6:00, so you can come right from work to celebrate with us on your way home.

French-American Translation Prize Ceremony Tomorrow

Tomorrow is a big day for translators of French fiction and non-fiction alike: The French-American Foundation will be announcing the winners of its 26th annual translation awards at a festive ceremony featuring a small panel discussion entitled “Literature Without Borders: Why Translation Matters.” Speakers will include Edwin Frank (a wonderful editor who is also the editorial director of the NYRB Classics series), Laurence Marie (head of the book department at the French embassy), and Gregary Racz (current president of the American Literary Translators Association) – is that enough sparkle for you? If not, I’m sure the wine will be excellent, and the awards each carry a $10,000 purse as well as honor and glory, so there’ll be hearts pounding. Check out the list of excellent finalists below, and if you’re in NYC, come out for the ceremony itself starting at 6:00 p.m. tomorrow, June 5, at the Century Association, 7 W. 43rd St. at Fifth Ave. An RSVP is required (RSVP via the French-American Foundation website).

Fiction Finalists

HHhH by Laurent Binet and translated by Sam Taylor, Farrar, Straus and Giroux A seemingly effortlessly blend of historical truth, personal memory, and Laurent Binet’s remarkable imagination, HHhH-a winner of the prestigious Prix Goncourt du Premier Roman-is a work at once thrilling and intellectually engrossing, a fast-paced novel of the Second World War.

With the Animals by Noëlle Revaz and translated by W. Donald Wilson, Dalkey Archive Press With the Animals, Noëlle Revaz’s schoking debut, is a novel of mud and blood whose linguistic audaciousness is matched only by its brutality, misanthropy, and gallows humor.

Prehistoric Times by Eric Chevillard and translated by Alyson Waters, Archipelago Books The characters in Prehistoric Times remind us of the inhabitants of Samuel Beckett’s world: dreamers who in their savage and deductive folly try to modify reality.

We Monks and Soldiers by Lutz Bassmann and translated by Jordan Stump, University of Nebraska Press While humanity seems to be fading around them, the members of a shadowy organization are doing their inadequate best to assist those experiencing their last moments. This remarkable work offers readers a thrilling entry into Bassmann’s numinous world.

No One by Gwenaëlle Aubry and translated by Trista Selous, Tin House Books No One is a fictional memoir in dictionary form that investigates the unstable identity of the author’s father, a lawyer affected by a disabling bipolar disorder. Letter by letter, Aubry gives shape and meaning to the father who had long disappeared from her view.

Non-Fiction Finalists

The Patagonian Hare by Claude Lanzmann and translated by Frank Wynne, Farrar, Straus and Giroux These memoirs capture the intensity of the experiences of Claude Lanzmann, a man whose acts have always been a negation of resignation: a member of the Resistance at sixteen, a friend to Jean-Paul Sartre and a lover to Simone de Beauvoir, and the director of one of the most important films in the history of cinema, Shoah.

Manhunts: A Philosophical History by Grégoire Chamayou and translated by Steven Rendall, Princeton University Press Touching on issues of power, authority, and domination, Manhunts takes an in-depth look at the hunting of humans in the West, from ancient Sparta, through the Middle Ages, to the modern practices of chasing undocumented migrants.

The Color of Power: Racial Coalitions and Political Power in Oakland by Frédérick Douzet and translated by George Holoch, University of Virginia Press The Color of Power is a fascinating examination of the changing politics of race in Oakland, California. The city, once governed by a succession of black mayors and majority black city councils, must now accommodate rapidly growing Asian and Latino communities.

In Defense of the Terror: Liberty or Death in the French Revolution by Sophie Wahnich and translated by David Fernbach, Verso Books Sophie Wahnich offers us with this succinct essay a provocative reassessment of the Great Terror. She explains how, contrary to prevailing interpretations, the institution of Terror sought to put a brake on legitimate popular violence and was subsequently subsumed in a logic of war.

The Metamorphoses of Kinship by Maurice Godelier and translated by Nora Scott, Verso Books A masterwork of the anthropology of kinship by the heir to Levi-Strauss. Godelier argues that the changes of the last thirty years do not herald the disappearance or death agony of kinship, but rather its remarkable metamorphosis-one that, ironically, is bringing us closer to the “traditional” societies studied by ethnologists.