What is a totem? It is as a rule an animal (whether edible and harmless or dangerous and feared) and more rarely a plant or a natural phenomenon (such as rain or water), which stands in a peculiar relation to the whole clan. In the first place, the totem is the common ancestor of the clan; at the same time it is their guardian spirit and helper, which sends them oracles and, if dangerous to others, recognizes and spares its own children.
If you're familiar enough with my body of work, my voice is a familiar totem, in a sense. I guess I have something characteristic in the way that I sing, although I'm not very personally self-conscious about it, so I don't think about it that much. But when I hear the record I can tell it's me.
The Bumpuses were so low down on the evolutionary totem pole that they weren't even included in Darwin's famous family tree. They had inbred and ingrown and finally emerged from the Kentucky hills like some remnant of Attila the Hung's barbarian horde. Flick said that they had webbed feet and only three toes. It might have been true.
I will openly admit that I've never really followed hockey. Given my New England upbringing, I have always adhered to the Celtics, Patriots, Red Sox, Bruins mantra of professional sports fandom, but hockey was definitely the lowest sport on the totem pole - even when the Bruins won the Stanley Cup.
The Haisla named this point Obela. Not so long ago, the bay was lined with longhouses and canoes, totem poles and fishing gear. The reserve was once a winter village, a place to celebrate the sacred season, when memories passed in dance and song and stories from one generation to the next with great feasts called potlatches.
Once the principals in their party are seated, with those lower on the totem pole left to grumble and move on to find another table, our once-cozy booth transforms into a damp fusion of vacuous wretchedness, with the three women all complaining alternately about their wet hair/clothes and their respective distance from Talon, while the man himself is trying to maneuver his Paul Bunyan frame way too close to me.
When men and women across the country reported how happy they felt, researchers found that jugglers were happier than others. By and large, the more roles, the greater the happiness. Parents were happier than nonparents, and workers were happier than nonworkers. Married people were much happier than unmarried people. Married people were generally at the top of the emotional totem pole.
Faye J Crosby
Up until then I'd thought that white people and colored people getting along was the big aim, but after that I decided everybody being colorless together was a better plan. I thought of that policeman, Eddie Hazelwurst, saying I'd lowered myself to be in this house of colored women, and for the very life of me I couldn't understand how it had turned out this way, how colored women had become the lowest ones on the totem pole. You only had to look at them to see how special they were, like hidden royalty among us. Eddie Hazelwurst. What a shitbucket.
Sue Monk Kidd
I lost the conviction that lights would always turn green for me, the pleasant certainty that those rather passive virtues which had won me approval as a child automatically guaranteed me not only Phi Beta Kappa keys but happiness, honor, and the love of a good man; lost a certain touching faith in the totem power of good manners, clean hair, and a proven competence on the Stanford-Binet scale. To such doubtful amulets had my self-respect been pinned, and I faced myself that day with the non-plused apprehension of someone who has come across a vampire and has no crucifix at hand.
But something magical happened to me when I went to Reardan. Overnight I became a good player. I suppose it had something to do with confidence. I mean, I'd always been the lowest Indian on the reservation totem pole - I wasn't expected to be good so I wasn't. But in Reardan, my coach and the other players wanted me to be good. They needed me to be good. They expected me to be good. And so I became good. I wanted to live up to the expectations. I guess that's what it comes down to. The power of expectations. And as they expected more of me, I expected more of myself, and it just grew and grew.
IT'S BACK TO THE FUTURE FROM THE TOP OF THE TOTEM THROUGH THESE TWO COPPER WIRES // A LINE AND A MODEM FROM THE DAYS WHEN USENET USED TO HAVE A GRAMMAR CODE BEFORE THE MIRROR IN YOUR BATHROOM EVER MET YOUR CAMERA PHONE THE BBS MOTHERSHIP: SAILED FOR THE PIRACY PEOPLE ON THE WEB WERE CONCERNED WITH THEIR PRIVACY NET NEUTRALITY IS KILLING ME WHAT DID TELECOMS DO WITH MONEY FROM ME AND YOU? FROM THE OLD SCHOOL WHERE WE SERVE AND WE LEECH GIVE ME FREE AS IN BEER, GIVE US FREE AS IN SPEECH REVERSE ENGINEERING TO STABILIZE THE PROTOCOL UP ON IRC WATCHING STOLEN CARDS OVERDRAW WE WERE CODERS, CARDERS, AND GAMERS NOW WE'RE NERDCORE BANGERS, MYSPACE GANGSTERS WEB 2.0 DOESN'T EVEN STAND A CHANCE IF YOU DISS P2P JUST TO GO HAND-TO-HAND
MC Lars And YTCracker
In the humanist world following Erasmus, man is at the centre of the universe. Man becomes largely responsible for his own destiny, behaviour and future. This is the new current of thought which finds its manifestation in the writing of the 1590s and the decades which follow. The euphoria of Elizabeth's global affirmation of authority was undermined in these years by intimations of mortality: in 1590 she was 57 years old. No one could tell how much longer her golden age would last; hence, in part, Spenser's attempts to analyse and encapsulate that glory in an epic of the age. This concern about the death of a monarch who - as Gloriana, the Virgin Queen - was both symbol and totem, underscores the deeper realisation that mortality is central to life. After the Reformation, the certainties of heaven and hell were less clear, more debatable, more uncertain.
Ultimately, the roast turkey must be regarded as a monument to Boomer's love. Look at it now, plump and glossy, floating across Idaho as if it were a mammoth, mutated seed pod. Hear how it backfires as it passes the silver mines, perhaps in tribute to the origin of the knives and forks of splendid sterling that a roast turkey and a roast turkey alone possesses the charisma to draw forth into festivity from dark cupboards. See how it glides through the potato fields, familiarly at home among potatoes but with an air of expectation, as if waiting for the flood of gravy. The roast turkey carries with it, in its chubby hold, a sizable portion of our primitive and pagan luggage. Primitive and pagan? Us? We of the laser, we of the microchip, we of the Union Theological Seminary and Time magazine? Of course. At least twice a year, do not millions upon millions of us cybernetic Christians and fax machine Jews participate in a ritual, a highly stylized ceremony that takes place around a large dead bird? And is not this animal sacrificed, as in days of yore, to catch the attention of a divine spirit, to show gratitude for blessings bestowed, and to petition for blessings coveted? The turkey, slain, slowly cooked over our gas or electric fires, is the central figure at our holy feast. It is the totem animal that brings our tribe together. And because it is an awkward, intractable creature, the serving of it establishes and reinforces the tribal hierarchy. There are but two legs, two wings, a certain amount of white meat, a given quantity of dark. Who gets which piece; who, in fact, slices the bird and distributes its limbs and organs, underscores quite emphatically the rank of each member in the gathering. Consider that the legs of this bird are called 'drumsticks, ' after the ritual objects employed to extract the music from the most aboriginal and sacred of instruments. Our ancestors, kept their drums in public, but the sticks, being more actively magical, usually were stored in places known only to the shaman, the medicine man, the high priest, of the Wise Old Woman. The wing of the fowl gives symbolic flight to the soul, but with the drumstick is evoked the best of the pulse of the heart of the universe. Few of us nowadays participate in the actual hunting and killing of the turkey, but almost all of us watch, frequently with deep emotion, the reenactment of those events. We watch it on TV sets immediately before the communal meal. For what are footballs if not metaphorical turkeys, flying up and down a meadow? And what is a touchdown if not a kill, achieved by one or the other of two opposing tribes? To our applause, great young hungers from Alabama or Notre Dame slay the bird. Then, the Wise Old Woman, in the guise of Grandma, calls us to the table, where we, pretending to be no longer primitive, systematically rip the bird asunder. Was Boomer Petaway aware of the totemic implications when, to impress his beloved, he fabricated an outsize Thanksgiving centerpiece? No, not consciously. If and when the last veil dropped, he might comprehend what he had wrought. For the present, however, he was as ignorant as Can o' Beans, Spoon, and Dirty Sock were, before Painted Stick and Conch Shell drew their attention to similar affairs. Nevertheless, it was Boomer who piloted the gobble-stilled butterball across Idaho, who negotiated it through the natural carving knives of the Sawtooth Mountains, who once or twice parked it in wilderness rest stops, causing adjacent flora to assume the appearance of parsley.