Rasta poetics

Anthropologists use the term “poetics” to refer to all manner of creative self-expression. Since how we express ourselves is based on our sense of self and identity, you can learn a lot about what people in another culture think about themselves. One important way people lay claim to power (particularly if they’re in a subordinate position in society) is through the production and maintenance of identities. In the case of the Rastafari those identities are always bound up in opposition to what they perceive as mainstream society.

Take for instance this image, drawn from the ethnography Soul Rebels:

Rasta last supper

Lewis notes that some Rasta, “freely used Christian imagery to sustain belief in Rastafari.” In this folk painting depicting the Biblical last supper (a common Christian image with a long history in European art traditions) all the persons represented are Black men with dreadlocks. What might be the political and religious significance of this painting for the Rasta? What does its racial and colonial inversion say about Rasta culture and how they see themselves?

During his visit to the most destitute Rasta who squat on the beach beneath a pier, the author engages in a reasoning session, this time with David and Lion, in which the following exchange takes place:

The light fades. More silence. The bay water slaps against the pilings. A rat tears across the planks and startles me. I jump. Lion, however, admonishes me with a reminder that the rat is only a creature.
“The barber shop is the mark of the beast. Comb and razor conquer. The wealth of Jah is with locks, in fullness of his company.”
All nod in agreement. I mention that my understanding is increasing.
“Be careful with words, brother,” Lion says, “overstand not understand. I people are forward people not backward.”

Lion seems to be talking in poetry here. The Rastas are well known for taking mundane everyday things and making them into political and religious statements. What do you think Lion is getting at in the figurative language of his command to “overstand not understand”? How is this play on words also a reflection of his beliefs and worldview?

In the comments section below, offer your reaction and interpretation to either of these examples. What do you think is going on here? How can the study of poetics provide another avenue for exploring cultures different than our own?

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About Matt Thompson

Matt Thompson is Adjunct Assistant Professor of Anthropology at Old Dominion University. He's a Tar Heel, so if you're wearing Duke gear watch out.
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49 Responses to Rasta poetics

  1. Landon Jones says:

    I think that when he says overstand not understand stand meaning not to undermine themselves. The rastas believe in self virtue and that every individual has their own statements and viewpoints. Overstand on your beliefs may also mean to stand up for what you believe in.

  2. Parisa Fard says:

    When he says over stand not understand, I think he means that people should not just try to understand things, but should OVERstand things, in other words-people should stand up for what they believe in and question beliefs and what they are told. Rastafari is about revelations and that is what over standing stands for..it means more to over stand then simply understand without question.

  3. Chris Shertzer says:

    In the excerpt above, lion uses the barbershop to depict evil. i believe this refers to the idea taken on by Rastafarians that growing out dreadlocks is a sign of respect for God. This idea pairs well with the idea that things that are natural are on the right path. He is saying that the man should not fear the rat because the rat is natural, the rat is of Jah. Lion then says the man should use overstand not understand which basically portrays the belief that the author should be more positive and shows that lion has a positive worldview despite the fact that the world views him as poor. Studying poetics is important to learning about other cultures as much as all other forms of art. Where historical documents give history, art such as poetics give the perspective of history. This is a very important difference.

  4. Rhea Weldon says:

    Lions statement basically reflects his idea that in every situation it isn’t enough to just understand what is going on, but to also be ahead of the situation and actually implement your understandings; do more than just merely being aware of a situation. For example, to understand Anthropology is to know that it is the study of humans and behavior, but to overstand it would be to be able to apply your knowledge to real life situations and to be able to maybe hold a intellectual conversation with someone about extensive details of anthropology studies.

    In my opinion, the poetic language of the Rasta provides a more metaphorical view on certain aspects of life. For example, as stated in the prompt, they have a way of making the most mundane topics of everyday and turning them into political or religious topics. I believe that this reflects their passion for life and not taking any type of knowledge or learning experience, big or small, too lightly. With the poetic language, the Rasta are able to explore and explain everyday situations in more depth and detail to be appreciated more in a sense.

    So when Lion says “overstand not understand” he is simply saying be more mindful, respectful and appreciative of the everyday and of knowledge. Understand what is going on but also be more aware of the detail in what you are encountering. For example, with the rat. To others, one may be startled at the sight of one, just the author was when sitting under the pier because he only understands that that was a rat. When lion tells him “it’s just a creature” it almost implies that there is no reason to be afraid because it is a creature, like we are. Don’t be so close-minded to the fact that it is “a rat.” I think that this is the way that all of the Rasta think. I personally like this idea because I do believe that knowledge and the mundane and “everyday” is taken lightly and for granted. To be able to extensively talk and be knowledgeable of what is happening, I think would be very beneficial in all aspects.

  5. Alana Weldon says:

    He believes that you should try and always be ahead when it comes to knowledge or comprehending information and experiences. To overstand something is to not just be able to break down information but to relate it and keep it with you. This is a reflection on his beliefs because he uses poetics which is self-expression in his every day life. He says that “people are forward people and not backward people” which means that he believes that people are always looking to the future and never wallowing in their situations. Which leads me to believe that Lion’s use of poetics is a way of explaining overstanding as a way of getting past experiences and learning from them not just understanding what they mean but taking much more than just “getting it” it from them. The study of poetics allows us to explore other cultures because it is “self-expression” and each type of culture has different ways of expressing themselves which are all very beneficial to learn about because we are so use to our own culture and how WE create and express OURSELVES.

  6. Ashley Moye says:

    Since Rastas reject the previously established religions, including Christianity, the Lion stating that the people go forward instead of backward indicates to me that “going backward” is related to studying or believing in something that has already been established. Similarly, one usually understands something that has already been established. Perhaps overstand refers to the Rastas establishing their own religion within themselves. I think poetics are an important tool to studying other cultures because they provide the point of view of the person belonging to the culture and serves as a primary piece of evidence.

  7. Anthony Portacio says:

    I think that the Rastas depicting themselves in the image of the last supper is a way of them showing their belief of fighting against colonialism and establishing their sense of identity. The poetics from Lion also provide a sense of Rasta belief but with poetics, provides a more spiritual way of communicating them. Again, it is all about establishing your identity and fighting against the evils of modern society. It is important to overstand because it helps one solidify their own beliefs.

  8. Sean Bujno says:

    -What might be the political and religious significance of this painting for the Rasta? Politically it is a statement against the powers that be in government and in control. At the time of Jesus the Roman Empire had authority over Jerusalem as well as the Sadducees and the Pharisees which were the two main Jewish groups in power who Jesus was at odds with and revolted against their ways. This painting represents the Rastas revolting against the government and the religious establishment as Jesus and his disciples did to resist and to make change.
    -What does its racial and colonial inversion say about Rasta culture and how they see themselves? The movement was anti-Roman and anti Sadducees and Pharisees. Jesus and his followers were loners and a major Jewish minority in a land full of establishment and law. The Rastas themselves are a minority group and religion that are not Roman or the mainstream Jamaican and they are fighting the establishment and cultural norms of the day. This says that Rasta culture is unique and powerful just like Jesus’s movement for change and power usurpation. Jesus was known to be the king of the Jews as well which went against the Jewish and Roman government. The Rastas are in a sense their own kings and their own people. They are anti status quo but stand for Rasta culture. They see themselves as leading a new and righteous movement.

  9. Zach Christman says:

    The painting significance is great. It shatters the stereotypical versions of the “Last Supper” that was depicted by Leonardo Da Vinci. This new Rasta version is depicting them as being all black men symbolizing black equality. The Rasta’s has always viewed themselves as oppressed by the Europeans through Colonization. This painting gives them a sense of identity and greater sense of importance. The study of “poetics” is greatly important in the overall understanding of different cultures and people. Anybody can have an interview with another person from a different culture and talk about their lives yet in many cases the interviews are not thoroughly accurate for reasons being the interviewed is either embarrassed or greatly overstating their ideas and life. Yet, poetics is self-expression and offers a greater insight on the reality of that culture through their ideas.

  10. Keenan Falls says:

    What do you think Lion is getting at in the figurative language of his command to “overstand not understand”? How is this play on words also a reflection of his beliefs and worldview?

    In the comments section below, offer your reaction and interpretation to either of these examples. What do you think is going on here? How can the study of poetics provide another avenue for exploring cultures different than our own?

    I think Lion is getting at a level of comprehension that is far beyond the norm & expectation. To overstand is to see something from all perspectives/objectively from perhaps a birds eye view and see all aspects. It reflects his own self understanding and a wise state of mind. I think Rastafarian culture is very unique in its self expression and beliefs. It opens avenues to creativity and comprehension that are natural and spiritual in essence. As mentioned above, you can learn a lot about someone based on the way they express themselves and about their culture, or what they’e learned growing up, especially through creative works of expression such as poetics.

  11. Ryan Barbrey says:

    Since the Rasta religion rejects and has strong disdain for other religions it seems to me that Lion saying they need to “move forward” it means embarracethe bum way of life or “peasant”. To Christianity or any other religion/culture this is actually not just one step but many steps back. In our culture going to school, getting a job, and working hard at that job for the good of you and your family is seen as the decent or sensible thing to do but the Rastas see this as a hold on the true way of moving forward. That being said poetry can be a very good way to study other religions. Some religions, like Rastafarian, treat outside religions with disrespect and most people will find that hard to be around long enough to study them but by reading their poetry you can get a look into who they are and what they believe and perhaps even why they believe it.

  12. Cody Smith says:

    When Lion says to overstand and not to understand, I believe that he is saying that people should not underestimate the value of knowledge. Accodording to him, merely understanding is not enough, because the use of ‘under’ implies that the knowledge is not full. One must overstand in order to completely understand something.

  13. Mary Parsons says:

    By depicting themselves as celebrating a last supper in the European style the Rastafarian people are openly defying the Europeans who colonized them by showing that they are just as legitimate as European cultures and belief systems. Using this image, the Rastafarians show that they are on the same level as those who previously oppressed them and that they can compete as a culture.

    When the lion says to over stand and not just understand he is advising the Rasta’s not to just comprehend the world but to feel it, live it, and immerse themselves in it. The Rastafarian culture is all about pushing normal boundaries, and this is no exception. They want to push past normal knowledge and reach a higher plane of meaning.

  14. Ryan Whitmore says:

    The Rasta picture of the last supper was political in the way that it shows a different outlook on a influential piece of religious art. It rebels against the formal white christian beliefs by replaceing th white people whith rasta’s with locks. In the poetic piece, Lion says to over stand people, not understand people. I believe he means that one should not put others above them in society or spirituality. I believe the statement also has to do with people knowing themselves, and not being influenced by other negative people and things.

  15. Sabrina Faulkner says:

    The rasta piece of art, depciting the Last Supper in a different light, can be seen as the Rastafai going against what mainstream culture is by taking a mainstream image and making it their own. They are showing that they are not less than Christians that colonized their county — but they are equals. This is them taking a stand. The study of poetics in other cultures can help us understand them by showing us, as outsiders, a little glimpse of the inside. Poetics can show what that culture believes in and ways of life. It’s a good way to get to know another culture, and what is important to them.

  16. The Rasta version of the last supper provides a different outlook on the famous traditional one. It shows their defience not only of those who colonized their country but also to the christain religion. I believe that the lion statement reflects his idea that sometimes it is not good enough to understand something or a situation but often analyzing it helps to better get a picture of how things actually are. I also think there is some hidden reference of the treatment of people within that context. “Over stand don’t just understand” could refer to the treatment of people; we cannot go about understanding someones situation simply by the way things appear. Often times we have to get to know them to fully grasp something.

  17. A.J. Boughner says:

    The picture shows that there can be equal meanings for every culture when they show the painting of the Last Supper, whether it be Blacks like it is shown here, or whites as Da Vinci sees it, we are all united under one, to see that they sense importance from that painting means that they sense unity with each other and the rest of the world.

  18. Matthew Sachse says:

    I think Lion refers to the barbershop as evil because it represents cutting one’s hair in traditional and “respectable” styles. The Rasta believe that individuality and spiritualism are more important than the esablishment and many grow their hair in unique fashions to better express themselves. The Rastafarian movement was formed during a time of European hedgemony and thus the Rasta go to great lengths to distance themselves from their formal oppressers. Growing out dreadlocks is one way that the Rasta show their uniqueness, and that is why Lion say cutting their hair is evil.

  19. Preston Wrenn says:

    I believe that when he says you have to overstand not understand it is talking about the knowledge of something must be an overwhelming amount, not just the little basic understanding that is very minuscule. It is not alright to just know something, you must live it to the fullest with no less than 100%.

  20. Julianna Nickolas says:

    When he says that people should over stand not understand things I think he is meaning for people to be better than what they are told. Instead of believing everything other people tell them and following it he is saying do something more than that. I think that reading into poetics from other cultures can give us a lot of incite to how they live and think. Cultures all over the world have been using artistic ways of expressing themselves and their culture for an extremely long time. I think that all of these ways of expressing themselves can be helpful to us if we take the time to try and get the context clues out of what they are expressing. Poetry can be a great way to understand other cultures beliefs and they way they work.

  21. Lewis’ experience with David and Lion during their reasoning session was indeed traitorous with innuendoes and subtext. Lion uses the metaphor of the barbershop and its come and razor as a comparison to evil. This is apparent in his use of the term “the mark of the beast” a Christian reference to the book of Revelation and a universal symbol that will mark the rise of the Anti-Christ. Some theorists believe that new medical microchip implants are such a mark, others have feared that debit cards and credit cards are this ominous sign. It would therefore be an interesting correlation for the credit card debate and the Rastafari protest against capitalism. The other obvious reference would be in the barber shop’s clear nemesis in uncut long dread lock hair and vice versa. 1 Corinthians references a woman’s power being reflected in her hair, so using this allusion to show strength with “Jah” or God makes sense. As far the “overstand not understand” play on words, I can only reflect that in order to understand something, you have to be receiving the data second hand, the information is coming to an individual instead of that individual creating it. Understanding is a secondary trait of the development of knowledge. Maybe, this term of overstanding, was used to urge Lewis to push forward and create knowledge instead of waiting to be fed like a baby bird.

  22. Mark Belardo says:

    Lion’s poetic choice of words “overstand, not understand” symbolizes that people should not limit the value of true knowledge. Understanding simply just isn’t enough in Lion’s eyes, and it seems to limit intelligence. As a Rasta, overstanding seems more fitting in the mind of Lion, where he lives opposite of how people would advise him to.

  23. Devin Allen says:

    I believe “overstand, not understand” means that we should not only comprehend what we hear but to also look deeper into it and make your own interpretation of it rather than accept what you are told. That is basis of what their religion represents, rejecting what society thinks is right and acceptable and digging deeper into ones inner values and spirituality. Long unkempt hair are things typically frowned upon in society and cutting your hair makes you confine to society’s standards which the Rastafari rebel against.

  24. Desiree Johnson says:

    I believe “overstand not understand” means not just understand it, but know why its being understood. Like reading a book, you can read it and give a summary, but to be able to depict it and know all the facts of why it happen, outcomes and all views on it, means knowledge. Dont just understand something, understand more of what it meant to be understood. look at all aspects of what is infront of you so you will always be ahead of the game.

  25. Nick Rackowski says:

    Every command brings about a decisive reaction, to follow or ignore. I think, what Lion is getting at, with his command to “overstand not understand” is simply to not be subordinate to knowledge.
    Basically, the use of “over” instead of “under” in connection to “-stand” is just his mentality/religion/etc. to always be looking up, living to the best…
    He means no difference in meaning, simply how to look at life. That is with hopefulness/yearning. In other words, when one underestimates, understands, undervalues anything, it means that there is nothing more to be expected, nothing else to be LEARNED. This is not true! Lion’s use of overstand is a great insight into his simple yet fulfilling lifestyle, adjoined with his humble living it makes one question what is needed to have wholeness.

  26. Antasia Ward says:

    I think to overstand is a concept where a person has the most knowledge about a topic and can be thoughtful and insightful about the topic. I think when people say that they understand some thing they have enough information to thoughtfully discuss the topic but there are still unanswered questions and gaps in their information.

  27. Justina Williams says:

    The painting of the Rasta in The Last Supper may be a way of rebelling against the Christian religion and certain cultures’ glorification of a white Jesus. The painting shows that the Rasta see themselves more important than the colonial religion that was unsuccessfully forced on them. I believe the Rasta are establishing themselves as a prominent group in society. They believe their beliefs are right. Poetics can help us to understand what is most important to other cultures. We can learn a lot about their beliefs through their creativity.

  28. Rebecca Taylor says:

    I think when Lion says “overstand not understand” he means that there should be further thinking past understanding, because understanding is just basic thinking while overstanding is thinking of something more in depth, I came to that conclusion because Rastas believe they are at a higher level of thinking because that is one of their goals.He also says people are “forward not backward” because we are in the moment and at a higher level of thinking than they used to be. I think using poetics is a great way to study other cultures because its easy to see what they value and believe in.

  29. Marta Kidane says:

    When viewing this “Last Super” with the Rasta replacing the Jesus, and his disciples I feel as though this s formulated political statement, with a religious twist. As the “white Christian” world has presented this man in such a form, I feel that the Rasta is replicating their views through this picture. Providing the people with an alternate understanding of religion as a whole, giving people the opportunity believe in themselves, self-imagery is the essence of this Rasta filled supper. This colonial inversion also provides a platform for the Rasta to show his or her own abilities within their culture, translating an image so many adore through the eyes of a Rasta. Also, another key component to this picture is respecting the ideology of Rastafarian way, also projects what the religion is not (e.g. deviant or lazy). This form of expression when referencing religion is a creative, yet effective way. It provides the viewer, whom may be a “traditional”, a prospective of the Rasta and what his or her religion means on a spiritual level.

  30. Josh Frechem says:

    I feel like they are speaking of themselves as the chosen ones of wisdom because he seems to believe they know the way to being closer to God than anyone through their dreadlocks and closeness to nature (most likely due to smoking tons of weed since they thing weed makes you stronger mentally and physically.) The planets in the background of the drawing gives you the impression that they are thinkers and that they are one with the universe and the way to be with nature is to be part of it which is their whole lifestyle. There is no doubt that they find themselves closer to God by their actions and think of themselves as enlightened through the Ganja but as with every religion it is all about individual faith and they have a lot of itl Just hope they don’t run out of weed or their Mayan calendar will end.

  31. Christopher Bailey says:

    The reasoning sessions are an opportunity to challenge the previously accepted suppositions, and to revisit individual assumptions and perhaps reveal truths that had not formerly been considered. “Overstanding” versus “understanding” suggests that the Rasta prefer to master the exploratory experience and gain knowledge through an active involved process, rather than through passive acceptance.

  32. Ethiopia Gultneh says:

    In the example of the Rastas as Jesus and the disciples during the last supper, it is obvious that they are trying to make the religion personal to them. While the Rastas may agree with Christianity, they do not agree with the way that they are portrayed in most pictures. Most images of the last supper are European and do not resemble Rasta looks, so they made it their own. They may be in agreement with the beliefs, but they are opposed to the looks of the “mainstream” Europeans commonly seen in pictures like this. The study of poetics shows how a certain culture identifies themselves. In exploring how a culture thinks of themselves, one could see what they value about their culture and what they do not.

  33. Dustin Woodham says:

    The painting sends a powerful message. The Rastas believe in going against what is mainstream and doing things their own way. By taking an iconic painting such as The Last Supper, and turning it into their own is a way of rebelling against the mainstream, but also sending a message saying that Rasta culture is no less than Christianity. They see themselves as being equals to others and don’t think they should have to settle for second best. This painting is also a way for them to paint their culture in a way they see fit, by incorporating black people into paintings, when in traditional colonial times there weren’t as many black people shown positively in works of art. The Rastas are rebelling and showing that they belong as much as anyone else, and they are important as well.

  34. Taylor Perschka says:

    Lion’s declaration to “Be careful with words, brother, overstand not understand. I people are forward people not backward.” exemplifies the Rasta’s belief of transcendence and Reasoning. The Rastafari are known for analyzing every day mundane objects and transforming them into symbolism to relate back to injustice, colonialism, and racism. Lion’s statement implores that one must always think before he speaks in order to advance themselves philosophically.

    In juxtaposition, the Last Supper imagery illustrates the Rasta’s borrowings from other religions and transforming these elements into their own unique religion. After all, Rasta is a blend of many religious teachings. The usage of Rasta people in the Last Supper painting illustrate that race and colonial ties have nothing to do with a person’s religion but rather anyone may be pious and model themselves after God–regardless of race or colonial affiliation.

  35. Ashley Matters says:

    I believe that Lion’s statement to over stand and not just understand means that you shouldn’t just know about a basis of a subject but should actually have enough knowledge to know what you are talking about. The Rasta people pride themselves on being forward thinkers and taking even the most simple of ideas and objects and creating them into deep, meaningful metaphors about life and taking those lessons to better one’s own spiritual and mental health.

    Rastafarian’s are very religious people and strive to go against the mainstream or what they view as everyday or “white” society. Taking the Last Supper painting and creating their own version of it proves that they are going against how the mainstream view that iconic scene and are trying to open our mind to other images, or so I believe. As deep thinkers, they are constantly trying to challenge ideals and morals as they do not agree with their culture.

  36. Jennifer Follin says:

    I find it interesting that even though the Rastafarian’s believe themselves to be separate from society and try their very hardest to be such non-conformists, they end up conforming to a version of a centuries-old religion — Christianity. The folk drawing of the Rasta version of The Last Supper signifies just how strong their beliefs are. These men believe themselves to be above their oppressors and government because of the benefits of their religion, and this image only reinforces just how strongly they believe in this message. I believe that the phrase ‘overstand not understand’ refers to the fact that one must not only understand the message of the Rastafarians, but also believe in it and be willing to stand up for what the message represents in order to truely understand the way of the Rasta.

  37. Courtney Williams says:

    The Rasta probably chose the last super painting to represent themselves as just as important as Jesus Christ himself along with everyone in the bible. The political and religious significant is for them to take a well known painting and consider themselves just as well known and important. It demonstrates the Rasta as a very egotistic culture that wants to be well known.

    I think Lion’s statement supports my first idea that he would rather show the importance and popularity of his religion then to explain it to others. I think Lion and the Rasta are doing their best to show how egotistic they are and why their religion is the best. The study of poetics can help with exploring other cultures because all religions express themselves in a creative way that poetics can explain.

  38. Alan Flynn says:

    I believe that the painting depicts the Rasta’s view of themselves as being just as supreme as Jesus and his followers. Their ideas about subordinate culture and not following any other sect, makes them create their own religion apart from the mainstream.
    Lion’s statement about overstanding and not understanding shows the dominant mindset of the Rasta’s. They never want to be in a position where there is a person above them or overpowering them. A source of their power comes from their disposition from things they consider unclean. One’s spiritual health comes from ridding themselves of the world that does not agree with them according to the Rastafari.

  39. Santanna Miller says:

    I feel like when Lion says “overstand not understand” he means that people should constantly be learning to view the world in different ways. We should not settle in with what is commonly known but move above and beyond that.

  40. Nick Leider says:

    When Lion says “overstand not understand” I think he is just expressing his Rasta lifestyle through his literal and unique interpretation of the english word. Basically, he is saying that the word understand is basically an oxymoron, because the root word “under” is indicative of less, and how can you be “learning less”? He is saying overstand, which he perceives to be indicative of more, due to the root “over”.

  41. Samantha Peters says:

    I think that Lions means that people need to see and comprehend things on a deeper level than is typically accepted by other religions or majority groups. He seems to think that people do not comprehend or analyze things enough, so it is necessary to OVERstand, rather than understand. Understanding is simply not enough to him and suggests that somebody does not actually comprehend something in the way that they should. I think this is a really good example of how poetics can help us understand other avenues and cultures. For example, we are so used to feeling satisfied upon understanding something. However, even from just reading this, I am questioning what “understanding” really means based off this Rastafarian-spoken phrase. Should we all actually be overstanding? Just questioning this will allow for greater understanding of other avenues and cultures. I think that Lion was just trying to explain something that seemed simple but had powerful Rastafarian undertones.

  42. Ashley Gibbs says:

    Like many of the comments below I agree that lion is using the barber shop as a metaphor for evil. The statement of ‘over stand not understand’ I believe, lion is saying to not over analyse his words or their culture, to not concentrate so hard on trying to understand but to just be, let it be, take in their culture and experience it rather than taint the experience by being reoccupied by trying to understand. Understanding will come with time, through simply being in each moment.

  43. Chris Hill says:

    When lion says “overtand not understand” he is trying to instill wisdom in lewis. He is telling him dont understand but overtand which to me is saying dont just have knowledge but learn wisdom. when you understand it is depicted as looking up to something as just a blind follower with no true voice or power but in contrast to overstanding you almost rewriting yoour understanding by overseeing all elements involved. With biblical aspects of religion, i feel lion and other rastas believe that people just understand what they learn instead of overstanding the actual context of what is actually being stated. This is why i feel they are able to take little and everday things and spill it back to people in a creative poetic way that makes you think even though people just see it as simple babble. This may not be the case for all but i feel they try to take a overviewed look at life.

  44. Dustin Robbins says:

    Lion’s use of overstand to demeanor understand reflects his beliefs in sustainability and entrepreneurialism. To overstand is to be able to innovate and/or redesign something that is already understood. Understanding the Rastafari would only be the ability to learn and memorize things taken from the reasoning session, whereas overstanding would be the ability to take the understood meaning and help build on it. His worldview and beliefs are also reflected in his metaphorical use of a barber shop to a place of evil and/or sin. I believe Lions play on words shows that he is determined to help everyone in his path “overstand” his beliefs and that of the Rastafari.

    I believe poetics can give much evidence toward the study of other cultures. It provides experiences and beliefs from a variety of individuals across a culture which can lead to patterns of understanding.

  45. Myko Banks says:

    +What might be the political and religious significance of this painting for the Rasta?
    – I can’t be too sure about the political significance of this painting for the Rasta, but I believe that the Rasta look to this picture the same way Christians look at the painting of the Last Supper. Where Jesus would be at the head of the table in da Vinci’s Last Supper, I believe the Rasta see Haile Selassie as the head of their table for all he represents.

    +What do you think Lion is getting at in the figurative language of his command to “overstand not understand”? How is this play on words also a reflection of his beliefs and worldview?
    – I believe overstanding is the Rasta way of saying to fully comprehend something without looking too deep into it. To know with empathy about a certain topic. Where understanding is taking a step back as compared to Overstanding. Basically, ‘overstand’ is the rasta for of our ‘understanding’. Rasta language is very complex to us. However, Rastafarians believe it is their way of expressing themselves.

    +What do you think is going on here? How can the study of poetics provide another avenue for exploring cultures different than our own?
    – Poetics are people’s way of expressing themselves through what they know best. When one studies this, they can look into what the poet is actually thinking or feeling.

  46. To me it seems like Lion is talking in a poetic form, and what he is saying is beautiful. I really like how when a rat runs by, Lion reminds David that “the rat is only a creature”. This reflects the Rastas oposition to societies norms, which would typically consider rats as filthy animals which need to be exterminated. He also remarks that “The barber shop is the mark of the beast”. This reflects the Rastafari culture in that they are once again going against societal norms. He says that their dread locks are their wealth and “fullness of their company”. To me this means that since most of society values short and well clean kept hair, the Rasta’s on the other hand, do not value this superficialness of hair, but instead believe that the longer and more against the average person’s hair that their dread are, that they are wealthy in the sense that they do not posses this superficialness. I believe that when he says we need to overstand instead of understand, this is also showing their separation from Western ideology. When a man communicates his own ides, anyone elses ideas can not be superior to the creator of the idea. You are not able to fully understand someones ideas or beliefs, however, one can listen to what someone has to say and take an interest and overstand, by fully knowing that they can never completely understand.

  47. Rebekah Ewer says:

    I think overstand could mean something along the lines of continually looking for knowledge instead of assuming you know it all. It’s about sharing ideas and conversation with your peers to gain new perspectives and opinions. Be carful with your words could suggest one to not get too uppity about themselves and say something self-righteous or rude, and remember that everyone is and has been created equally. As for the play on words, that could represent for a Rasta a poetic kind of rejection to common thinkers who generally think in terms of business, property, appearance, and religion…so on. If Rasta poetry is studied, it may help anthropologist to better understand how the Rasta think of themselves, what they value, what they like to represent themselves as, how they feel about certain things, all sorts of stuff that wouldn’t be found with other kinds of artifices.

  48. Samara Alhani says:

    The political and religious significance of the particular Rasta painting might be the depiction of Rastafarianism, from the Rastas point of view, as the true and righteous path to freedom and liberation. The painting may not necessarily be mocking Christianity, but the imagery symbolizes a message that somewhat replaces the Christian religion, and gives birth to a new understanding of religion and religious practices as we see them and understand them to be.

    Also, with regards to the use of language in the David and Lion exchange, the imagery, beliefs, and ideas that come from Lion’s use of words can paint a massive portrait relating to Rastafarianism. When Lion states that, “The barber shop is the mark of the beast”, I personally believe the esoteric meaning relates to the standardization of life, in which, universal beliefs and routines are swallowed whole by the majority of people, without self-interpretation or questioning. The powerful use of overstanding, not understanding, symbolizes the Rastas way of taking a step back and looking at life from a much wider lens. They do not merely accept what society deems “normal/standard”, and because of this particular rejection, Rastas overstand, in that they are wiser, smarter, and higher than to “understand” life as what mainstream society perceives it to be.

  49. Bill Phillips says:

    The Rosta Are well-known For being Anti- modern culture. I believe he means when he says overstand not understand, he means stand up for what you believe in and hold true to your values and beliefs.

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