Laurence wonders if Dean is seeking another lost ark.
Laurence: You’ll be away?
Dean: Three months: July, August, September. Asia, South America and Oceania.
Laurence: And you have a grant?
Dean: To study ethnic minorities. Ones whose culture and language are in danger of disappearing.
Laurence: Culture’s a big word.
Dean: Not a big word. But a big field. I collect artifacts that represent a society.
Dean: Utensils. Pieces of art.
Laurence: If valuable then so much the better?
Dean: Not really. Flies start swarming, vampires seek blood. Seeking the commonplace, there is no competition from gold-diggers. I can do my work without getting into fights.
The rain forest is disappearing, species are becoming extinct. Is the disappearance of minority cultures and their languages as big a threat?
Possibly not. Human beings are plentiful enough. But the common theme is diminishing variety.
What monocultures of agriculture, and lack of species differentiation, has in common with disappearing human cultures and languages is a concern that the world faces a decreased ability to cope with adversity.