Friday, February 17, 2006

I've Been Thinking

What is culture?

I thought about this for a while and came up with a few scattered ideas, but nothing entirely solid and defining. So I went to (of course) Wikipedia .. hmmm. is that American? Ok anyway.

Wikipedia had this to say:
A common way of understanding culture sees it as consisting of three elements:
  1. values
  2. norms
  3. artifacts.

Interesting. I have values. Even if I consider myself abnormal for the rest of the world, I'm relatively normal for myself. I suppose I could leave an artifact or two behind me when I die.

Can you really have a culture of one? See, my thoughts on culture was that it needed at least more than one person (though I had no idea what a minimum requirement might be), because it had to be passed down through generations, it had to consist of beliefs and customs and commonalities between the people in the group.

Of course, then that got me thinking, when has 'group-think' ever really been a good thing? Usually it turns out bad. Sort of like sheep on a destructive rampage or Cows with Guns

I thought a bit more. I figured culture had to have customs. But even Jesus condemned customs when kept over belief. One of the things he blasted the religious leaders of his day for was observing customs which contradicted Torah. So maybe customs, while able to be good, aren't always and maybe aren't necessary.

On to belief. Religion of some sort, though not necessarily a belief in G-d. Well, I have belief, I have faith. Anyway, whether religion or no, people do have their own values, and I have my own values.

I figured culture probably had its own music and dances and celebrations and stories and such. Well, maybe no one around me shares them, but I have songs, I dance, I sing, I celebrate, I even write and tell stories and make music.

So ... maybe... just maybe... could I have a culture of my very own?

Intriguing thought, no?

Can a person be a culture unto themselves? Can a culture truly consist of one person alone?

Adam was one person, yah?

Someday I really do hope to have a husband and kids, and then I can pass my values and my norms down to them. I can make artifacts even if not from bronze or gold or leather. I can make them from cloth, clay, and the written word, and pass all these down.

The last thing on my mental list was each culture had to be unique, but I quickly abandoned that when I realized every culture on earth has grown out of the one before it. The Romans stole about half their culture from the greeks. The Mongols spread their culture across Asia to each group they encountered, leaving them a little different than they had been before. Even individual cultures change over time.

I determined in the end that culture doesn't necessarily have to be shared with lots of people, it doesn't necessarily have to have things that make it significally different from every other culture, and in fact it can even borrow from others (as does the English language, about which was written, "Not only does the English Language borrow words from other languages, it sometimes chases them down dark alleys, hits them over the head, and goes through their pockets." - Eddy Peters)

So maybe I do have a culture, and some of it I share with people around me, and some of it I don't. Heck, I am even creating my own language.

I suppose given that every culture has snitched from some other culture, then it's perfectly fine for me to want to take what I find good (or at least, not bad) about other cultures and incorporate them into my own.

Like, fashion. I wear turkish and indian and chinese and egyptian and a whole eclectic blend of various styles. I make a lot of my own too.
And music. I listen to Nordic and Basque and Pakistani and Hebrew and all sorts of other kinds.
And dance. I belly dance, and scottish country dance, and Jewish folk dance.
I love cats, I keep chickens, I put mehendi (henna) on my hands; and love indian and middle-eastern and mexican and italian and chinese food, among others.

So...

Maybe I'm really lamenting that I have no one that I can share "my culture" with on a personal level, rather than a lack of one share in the first place?

Deep thoughts. Will return to this later.

3 Comments:

Blogger The Sandmonkey said...

wow, and people say I think too much? lol

9:22 AM  
Blogger elengil said...

Yeah, it's a bad habbit I picked up from somewhere...

9:42 AM  
Blogger The Sandmonkey said...

LOL. As long as it's not from me, I am cool with it!

10:10 AM  

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