Pat Gunn (dachte) wrote,
Pat Gunn

Interpolated Cultural Treasures

I can scrape by at home by using the much older, slower machines I have there, and it turns out that things arn't too bad at work either. The biggest difficulty is getting used to a non-widescreen format for things -- I've grown to like the much wider display on my old laptop, as when I want to view data that's really wide (server logs, etc), the lines never wrap and I often have room to do something small off to the side of a big program (e.g. a given workspace might have firefox off to the left and a terminal off to the right). CRT-dimensions feel awfully cramped nowadays. I don't think I'll be in the bad no-laptop place for very long either -- I'm going to get a laptop for/from work (putting in the paperwork to order it now) in addition to my personal laptop, so much of the time I'll be ultra-cool, carrying around two 17" laptops (to avoid excessive paperwork, the work system is going to be from Dell). I'm also ordering some more heavy-computation machines for my group so our brain analyses will go faster, and some racks to put them in. All that being said, I am definitely affected by the loss of access to my data -- a lot of it has sentimental purposes -- old emails I read over every so often, photos, things of that sort, as well as programming projects and stuff, all neatly sliced out of my life. Sigh. For a lot of people, catching them while they're in the middle of moving, temporary homelessness makes them a bit mentally fragile because of the way people tend to see the world. A lot of people have declared some places or things to be a big part of the basis they have to feel comfortable and mentally "recharge". Blah.

Fortunately also, my order of Stash Tea came in -- three sampler boxes, 80 teabags apiece each wrapped in a foil wrapper. The flavour is incredible. For the time being, I think I've found my preferred way to get tea.

I have come to the conclusion that approval of and enthusiastic engagement in cultural appropriation is one of the guiding principles for the new socialism. In more primitive times, cultures spread, mixed, and interacted with each other without the kind of respect that seperate identities would have in later times. This was a good thing -- human aesthetics are capable of appreciation of and engagement in all sorts of practices, from clothing and music to ceremonies, sometimes mixing the ideas attached, sometimes not. In the name of respect, people are asked by members of a culture with certain attachments not to use those attachments outside the context of the culture. I think that such a request must be rejected, even as a courtesy, outside of very narrow limits. Primarily, one should be honest on whether one is claiming to be a form of the other group or not -- schism and evolution/drift happen to religions and culture, depending on how strong the controls are against drift of meaning, and if one were, for example, to celebrate some form of a religious holiday outside the context of the religion as normally practiced, it is appropriate to decide if incorporation is meant to mark one as some flavour of the religion or if it is being blended/"picked up" into something new. Secondly, the primary intent of incorporation should not be to cause confusion (nor must one take care not to) -- the primary reason to include should either be because a strong attachment has been tied to such elements, or that they are thought to be cool/desirable/shiny. The primary intent to cause confusion is fairly close to being malicious, although unlike some situations where one becomes aware that upset is caused, I don't see it as at all rude in this circumstance to ignore complaints of rudeness. Also, one should be careful not to have an unwanted sublimation of one's own identity by incorporating enough of a foreign culture that one's culture becomes essentially identical (unless that is an end). Finally, in cases where continuity with previous usage of the symbol/ceremony/element is not intended to be implied, it is best to avoid the most ornate and exact replication of complex elements. For example, if one were to take the concept of daytime fasting from Islam (Ramadan) or of a Seder dinner from Judaism (Pesach), if these were not meant to be transformed into something that shared heritage with Islamic or Jewish culture (e.g. Secular Jewish culture may celebrate Pesach as a continuation/transformation of Jewish culture in ways separate from the tie with Judaism), then it would probably be best to remove/change the prayers involved in each into something appropriate in the culture one is integrating them into. These metrics should be considered in light of individual elements -- cultures and identities are fluid, rather than judgement as a whole on evolving identities versus taking elements from another.

With all that discussed, in practice I think I can now feel more comfortable in borrowing liberally from other cultures to build my own way of living, something different than the prefabricated ideals that are readily available. Nietzsche's reevaluation of all values can apply to culture too.

Tags: philosophy

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