Making a Record of a Culture Bangkok, Thailand Southeast Asia Monday, October 8, 2007
There is a timeline in cultures, there is a spot, where a culture can say, this was our time, and this was our culture. Shortly after World War II there was a uplift in the USA, the I can do it culture of the USA was taking hold, as the USA realized it was now the Alpha Male of the planet Earth, and now we are in the epic of little dog nipping at our heals. There was a time, when we said, we are this…it changes, it must.
I enjoy culture, and I am not sure if many Anthropologists are recording cultures. I think there is real time and there is history of culture. I read about cultures and think, - That was true maybe 50 years ago, that is history, not today. -
There is somewhere between 10-100 years of lag time between what a person is reading about, and what is real. I am told by the read-too-much, and do-too-little intellects on the planet. - Andy, you know they do this, or they do that. -
I think, - Yes, they did about 50 years ago, and you have read a lot, please go outside and look around, please. -
Reading is good, but real time, real truth is, well, it is the reality and there is a big difference between some offbeat study done 10 years ago and what is today, a culture can change 100 percent in 10 years. The basic culture stays the same, but the window dressing is different, then it is difficult to see the underlying culture, a normal first time person is overwhelmed by the first impressions.
I sometimes start on these big aspirations of explaining a country, or even a place, I think, I will explain Khao San Road, how to get a hotel, how to make your way, and then I think, this will all change, within six months the rules will be different.
However, some cultures will be glossed over, given new clothes and covered by the modern world within the next 20 years. There are cultures that will 95 percent give up their traditions and adopt the TV culture, the Radio, the Music, the outside world will be too tempting and their children will become parts of the global planet, Adios Amigo.
Everyone thinks stereotypes are bad, I think stereotypes are good, the archetypes of a culture is the general explanation of the culture, to generally give an overview of how the culture works. The problem here lies in the comparison, to see a culture, a person has to see. To see how a culture is unique, to see how a culture is similar, a person needs to see social behaviors, and be able to compare. The planet is big, too big, there are too many cultures, the overview is hard to grasp. How can we compare 251 countries, I do not know them.
I see people defining cultures according to recent history, in Peru, there is the culture of Cocaine, or the Coca leaves, this was just a small leaf they chewed on, now it has taken a status of this is our culture, when in reality, it is just a great way to make money that happened in the last 50 years, before that it was a leaf.
There are parts of the culture that goes on and on, like the potato, or how to farm on the side of a mountain, semi-boring, but longer in existence.
The overview snapshots, the explanations of a culture is an interesting challenge, I think of trying to explain things, like, - What is Thai Style? -
There is a style to the way a Thai person does something, the in-group calls it Thai Style, hard to explain, but when you hang around Thailand, you eventually say, - Thai Style. -
Not hippie style, but real Thai Style, like the way a girl walks, the way a house was built, the way of sitting, this is Thailand, it is uniquely Thai, it was not a colony, there is no overlays, and no templates set on top of Thailand.
I do strive or reach for the edges of the earth, to find the places where nobody has put a template of culture on top of the ages old culture, this is not easy to find, but fun to find, and record in time, something to remember before we put a cell phone in their hands.
I think I am dreaming now of the video, a video can explain massive amounts of small behaviors by just watching, and words have limits.