sexta-feira, outubro 30, 2009

Your Culture, My Culture

Anthropologists recognize two types of cultures in the early times of mankind: i) anthropomorphic, which are the dominant cultures nowadays, like the US culture, and ii) anthropophagic, which only exist today as minorities living in remote and isolated territories and believe in the absorption of the greatness of their ancestors by literally eating them after their death. In opposition, the origin of anthropomorphic cultures are thought to remount to the first human that laid a flower over a dead relative and are characterized by the construction of physical forms to eternalize the life and memory of the ancestors, like portraits for example, among other human built pieces with the meaning of maintaining ancestors alive. The individuals that were able to create sublime works that represented the greatness of ancestors with popular renown were probably the first artists. The way a society looks at its History and the heritage that it received from ancestors are the foundations of a culture’s identity. Due to the condition of human mortality and consequent regeneration of societies with the birth of new generations, culture is not a stagnant concept and its way of manifestation is always in constant mutation. Culture can be the complex identity of a society and many cultures can exist within a culture as societies exist within a society. Communication among individuals must exist to voluntarily or unconsciously perpetuate and develop the culture and its function in defining identity. Portraits play a strong role in the development of individual identities by defining popular traits and symbolisms of likeness and also as documents of the evolution of cultures throughout History.
Freud defined technology as a pivotal component in the developmental mutations of cultures while stating that culture was born when men decided to take fire home instead of pissing on it: use versus fear. Technological changes can define many of the major changes in cultures, both towards extinction or survival. Today we live in a globalized world, where languages mingle within the scaffold of an easily mutated English language. Language is the purest anthropomorphic phenomena and is the basis of human thought. More complex Internet, satellite television, cinema and marketing support the spreading of an English spoken globalization. However, the constant mutational state of culture is changing all these components of globalization as new cultures join the caravan. New York City (NYC) can be considered the new Rome of the globalization empire; where over 170 languages and much more corresponding cultures exist from the tip of Manhattan to the extreme point of Long Island coexisting in mutual assimilation. Foreign cultures in the US are always assimilated into the American homogeneity and separated from their origins. Is NYC a sample of the world at a smaller scale, the new Babel? I don’t think so. Mandarin speakers from NYC, San Francisco, Paris and Beijing belong to four separate cultures that have different interactions with the native cultures of the space they physically occupy, even if their origins are the same. Acculturation and cultural assimilation phenomena occur at a level of complexity probably similar to the way synapses and information are processed in the human brain. Probably globalization is taking humanity towards a new Babel. Probably humanity is once again being liberated from one of the strongest divine punishments.

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