CHAT: American Culture (was Re: "Whiteness" Re: Obseneties)
|From:||Thomas R. Wier <artabanos@...>|
|Date:||Friday, September 1, 2000, 23:24|
Barry Garcia wrote:
> But for a quick
> classification of myself I go with Filipino-American because i am
> physically more Filipino looking , as well as I have a definate sense of
> what it is to be Filipino than it is to be American (what does it mean?
> What defines American culture specifically? That's one of the problems).
That's an interesting question. The answers is, I think: there is no one
American culture, and there never has been. From early in the Colonial
period, there were English, Welsh, Irish, Scots, Scots-Irish, Germans,
Swedes, Dutch, French, Spanish, Africans and numerous American Indians,
all of whom considered each other greatly different from each other, far
more different certainly than Europeans consider themselves today. While
English eventually emerged as the universal public language among those of
European descent, that by no means implies that everyone suddenly gave
up their ancestral habits just because of that. New York City (former
New Amsterdam), to cite just one example, kept its archives in both Dutch
and English until 1825 IIRC, and there are still members of the Dutch Reformed
Church in that city. In terms of High Culture, Americans have always been
exposed to Europe's highculture of Bach and Moliere, not just Purcell and
Shakespeare, and today is absorbing countless Asians who feel more comfortable
with No dramas or religious plays based on the Bhagavad-Gita, and Latin-
Americans who feel the same about Pablo Neruda or Jorge Luis Borges. So,
the old European dig that America has no culture is true, because it has many:
many high and many low, none of which is totally dominant.
(This should not imply that every group accepts every other group, of course.
We obviously also have our share of racism and hate.)
Tom Wier | "Cogito ergo sum, sed credo ergo ero."