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Archive through August 07, 2002

Sepulchritude Forum » The Absinthe Forum Archive thru January 2003 » Strictly Absinthe & Collectibles » German absinthe party, July 2002 ... photos » Archive through August 07, 2002 « Previous Next »

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Posted on Wednesday, August 7, 2002 - 3:25 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post


I admit I don't know you at all but the views you express, in writing on this forum anyway, seem reasonably 'mainstream' to me, and not even anywhere near the edges of mainstream.

I have never been so insulted in all my life! I demand satisfaction on the field of honor!

But seriously, folks, I am not talking about segregating myself from anybody who I don't percieve as one of "my people". It's all a matter of degrees. Like I said, the key is not to try to make culture an aboslute value, but let it be a constantly flowing and changing thing.

And none of this equates to "the nonsense that we should treat people from cultural groups differently". On the other hand, you would be an idiot if you expected people from different cultural groups to REACT in the same way to the way you treat them. Try to greet your average Japanese company-man with a big hug and a kiss on the cheek if you don't believe me.
Posted on Wednesday, August 7, 2002 - 4:16 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

"It is simply a matter of being most comfortable and being able to best communicate with those with whom one shares a certain foundation of common belief, knowlege and experience."

Yes, but do you find all of these needs within a single cultural group? Surely there are many people outside of a cultural group that have more in common with you in many areas of your life than those within a given cultural group. Personally the people I feel comfortable with depends on what I'm doing at the time and not on them belonging to the same 'cultural group' as me.

I admit I don't know you at all but the views you express, in writing on this forum anyway, seem reasonably 'mainstream' to me, and not even anywhere near the edges of mainstream. It all depends how wide you consider the 'mainstream' to be. Do you consider mainstream society to be a melting pot of different peoples and ideas or do you consider the mainstream to be a narrow stream made up of an overall minority of opinion?

The problem with culture is that people often claim an identity based on what is a very small part of their beliefs, values and experiences. They identify themselves as being of a certain cultural identity when in fact this represents a minority of the influences that make up their identity.

Then we get the nonsense that we should treat people from cultural groups differently which in itself is simply a form of apartheid. Having different cultural influences all around us is fine, it's positive, it's interesting, but our overall culture is a blend of all the influences that surround us and effect us. Clinging to cultural identities is motivated by fear and prejudice.
Posted on Tuesday, August 6, 2002 - 11:27 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

this is so fucking monkey hole
Posted on Tuesday, August 6, 2002 - 8:47 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

The Semites. (pulled from the web)

People who originally lived on the eastern side of the Mediterranean spoke a kind of language that was called Semite, thus, the Semite-speaking people were called the Semites. Hebrew and Arabic are the main descendents of the Semitic language. The Semite people lived mainly in what is now called Israel, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon (Phoenicia) and Iraq (Mesopotamia), then they moved to Arabia and North Africa. Ancient Assyrians, Babylonians, Hebrews and the Canaanites of Canaan were also Semites. Canaan was the Biblical name for the land on the East Mediterranean coastal area around the Dead Sea and the Jordan river. It was also called Palestine. Judaism and Christianity originated from there.

Before 3000 BC those people were living in the Northern part, afterwards they moved to the South. Northwestern Semites spoke mainly Hebrew and Aramaic language. (The ancient Israelites, who lived in Palestine in Biblical times and who spoke Hebrew and wrote in Hebrew, were called the Hebrews.) Southern Semites spoke Arabic. There were many dialects and a number of offshoots of Aramaic and Arabic languages.
Posted on Tuesday, August 6, 2002 - 5:16 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post


But Robert, Israel isn't in Africa.

But the Hebrews did spend some amount of time in Egypt (according to tradition anyway)...
Posted on Tuesday, August 6, 2002 - 4:41 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post


It's all sectarian bollocks, all it does is perpetuate an 'us and them' mentality. We're all the fucking same anyway.

Except when we're not. I think the world would be a pretty boring place (especially for the academically minded) if we all spoke the same language, observed the same rituals, responded to the same symbols, lived the same life-styles, etc. And denying that these differences DO exist today is nonsensical. Being aware of, and even celebrating, cultural differences is not in-and-of-itself a bad thing. It only becomes bad when one places relative values on specific cultural traits, when one mistakes difference for superiority or inferiority, and when one views cultures as absolute values rather than as a constantly shifting continuum.

I think this is one of the sources of continued racial tension in the US. Many whites, even otherwise liberal ones, still have a certain amount of prejudice, not rooted in the color of people's skin, but in the unfamiliar facets of some parts of African-American culture. They are comfortable with blacks who "act white", but have trouble bridging the gaps in communiation styles, body language and social behavior when dealing with backs who are, for want of a better term, less assimilated. In addition, these wites often fail to appreciate that many blacks don't WANT to assimilate, and are perfectly happy with their own culture, as long as they get equal pay and don't get beat up by cops.

I have the unusual perspective of a person who has cosciously dis-assimilated himself from mainstream American culture. Black clothes and weird hair aside, my VALUES differe significantly from those of the mainstream culture. I'm fortunate enough to have found some people whose values, aesthetics and mores are close enough to mine that we might be considered a sub-culture. And I don't see anything wrong with that, as long as I don't take it too seriously.

I don't WANT to be like everyone else, to live the lives that most people live, and most people would be made uncomfortable my appearence and behavior if I tried to interact with them anyway. I don't think I'm "better" than people who prefer football to philosophy and Jim Carey to Edward Gorey, and I certainly don't believe there is any real concrete devide between the cultures. It is simply a matter of being most comfortable and being able to best communicate with those with whom one shares a certain foundation of common belief, knowlege and experience.
Posted on Tuesday, August 6, 2002 - 1:52 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Well those Rastas aren't all peace an' love. They're always beseeching Jah to smite their foes, cause them weeping and wailing and nashing of teeth, spank them with many strifes, smash them with big rock stone, burn them up with ball o' fire, chase those crazy baldheads outta town, and slam shut the gates of Zion.
Posted on Tuesday, August 6, 2002 - 12:53 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

And you'd expect the Son of Jah to have a slightly better human rights record than Emperor Haile Sellasie I.

Still it all makes good music. Where would Reggae be without Haile Sellasie, Ethiopia, Jah, and the 12 tribes of Israel?
Posted on Tuesday, August 6, 2002 - 7:29 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

"naively yearning back to some 'golden age' or 'golden homeland' that never existed"

Ha Ha! Reminds me of the Rastifarians in Jamaica. Since the 1930s their whole religion was based around a return to Africa, Ethiopia specifically. But as they were the poorest people in Jamaica, they had to content themselves with preaching and praying and singing about going back to Africa instead of actually doing it. But, in the 1970's when the Reggae music business brought some money their way, the Rastafarian elders sent a delegation to Ethiopia to plan the return to the motherland. The delegation came back to Jamaica and reported that Ethiopia was perpetually wracked with drought and civil war. So the elders announced that the "Africa" they were talking about existed on a spiritual plane to be found in the soul, rather than an actual place.
Posted on Tuesday, August 6, 2002 - 4:27 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

I'll admit that cultural identity bonds people together and can create a sense of unity, but culture is a fluid and changing thing, it does not exist in isolation. Cultural identity is too often used as a door to shut out others, to use as a 'closed shop'. Cultures blend, change and merge with other cultures and have done since time began, but today we have too much nonsense where cultures expect to be treated as ongoing closed entities, self-imposed cultural apartheid. To have in the USA an 'African-American' culture distinct from mainstream culture only reflects the prejudicial nature of society and clinging to this culture only serves to perpetuate the prejudice.

In the end our 'culture' is no more than a reflection of our life-experiences and prejudices. When our life experiences are broadly similar to those living around us, to cling to a closed cultural identity as something of inherent value is either glorifying our own prejudices or in some cases naively yearning back to some 'golden age' or 'golden homeland' that never existed.
Posted on Monday, August 5, 2002 - 3:19 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

But Robert, Israel isn't in Africa.
Posted on Monday, August 5, 2002 - 2:42 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

I don't pretend to be able to answer this question.

but don't you think cultural identities were wired into us for a reason? like the desire for procreation, it seems like one of the basic building blocks of the human condition. for good or ill.

and denying it seems something akin to say, wishing for global peace, an end to world hunger, or a free anarchic society. pipe dreams of a intellectual leisure class that time and again have been proven to fail out there in the big bad world.

in as much as cultural identity creates an "us" and a "them" it also creates community, a sense of belonging and purpose. a common goal for that community to work towards preserving itself and its descendents.

as much as I agree with the basic precept of the global family, it seems short sighted to put it forward bluntly without considering the reality of cultural lines that must be worked with, even if we are to change them.
Posted on Monday, August 5, 2002 - 2:40 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Jews come from Isreal so are they African -Americans?? How about Jesus? Or for that matter Lucy,our first relative, came from Africa so all of us from the westwern hemisphere (the Americas) are too.
Posted on Monday, August 5, 2002 - 2:20 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

As for cultural identity, it's no better than racial identity.

It's all sectarian bollocks, all it does is perpetuate an 'us and them' mentality. We're all the fucking same anyway.
Posted on Monday, August 5, 2002 - 2:10 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

"Kind of depends how far back you try to trace things. After a while it becomes a bit absurd, don't you think?"

Indeed, but where do you draw the line on absurdity? Is it absurd to consider as a person of 'Celtic blood' that your origins lie in the Caucasus and Carpathian mountains of central Europe, does 600BC make that absurd? What about when Rome conquered Southern Britain in 1st century AD is it absurd for an Englishman to claim Roman ancestry? Or what about an Englishman claiming 'German' ancestry from the 5th century Saxon settlement of England? Or a Scotsman tracing Irish ancestry from the 5th century kingdom of Dal Riada in western Scotland? Or an Irishman claiming French ancestry from 12th century Norman invasions? Or an American claiming Irish ancestry from the Potato famine emmigrations?

When is does it become absurd? It's all absurd. It is interesting to trace back where your 'roots' came from (although with so many branches they'll lead you to many different places) but to claim (as many do) an identity from it is rubbish. You are who you are and who your ancestors were means nothing.
Posted on Monday, August 5, 2002 - 1:00 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Well, the utility of "African-American" is that it describes a specific culture within the US, not simply a set of physical characteristics or a place of origin. Jazz is a musical form that was originated by black people, but it wasn't their skin color that is responsible for the unique characteristics of the form. It is the influence of African cultures combined with that of the specific experiences of African slaves and their decendants in this country. There is a very distinct culture, with its own linguistic forms, social customs, etc., extant in the US, and, while inexact, "African-American" is as close a term for it as one can create in less than 10 syllables. It is certainly more precise than "black" anyhow, which is, at best, a physical desription.

And yes, that means not only your hypothetical Egyptian, but recent immigrants from sub-Saharan Africa, and even black people from the West Indies don't exactly qualify as members of the African-American culture. Describing culture is like mapping the ocean. I can show you the middle of the Pacific, but I can't tell you where it ends and the Indian begins.
Posted on Monday, August 5, 2002 - 8:10 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

I had a blood transfusion and now I have no idea what I am.
Posted on Monday, August 5, 2002 - 7:06 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

Nonetheless, I despise the term "African-American" for its inexactitude. Does anyone see the U.S.-born child of non-"black" Egyptian parents and say, "Hey! That's kid's an African-American" ? No way. They'll call him/her "Middle-Eastern". Poor Egyptians; I guess they're not African ...
Posted on Sunday, August 4, 2002 - 9:13 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post


I'll just call them African-Americans then, just like you all are.

One of my best friends is the daughter of an English South African. I've tried to convince her to tell people that she's African-American, since her ancestors left Africa a lot more recently than most blacks in the US.

The thing with this sort of debate is that it isn't dealing with absolute, measurable values. Culture is like that. There is a very real, observable Irish-American culture, especially in New York and New England, which has features that set it apart from mainstream American culture, but which is totally distinct from Irish culture in Ireland. Trying to define it in terms of what percentage of "blood" one has is silly. It is more important the degree to which on has been influenced by the culture.

While attempting to define race or ethicity or culutre in absolute terms is fruitless and even dangerous, I think it is also absurd to ignore the variations in culture and language and tradition that exist in the world, just because we can't do so with scientific precision. Terms like "Irish-American" or "Native American" serve a useful purpose in exploring our world, as long as we undestand that they are generalizations which break down when examined in detail.

Is Leopold Bloom a Jew?
Posted on Sunday, August 4, 2002 - 6:31 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Kind of depends how far back you try to trace things. After a while it becomes a bit absurd, don't you think?
Posted on Sunday, August 4, 2002 - 5:06 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Part of this conundrum is that it's a lot easier to consider yourself "of" a certain place if it's been long enough that you're no longer sure how you got there. Some of my ancestors came to America in the 17th century, most came later. My family is lucky enough to know the towns and parishes they came from.

Whereas various American Indian tribes have origin stories telling how they came out of the earth in the vicinity of Madeline Island or the Black Hills. As far as they're concerned, they've always been here.

I know there's been a lot of theorizing about the land bridge to Asia, and genetic comparisons between Native Americans and Siberian tribes. But some recent archeological finds indicate that humans have been in North America a lot longer than was previously believed. The genetic similarities could just as easily be explained by intermarriage between nomadic tribes as by mass emigration.

BTW, I do agree that 'race' is a myth. But usually the people with a similar view of semantics to yours, Hob, are white people who say "I'm 'native american' too, so let's terminate them damn treaties!"

Quite some ways from One Love, One People...
Posted on Sunday, August 4, 2002 - 12:27 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

what I'm saying (and not too well) is that fundamentally I agree ... but you're arguing semantics with the wrong person. I don't need to be converted. heh.
Posted on Sunday, August 4, 2002 - 12:20 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Just because something is labelled as such doesn't mean it ought to be accepted. Just because the majority choose to view something falsely doesn't make it reality.

Race and nationality are bollocks, we're all related, we all have the same ancestors. We are one people.
Posted on Sunday, August 4, 2002 - 11:00 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

*throws hands up into air*

you're being semantical.

the difference between what actually *is* and what we choose to call it is the area I call the nitpickers paradise.

"it's chilly today"


61° F, Mostly Cloudy
 Wind: WSW at 12 mph
 Humidity: 68%
 Visibility: 10 miles

unfortunately I don't live in your world where we're all just africans anyway. wish I did ...
Posted on Sunday, August 4, 2002 - 9:28 am:   Edit PostPrint Post


I'll just call them African-Americans then, just like you all are.

And anyway 'Native' is just the term used by immigrants to describe those that got there and set up home before them. So if I emmigrated to the USA, you'd be a 'Native American' as far as I'm concerned.

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