‘What is culture, if not a set of prejudices?’

Between categories, (Randy Scott) Slavin raffled out about a dozen camera-equipped micro-drones. The man sitting beside me (wearing a fedora) let out a huff of disappointment each time his number wasn’t called.

– Arthur Holland Michel ‘I went to the first drone film festival and there was a lot of dubstep‘ Motherboard

In the penguin exhibit at the London Zoo, there is a small V.I.P. section, cordoned off with low boulders, where paying guests can meet the birds and pose for selfies.

– Ed Young ‘How the penguin got its waddle‘ The New Yorker

It seemed almost obscene to buy something so trifling as shoelaces in this gigantic box. (Target)

Every exchange of information was piecemeal, chopped into bits, full of misunderstandings and repetitions. It wasn’t that I didn’t speak English, it was that I stood on the outside of the flow that made things glide along easily and without friction, where everything said and done was as expected. I was in command of the content, but not of the form, and form is always the most important aspect of human communication.

What is culture, if not a set of prejudices? A set of unformulated and unconscious rules and ways of behavior that every member of a given society nonetheless immediately recognizes and accepts?

Nowhere in the world has shared culture been a more imperative requirement than in America. More than 300 million people live here, and they had descended over the course of a very few generations from a huge number of disparate cultures, with different histories, ways of behavior, worldviews and experiential backgrounds. All of them, sooner or later, had been required to relinquish their old culture and enter the new one. That must be why the most striking thing about the United States was its sameness, that every place had the same hotels, the same restaurants, the same stores. And that must be why every American movie was made after the same template and why, in this sense, every movie expressed the same thing. And that must be why all these TVs were hanging on the walls, unwatched; they created an immediate sense of belonging, a feeling of home.

I considered the strangeness of that: That everything Norwegian, all that was particular to the west coast of Norway and to the Hatløy family, had been completely obliterated in just two generations in the U.S.

– Karl Ove Knausgaard ‘My Saga, Part 2: Karl Ove Knausgaard’s Passage Through America‘ The New York Times

 

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