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White Words – Popula
“Eskimos Have Fifty Words for Snow” is an amazing phrase, because every word in it is wrong.

For Boas, every language has its own unique features and complexity but nothing, in that account, would prevent Eskimo-speakers from learning English words for water or English-speakers from learning Eskimo words for snow. But Whorf takes that idea and emphasizes a mutual incomprehension flowing out of this difference: our singular term for snow “would be almost unthinkable” to an Eskimo, he suggests, and then hypothesizes an Eskimo who helpfully explains why he can’t think it, using phrases like “sensuously and operationally different.”
contrarian  language  theory  opinion  culture 
28 days ago by aries1988
Opinion | Netflix Is the Most Intoxicating Portal to Planet Earth - The New York Times

This simple difference flips all of its incentives. It means that Netflix has a reason to satisfy every new customer, not just the ones in the most prosperous markets. Each new title carries subtitles in 26 languages, and the company is creating high-quality, properly lip-synced audio dubbing in 10 languages. For years, Netflix has roiled the film and TV business in Hollywood with its billions. Now it’s taking its money — the company spent $12 billion on content in 2018 and is projected to spend $15 billion this year — to film and TV producers in France, Spain, Brazil, India, South Korea and the Middle East, among other places.

It’s legitimate to ask how long Netflix will be able to keep up this cross-border conversation — whether, as it keeps growing, it will have to make legal or moral compromises with local censors or other would-be cultural arbiters. But I’m optimistic about its chances. Wouldn’t it be amazing if the internet did turn out to bring the world together after all?
netflix  culture  world  from:rss 
8 weeks ago by aries1988
Two Roads for the New French Right | by Mark Lilla | The New York Review of Books

Unlike her hotheaded grandfather and aunt, Marion is always calm and collected, sounds sincere, and is intellectually inclined.

In countries as diverse as France, Poland, Hungary, Austria, Germany, and Italy, efforts are underway to develop a coherent ideology that would mobilize Europeans angry about immigration, economic dislocation, the European Union, and social liberalization, and then use that ideology to govern.

a new legal status, dubbed a pacte civil de solidarité (civil solidarity pact, or PACS), for long-term couples who required legal protections regarding inheritance and other end-of-life issues but did not want to get married.

While it’s true that fewer and fewer French people baptize their children and attend mass, nearly two thirds still identify as Catholic, and roughly 40 percent of those declare themselves to be practicing, whatever that means. More importantly, as a Pew study found last year, those French who do identify as Catholic—especially those who attend Mass regularly—are significantly more right-wing in their political views than those who do not.

The National Front is nearly as secular and even less ideologically coherent, having served more as a refuge for history’s detritus—Vichy collaborators, resentful pieds noirs driven out of Algeria, Joan of Arc romantics, Jew- and Muslim-haters, skinheads—than as a party with a positive program for France’s future. A mayor once close to it now aptly calls it the Dien Bien Phu right.

They share two convictions: that a robust conservatism is the only coherent alternative to what they call the neoliberal cosmopolitanism of our time, and that resources for such a conservatism can be found on both sides of the traditional left–right divide. More surprising still, they are all fans of Bernie Sanders.

Three months later her Institute of Social, Economic, and Political Sciences (ISSEP) opened in Lyon, with the aim, Marion said, of displacing the culture that dominates our nomadic, globalized, deracinated liberal system. It is basically a business school but will supposedly offer great books courses in philosophy, literature, history, and rhetoric, as well as practical ones on management and political and cultural combat.
reportage  politics  interview  france  conservatism  culture  ideology  conflict  globalization  crisis  morality  family  value  debate  instapaper_favs 
december 2018 by aries1988
The Woman Who Still Finds Louis C.K. Lovable
The French comedian Blanche Gardin is taking on all of feminism’s orthodoxies.
2018  female  feminism  français  movement  opinion  culture  comedy  artist 
november 2018 by aries1988
A history of true civilisation is not one of monuments | Aeon Ideas
The 20th-century French anthropologist Marcel Mauss thought that civilisation should not be reduced to a list of technical or aesthetic achievements. Nor should it represent a particular stage of cultural development (‘civilisation’ versus ‘barbarism’, and so on). Civilisation could be found in material things, but above all it referred to a potential in human societies. In Mauss’s view, civilisation is what happens when discrete societies share morally and materially across boundaries, forming durable relationships that transcend differences.

Sacrifice is the shadow lurking behind this concept of civilisation; the sacrifice of freedoms, of life itself, for the sake of something always out of reach – an idea of world order, the mandate of heaven, blessings from those insatiable gods.

Mutual aid, social cooperation, civic activism, hospitality or simply caring for others: these are the kind of things that actually go to make civilisations.

What until now has passed for ‘civilisation’ might in fact be nothing more than a gendered appropriation – by men, etching their claims in stone – of some earlier system of knowledge that had women at its centre.
civ  opinion  definition  culture  life  monument  archaeology  antiquity 
october 2018 by aries1988
Paul Bloom on Cruelty – Econlib
I think that's one of the biggest mistakes we make about morality. I think that the reality is that fully appreciating someone's humanity opens up so many positive things--you can't be human without it; you can't have a decent relationship. It's the foundation of love, and friendship. But, it carries with it so many terrible risks. Really loving somebody, really knowing somebody opens up the possibility for love; but it also opens up the possibility for hatred.

we need to respect the fact that often we had no bad intentions and we will be right; and yet we can appreciate that our own small acts when accumulated makes people's lives miserable. And so we should stop these small acts.

The first point is that the robots are probably sentient. I mean, it's impossible to know. It's the standard, you know, undergraduate dormitory argument at 2 in the morning, how can I know you're conscious? How can you know that I'm conscious? But, these robots are of such sophistication, complexity, it beggars belief that they don't have feelings.
utilitarianism  human  cruel  thinking  movie  culture  debate  mind  other  love  family  morality  anger  incel  mob  robot 
october 2018 by aries1988
Fantasy, Fantastique, SF... mais pourquoi la France a-t-elle un problème avec l'imaginaire ?
Pourtant on ne peut pas dire que l’imaginaire ait manqué à l’histoire littéraire du pays de Rabelais, avec Jules Verne, les surréalistes, Julien Gracq, Marcel Aymé, Pierre Boulle («la Planète des singes»), René Barjavel («la Nuit des temps») ou encore Pierre Paireault alias Stefan Wul («Niourk») pour n’en citer que quelques-uns. Mais dès qu’ils sont considérés comme des classiques, ces romans quittent bien vite le rayon du genre.

Voyons le Goncourt, le plus célèbre de nos prix littéraires, dont les créateurs ont voulu qu’il récompense «le meilleur ouvrage d'imagination en prose» de l’année. De fait, il est remis pour la première fois en 1903 à un roman de science-fiction, «Force ennemie» de John-Antoine Nau, dont le héros est possédé par l’esprit d’un extraterrestre ayant fui sa planète. Et depuis ?

Certes, l’Imaginaire ne représente que 7% du marché français de la fiction… Mais occupe-t-il 7% des rayons des libraires, 7% des pages livres de la presse écrite, 7% des émissions culturelles à la radio ou à la télévision? Non, loin de là.
culture  france  scifi  book  bookstore  opinion  art 
october 2018 by aries1988








西方的思想界是开放的,种种不同的史观都出现过,其中还有反“进步”的史观大行其道的,如斯宾格勒(Oswald Spengler 1880-1936)的《西方的没落》(The Decline of the West)和汤因比(Arnold J Toynbee 1889-1975)的《历史研究》(A Study of History)

confucianism  chinese  tradition  culture  crisis  evolution  west  book  leader  intelligentsia  taiwan  dissident  instapaper_favs 
october 2018 by aries1988
中国人的公平观:表面追求大公无私 私下热爱厚黑学
这种历史上轮番争夺帝位的事件在日本的思维模式中却很难,因为A 的对立面不是非A ,而是B ,因此A 只能做自己的事,不能去想B 的事,A 也不能去占有属于B 的东西,这或许是日本天皇可以保留,实行君主制的逻辑根源。
theory  book  chinese  culture  thinking  comparison  concept  private  collective  justice  ethic 
september 2018 by aries1988
A New Citizen Decides to Leave the Tumult of Trump’s America
Rebecca Mead on the wrenching choice, after decades in New York and securing U.S. citizenship, to return to Britain.
story  british  london  newyork  american  son  culture  uk  immigrant 
august 2018 by aries1988
公民民族主义 - 维基百科,自由的百科全书
公民民族主义来自理性主义与自由主义的传统,公民民族主义与单一种族及文化倾向的民族主义(ethnic nationalism)是互不相容的,公民民族主义认为民族成员的身份认同应该是取决于每个成员的自我决定,而种族或族群民族主义则认为民族成员的身份认同取决于血缘或共同的祖先等外在条件,由此可知,公民民族主义认为民族认同是由个体内在的主观意志所决定,而种族或族群民族主义则认为个体的民族认同是由外在的客观条件(例如血缘、语言、文化)所决定。
concept  nation  culture 
july 2018 by aries1988
Mary Beard Takes On Her Sexist Detractors | The New Yorker

In “The Fires of Vesuvius: Pompeii Lost and Found” (2008), she points out that the ancient city lacked zoning regulations, which meant that a blacksmith’s noisy shop could lie on the other side of the wall from a wealthy family’s frescoed dining room. Her deductive observation from the presence of tartar on the teeth of skeletons—that Pompeii was a city of bad breath—is a typical Beardian turn.

Beard does not wear makeup and she doesn’t color her abundant gray hair. She dresses casually, with minor eccentricities: purple-rimmed spectacles, gold sneakers. She looks comfortable both in her skin and in her shoes—much more preoccupied with what she is saying than with how she looks as she is saying it.

She is a frequent contributor to Radio 4, the British equivalent of NPR, offering audio essays on subjects as varied as dementia, the four-minute mile, and academic testing.
bbc  female  culture  classic  university  intelligentsia  uk  history  roman 
june 2018 by aries1988
East Frisia - Wikipedia

A cup of East Frisian tea with cream
In an otherwise coffee drinking country, East Frisia is noted for its consumption of tea and its tea culture. Strong black tea is served whenever there are visitors to an East Frisian home or other gathering, as well as with breakfast, mid-afternoon, and mid-evening. Tea is sweetened with kluntjes, a rock candy sugar that melts slowly, allowing multiple cups to be sweetened.[6] Heavy cream is also used to flavour the tea. The tea is generally served in traditional small cups, with little cookies during the week and cake during special occasions or on weekends as a special treat. Brown rum, mixed with kluntjes and left for several months, is also added to black tea in the winter. The tea is alleged to cure headaches, stomach problems, and stress, among many other ailments.
mtd  deutschland  tea  region  culture 
june 2018 by aries1988
What Wes Anderson’s “Isle of Dogs” Gets Right About Japan | The New Yorker
Anderson is a white, non-Japanese director, but had he not been interested in the power dynamics behind translation, and instead made a twee fever dream imitating Japanese aesthetics, “Isle of Dogs” would have looked and sounded a lot different. His commitment to showing the daily rhythms of a living, breathing Japanese people reveals itself not only in his cast of twenty-three Japanese actors but in his depictions of how exactly a Japanese TV-news anchor transitions to a new topic (“This is the next news”), what milk cartons for elementary schools look like (labelled “extra-thick”), or how a couple of scientists might celebrate—with a clink, “Yo—oh!,” and a clap. The film invites a kinship with a viewer who will find these banalities familiar, and lets these moments flow by, unnoticed, for those who do not.
movie  japan  culture  language  translation  debate  power 
may 2018 by aries1988
In China and India, men outnumber women on a massive scale. The consequences are far-reaching. - Washington Post

A combination of cultural preferences, government decree and modern medical technology in the world’s two largest countries has created a gender imbalance on a continental scale. Men outnumber women by 70 million in China and India.

China’s official one-child policy, in effect from 1979 to 2015

Another unintended result — urban housing prices are rising fast.

Around $10,000, Li reckons, will have to be paid to his future bride’s family, just to gain their approval for the engagement. A centuries-old tradition, the bride price in China is similar to a dowry elsewhere in the world, but paid from groom’s family to the bride’s parents — rather than the other way around.
india  china  children  female  crisis  culture  numbers  future 
april 2018 by aries1988
The Case Against Civilization
We don’t give the technology of fire enough credit, Scott suggests, because we don’t give our ancestors much credit for their ingenuity over the long period—ninety-five per cent of human history—during which most of our species were hunter-gatherers.

To demonstrate the significance of fire, he points to what we’ve found in certain caves in southern Africa. The earliest, oldest strata of the caves contain whole skeletons of carnivores and many chewed-up bone fragments of the things they were eating, including us. Then comes the layer from when we discovered fire, and ownership of the caves switches: the human skeletons are whole, and the carnivores are bone fragments. Fire is the difference between eating lunch and being lunch.

Anatomically modern humans have been around for roughly two hundred thousand years. For most of that time, we lived as hunter-gatherers. Then, about twelve thousand years ago, came what is generally agreed to be the definitive before-and-after moment in our ascent to planetary dominance: the Neolithic Revolution. This was our adoption of, to use Scott’s word, a “package” of agricultural innovations, notably the domestication of animals such as the cow and the pig, and the transition from hunting and gathering to planting and cultivating crops.

His best-known book, “Seeing Like a State,” has become a touchstone for political scientists, and amounts to a blistering critique of central planning and “high modernism,” the idea that officials at the center of a state know better than the people they are governing. Scott argues that a state’s interests and the interests of subjects are often not just different but opposite.

The big news to emerge from recent archeological research concerns the time lag between “sedentism,” or living in settled communities, and the adoption of agriculture.

The evidence shows that this isn’t true: there’s an enormous gap—four thousand years—separating the “two key domestications,” of animals and cereals, from the first agrarian economies based on them.

It was the ability to tax and to extract a surplus from the produce of agriculture that, in Scott’s account, led to the birth of the state, and also to the creation of complex societies with hierarchies, division of labor, specialist jobs (soldier, priest, servant, administrator), and an élite presiding over them.

The web of food sources that the hunting-and-gathering Ju/’hoansi use is, exactly as Scott argues for Neolithic people, a complex one, with a wide range of animal protein, including porcupines, kudu, wildebeests, and elephants, and a hundred and twenty-five edible plant species, with different seasonal cycles, ecological niches, and responses to weather fluctuations.

The secret ingredient seems to be the positive harnessing of the general human impulse to envy.
history  culture  agriculture  debate  human  choice  farming  animal  book  opinion 
april 2018 by aries1988
Une histoire de la robe : contrainte ou liberté ?
La représentation de la femme, son rôle, son statut sont directement présents dans ses allures et dans son maintien, au cœur des sensibilités collectives. Entre pudeur et érotisme, entre fluidité et géométrie, entre contrainte et liberté, l’histoire de la robe informe au delà d'ell[...]
history  clothing  reform  europe  female  etiquette  culture  aesthetics  book 
february 2018 by aries1988
Global Latinists by John Byron Kuhner
W he n Leni Ribeiro Leite stood up in the main auditorium of Memorial Hall this past July, her name and appearance were enough to distinguish her: it’s still…
language  latin  learn  culture  world 
february 2018 by aries1988
1789-2018 : les Anglais parmi nous
La présence des Anglais en France est importante et constante depuis le XIXe siècle. Tout en profitant des agréments culturels et des avantages matériels, les Anglais s'efforcent d'y reproduire un univers familier. Ils sont à l'origine d'une "France anglaise" dont l'histoire est méconnue.[...]
british  français  france  immigration  immigrant  story  nation  culture  history  sports  podcast 
february 2018 by aries1988




region  explained  canton  culture  hongkong  china  independence  comparaison  nation  conflict  language  moi  philosophy 
february 2018 by aries1988
History of the calendar from Julius Caesar to Pope Gregory XIII to Colonial America - The Washington Post
Effectively, this was the beginning of verifiable time in the West. Historians can fix nearly exactly any event that occurred after Jan. 1, 45 B.C., after some adjustment calculations. Anything before demands a lot of guesswork.
history  calendar  europe  usa  culture  fun 
january 2018 by aries1988

当年亚历山大东征在中亚,娶了一个大夏(????)——就是今天阿富汗北部一个小王国的一个公主,就叫roshanna, 这个人的名字现在也进入英语了,你看有些美国人或者伊朗人就会叫Roshanna, 她们其实就是安禄山的阴性形式。所以安禄山在现在还有一些表亲。



刚才的例子大家都耳熟能详,可能有些例子大家没有想到,这个是印度字母,印度字母的排列非常符合语音规则的,非常规则按照发音位置和发音方式来排列的。这种排列方式其实启发了藏语,大家都知道藏族文字是从印度文字来的,但日文实际上也是按照梵文字母的排列方式,受它启发,创制出了五十音图,五十音图字母的形状有可能来自汉字的草书,但字母排列的方式,这个想法是按照发音规律排列的想法是来自梵文,(a,i,u,e, o, ka, ki, ku, ke, ko),不像abcd它是完全没有规律的。



xinjiang  west  trade  archaeology  culture  history  presentation  podcast 
january 2018 by aries1988


南方人對於北方人喝茶習慣的整體印象。在我們這裏,有人喝茶,喝到能夠分辨出一款茶到底是產自武夷山某座山峰的向陽面,還是向陰面的地步。而北方人呢 ,我們總以為他們所謂的喝茶,就是抓一大把茉莉茶碎丟進大缸,然後不管三七二十一地把熱水猛灌進去了事。





anecdote  tea  coffee  howto  culture 
december 2017 by aries1988
The French Origins of “You Will Not Replace Us”

He sees immigration as one aspect of a nefarious global process that renders obsolete everything from cuisine to landscapes. “The very essence of modernity is the fact that everything—and really everything—can be replaced by something else, which is absolutely monstrous,” he said.

When Benoist writes that “humanity is irreducibly plural” and that “diversity is part of its very essence,” he is not supporting the idea of a melting pot but of diversity in isolation

These disciples, instead of calling for an “Islamic holocaust,” can argue that rootedness in one’s homeland matters, and that immigration, miscegenation, and the homogenizing forces of neoliberal market economies collude to obliterate identities that have taken shape over hundreds of years—just as relentless development has decimated the environment. Benoist’s romantic-sounding ideas can be cherry-picked and applied to local political resentments.

Faye, like Renaud Camus, is appalled by the dictates of modern statecraft, which define nationality in legal rather than ethnic terms.

Camus lamenting that “a veiled woman speaking our language badly, completely ignorant of our culture” could declare that she is just as French as an “indigenous” man who is “passionate for Roman churches, and for the verbal and syntactic delicacies of Montaigne and Rousseau, for Burgundy wines, for Proust, and whose family has lived for generations in the same valley.” What appalls Camus, Polakow-Suransky notes, is that “legally, if she has French nationality, she is completely correct.”

This is true, but there is always a threshold at which a quantitative change becomes qualitative; migration was far less extensive in the Middle Ages than it is today. French liberals can surely make a case for immigration without pretending that nothing has changed: a country that in 1900 was almost uniformly Catholic now has more than six million Muslims.

Yet feminism, Starbucks, the smartphone, the L.G.B.T.Q. movement, the global domination of English, EasyJet, Paris’s loss of centrality in Western cultural life—all of these developments have disrupted what it means “to be French.” The problem with identitarianism isn’t simply that it is nostalgic; it’s that it fixates on ethnicity to the exclusion of all else.
interview  usa  islam  muslim  france  français  intelligentsia  book  debate  liberal  population  race  altright  culture  identity 
november 2017 by aries1988
‘We will all be dust soon’: Sherlock’s Mark Gatiss on death, despair and drama
He’s watched by millions, so why does the actor and writer feel a loser in today’s culture war?
interview  uk  culture  2017  tv  actor  bio  british 
november 2017 by aries1988
How Martin Luther has shaped Germany for half a millennium

Start with aesthetics. For Luther this was, like everything else, a serious matter. He believed that Christians were guaranteed salvation through Jesus but had a duty to live in such a way as to deserve it.

Ostentation was thus a disgraceful distraction from the asceticism required to examine one’s own conscience. The traces of this severity live on in Germany’s early 20th-century Bauhaus architecture, and even in the furniture styles at IKEA (from Lutheran Sweden).

The Swiss Protestants John Calvin and Huldrych Zwingli viewed music as sensual temptation and frowned on it. But to Luther music was a divinely inspired weapon against the devil. He wanted believers to sing together—in German, in church and at home, and with instruments accompanying them. Today Germany has 130 publicly financed orchestras, more than any other country. And concerts are still attended like sermons, sombrely and seriously.

Germany, the world’s 17th-most populous country, has the second-largest book market after America’s. After he translated the Bible into German, Luther wanted everyone, male or female, rich or poor, to read it. At first Protestants became more literate than Catholics; ultimately all Germans became bookish.

To Luther, Christians were already saved, so wealth was suspect. Instead of amassing it, Christians should work for their community, not themselves. Work (Beruf) thus became a calling (Berufung). Not profit but redistribution was the goal. According to Gerhard Wegner, a professor of theology, this “Lutheran socialism” finds secular expression in the welfare states of Scandinavia and Germany.
deutschland  deutsch  leader  religion  reform  anniversary  protestant  comparison  music  legacy  culture  society  mentality 
november 2017 by aries1988
Cyberpunk Cities Fetishize Asian Culture But Have No Asians - Motherboard
The neon kanji billboards. Neander Wallace's yukata, and Joi's cheongsam. The busy Chinatown. The interactive wall of anime apps. K's rice-filled bento box. The dual Japanese-English text on everything. All signs that point to a vibrant, multicultural city, but somehow devoid of non-white characters.

"Since the late 1970s, a key idea in Western science fiction has been that Japan represents the future. Japan's 'weird' culture is a figure for an incomprehensible tomorrow," wrote Annalee Newitz about our fetishization of Japan's idiosyncrasies.
scifi  asia  ethnic  american  culture  movie  opinion 
october 2017 by aries1988
Letter of Recommendation Dunking

Those first few dips completely changed the way I eat at family meals. Part of what won me over was the pleasure of the thing itself: Wine-soaked bread is sharp, puckery and delicious, a double hit of fermented tang.

Rather than yielding to temptation for a second helping of anything, it’s far wiser to melt a bite of Chianti on your tongue instead.

the first time I watched my teacher at weekend Spanish school do the same with pieces of cheese and hot chocolate — a popular Colombian treat — on a recess break, I nearly gagged.
food  experience  experiment  culture  fun  family  gaijin  drinking  idea  discovery 
october 2017 by aries1988
There is no such thing as western civilisation | Kwame Anthony Appiah | World news | The Guardian
culture was the “pursuit of our total perfection by means of getting to know, on all the matters which most concern us, the best which has been thought and said in the world”.

Often, in recent years, “the west” means the north Atlantic: Europe and her former colonies in North America.

here’s the important point: it would not have occurred to Herodotus to think that these three names corresponded to three kinds of people: Europeans, Asians, and Africans. He was born at Halicarnasus – Bodrum in modern Turkey. Yet being born in Asia Minor didn’t make him an Asian; it left him a Greek. And the Celts, in the far west of Europe, were much stranger to him than the Persians or the Egyptians, about whom he knew rather a lot. Herodotus only uses the word “European” as an adjective, never as a noun. For a millennium after his day, no one else spoke of Europeans as a people, either.

The natural contrast was not between Islam and the west, but between Christendom and Dar al‑Islam, each of which regarded the other as infidels, defined by their unbelief.

Only in 1529, with the defeat of Suleiman the Magnificent’s army at Vienna, did the reconquest of eastern Europe begin. It was a slow process. It wasn’t until 1699 that the Ottomans finally lost their Hungarian possessions; Greece became independent only in the early 19th century, Bulgaria even later.

modern concept of western culture largely took its present shape during the cold war. In the chill of battle, we forged a grand narrative about Athenian democracy, the Magna Carta, Copernican revolution, and so on. Plato to Nato. Western culture was, at its core, individualistic and democratic and liberty-minded and tolerant and progressive and rational and scientific.

So how have we bridged the chasm here? How have we managed to tell ourselves that we are rightful inheritors of Plato, Aquinas, and Kant, when the stuff of our existence is more Beyoncé and Burger King?

No Muslim essence stops the inhabitants of Dar al-Islam from taking up anything from western civilisation, including Christianity or democracy. No western essence is there to stop a New Yorker of any ancestry taking up Islam.
culture  history  thinking  west  concept  islam 
september 2017 by aries1988
The Anglo-Saxon is not American or British but a French alter-ego – Emile Chabal | Aeon Essays

when the French refer to ‘the Anglo-Saxon’ or use the term as an adjective, they are usually talking about themselves. The Anglo-Saxon is a mirror on Frenchness; it is France’s alter-ego and often its most feared enemy.

It was only in the 1860s that a new meaning began to appear in the wake of Napoleon III’s abortive attempts to extend the French empire into Latin America. In learned publications such as the Revue des races latines, founded in 1857, ‘Anglo-Saxonism’ was juxtaposed with ‘Latinity’ in an attempt to place France at the heart of a global Latin world that stretched from South America and the Caribbean to Madrid and Paris.

As has been the case ever since, the French both feared and admired the Anglo-Saxon at the turn of the 19th-century – and they used it as a vehicle for discussing their own national anxieties.

At times, English speakers can even fall into the same trap as their French counterparts when they lazily describe an idea or a way of thinking as ‘Anglo-American’ or ‘Atlantic’.
français  concept  uk  american  english  culture  identity  history  origin  instapaper_favs 
september 2017 by aries1988
Unspunnen: the festival of Swissness held every 12 years

In the US, I can’t even go for a swim or to the gym without signing my life away. But in Switzerland, I can pick up a boulder — up to 83kg — and hurl it (barefoot, if desired) while a large audience sits several feet away. More than teaching me about proper Swiss stone-throwing form, it teaches me about the Swiss culture of trust and personal responsibility.

Its aim was to heal growing political tension between the city dwellers of Bern and the farmers of the highlands to the south — areas recently amalgamated into one canton. The organisers, four influential citizens of Bern including the mayor and chief magistrate, hoped to emphasise shared heritage over power struggles and to cultivate the “mutual goodwill and gracious unity to which for centuries our fatherland has owed its strength, its glory and its good fortune”.

On my way to peruse the food tents, I hear what sounds like a very depressed cow — a tourist close by trying to blow an alpenhorn.

I opt for rösti, made with day-old cooked potatoes, butter, salt and milk, and considered by many Swiss German speakers to be the national dish. The country’s French speakers would argue for fondue but, in the true festival spirit of unity, both are available here.

The men wear black pants, black hats adorned with flowers and black velvet vests embroidered with edelweiss. The women are in various colourful dirndls, billowy white shirts, white tights and black shoes. The costumes differ slightly according to the wearers’ home region, and there are over 400 variations.

every 12 years, that stories of unadulterated Swiss culture embark on another world tour via Interlaken’s most famous export — the tourist.
swiss  tourist  festival  tradition  history  identity  culture  travel  idea 
september 2017 by aries1988
Monocle's View From Nowhere
The content has a new seriousness, though it remains ever-optimistic. In an interview for the March issue, the CEO of Lufthansa says he is confident that globalization “cannot be stopped or slowed down, even though some people are trying hard.” The president of Portugal, adopting the vocabulary of a start-up founder, pitches his country as “a platform between cultures, civilizations, and seas.” (“We were an empire,” he reassures readers, “but not imperialistic.”)
culture  magazine  media  story  globalization  youth  world 
july 2017 by aries1988
Rock et Satori: les chemins de traverses de Zéno Bianu
Au moment de larguer les amarres pour traverser l'été, quels livres essentiels emporter ? Peut-être ceux que propose Zéno Bianu... poète, essayiste, traducteur...
chinese  tang  français  moi  culture  poetry 
july 2017 by aries1988
That’s the Way it Crumbles by Matthew Engel — the conquest of English
Words not indigenous to these shores subsequently flooded in, “like the beetle that killed Britain’s elm trees”. Now American words “are in danger of taking over” — and Engel’s comprehensive list includes cans (tins), goose bumps (goose pimples), autopsy (post-mortem), cars (railway carriages), fries (chips), cookies (biscuits), short pants (short trousers) and baggage (luggage).

We “testify” in court, where it used to be called “giving evidence”. People who should know better want employees who “think outside the box” and “push the envelope”. They talk about being mad when they mean angry, or of fighting when they mean having a verbal argument.
english  book  american  uk  culture  vocabulary  comparison  british 
june 2017 by aries1988
India: our hates and loves
So here — in my last column in this slot before the end of a south Asia posting — are four loves and four hates for the four years we have enjoyed and endured life in Delhi.

Love: Free speech. In some ways, India is the easiest country in the world to work as a journalist. An Indian — whether soldier, politician or farm labourer — is rarely lost for words or reluctant to speak to the press. Most Indian business leaders eschew the spin-doctors and corporate gobbledegook that make talking to US chief executives so painful. Indians just discuss what is going on. Long may it last.
india  story  journalist  culture 
may 2017 by aries1988
Stuck on one idea of truth or beauty? Rhizomes can help | Aeon Ideas
Why did they invent such strange philosophical concepts as rhizomes? One reason is to help us appreciate the singularity of each thing as well as each thing’s myriad connections to other things. This vision of an interconnected world of singularities, in turn, can change how we act in the world.

According to Nietzsche, the task of modern philosophy is to overturn Platonism, to stop looking for eternal blueprints of how things should be, and instead value this world of difference and becoming. Taking up this assignment, Deleuze and Guattari propose that we think in terms of ‘rhizomes’. A rhizome is a plant such as a potato, couch grass or bamboo. Rhizomes do not have seeds or trunks; rather, they shoot out stems and reproduce when a part breaks off and grows again, each one slightly different from its predecessor. A Thousand Plateaus helps us see the distinctiveness and connectivity of multiple things that compose reality. ‘A rhizome,’ they wrote, ‘ceaselessly establishes connections between semiotic chains, organisations of power, and circumstances relative to the arts, sciences, and social struggles.’ The concept of the rhizome helps us to view our lives as assemblages of words, institutions, songs, medicines, social movements, and countless other things that are related but also distinct.
concept  politics  culture  identity  academia  language  people 
may 2017 by aries1988
Learning Arabic from Egypt’s Revolution

In Dardasha, icons of little bombs with burning fuses had been printed next to the kind of phrase that, even during a revolution, qualified as explosive: Your son is really smart, Madame Fathiya. Fortunately, this compliment-bomb was promptly disarmed: This is what God has willed, Madame Fathiya, your son is really smart.

Grammar functions as a kind of spice, similar to the way that Sichuanese cuisine uses strong flavors to create satisfying meals that actually contain little meat.

Western academics call it modern standard Arabic, although the language retains strong links to the time of Muhammed. Back then, Arabic lacked a strong written literary tradition, and, in the eyes of believers, the Prophet’s illiteracy is evidence of the divine nature of the Quran. Even a skeptic like Rifaat told us that the Quran is so beautiful that it could only have come from God.

In China, the Han dynasty, which was founded in 206 B.C.E., codified and standardized the Confucian, or Ruist, classics, a process that helped set the terms for the writing system. By taking these centuries-old texts as their model of proper Chinese writing, the Han prescribed an idealized language—classical Chinese—that was probably never spoken in day-to-day life.

traditionalists feared further cultural damage. It will not be long before our ancestral language loses its form, God forbid, an editor at the newspaper Al-Ahram wrote, in 1882. How can we support a weak spoken language which will eliminate the sacred original language?

Most important, classical Chinese wasn’t tied to a religion or a divine text.

while places like German Switzerland also practice diglossia, the use of two languages, the difference is that both Swiss German and High German are living, spoken languages. The majority of Arab children are put in a position that I cannot think of an equivalent for any other group of children in the world, she said.
language  speaking  culture  arab  egypt  today  politics  news  journalism  story  learn  american  history  explained 
april 2017 by aries1988
china  travel  photo  resource  culture  buddhism 
march 2017 by aries1988
德川日本的中国想象 - 图书
德川日本的中国想象豆瓣评分:0.0 简介:《德川日本的中国想象:传说、儒典及词汇的在地化诠释》从历史人物、儒学经典及历史词汇为切入点,探讨日本如何将中国文化据为己用。德川日本的文化在形成的过程中不断与中国互动。中国对德川日本的作用从来不是单...
book  japan  china  culture 
march 2017 by aries1988
Are Liberals on the Wrong Side of History?

for many pundits, too, now is the only time worth knowing, for now is when the baby is crying and now is when they’re selling your books.

one wonders whether what Mishra traces through time might really be not a directional arrow but more like a surfboard, rising and falling on the quick-change waves of history.

Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s romantic reaction to Voltaire’s Enlightenment—with the Enlightenment itself entirely to blame in letting high-minded disdain for actual human experience leave it open to a romantic reaction.

father of the Romantic movement, of both the intimate nature-loving side and the more sinister political side, with its mystification of a general will that dictators could vibrate to, independent of mere elections

cold Utopianism and hot Volk-worship

the idea of Rousseau, the Genevan autodidact, as the key figure in the romantic political reaction against modernity, even as the godfather of Nazism, was present in Bertrand Russell’s A History of Western Philosophy, back in the nineteen-forties

in China the minds evolved but not the makers. The Chinese enlightenment happened, but it was strictly a thinker’s enlightenment, where Mandarins never talked much to the manufacturers.

Sapiens, a bracingly unsentimental history of humankind

By humanism Harari means, instead, the doctrine that only our feelings can tell us what to do—that we ought to give as much freedom as possible to every individual to experience the world, follow his or her inner voice and express his or her inner truth.

we have merely a self-deluding, narrating self, one that recites obviously tendentious stories, shaped by our evolutionary history to help us cope with life.

The argument of Candide is neither that the world gets better nor that it’s all for naught; it’s that happiness is where you find it, and you find it first by making it yourself.
liberal  book  thinking  debate  today  history  culture  crisis  opinion 
march 2017 by aries1988
BBC Radio 4 - A History of the World in 100 Objects, Inside The Palace: Secrets At Court (700 - 950 AD), Chinese Tang tomb figures - Episode Transcript – Episode 55 - Chinese Tang tomb figures
"I used, oddly enough, to get lots of letters - in the almost decade I ran The Times obituaries - saying, 'Oh, I do not seem to be getting any younger, and I thought it might be helpful to let you have a few notes on my life'. And they were unbelievable. People's self conceit - saying things like, 'Though a man of unusual charm', and this kind of thing. I mean, I couldn't believe that people would write this about themselves. So of course no-one nowadays self-commissions their own obituary, and those that were sent in always ended up straight in the waste-paper basket.

"I think that probably they are designed as part of the history of our time. I mean one of the rows I used to have was whether you could put criminals into the obituaries page. Some people regard being on the obituaries page as the equivalent of being awarded the OBE, or the CBE even, and think it was quite wrong that you should put in, say, the Kray brothers. But I said, 'No, I'm sorry, that is they are part of the climate that's created the age in which we live, and therefore you can't have a moral test as to whether you get an obituary or not'. And I think that's right.

"I used to rather boast, and say that on the obits page of 'The Times', 'We are writing the first version of history of our generation'. And that is what I think it ought to be. It certainly isn't for the relatives, or the family, or even the friends."
chinese  comparison  death  culture 
march 2017 by aries1988

china  culture  world  restaurant  etiquette  comparison  cliche 
march 2017 by aries1988
The People Who Pass

Outside the Gare du Nord, there are people streaming from the Eurostar, tourists looking for a week’s pleasure, mingled with travellers recently arrived from Bulgaria and Romania, looking for a job or a new life. The kinds cross, with the French, permanently frowning and suspicious, among them, and the tension rises.

the usual conviction of the French police that the human comedy as it unfolds is so absorbing that to intervene and impose artificial order upon it would be inartistic.

The thieves, and their invisible directors, are perceived by the French public as exclusively Roma—what English speakers often call Gypsies, the nomadic people long idealized as romantic and, for just as long, pursued as petty criminals.

We are manifold and must be respected as individuals—and we are completely different from the rest of you, with our own culture and history, giving us a collective identity that allows us to belong to the larger world of nations, just as you do. It’s our being completely different from the rest of you that makes us like the rest of you.

If Hamidovic was the face of the predatory Roma, Leonarda was the face of their persecution.

The majority should return to their countries. . . . Our role is not to welcome all the world’s misery.

Valls’s words—widely taken both as a testament of no-nonsense enforcement and as a bid for eventual power as Prime Minister or even President

an exasperated account of how the old Republican idea of French identity, open to all through education but still very specific in its style (high-minded) and values (meritocratic to the max), has been demoralized by a slack and hasty pluralism.

They insist, with Finkielkraut, that this angelism is part of a larger, enforced cult of the Other, a compulsory act of celebrating difference that is undermining the French state, so that the defenders of little Leonarda insist on embracing the Other, even as the Other picks their pockets.

In a matter of years, representations of the tsiganes have shifted away from musical talents, bohème, and free spirit to a portrayal of Roma otherness. It is our decision to see kinds that makes us sort kinds.

My daughter, when she was ten, said to her friend, ‘I’d like to eat your belly!’ I was called into the school—the principal was shocked! Perhaps my daughter needed to see a psychiatrist.

On one subject, Carmona is categorical. France is the worst place for Roma to be born. It suffers from centuries of ‘Enlightenment,’ the many centuries that created this Jacobin so-called ‘universalist’ frame without any regard to subjugated knowledge or subjugated peoples. In France, ethnic minorities are not even recognized—there’s a process of negation of identity that leads to the absurd category of ‘gens du voyage.’

If an unashamed, de-complexed agenda of national order and national security is not made plausible, the argument goes, the middle classes will continue their flight to the far right.

Le Pen can be declawed, he thinks, only if mainstream politicians can learn to speak truths that seem obvious to the stressed middle class.

The big problem in France is one of authority. Where is the authority in France? There is no authority in France now. François Hollande is no authority. In the family, where is the authority? In school, where is the authority? The ‘regal’ state of France has become nonexistent.

This is the problem of integration. What you can say twenty years ago, you can’t say it now. It is this question of bien-pensants, of angelism, and the right wing and the left wing are together responsible.

Mobility, rootlessness, nomadism—these are the facts of the new Europe. We must read Victor Hugo. The happy face of nomadism is all the French gone to London to be bankers. The wretched face is the poor Roma in their camps. And, great surprise, the miserables of our time turn out to be poor immigrants in the cold who behave like poor immigrants in the cold. Behind it, beneath it, is the new fear of having no floor beneath one’s feet. Ordinary French people feel that a real fall is possible.
paris  france  immigrant  society  politics  debate  europe  history  identity  immigration  crime  culture  book  intelligentsia  rom 
february 2017 by aries1988
Joseph Henrich on cultural evolution, WEIRD societies, and life among two strange tribes

To anthropologist Joseph Henrich, intelligence is overrated. Social learning, and its ability to influence biological evolution over time, is what really sets our species apart.

If we look at the earliest human societies, the first time you see monumental architecture, it’s always religious. It’s always a temple or a tomb. This seems to help consolidate power and expand this fear of reliable social interactions.

If we look at the smallest-scale human societies, hunter-gatherers, they still rely on all kinds of social norms and beliefs to cooperate even when they’re cooperating in relatively small bands.

We learn about ourselves by seeing ourselves projected in other peoples and other cultures and other societies.

HENRICH: In my latest project I’m really looking at the kind of spread of the Western church into Europe and how it transformed the social structure in ways that I think led to individualism, it led to a different kind of cultural psychology that would eventually pave the way for secular institutions and economic growth. The church is the first mover in that account.
thinking  culture  evolution  human 
january 2017 by aries1988
Killing Animals at the Zoo

The modern defense of zoos tends to refer to four achievements: education, conservation, scientific research, and the societal benefit of getting people out of the house. Much of this is often packed into a single claim, which may be true even if it is unsupported by good evidence: zoos are said to cause people to value wild animals more than they otherwise would, thereby improving the survival prospects of threatened species.

His manner, like that of Richard Dawkins, combines reserve and certainty in a way that can suggest adolescence: sometimes, when countering one of his critics, he reddens slightly, and half smiles.

An animal can be a city’s shared pet, or it can be a quasi-agricultural team member whose work is to be seen and to breed and, perhaps, to die young. The Copenhagen Zoo, more than most others, aims to include virtually every animal in the second category, and to avoid what Holst likes to call the Disneyfication of nature.

the Copenhagen Zoo adheres to a practice known as breed and cull. The case for this policy, which is followed by many other zoos in Europe, if with less gusto, is this: because contraception carries medical risks, and because animals can become infertile if they don’t breed, and because zoos must deprive animals of many natural behaviors, it’s important to allow them to mate and raise infants. Why take that away? Holst asked me.

The global giraffe population has declined by nearly forty per cent in the past thirty years

a strand of Danish animal exceptionalism. Danes aren’t unusually careless about animal welfare, but there’s a tradition of pragmatism—or, a critic could say, an insular and self-congratulatory moral laxity—about animal death.

a school of Danish thought, in the early twentieth century, that stressed a greater openness around sex and death and gross bodily functions. He noted that Denmark was the first country in the world to legalize pornography, in the late sixties.

I mean, when you’re dead you’re dead, Holst said to me at one point. And animals don’t have any expectations of what happens after death, or that they could have had a longer life.
zoo  children  education  debate  ethic  culture  dane  denmark  animal  life  instapaper_favs 
january 2017 by aries1988
A Culture of Growth by Joel Mokyr — why did the Industrial Revolution happen?

A Culture of Growth, by the equally distinguished historian Joel Mokyr, also sees economic growth as the result of ideas rather than material conditions or political and economic institutions.

Mokyr’s new book seeks to identify the conditions that turned the inventions of the late 18th and early 19th centuries into sustained, modern economic growth. There had been earlier significant waves of invention in China and the Islamic world, for example, but none snowballed into a world-changing industrial revolution. Mokyr argues that in western Europe at the time of the Enlightenment, a set of conditions happened to coincide to create a Republic of Letters, a ferment of public debate and innovation we might now label as open science. Knowledge, from deep scientific insight to more practical technological know-how and tinkering, became a common resource. Leading scientists and thinkers corresponded with counterparts around the continent, and were helped by the political fragmentation of Europe, which led to rulers competing to attract the most prominent intellectual stars to their own territories.
book  history  development  opinion  knowledge  culture  modernity  human 
december 2016 by aries1988
How domestication changes species, including the human | Aeon Essays

The overall picture is that domestication was a gradual affair, full of pitfalls and false starts. It took thousands of years of tinkering before agriculture as we know it came into being, and for much of that time, the border between wild and tame remained fluid. At the outset, this probably didn’t matter much. Early sea-faring pioneers who travelled from the Middle East to Cyprus brought wheat, barley and pigs, according to archaeological investigations of village sites dating back 10,000 years. But they also took with them species that weren’t domesticated, such as fallow deer and foxes. They didn’t distinguish between wild and tame. Instead of transporting just a few valuable species, they took with them a whole ecological niche. As Zeder writes: ‘They simply took with them the world that they knew.’

Brains of domestic pigs are 35 per cent smaller than those of boars, for example, while dogs’ brains are around 30 per cent smaller than those of wolves.

it was probably advantageous for domestic animals to have reduced sensory acuity. In the wild it paid to be skittish, while under human management, those individuals who could handle stress with equanimity did best.

Known as ‘lactase persistence’, a term that refers to the enzyme that breaks down lactose in milk, it’s one of the greatest evolutionary adaptations in any species of the past few thousand years. Tolerance developed in humans at least five times, once in Europe and four times in areas of sub-Saharan Africa.
human  biology  evolution  animal  culture  instapaper_favs 
december 2016 by aries1988
FT correspondent James Crabtree on bringing up a baby in Mumbai

For the next two years I wrote happily about Indian business for the FT while we travelled avidly at weekends, from skiing in the Himalayas to tiger safaris in Madhya Pradesh.

Walking through an Indian airport with my son is perhaps the closest I will come to celebrity, as heads turned to watch the baby, and strangers approached, embarrassed and smiling, asking for selfies.

Back at home, we learnt the benefits of being parents in India, not least the plentiful childcare. There was even the unheard of option of night nurses, women who stay through the night to help look after the baby, allowing parents to rest. We turned that down, thinking we should learn the hard way, perplexing Indian friends. Others seemed confused that we put Alexander to bed at the primly European hour of 7pm, while many Indian babies head off to sleep rather closer to midnight.

It is often said that India is a land of contrasts, but few are more jarring than that between the grim conditions in which many children live and the profoundly child-loving culture in the country as a whole.

I hope Alexander comes to enjoy his secret Indian middle name. And even if he does not, I will remember fondly how he came to have it, and even more so the country that welcomed him into the world.

Charming colonial architecture
story  children  parenting  india  expat  uk  travel  name  tradition  culture 
november 2016 by aries1988
Fuchsia Dunlop on Chinese Food, Culture, and Travel
In peasant farming societies, you have the nose-to-tail eating. You kill the pig and you eat every part of it, for economic reasons as much as anything. Also, in China, the thing that really sets it apart is this preoccupation with the delights of gastronomy and the pursuit of the exotic.

In particular, the appreciation of texture. A lot of offal foods have very interesting textures. Like these fire-exploded kidney flowers. They have that kind of slightly brisk crispness with the tenderness of a kidney that has been cut in this beautiful, ornate, crisscross pattern and then stir-fried very fast. It’s a textural pleasure.

Try to feel it. Try to feel that slightly slithery, gelatinous quality, that little crispness in the bite. It’s like what I like to think of is edible oxymoron, this softness and crispness. Chinese love these sensory contradictions.

Sichuanese food, beyond the spicy stereotype, is about the artful mixing of flavors. It’s about fu he wei — complex, layered flavors.

n Sichuan, Sichuanese people would sum up the cuisine as saying yi cai yi ge, bai cai bai wei,

You’d have a dish with everything cut fine and you didn’t know what it was. Maybe it was something really outlandish. The art of cutting and the cutting of food into small pieces, the eating of shared dishes with a staple grain — rice in the south, wheat in the north — that’s the structure of a meal.

the olives tasted like Chinese medicine.

one of the principles of the cooking of the Jiangnan region, xian xian he yi, unity of fresh and salted. The use of small amounts of cured pork and intensely flavored ingredients to bring life to vegetables and more gently flavored ingredients.

Chinese food, it’s about the whole experience. That’s why you have a whole variety of flavors even in a relatively simple meal. It stimulates the palate. It also leaves you feeling very shufu.

There is a problem, this disjunct between people who are obsessed with eating, but not yet the idea that a young person might want to take over an artisanal soy sauce factory.

Trying to give people an honest living for producing what urbanites now consider to be premium, what we’d think of as organic, products. What I fervently hope is that more Chinese people will see what he’s doing is truly inspirational. As a wonderful example of how to nourish Chinese traditional culture. Make it economically viable and make it contemporarily relevant, too.

I think that’s because of the use of dairy products. You get the wonderful, umami richness of butter, the textures of cream. Chocolate, of course, is not used traditionally in China. Those things, if you take them out of Western desserts, you’re not left with very much in a way.

China has a very dynamic, open food culture and people are always into the next best thing.

They say yao shi tong yuan, the food and medicine come from the same source. Every food has its tonic properties. If you’re unwell, the first thing you do is address your diet. Food is very important in that way.
chinese  cuisine  gastronomy  region  culture  story  comparison  food  sichuan 
november 2016 by aries1988
Andrew Sullivan: My Distraction Sickness — and Yours

At your desk at work, or at home on your laptop, you disappeared down a rabbit hole of links and resurfaced minutes (or hours) later to reencounter the world. But the smartphone then went and made the rabbit hole portable, inviting us to get lost in it anywhere, at any time, whatever else we might be doing. Information soon penetrated every waking moment of our lives.

My breathing slowed. My brain settled. My body became much more available to me. I could feel it digesting and sniffing, itching and pulsating. It was if my brain were moving away from the abstract and the distant toward the tangible and the near.

Remember, my friend Sam Harris, an atheist meditator, had told me before I left, if you’re suffering, you’re thinking.

If you’re watching a football game with your son while also texting a friend, you’re not fully with your child — and he knows it. Truly being with another person means being experientially with them, picking up countless tiny signals from the eyes and voice and body language and context, and reacting, often unconsciously, to every nuance. These are our deepest social skills, which have been honed through the aeons. They are what make us distinctively human.

in a controlled and sequestered world that exists largely free of the sudden eruptions or encumbrances of actual human interaction.

The reason we live in a culture increasingly without faith is not because science has somehow disproved the unprovable, but because the white noise of secularism has removed the very stillness in which it might endure or be reborn.

From the moment I entered a church in my childhood, I understood that this place was different because it was so quiet.

this silence demarcated what we once understood as the sacred, marking a space beyond the secular world of noise and business and shopping.

The only place like it was the library, and the silence there also pointed to something beyond it — to the learning that required time and patience, to the pursuit of truth that left practical life behind.

Has our enslavement to dopamine — to the instant hits of validation that come with a well-crafted tweet or Snapchat streak — made us happier?

just as modern street lighting has slowly blotted the stars from the visible skies, so too have cars and planes and factories and flickering digital screens combined to rob us of a silence that was previously regarded as integral to the health of the human imagination.
technology  culture  internet  meditation  distraction  essay  attention  habit  reading  information  brain  silence  thinking  family  today 
september 2016 by aries1988
Were the First Artists Mostly Women?

Snow's study began more than a decade ago when he came across the work of John Manning, a British biologist who had found that men and women differ in the relative lengths of their fingers: Women tend to have ring and index fingers of about the same length, whereas men's ring fingers tend to be longer than their index fingers.

Hand stencils and handprints have been found in caves in Argentina, Africa, Borneo, and Australia. But the most famous examples are from the 12,000- to 40,000-year-old cave paintings in southern France and northern Spain. (See "Pictures: Hand Stencils Through Time.")
archaeology  cave  prehistory  culture  female  discovery 
august 2016 by aries1988
Are We Really So Modern?

Modernity cannot be identified with any particular technological or social breakthrough. Rather, it is a subjective condition, a feeling or an intuition that we are in some profound sense different from the people who lived before us.

Modern life, which we tend to think of as an accelerating series of gains in knowledge, wealth, and power over nature, is predicated on a loss: the loss of contact with the past.

in treating the philosophy of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, it is conventional to cast it as a struggle between rationalists and empiricists. In this account, everyone from Descartes to Hume is engaged in one long battle over whether truth is to be found in here, through strictly logical reasoning on the model of mathematics, or out there, through observation of the world.

As Gottlieb points out, much of the Western philosophy that still matters to us is the product of just two such eras: Athens in the fifth and fourth centuries B.C. and Western Europe in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries A.D.

Not caring about things like being and meaning, however, is impossible, because they are the fundamental concepts that structure our very experience of the world. People who say they don’t care about metaphysics really mean that their received ideas on such matters are so fixed that they have disappeared from consciousness, in the same way that you don’t usually notice your heartbeat. Philosophers are people who, for some reason—Plato called it the sense of wonder—feel compelled to make the obvious strange.

Another way of putting this is that Descartes described reality in terms of qualities that can be measured mathematically.

He insisted on libertas philosophandi, freedom of thought, and, while he granted that the state had the power to establish the outward forms of religious worship, he adamantly opposed any coercion of conscience. Each person had the right to decide what God was and how best to serve him. Taken together, these beliefs give Spinoza a claim to be considered the first great philosopher of liberal democracy.

All our knowledge of the world depends on experience, which means that it is contingent, not absolute. We can, of course, trust that the sun will rise in the east tomorrow, just as it did yesterday and every day before that. But we can’t prove that it will rise in the same way we can prove that two plus two is four. ’Tis not, therefore, reason, which is the guide of life, but custom, Hume concluded.
modernity  book  culture  idea  history  philosophy 
august 2016 by aries1988
How Helicopter Parenting Can Cause Binge Drinking
We didn’t need much help from our parents to do those things. Which meant that at night, we were free. And we did many dangerous things. Mothers were not yet against drunk driving; cheerful ladies did not give you condoms at school. It wasn’t an arcadia, and many times things went terribly wrong. But most of us survived.

Today, of course, all of that is different: Professional-class parents and their children are tightly bound to each other in the relentless pursuit of admission to a fancy college. A kid on that track can’t really separate from her parents, as their close involvement in this shared goal is essential. Replicating the social class across a generation is a joint project.

A teenager growing up in one of the success factories—the exceptional public high school in the fancy zip code, the prestigious private school—will oftentimes be a person whose life is composed of extremes: extreme studying, extreme athletics, extreme extracurricular pursuits, and extreme drinking. Binge drinking slots in neatly with the other, more obviously enhancing endeavors.

A binge drinker emerges from college both elevated and coarsened: educated enough to compete in the market and sullied enough by the hard knocks of binge drinking that he won’t be too shocked by what he finds there.

make too much consciousness hard for anyone to take.
essay  drinking  university  usa  parents  parenting  choice  debate  opinion  history  culture  sports  society  college 
august 2016 by aries1988
Why is English so weirdly different from other languages? – John McWhorter | Aeon Essays

almost all European languages belong to one family – Indo-European – and of all of them, English is the only one that doesn’t assign genders that way.

There is no other language, for example, that is close enough to English that we can get about half of what people are saying without training and the rest with only modest effort.

Crucially, their languages were quite unlike English. For one thing, the verb came first (came first the verb). But also, they had an odd construction with the verb do: they used it to form a question, to make a sentence negative, and even just as a kind of seasoning before any verb. Do you walk? I do not walk. I do walk.

Old English had the crazy genders we would expect of a good European language – but the Scandies didn’t bother with those, and so now we have none. Chalk up one of English’s weirdnesses. What’s more, the Vikings mastered only that one shred of a once-lovely conjugation system: hence the lonely third‑person singular –s, hanging on like a dead bug on a windshield. Here and in other ways, they smoothed out the hard stuff.

English got hit by a firehose spray of words from yet more languages

One result was triplets allowing us to express ideas with varying degrees of formality. Help is English, aid is French, assist is Latin. Or, kingly is English, royal is French, regal is Latin – note how one imagines posture improving with each level: kingly sounds almost mocking, regal is straight-backed like a throne, royal is somewhere in the middle, a worthy but fallible monarch.

Clip on a suffix to the word wonder, and you get wonderful. But – clip on an ending to the word modern and the ending pulls the accent ahead with it: MO-dern, but mo-DERN-ity, not MO-dern-ity. That doesn’t happen with WON-der and WON-der-ful, or CHEER-y and CHEER-i-ly. But it does happen with PER-sonal, person-AL-ity.

What’s the difference? It’s that -ful and -ly are Germanic endings, while -ity came in with French. French and Latin endings pull the accent closer – TEM-pest, tem-PEST-uous – while Germanic ones leave the accent alone. One never notices such a thing, but it’s one way this ‘simple’ language is actually not so.

What English does have on other tongues is that it is deeply peculiar in the structural sense. And it became peculiar because of the slings and arrows – as well as caprices – of outrageous history.
comparison  language  english  history  linguist  culture  scandinavia  origin  vocabulary  instapaper_favs 
august 2016 by aries1988
food  chinese  culture 
july 2016 by aries1988
American Exceptionalism on Ice - The New Yorker
For the week of July 4th, we asked writers to describe a person, object, or experience that they think captures a distinctly American spirit. Ice did not strike…
usa  culture  food  ice 
july 2016 by aries1988
The American Promise in a Free Refill - The New Yorker

I returned to the booth with a fresh Fanta and delivered the news. It was the first time since arriving in Illinois that we smiled as a family. Refill was the first word my toddler son spoke in English, and when I heard him say it I felt some small new hope about our prospects in America.
gaijin  usa  culture  children  food  fun  instapaper_favs 
july 2016 by aries1988
Made in Japan
Comment la pensée conservatrice se traduit-elle dans l'éducation et l'enseignement ? Quelles batailles idéologiques se jouent dans la…
japan  français  education  podcast  culture  university 
june 2016 by aries1988
The Cultural Revolution: A People’s History 1962-1976 by Frank Dikötter – review
Mao Zedong’s Cultural Revolution also had a darker side. It was necessary to destroy the bourgeois past, and this involved the wholesale looting of shrines, the destruction of books and parchment, the smashing of ornaments and the pillaging of homes belonging to the wealthy.
mao  1960s  china  disaster  culture  book 
may 2016 by aries1988
The French Culture Wars Continue - The New Yorker
We are in a society that is so secularized that it no longer understands the reality of religiosity itself, Roy has said. It’s precisely there that we must make an effort, to normalize the Muslim reality as a religious reality and integrate it into the French cultural space.
debate  society  religion  muslim  islam  female  intelligentsia  culture  integration  conflict  instapaper_favs 
may 2016 by aries1988
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