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It’s not a small world after all - The Globe and Mail
PICO IYER
Contributed to The Globe and Mail
Published Saturday, Jun. 06, 2015

Yes, we may share the same cultural products. But go to a showing of Avatar in China, and tell me that it carries the same meaning for its audience as it would in Studio City. For the former, I’m sure, it’s as much about environmental destruction as to the latter it might be about a dazzling new technology. Watch the same movie in Baghdad and it becomes a parable about imperialism. Every country may draw from the same pop-cultural pool, but each translates it into its own context and language and tradition. We file into the same movie, but come out having seen a radically different film.

Again and again, in fact, what strikes me when I touch down in Jerusalem or Pyongyang is not how much it shares with Washington or London, but how much it doesn’t, in spite of common surfaces, (yes, nine months ago, I did see the two pizzerias and the 36-lane bowling-alley in North Korea’s capital). Which is why travel is more urgent than ever: Our screens vividly bring faraway places into our homes, projecting an image of closeness, but every encounter with the foreign in the flesh reminds us forcibly of how much lies far beyond our reckoning.
translations  contextual  national_identity  travel  interpretation  cultural_products 
june 2015 by jerryking
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