Deeply Hidden Threads

One of these days, Kodra is going to tell me to shut the hell up about comparative media and culture. He’s probably not going to be wrong about it. Lately I’ve been fascinated at the kinds of things we don’t realize we’ve internalized. Sometimes we can see things, or the shape of them, but it takes a lot of effort and a lot of really focused thought on things that we take for granted.

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I’ve answered this question differently many, many times in the past, but right now I think that if I could have a superpower, it would be perfect fluency in every language. I’d love to delve into stories as told by other cultures, and see where they differ from what I’m used to. I’d love to see how the unceasing spread of globalization has caused some cultural concepts to bleed through to other places and which are the ‘core’ of a given society and resist that sort of change. I’d love to really understand what makes right and wrong in a culture entirely unlike mine.

I think it would probably make me insane. Trying to find space to process that many differing viewpoints on some very core philosophies would be next to impossible. We compartmentalize and create our own fences around whatever we consider our defining philosophies. I have a feeling this kind of behavior isn’t universally representative to the human condition, but I’m too close to the issue to be able to tell.

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For something a little less abstract, in a conversation recently Kodra pointed out to me that he’s never seen an anime wherein the characters interact with the legal system– you don’t see people going to court and there’s no interaction: people are sent to the system and (it is assumed) are handled appropriately. To me, it’s a stark contrast to the American view of things, where there’s an inherent distrust in the system and a need to see justice served, sometimes (often) bypassing the legal system entirely and creating justifications after the fact. That inherent distrust of the system runs really deep– I can’t think of very many people I know who look at the system and say “yeah, it works”, and the few people I know who do are often ridiculed for being overly naive. I can’t help but wonder what the feeling is like elsewhere– what cultures implicitly trust their systems and which don’t?

I used to guiltily feel like I didn’t care much about other cultures, because I never found myself interested in cultural festivals or shows or music. I’ve been finding that that’s not true, that I’m fascinated by other places and people, but that I want to know about the philosophy and how it influences day-to-day lives. I occasionally like to say that I’m interested in finding out about other cultures by seeing what they do for fun, because how people have fun is such a good window into how they view and interact with the world. It’s a big part of why I like games– as a cultural medium, they have so much to say and I really enjoy seeing the kinds of systems people create to interact with for fun.

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I’ve been making an effort lately to try to be more aware of the things that influence my opinions and reactions to things, and try to figure out both why I like the things I like and why I dislike the things I don’t like. There’s a whole subset of TV shows that I’m going to flippantly call “professionals being unprofessional” that rub me the wrong way– a lot of dramas and comedies revolving around a particular career tend to frustrate me because it bothers me to see the unprofessional, under-disciplined characters come out on top. It’s possible it’s gotten better, but a lot of early shows in that vein fit the bill of “brilliant X who knows better ignores the rules and turns out to have been right all along”. I have a hard time enjoying that sort of thing.

On the other hand, I recognize the need for conflict and difficulty in a professional drama– I’ve had Law and Order recommended to me a number of times as a seminal work that doesn’t portray trained professionals being unprofessional, and I suppose I’ll have to give it a go at some point.

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haruhi disapproves of my babbling.

My thought process right now is all over the place; I’m making connections and analyzing the kinds of things I like. I just caught myself thinking about why I like cooking shows that pit chefs against one another in a fair competition but deeply dislike the ones that add on uneven variables– I adore the original Iron Chef but don’t really like what I’ve seen of Chopped. I feel like there’s a thread there, some link between why I have those opinions about cooking shows and why “professionals being unprofessional” shows bother me, but right now it’s eluding me.



Source: Digital Initiative
Deeply Hidden Threads

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