The Canadian Imagination

What it means to be Canadian; examining and reworking Canada as a nation.

Sunday, June 27, 2004

The meeting of two cultures

Where two cultures, or nations, or individuals meet, the most common resolution by far is that of clearly demarcated power differential and domination of one by the other. War is the most extreme method by which dominance is asserted ... but there are other methods of expressing superiority and/or aggression and/or territoriality.

The victors engineer:
  • art, music, literature as societal reflection, examination, possibility
  • monumental architecture
  • information fixing (in the sense of nitrogen fixing): technologies (paper), and methods (writing), and distributive institutions (publishing)
  • textbooks
  • history
Oh, and of course they run the schools where those histories are to be taught, and thus define the 'ism which is to define the new measure of power. That is the single most important dominance of all.

Those who are under another's dominance, or who feel themselves under threat, write:
  • art, music, literature as societal reflection, examination, possibility
  • stories
  • agriculture
  • common architecture (the kind that seems to linger, and to spring up spontaneously in an area, first after any disaster)
(Interestingly, both victors and those under dominance or threat will compose art, music, literature as cultural affirmation and promotion: consider which types of cultures tend to create which types of art.)

And then there are those few, those extremely rare, who manage to redefine conflict such as neither to conquer nor to feel defeated. What do they grow?


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