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What are we really up against in terms of tradition and "harmless appropriation"?

Queshire

Auror
I have the awkward stance of 100% agreeing with you here and seeing that these words as you've spoken them here are now seen as politically charged and it's disturbing to me that "pride for my country" can be taken as meaning I'm a fascist and displaying the could mean I'm a nationalist (nazi sympathizer or worse) and calling the nation's founders "great men" supports colonialism, the patriarchy, oppression and bigotry.

My mind has become soup in recent years because of the vocal minority in these matters. It's nutters, rediculous, and hard to process how we got to the point of racism (against whites) and sexism (against men and straight people) to fight against racism and sexism.

I'd like to ignore the lunacy of it all but I feel I do so at my own peril. Do you follow?

Hmmm... for advice let's see...

Ah! I got it. Why I agree with Pmmg here. Truth.

You can't control others. That's just a fact of life. So consider your own beliefs. What lies at their core? What seems so obviously, so self evidently true that the idea that anyone would question them is just mystifying?

For me an example of such is that, 'Effort should be Respected,' and that, 'Virtue Challenged is stronger than Virtue taken for Granted.' I like putting them in little snappy phrases because, well, writing.

When you can recognize such things about yourself then it doesn't matter what others say or do.
 

Mad Swede

Maester
Appropriation is a very awkward issue, and one question which arises in historical terms is when does something which originally came from another country or culture become something new which belongs to a different country or culture? To take an example which I've used here before, the Swedish dish kåldolmar. These are skinless sausages of minced meat (a mixture of pork and beef, usually mostly pork) wrapped in a cabbage leaf and served with potatoes (or bread) and a brown cream sauce. The dish is a modified version of a Turkic dish which came to Sweden in the early 1700s as a result of Charles XII campaigns in Eastern Europe. In the Turkic countries the dish is usually made with lamb or goat, rice and vegetables like yellow lentils, all wrapped in vine leaves and served with minted yoghurt. So are kåldolmar Swedish or Turkic? Arguably kåldolmar are Swedish, not least because the presence of pork in the dish means they couldn't be eaten in most Turkic nations. And if kåldolmar are Swedish, did they become Swedish as soon as someone minced a load of pork and served it wrapped in a cabbage leaf?

Dealing with historical issues can be very controversial. When do a group of people living in a country become colonisers? Is it when they sail off and conquer a new country (like the Vikings heading off to England) or is it when they spread out across the the country they live in and take control of larger parts of it (like the Swedes, Norwegians and Finns spreading northwards and taking control of Lapland)? How about the slave trade? Is it just the fault of those western nations whose merchants engaged in it, or do we also consider the actions of all those local rulers and merchants in Africa whose culture and control made the trade possible? What about the fact that most slaves were in fact sold to the area we now call the Middle East?

As authors I feel that we should not avoid controversial issues like this in our work. In some ways, writing fiction in a fantasy setting makes it easier to explore some of these issues because we can deal with them without making the real world parallels obvious. That said, I think we need to take care to ensure that any message we want to convey isn't too heavy handed. After all, most of our readers want to be entertained, not lectured to.
 

BearBear

Inkling
Nations produce individuals, who subsequently partake in the continuous creation process of the nation(s) they are a part of. In other words, what you feed into a nation’s consciousness is what you’ll eventually retract from it, because people are developmentally affected by the culture surrounding them. Seen in this light I think it is of great importance to acknowledge the reality of our traditions and challenge them if necessary. Furthermore, taking a moment to recognize real historical/social harm does not invalidate a tradition, but give it a new dimension.

As for national “guilt,” I support it as a concept. Me and my countrymen regret out conduct in Indonesia (among others), my southern neighbours in the Congo, my eastern neighbours in all of Europe. It is this shared national “guilt” that drives a nation to make amends. The deeper such “guilt” is ingrained, the further people will wish to distance themselves from it. Without the “guilt,” there is no change.

I’ve put “guilt” in quotation marks because I don’t agree with the notion that it is a guilt in the same manner as regular guilt. Unless one is remarkably thin-skinned, I don’t believe they move through their day ruing their ancestors’ conduct. That would be a rather silly notion. Instead, national “guilt” is a shared knowledge of what is wrong as represented in one’s history. The “guilt” serves as a low in the national narrative from which one is to distance themselves. It’s not a personal failing, nor does it need to be removed. If anything, having that nadir allows us to visualize what we must strive to avoid.

But would you take it to the point of 8-yr old children being told to apologize for colonialism, racism, sexism, genderism etc? I'll consider this a rhetorical question, I wouldn't presume you would by any strech based on what you said. I am concerned over the direction of this movement even if it's outliers and extreme minorities.
 

Ban

Troglodytic Trouvère
Article Team
But would you take it to the point of 8-yr old children being told to apologize for colonialism, racism, sexism, genderism etc? I'll consider this a rhetorical question, I wouldn't presume you would by any strech based on what you said. I am concerned over the direction of this movement even if it's outliers and extreme minorities.
I think the question is beside the point because no sane adult has any inclination to do such a thing. More so, a nation is collectively culpable for its actions, not individually. I support my country apologizing to other nations of the world, and vice versa, but never have I encountered an individual in real life (i.e outside of the confines of the internet) who holds random individuals responsible for historical actions. If such a situation were to happen, I wouldn't be offended, but instead wonder if the person in question needs immediate hospitalization. Blaming a child for colonialism is a sign of someone being in dire need of medical help.
 
No, but in most of Europe we do have a thanksgiving festival to mark the end of the harvest and here in the Nordic countries that's usually at Michaelmas.
We now call it harvest festival, which we used to call Michaelmas a long time ago, they still used this term during the Georgian era I think, but it was thanks to that cheeky monarch of ours Henry the VIII that it was no longer officially observed. These days mainly churches and schools get decorated with plaited wreaths of wheat and other autumnal harvest vegetables. I’ve never thought of it as a type of thanksgiving to be honest.
 
Offense? Not to me. I found it hilarious. It is the sort of statement that can be taken the wrong way by a lot of people.


This. Also, before we start in on the stereotype of the ultra religious 'MURICAN it's pretty well divorced from its initial religious elements in modern day. Not quite as far as Halloween, but it's certainly less religious than Christmas.
Personal meaning can be applied to any holiday, and I certainly have no problem with people practicing their religious rights. My view of thanksgiving as someone from an Anglo-American family is that it’s a mash-up of many things, but having that knowledge of its origins may also be beneficial.
 

BearBear

Inkling
I wouldn't be offended, but instead wonder if the person in question needs immediate hospitalization. Blaming a child for colonialism is a sign of someone being in dire need of medical help.

When I'm wrapped up in the interwebs my brain gets all gummed up with false realities and fake news.
 

pmmg

Vala
If I could wave a magic wand and fix the world, I think I would get rid of partisan news. Course news has always been partisan, but the low standards for truth have gotten very far out of whack. I am unaware of any that I would call trustworthy, and most are not even credible. And they do damage to us everyday. To each their own, but let them tell me lies on purpose? I'd rather see them all go under.

I've not watched or sought the news in many years, but you know, I still know what's going on, cause it just bleeds at you indirectly. So much of it is just lies and falsehoods from people who are in the business of knowing better, and worse have the trusted role of informing all of us. They have sold out to their teams, and it is shameful.

I'd rather be bored.
 

BearBear

Inkling
They have sold out to their teams, and it is shameful.

Before it was Trump bad Jan 6 mass shootings Elon bad Elon great ED Solar EV Alestra James Webb, It used to be murder porn life alert diabeetus adopt a dog Hubble remember? The more things change, the more they stay the same.

We need your simple sensibilities now more than ever Wilford. RIP.
 

skip.knox

toujours gai, archie
Moderator
>Just do your research and decide for yourself
This is exactly what history is not. History--all academic work--is doing your research and then having that vetting by peers in the field. One person's work is hardly more than opinion. Once one enters into the flow of scholarly dialog--which consists not merely of current practitioners but is always set in the context of work that has gone before--then one's research can become an actual contribution. And trust me, that is never a simple matter.

There's a conflation here, which is widespread and hardly unique to this thread, between history, the past, and tradition. To phrase it broadly, history is a discipline, with its methodologies and literature. The past is the raw material with which historians work. It's our data, in the same way the physical world is the raw material for scientists.

Tradition is a separate and powerful river, with a multitude of currents. Each of those is itself an amalgamation of opinions and beliefs in which there's a kind of quantum event (though not so sudden) in which that amalgamation becomes widespread and persistent -- a tradition. Traditions are in constant flux, though to any one generation they can appear venerable and even eternal.

In general, when people use history and the past interchangeably, there's no harm done. It's just language doing its thing. But when the talk turns to a discussion of history and historians, then confusing the terms can confuse the discussion itself.

Just as an example, this is why we ought not take Santayana too seriously here. In the first place, people do not forget the past. They are constantly reinterpreting and re-casting it, both personally and as a culture. Historians certainly don't forget the past, but no one listens to us. But ask any historian and they will readily admit that the past is never repeated. People see patterns, but humans do that. We even see patterns in the stars. We're obsessed by pattern because we hope to find meaning there. It's funny, we like to insist that every individual is unique, yet we also insist that history repeats itself (that is, that the past repeats itself--a plainly ludicrous notion). A world of unique individuals somehow manages to fail to be unique across time? Weird. Even weirder is the proposition that if we "remember the past" then we magically break the cycle. I suspect Santayana was merely trying for a bon mot rather than trying to make an argument.
 

Queshire

Auror
Sorry, didn't mean researching history directly but researching when you hear people talking about, and I quote; "efore it was Trump bad Jan 6 mass shootings Elon bad Elon great ED Solar EV Alestra James Webb, It used to be murder porn life alert diabeetus adopt a dog Hubble remember? The more things change, the more they stay the same." Learn why people are saying that stuff and don't just chalk it up to malicious politics.
 

pmmg

Vala
Just as an example, this is why we ought not take Santayana too seriously here. In the first place, people do not forget the past. They are constantly reinterpreting and re-casting it, both personally and as a culture. Historians certainly don't forget the past, but no one listens to us. But ask any historian and they will readily admit that the past is never repeated. People see patterns, but humans do that. We even see patterns in the stars. We're obsessed by pattern because we hope to find meaning there. It's funny, we like to insist that every individual is unique, yet we also insist that history repeats itself (that is, that the past repeats itself--a plainly ludicrous notion). A world of unique individuals somehow manages to fail to be unique across time? Weird. Even weirder is the proposition that if we "remember the past" then we magically break the cycle. I suspect Santayana was merely trying for a bon mot rather than trying to make an argument.

I was thinking of dissing the quote used, but decided against. It does come up a lot, but its one of those things that seems prescient but not always is.

Learn why people are saying that stuff and don't just chalk it up to malicious politics.

I'd add to that, and say 'learn why those who aren't saying it, are not saying that as well'. But, the burden is on us. And part of that burden is knowing when sources are untrustworthy, and uncredible. Most of our sources have already picked a side. They only have half-pinions.


Honestly, I find this thread hard to get a handle on.

Is the question asking 'What if I try to appropriate a tradition and make it something less harmful?' Cause I am not really sure, and the example do not clear it up.
 
but never have I encountered an individual in real life (i.e outside of the confines of the internet) who holds random individuals responsible for historical actions. If such a situation were to happen, I wouldn't be offended, but instead wonder if the person in question needs immediate hospitalization. Blaming a child for colonialism is a sign of someone being in dire need of medical help.
Actually, at the moment precisely this is happening. Aparently Barbados is considering suing Richard Drax for reparations because his family got wealthy shipping slaves to Barbados.

The same is happening in other places and on other levels as well. And it's a tough thing to decide on. A more recent example is art stolen in WW2. It's stolen from someone, and the descendants of those people want it back. However, in many cases the art has simply been sold and is now in different hands. At what point do you decide someone doesn't have a claim to something anymore? After all, sure the descendants have a right to get the stolen property of their (grand)parents back. On the other hand, if my grandfather bought something (in good faith) 40 years ago, and I've now inhereted it, where did I go wrong? And where do you draw the line?
 

BearBear

Inkling
Believe it or not, we have power in this. As writers we have a voice and an important obligation to set cultural norms. It's not much but imagine how your own morals have formed, remember those things that inspired you and in their number count those unforgettable moments on the screen, in books, in news, in every Ad, comic, rag and song.

None of those beautiful and moving works could have been made without us. We are the writers of history, we are the stuarts of tomorrow's culture. As we have seen, yellow journalists and fake news turned our world against eachother and writers like us can perpetuate, taking our share of the resulting profits, or forge a better world.

Write it and they will come.
 

Queshire

Auror
Actually, at the moment precisely this is happening. Aparently Barbados is considering suing Richard Drax for reparations because his family got wealthy shipping slaves to Barbados.

The same is happening in other places and on other levels as well. And it's a tough thing to decide on. A more recent example is art stolen in WW2. It's stolen from someone, and the descendants of those people want it back. However, in many cases the art has simply been sold and is now in different hands. At what point do you decide someone doesn't have a claim to something anymore? After all, sure the descendants have a right to get the stolen property of their (grand)parents back. On the other hand, if my grandfather bought something (in good faith) 40 years ago, and I've now inhereted it, where did I go wrong? And where do you draw the line?

I feel like deciding that sort of stuff is part of the reason courts exist?
 
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