by geezer in Paris
Mon Nov 27th, 2006 at 08:44:17 AM EST
A moving response from the diaries to this earlier post of mine. Jerome
Frederic Martel is missing the point.
I want to extend a comment made earlier- a comment on a post of Jerome's, quoting an interview with cultural attache' Frederic Martel. One might want to read Jerome's post first-"USA-A vibrant culture open to minorities, better funded than in France".
I came to Paris the first time for love- love of the culture.I came the last time to stay- for medical treatment, but still for the culture, -- not just the art, or the music or the cuisine- I came for the cultural depth.
In Jerome's post on culture and the following good discussion, somehow culture has not been defined, so here is my take.
Yes, art is a part of culture. And symphony orchestras and opera and art galleries and self-important Pompidou pomposity. But in the same sense that a house is made of bricks, but a brick is not a house, none of these things- or all of them together- are culture, but the vastly smaller part of culture.
Culture is a tradition that says it is a human right to have universal medical care that won't bankrupt a family if they are shat upon by fate, and people with this cultural value do whatever must be done to realize this right.
Culture is a tradition of "Waiting table" that says a good waiter is an admirable calling, not a bottom-line subsistence job.
Culture is talking to a driver stalled for an hour during a terrible traffic jam as a result of a strike, and hearing him say that, in spite of his total frustration, he supports the strike---"Because next time it might be me".
Culture is this:
After four years in public school, my nine year old son managed to go through five pairs of glasses, tore his pants a zillion times on the playground wrestling and pushing, --but never saw a child strike another child with a closed fist. When asked about this, the school directrice simply said, "Here, that is barbaric behavior". Case closed.(nine years ago- sadly, this is changing now.
Culture is this:
At the center in Valenton where I go for therapy (I am a double amputee), the director told me on the first day I was there that I might not walk usefully. He said, "Our job here is not necessarily to make you walk, Jim. Our job is to maximise your quality of life."
Culture is this:
People who do NOT help you with tasks that you might reasonably be able to do by yourself--until you ask, or until it is obvious that you are in trouble. Then they help, ---and smilingly disappear. Dear God, thank you.
On my old street, in the ninth, I used to walk out my door and turn left, to pass first a retirement facility for military officers who were wounded. Then the Italian deli, where I grazed for six years, and never made a real dent in the task of trying it all: then the odd, petite Japanese hotel, then the Four Season grocery, run by two North Africans, then the Internet cafe and tattoo parlor, then the corner, and across the road was the antique doll hospital and museum, next door to the fireworks store (yes, right in the middle of Paris!), then the hairdresser from the bronx, then the transvestite bar, the Presse, -------
Culture is a caleidoscope of elements, most of which develop over time. The USA is a cultural infant-- or perhaps an early adolescent, and has not had the time to build depth. This is not a criticism. It's just a fact. Our recent behavior might reasonably be described as adolescent mucle flexing from an adolescent giant who had played too many video games, too many Bruce Lee movies. Perhaps we will grow up.
The "culture" of consumption- "Stuff Addiction"- is so powerful- speaks so loudly- that it drowns out the voices of the heart, of the soul, and therefore the USA may not get the chance to build that depth. That same addiction is becoming pervasive in France today. I suspect that the elements of French culture that I value so much would not exist if the French culture had formed in an environment like McWorld.
A huge part of culture is independent of funding levels, or the method of disbursement, but hinges on the definition of what is "Valuable". If a riding mower trumps a cello or wealth means you get to be healthier, all the money in the world won't make culture.