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Thread: American Culture

  1. #141
    Protocol Droid Array Athenian200's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Haphazard View Post
    No no no, that's wrong.

    It's also integral to American culture that newcomers to the small community be welcomed instead of shunned as outsiders. You're able and allowed to be mobile, it's just that you get a different community when you go somewhere else.
    Oh.

    Well, then people must simply dislike me. I've always been ignored, or hit on by aggressive women and gays, rather than welcomed when I find myself in a new place (and I REALLY hope that's not the American idea of welcoming someone).

    Perhaps I'm just too self-centered, self-conscious, and focused to understand or connect to most of the people around me.

  2. #142
    Peace on Earth, dammit Array Thalassa's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Haphazard View Post
    Even if the 'small community' is gone doesn't mean the mindset is gone. The city I live in is still very 'small community' even if it is a big city. You've got your part of county and everybody knows what each side means about you and on and on. Seriously. It's not a big city, even, it's a collection of small communities, if you think about it that way.

    How many other cities are like this? I don't know, I guess I haven't analyzed them as much, but I can't think of mine as the only one like this.

    I guess in that way we're kind of backwards. It's local, unique events and festivals in each suburb being supported by huge conglomerations.

    I lived in Las Vegas and Los Angeles. I really don't see a definite sense of community in either of those places, unless one speaks of the Mexicans vs. the whites vs. the blacks, or the rich vs. the poor. That's not really the same thing as "small community." I know, because I'm fortunate enough to live in West Virginia where that old-fashioned spirit and kindness very much exists. Some say that The South, as much as it's ridiculed, is really the only place in the U.S. that stubbornly preserves a distinctive small-community based, regional flavor.

    It's ironic, though, that capitalism - which is preported to be oh so American - is actually what began to chip away at traditional American small communities. In the late 1800's the take-over of large steel, oil, and railroad companies drove people out of their regions, away from their families, into larger cities. Small farmers starved or went out of business. So how is it that these two supposedly "American" mindsets are completely at war with one another?
    "Sentiment without action is the ruin of the soul." - Edward Abbey

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  3. #143
    Don't Judge Me! Array Haphazard's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by marmalade.sunrise View Post
    I lived in Las Vegas and Los Angeles. I really don't see a definite sense of community in either of those places, unless one speaks of the Mexicans vs. the whites vs. the blacks, or the rich vs. the poor. That's not really the same thing as "small community." I know, because I'm fortunate enough to live in West Virginia where that old-fashioned spirit and kindness very much exists. Some say that The South, as much as it's ridiculed, is really the only place in the U.S. that stubbornly preserves a distinctive small-community based, regional flavor.

    It's ironic, though, that capitalism - which is preported to be oh so American - is actually what began to chip away at traditional American small communities. In the late 1800's the take-over of large steel, oil, and railroad companies drove people out of their regions, away from their families, into larger cities. Small farmers starved or went out of business. So how is it that these two supposedly "American" mindsets are completely at war with one another?
    I live in the southern Midwest, so in some ways it's the same.

    Capitalism versus small communities? I don't know about you, but here the big conglomerations sponsor the unique summertime suburban festivals. Perhaps it will come full circle.
    -Carefully taking sips from the Fire Hose of Knowledge

  4. #144
    Don't Judge Me! Array Haphazard's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Athenian200 View Post
    Oh.

    Well, then people must simply dislike me. I've always been ignored, or hit on by aggressive women and gays, rather than welcomed when I find myself in a new place (and I REALLY hope that's not the American idea of welcoming someone).

    Perhaps I'm just too self-centered, self-conscious, and focused to understand or connect to most of the people around me.
    Did you post this thread to try to find the culture of a supposed cultural wasteland or just to complain about your personal problems?
    -Carefully taking sips from the Fire Hose of Knowledge

  5. #145
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    Quote Originally Posted by Haphazard View Post
    Did you post this thread to try to find the culture of a supposed cultural wasteland or just to complain about your personal problems?
    The former. But I end up relating everything back to my personal problems eventually. I'm a bit of a whiner.

    Anyway, where were we? Small communities and large cities, right?

    I'm thinking that certain cities (particularly large cities) like Marmalade mentioned might have less of the small culture dynamic, while the others would have retained it. That would explain the differences in experience.

  6. #146
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    Quote Originally Posted by Haphazard View Post
    I live in the southern Midwest, so in some ways it's the same.

    Capitalism versus small communities? I don't know about you, but here the big conglomerations sponsor the unique summertime suburban festivals. Perhaps it will come full circle.
    Ah, yes, the Midwest.

    Yes, capitalsm vs. small communities. Wal-Mart drives small mom 'n pop stores out of business. Chain restaurants close down small, beloved local diners. This is still going on today. It's blatantly obvious if you study American history.

    Capitalism, per se, isn't the problem. True capitalism wouldn't give special treatment to large corporations and would therefore create more competition with thriving small businesses. Any history professor will tell you that. Reaganomics, and any manifestation thereof, is not real American capitalism as it was meant to be in the beginning. (This concept is also one of the few tenents of libertarianism that I solidly agree with, although I consider myself a liberal.)
    "Sentiment without action is the ruin of the soul." - Edward Abbey

    "In those days I, Daniel, was mourning three full weeks. I ate no pleasant food, no meat or wine came into my mouth, nor did I anoint myself at all, till three whole weeks were fulfilled." Daniel 10:2-3


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  7. #147
    Senior Member Array Happyman's Avatar
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    That's an amazingly interesting discussion you're having here!

    I really regret I haven't joined earlier (I thought it's a thread about today's mass American culture or something like that).

    There were too many great things said, for me to quote all of them. I like especially what presented Athenian and Haphazard .

    I'll try to briefly point out what I see as 'American culture' and what is American input into world's culture.

    So first of all I think you're selling yourselves a bit short. Because America had a pretty amazing influence on world's culture and lifestyle.

    1. Literature

    -> Walt Whitman - it was the first poet to write this way, he basically started a revolution and have launched poetry to a completely new sphere.
    -> Thoreau - he was a part of Romanticism movement, but he pushed it further into individualism and love of nature. Also combined his thoughts with politics (like Emerson), which launched a new wave of 'engaged' prose
    -> Mark Twain, Sherwood Anderson, William Faulkner, Ernest Hemingway, Thomas Pynchon - each of them was an innovator on a world's scale. There was a time when everybody was copying Hemingway.

    2. Music

    There's just too much to write. America was a pot (only one in the World) where the African culture blended with the European one. Result: Jazz, Blues and Rock'n'Roll. The whole today's popular music basically comes from US roots.

    3. Cinema

    I'd say the role of Germany and France is downplayed in general, but there's no doubt that popularizing Movies and making it the 'number one' entertainment is something America did.
    Hitchcock invented 1/2 of the camera techinques that are used in today's cinema. (one of the most amazing examples - the thing one camera surrounds characters the way it looks like the world is whirling around them)

    4. Lifestyle

    We all live in America today...
    It's Henry Ford that made world one big highway. It would never be a European invention - we have to old and to small cities for that. Automobile for everyone was invented for a country with vast spaces, with everything far apart.
    Supermarkets - again, totally American. We have thousands of little shops and everything within walking distance. You have to take a ride to go to shop ANYWAY, so it can as well be huge.

    We have it, because you had it first.

    OK, I'll resign from posting MORE things like that otherwise it would end up as a book.

    Now I want to add what is amazing for a European, when you look at America. And it is: POLITICS.
    I mean, the idea of local representation, the idea of people rallying together to create something (OK it happened in Greece, China and... Poland long time ago, but you took it to another level) is your invention. There's an amazing book called 'Democracy in America' by Alexis de Toqueville and nevermind that it was written in XIX century - it's still the best book to understand your society, I think. He has written:
    'Whenever there's something that need to be done for the good of society, a Frenchman will address his government, an Englishman will look for a rich noble to make it done, while an American will organise a group, a committee to take care of it.' It's amazing. You guys have THOUSANDS of committees, you believe it's up to you to make something happen! All this: 'Mothers against drunk drivers', 'Parents against pornography' - for a European it's just AMAZING. I think it's the biggest asset of American Culture, it provides an amazing social capital and also binds people (also immigrants) by constant group effort for the betterment of society. You cannot be 'alienated' and completely stick to your own culture if you're constantly pushed to act together.
    I'd also add the idea of '12 angry man' - taking part in the justice process.

    As one of you (Haphazard?) have mentioned: America is about l local community, the local organisation. I think it is the core, the heart of America.

    Amen!
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  8. #148
    Senior Member Array substitute's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Night View Post
    What the hell is "yoghurt"?
    yoghurt - Wiktionary

    Those who can read Arabic will see there how the older, British spelling convention for this word more accurately transcribes the original Arabic from which the word is derived

    Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying the things I picked up are facts or whatever, just what things look like from this side of the Atlantic, general impressions. I didn't volunteer the info, the OP asked for it.

    But that's another one - ignorance of non-US spelling conventions, or the fact that US English is an invention of Webster and a relative newcomer in the world of English... it's something that you hear Brits grumble and rant about sometimes, how an American has "corrected" his perfectly correct and valid British spelling in words such as colour, favour, realise, analyse, traveller and so on. Non-Americans are aware of US spellings whether they use them or not and don't "correct" them when they see Americans using them, but the same courtesy is seldom extended in the reverse, and this is held up as evidence of a general trend in American culture towards ignorance of, and looking down on, the outside world

    Don't shoot me for the news man. I'm not even British.
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  9. #149
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    Happyman...

    You know, that's something I never even thought to look for. I mean, of course. Jazz, rock & roll, that kind of thing. And I think several movies are made here. Hollywood is a big part of our culture, and the automobile (unfortunately for those of us who don't like to drive).

    American authors are good as well, especially Mark Twain (though substitute actually mentioned him first).

    Quote Originally Posted by substitute View Post
    yoghurt - Wiktionary

    Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying the things I picked up are facts or whatever, just what things look like from this side of the Atlantic, general impressions. I didn't volunteer the info, the OP asked for it.

    But that's another one - ignorance of non-US spelling conventions, or the fact that US English is an invention of Webster and a relative newcomer in the world of English... it's something that you hear Brits grumble and rant about sometimes, how an American has "corrected" his perfectly correct and valid British spelling in words such as colour, favour, realise, analyse, traveller and so on.

    Don't shoot me for the news man. I'm not even British.
    LOL. I knew what "yoghurt" was. I'm surprised he didn't know, I thought he had to be kidding. I mean, a one letter difference and it's yogurt. It even sounds the same.

    More differences, in case he doesn't know them:

    Color = Colour

    Theater = Theatre

    Also, British punctuation dictates placing the period that ends a sentence outside of the quotation marks unless it's a part of the quoted material, while American punctuation usually places them inside. So that's not a mistake, if you happen to see it and notice it.

    And, that's pretty much everything you need to know to read British writing.

  10. #150
    Peace on Earth, dammit Array Thalassa's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Happyman View Post
    That's an amazingly interesting discussion you're having here!

    I really regret I haven't joined earlier (I thought it's a thread about today's mass American culture or something like that).

    There were too many great things said, for me to quote all of them. I like especially what presented Athenian and Haphazard .

    I'll try to briefly point out what I see as 'American culture' and what is American input into world's culture.

    So first of all I think you're selling yourselves a bit short. Because America had a pretty amazing influence on world's culture and lifestyle.

    1. Literature

    -> Walt Whitman - it was the first poet to write this way, he basically started a revolution and have launched poetry to a completely new sphere.
    -> Thoreau - he was a part of Romanticism movement, but he pushed it further into individualism and love of nature. Also combined his thoughts with politics (like Emerson), which launched a new wave of 'engaged' prose
    -> Mark Twain, Sherwood Anderson, William Faulkner, Ernest Hemingway, Thomas Pynchon - each of them was an innovator on a world's scale. There was a time when everybody was copying Hemingway.

    2. Music

    There's just too much to write. America was a pot (only one in the World) where the African culture blended with the European one. Result: Jazz, Blues and Rock'n'Roll. The whole today's popular music basically comes from US roots.

    3. Cinema

    I'd say the role of Germany and France is downplayed in general, but there's no doubt that popularizing Movies and making it the 'number one' entertainment is something America did.
    Hitchcock invented 1/2 of the camera techinques that are used in today's cinema. (one of the most amazing examples - the thing one camera surrounds characters the way it looks like the world is whirling around them)

    4. Lifestyle

    We all live in America today...
    It's Henry Ford that made world one big highway. It would never be a European invention - we have to old and to small cities for that. Automobile for everyone was invented for a country with vast spaces, with everything far apart.
    Supermarkets - again, totally American. We have thousands of little shops and everything within walking distance. You have to take a ride to go to shop ANYWAY, so it can as well be huge.

    We have it, because you had it first.

    OK, I'll resign from posting MORE things like that otherwise it would end up as a book.

    Now I want to add what is amazing for a European, when you look at America. And it is: POLITICS.
    I mean, the idea of local representation, the idea of people rallying together to create something (OK it happened in Greece, China and... Poland long time ago, but you took it to another level) is your invention. There's an amazing book called 'Democracy in America' by Alexis de Toqueville and nevermind that it was written in XIX century - it's still the best book to understand your society, I think. He has written:
    'Whenever there's something that need to be done for the good of society, a Frenchman will address his government, an Englishman will look for a rich noble to make it done, while an American will organise a group, a committee to take care of it.' It's amazing. You guys have THOUSANDS of committees, you believe it's up to you to make something happen! All this: 'Mothers against drunk drivers', 'Parents against pornography' - for a European it's just AMAZING. I think it's the biggest asset of American Culture, it provides an amazing social capital and also binds people (also immigrants) by constant group effort for the betterment of society. You cannot be 'alienated' and completely stick to your own culture if you're constantly pushed to act together.
    I'd also add the idea of '12 angry man' - taking part in the justice process.

    As one of you (Haphazard?) have mentioned: America is about l local community, the local organisation. I think it is the core, the heart of America.

    Amen!

    I love that you mentioned so many things from in (or around) the 1920's like jazz, Ernest Hemingway, Ford, and early cinema. These are also things that I'm fascinated by in American history - and many others of course - including F. Scott Fitzgerald, the Alagonquin Round Table writers, etc. As I say, I find the Jazz Age utterly and pleasingly American.

    Your last paragraph also makes an excellent point that I hadn't really thought about deeply - all of our little grass roots campaign communities. That is awesome.

    It's interesting that you see America as a great influence on Romanticism, though. That's generally seen as the department of the Germans and the English.
    "Sentiment without action is the ruin of the soul." - Edward Abbey

    "In those days I, Daniel, was mourning three full weeks. I ate no pleasant food, no meat or wine came into my mouth, nor did I anoint myself at all, till three whole weeks were fulfilled." Daniel 10:2-3


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