Tag Archives: culture

Subcultures in the Mist

As I’ve mentioned before in posts that I don’t feel like digging up, I’ve been getting involved in a new hobby. I’ll spare you the details about what this hobby entails, as I have a whole other blog for that, but I’ve thrown myself completely into the subculture that surrounds this hobby and it’s fascinating.

In every culture, there are heroes and tropes and easily identifiable figures. There are law makers and governments: figures that impose order. There are merchants and moneymakers. There are storytellers and stories to tell.

And as you go down the ladder, going into sub-cultures and sub-subcultures, you start to realize that this is true all the way down, that there are, in fact, turtles all the way down. I find it fascinating that, even in a rapidly expanding global subculture, there are still all these little hidden pockets that mirror the society at large and you can go your whole life and not know they’re there.

At times, since I’m still not fully embedded in this subculture, I feel like an observer, an intruder with a tape recorder, like Alan Lomax. There are leaders and tales of ancient history and eldars and songs and I’m there to witness it all. It’s very strange, like I’m straddling a line.

But now I think I’m making way too much of it and it’s time to move on.

-D-

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Filed under Day-to-Day: What's Going On, Events, Releases and New Things

Culture Defined by Pop

Alan Lomax was a folklorist who spent the majority of his life preserving small, local folklore traditions. He believed that globalization was encroaching on the traditions of countless subcultures and slowly but surely pushing them toward extinction. He was also, potentially, a manipulative, manifest destiny toting jack-ass, but that’s not important here.

The main crux of his beliefs were that the important local traditions and stories and music of Americana would be subsumed by the mass media and rendered meaningless. Instead of the local storyteller, we would listen to radio programmes. Instead of being taught by the local wise-man, we’d be taught by a Federal mandated school curriculum.

Cultural individuality would be gone and we would be left with one, big, happy social identity.

He was, for the most part, correct. Television and the Internet have become one of the primary means that we identify with one another. If I mention Grumpy Cat to an individual who lives on the opposite end of the county, he will know what I am talking about, even if we were born and raised in completely different regions and sub-cultures.

If I talk about Game of Thrones with someone, we will connect. If I mention Downton Abbey, we will bond. Culture is rapidly becoming defined by popular culture; state-wide, country-wide, world-wide. It is steadily and irrevocably moving toward this one, great global culture.

I don’t think this is a scary thing or an arguable thing. It’s just a thing; an inevitable consequence of a communication network that binds together every corner of the globe instantaneously.

What is interesting is the fact that there are still sub-cultures and sub-sub-cultures that are forming and blossoming within this new global identity. Even with the ability to unify everybody under one pop culture umbrella, there are still individuals who huddle under their interests and beliefs, separate and isolated from the main culture.

The difference between then and now is that these people have self-determined their own sub-culture. While in the olden days, Appalachian musics and stories were determined by geographic isolation and blues music and the Harlem Renaissance was determined by socio-economic political subjugation, the various sub-pop-culture interests and traditions that are starting to flower are solely determined by the interests and desires of the individual wishing to define themselves.

And that is not nearly as bad as Mr. Lomax feared.

-D-

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Filed under Thinking and Pondering: Science, History, Analysis and Over-Think