Tag Archives | Culture

Death in Transition

PIC: Claus Ableiter (CC)

PIC: Claus Ableiter (CC)

A few months ago, I wrote a short series titled Approaching Death as a way of exploring grief rituals for my upcoming book with Elliott and Thompson (DEATH’S SUMMER COAT). Regardless of where we live or who we are, we must make preparations for the end that awaits us all. Historically, this was a problem of space and health as well as grief and loss. While our ancestors had to bear the burden of sorrow for a missing friend just as we, they also had to deal with pressing practical concerns–such as, what do we do with the body? To leave it lying would attract pestilence; to burn it would use fuel, to bury it would require workable soil. And so, in each culture, burial differs due to climate and geography as well as spiritual practice and cultural assimilation. As part of a series on the Daily Dose, I provide a brief look at death-in-transition–something that many cultures, from Borneo to India to Egypt have in common.… Read the rest

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What Was Peer Pressure?

666girlsRemember “peer pressure”? Of late it has been largely discarded as the go-to means of explaining/demonizing youth behavioral patterns, but The New Inquiry offers a look back:

Parents have mostly given up on peer pressure as a paradigm defining element of molding their teenagers. Adults now do not believe in peer pressure so much as media pressure (“Miley Cyrus made my daughter a pot-smoking slut” instead of “Peer pressure made my daughter a pot-smoking slut”) or technological pressure (“My son doesn’t get any sleep because he stays up all night texting his friends”), fully embracing the awful politics of moral panics that dominated generational relations for the entire second half of the 20th century.

But what parents and educators so often labeled as peer pressure was actually the disease-like spread of ideas. It’s a degree of symbolic freedom and movement that made adults uncomfortable. The truly horrible things that happen to teenage lives are more the result of socioeconomic reality (gang violence), the failure of the mental health state (drugs, alcohol, shooting up the school), the horrific patriarchy of larger adult society (rape), or the all-around idiotic idea of the “school” as we construct it than they ever are the sole province of a teens en masse fearing social rejection.

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Is ADHD a Mental Health Crisis, or a Cultural One?

Children in a classroomKate Lunau looks at the reasons behind the rapid rise in ADHD diagnosis rates for MacLeans:

Any visitor to North Carolina and California will know that the two states have their differences. The former is a typically “red state”; California is staunchly “blue.” Each has certain geographic, ethnic and cultural peculiarities, different demographic makeup, family income levels, and more. Yet perhaps the most surprising divide, one many wouldn’t expect, is that North Carolina appears to be a hotbed for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD—especially when compared to California. A child who lived in North Carolina instead of California in 2007, according to U.S. academics Stephen Hinshaw and Richard Scheffler, was 2½ times more likely to be diagnosed.

In their forthcoming book The ADHD Explosion, Hinshaw and Scheffler—a psychologist and health economist, respectively, at the University of California at Berkeley—examine the causes behind the startling and rapid rise in diagnosis rates of ADHD, a neurobehavioural disorder that has somehow become epidemic.

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Redistribute Wealth? No, Redistribute Respect.

Some_respect_please

Some respect please (CC)

Could a shift in perception heal the divide between the haves and the have nots in western society? What say you, Disinfonauts?

via The Week

What happened to America’s sense of egalitarianism?

“It is said that heaven does not create one man above or below another man.”
— Yukichi Fukuzawa

I’ve always been a communist revolutionary at heart. Inequalities between human beings have always annoyed me, and I have the strong desire to see them eliminated. In American society, we generally discuss three kinds of “equality”: 1) “equality of outcome”, usually meaning equality of wealth or income, 2) “equality of opportunity”, and 3) “equal rights” under the law. The first is typically supported by true communists and socialists, and some liberals; the second by centrist liberals; and the third by libertarians and conservatives. The arguments between proponents of the three types of equality are voluminous and endless.

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Jargon is the Death of Culture

On the Maraya Karena Show, the eponymous host speaks about the under-acknowledged connection between language and reality, and what happens when meaning slips from our patterns of expression:

What will murder all our movements?
JARGON!!!
In this syntactical reality our greatest obstacle to heaven on earth is mindless repetition of stale language.

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Standards of Beauty Under The Knife

Pic: Sarang (PD)

Pic: Sarang (PD)

By now, you have probably heard some of the outsider outrage, confusion and consternation. “Everyone in Korea wants the same face!”

It seems, pardon the pun, cut and dry, but as you’ll see it is anything but. Any cultural slant might be laid bare through similar scrutiny, so beware: those publications that seem to want to the headline to read “Dumb Asians All Want to Look The Same” are incapable of seeing their own cultural bias. We are all, in a sense, blind to ourselves.

Let’s try to open our eyes a little. I want to look at this, leading off with one of the better articles I’ve found on this phenomenon,

“There’s a real problem when you make generalizations about a whole country full of women, that they’re all culturally duped,” Hejiin Lee said in an interview. “There are certain economic situations happening in Korea and America that might impel different choices.

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Color-Blind Racial Ideology Linked to Racism, Both Online and Offline

grayscaleVia ScienceDaily:

In a study that examined the associations between responses to racial theme party images on social networking sites and a color-blind racial ideology, Brendesha Tynes, a professor of educational psychology and of African American studies at Illinois, discovered that white students and those who rated highly in color-blind racial attitudes were more likely not to be offended by images from racially themed parties at which attendees dressed and acted as caricatures of racial stereotypes (for example, photos of students dressed in blackface make-up attending a “gangsta party” to celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day).

“People who reported higher racial color-blind attitudes were more likely to be white, and more likely to condone or not be bothered by racial-theme party images,” Tynes said. “In fact, some even encouraged the photos by adding comments of their own such as ‘Where’s the Colt 45?’ or ‘Party like a rock star.’ ”

To conduct the study, Tynes showed 217 ethnically diverse college students images from racially themed parties and prompted them to respond as if they were writing on a friend’s Facebook or MySpace page.

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Scott McCloud’s Four Types of Artists

artquadHere’s a fun scheme of classifying different types of artists. The scheme is Scott McCloud’s, mapped onto Ken Wilber’s quadrants. Can you think of any more examples?

From FC Student Blog:

In his book, Making Comics, Scott McCloud created a chart categorizing artists according to four intentions — what artists are most interested in, in creating art. His categories are:

  • Formalist — The Formalist is interested in examining the boundaries of an art form, stretching them, exploring what the form is capable of. The Formalist is interested in experimenting, turning the form upside-down and inside-out, moving in new, bold, untried directions, inventing and innovating. Formalists are the cutting edge, the avant-garde, the ones willing to break tradition and established ways. Strict narrative or craft is not as important as trying something new and unexpected, playing with and breaking traditional concepts, getting to the heart of understanding what art itself is.
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‘The Great Beauty': High Culture Without the Highbrowness

The Great BeautyYears ago, while a student at USC’s Cinema Production Department, I took a class taught by Arthur Knight, whose The Liveliest Art: A Panoramic History of the Movies was a standard textbook at colleges and universities all over the world. In it he argued that cinema was the liveliest art because it incorporated all arts. It’s a notion that was dear and sacrosanct to all of us cinephiles. For centuries it was cathedrals that incorporated all arts; then it was opera; in the 20th century, supposedly, cinema. Nowadays that’s hardly the case. Hollywood blockbusters are made for the PG-13 audience, except for a few “serious” movies that aim at Academy Awards recognition and, under the pretense of being socially or culturally relevant, are generally platitudinous. Then there are the inevitably marginal “independent” movies that, far from incorporating all arts, are minimalistic not only in production values but above all in content.… Read the rest

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The Apocalypse Industry

page230050mvc-003sJerry Lembcke writes at CounterPunch:

Writing for his October 25, 2013 New York Times column, Paul Krugman noted the attraction that apocalyptic scenarios had for American investors, policy makers, and economists. He named Alan Simpson and Erskine Bowles as “deficit-scolds” whose doomsaying has been overwrought, and he reprised a 2010 article by Alan Greenspan in which the former Chairman of the Federal Reserve warned that the national budget deficit would lead to soaring inflation and interest rates, trends that we have not yet seen.

Mr. Krugman is an economist so it is understandable that it would be the scaremongers in his own area of expertise that catch his attention. His concern that the “debt-apocalypse community,” as he calls it, includes powerful people whose technical judgment might be clouded by irrational fears is legitimate. A single policy enunciation by any one of them, after all, can make or break the life-chances of millions of people around the globe.

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