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QotW: How do you feel about culture theft?

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Hi folks, 

I just got wifi at HNL International airport. When I dropped this on to you I had hoped to generate some thought provoking discussion. I believe in that respect, mission accomplished. I do agree, that I was harsh with the use of Cultural Theft, but at the time, I could  not think of a better term at the time. Maybe Cultural misappropriation would fit the discussion better, but as discussion has shown with some supporting proofs there is an amount of proof here for theft. At the same time, while on the islands, I have seen how the Hawaiians are trying to return to their roots with more use of their language, arts and culture trying to move  away from Americanization.

Hope we have produced some thoughtful discourse.

Returning home to PA on Monday.

Aloha,

Pres

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Unloaded a bisque Friday,  mixed up some test glazes yesterday and firing them today but nothing on my work table.  I am going to start putting my chemicals in new containers today,  my old containers were from a deli and they had potato salad in them.   The containers are still good but the lids are hard and brittle, I can't complain they lasted 40 years.   Denice

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There was a great little display decades ago in the Smithsonian Museum of Industry of 6 plates of a similar size and similar (very similar ) motif manufactured in 6 different countries in Europe and Asia. I have no idea where the motif originated.

I wish that museum would reopen. I have been trying to revisit that display for a long time.

The Ultimate Culture Wars might be the pottery Wars between Korean and Japan.

 

Marcia

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https://makikohastings.blogspot.com/2019/05/naming-does-matter-my-thought-on.html?m=1

 

I’ve come across about 5 references to this blog post today, despite spending a total of 20 minutes on social media. So after finally reading it, I feel very strongly it belongs in this conversation right here. It’s written by a Japanese artist who has spent half her adult life in the UK, and tells of her frustrations in watching words and concepts that are deeply held and respected within the Japanese culture used and abused by many from the west in order to sell things. 

She speaks about wanting to encourage those who are curious about and inspired by her (and other) cultures to investigate them, and learn. Learn so you actually DO honour what you are learning to love, and so that you don’t accidentally insult it. 

Most importantly, she has a reference for westerners that she recommends on the topic of Wabi Sabi, which is a term frequently misused and abused by potters who have an incomplete and often wrong. understanding of the concept. 

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It's hard for English speakers to interpret concepts that have a name.  There's nothing special about words here as a concept so it can be hard for us to understand the big deal about using a word (or phrase).  And someone Japanese probably has the same difficulty understanding why westerners are so careless with the words they use.  Lost in translation is a great phrase because there are concepts that are hard to explain with words, and feelings and whatnot.  Japanese is really cool, they have stuff like onomatopoeia for textures and feelings and stuff, it's way beyond comprehension for me, I just try to sit back and enjoy.  My wife is Japanese and I get to hear about the misuse of words a lot, she kind of understands now and can see it from the western side, our words don't carry the same brevity and we use them like they're free.

I liked her article, but I think she could have done a better job of explaining why it makes her so angry.

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I am sympathetic towards her point of view but too vitriolic for me. Often for those that truly know something they become offended at those that do not. Maybe mandatory minimum IQ is the solution. There are a bunch of reasons to hate and far fewer to like especially in a hyper charged creative environment. 

In twenty years of teaching I noticed three distinct personalities. One was that of making money (Ho hum) one was that of superiority and being all knowing (Ok I guess) and one was that of teaching and enjoying the natural expansion and progression of students knowledge beyond your own.

Not scientific but the first two types were often negative and hated something daily. The third seemed happy to learn, happy for others new knowledge and generally happy to see humanity progress.

I sympathize with her point, but only see it as an opportunity for her to educate others. I am half Polish half Italian, maybe I should tell her how incorrect many folks are about my heritage. Just sayin, I think I prefer to meet, greet and as Liam says sit back and enjoy while I can.  My wife and I Met a group of strangers from Cameroon two days ago. They spoke little English, no French and no Polish ..........Great Fun, interesting culture, memorable thirty minutes of my day, learned a bunch  and took lots of pictures all smiles and well wishes!

the experience - free for all,  monetarily profiting from the experience ........... not in my wheelhouse.

AB9EEB0D-6597-4662-A88F-219B257A6B42.jpeg

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I was taught at an early age that words have weight and deserve respect. I learned words are special and for a time felt they were responsible for creating the universe. Now I'm open to some cooperation between language and numbers but I'm wandering.

The lack of respect in western today language is a frustrating thing to listen to or participate in. I sympathise with her attempts to express strong feelings in a foreign language. I hear someone who feels deeply and wants dearly to be heard and understood. Her words, for me, carry passion not bitter, hurtful vitriol.

Generally speaking 'we' in the west don't respect much. I don't have much confidence in our ability to protect what we have never mind speak for the best interest of others. We don't deserve nice things in my opinion.  Cultures that have suffered historically such as the Japanese or indigenous of N.A. or Australia or Africa are understandably sensitive to western 'good intentions'. I wish humanity could be more kind to each other but I have little hope for anything so revolutionary in my lifetime.

I better got off this high horse. Hypocrisy is a difficult thing to keep in check.

My kimono is not your couture is perhaps a more tempered viewpoint.

 

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Good reading, Maki's blog, thanks.

Perhaps slightly related, production management's (ultra western/US)  take on The Toyota Way during my years in the steel mill; 'bout the only takeaway I heard was "just in time" notion, where capital isn't tied up in inventory that isn't moving. Some reading led me to believe there's more to it, way. What resonated for me was the simple idea of sit in this chair all day; at end of day, what did you see? 

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As a person of Korean heritage, I wholeheartedly endorse every word of the blog post.

I also get raging mad when people use the term “wasi sabi” to describe something that is simply a poorly made pot. This is the heart of the matter for me. Asian cultures involve a culturally required politeness. We are programmed not to confront, or to express our offense. In my life, I've met many non-Asians who misinterpret this as approval, and somehow manage to extend the misinterpretation as “lower standards,” and  take advantage of it, 

I appreciate her mention of Euan Craig as an example of someone who would never call his work “wabi sabi.”

I don’t think she’s being vitriolic at all. She is offended, and expressing it with reasoned and tempered words. Maybe if more Asian people would stop holding their tongues, and express their offense, it wouldn’t seem vitriolic. 

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14 hours ago, Patrick said:

I'd argue with your idea of "west" if I was still into that kind of thing, but it has a low ROI.  The "west" has some things going for it too.  +1 on a kinder humanity being cool.  Stand by, I'm working as fast as I can!

'Takers' might be a better term.

I didn't necessarily want to pick on the west. I'm not sure what a more accurate umbrella term would be.  Capitalism?

     "Elements of capitalist culture include the mindset of business and corporate culture, consumerism and working class culture. "

This qotw for me, brings up a lot more than just cultural appropriation. By choosing a term 'taker' I'm referencing Ishmael. It's been a few years since I read the book but there is no denying that something is wrong with our society and we need to start listening to people like Greta Thunberg who imo deserves a nobel prize for standing up for the planet.

I try everyday to be kind to people too - I also try to have patience with people. It's a thing I'm working on.

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15 hours ago, Patrick said:

@GEP " In my life, I've met many non-Asians who misinterpret this as approval, and somehow manage to extend the misinterpretation as “lower standards,” and  take advantage of it"  OK sister.  You lost me here.  What is the "this" that is misinterpreted as approval?  If it is silence/restraint, then I'm interpreting "lower standards" as assumed indifference?  Am I tracking here, or am I off base? 

You understood me just fine. But it’s not just silence/restraint, it’s also the politeness and a desire to not insult. And I’m not your sister.

Edited by GEP

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Just a gentle reminder folks:

This entire conversation at its heart is meant to be about showing each other compassion and respect.  No name calling, and remember this is all in the service of learning . If someone who knows better tells you you’re doing it wrong, it’s worth listening to them if you want to expand yourself. 

Admitting you’re doing something wrong or hurting someone inadvertently is uncomfortable, but necessary for healing and growth. 

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Folks,as Callie has said This entire conversation at its heart is meant to be about showing each other compassion and respect.  When I posted this my best intention was to open up a discussion about diversity of culture within the arts. In a mature society, where images, sounds, speech, and feelings are often identified by cultural differences, I would hope that those of us within the arts can have shared feelings and empathy for those that are different from us and yet have much to contribute. I would hope with so much chaos in the world that we can find  a common ground and get along.

Please keep this civil, and be aware of using your own cultural expressions to explain, not hurt. Language can cut as easy as a sword, but often the damage is not as sudden as the sword, but lasts along time.

 

 

best,

Pres

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I want to say something about language. It is essentially ingrained & inherited from how and where and with whom we grew up and hung out with.  When someone like me (old school NY street life) says things like "look, pal", or a southern waitress  calls me "sweetie or dearie", we are not name-calling. It is just habitual expressiveness that has not been willfully changed. I used to say "F- this and  F-that, you M'rFk'r (which is now more commonly expressed  as mofo--go figure!)  repeatedly, every sentence, non-stop. And I could not stop--had no reason to, and then when I did have a reason to, it was rough.  I had to be taught how to change my world view, my stance in the world, and my mouth. I had to--painfully, I might add--practice, practice, practice, literally for years until I could speak like a decent mainstream person in a variety of settings and communities. 

Most of us have a working brain-it is not about having the smarts, even tho using certain language can make one look stupid, or aggressive, etc..  The waitress saying "Can I get you more coffee sweetie" and me saying "Look, sister, I'm not your sweetie" are really the same thing. Except it sets us worlds apart (like different cultures around the globe) , and maybe at odds with each other, as I think she's of low intelligence and she thinks I'm a biker's broad.  

So with all due respect to everyone---I see nothing in this thread that is less than civil. I hope that as group members, we are not being required by moderators to  become hyper-vigilent and super-sensitive about what we say or how we say it (or how Lee writes stuff-which is quite hard to reign in from my natural style-seriously). I hope there is some reasonable wiggle-room, so we can be "who we are".

If someone is offended, I trust they can speak up for themselves and with private messaging, we can usually work it out. If it is perceived as offensive and ongoing, we can report it to a moderator and they can handle it politely and privately. When it can't be worked out, either the offender or the offended will leave the group. Isn't it partly how things were said (and badly misinterpreted, in my opinion) that provoked the loss of some great foundational members/mentors/experts not all that long ago?  Compassion & respect are as perceived,  as delivered and as received; they not always clear absolutes that are identifiable by all as such, on both the delivering and receiving ends.  Lee's rant of the day-or, to put it in a more paletable form, just some food for thought. B)

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...learnin' t'shift vernacular gears, yep, good skill to have; agreed that adding new gears can be difficult. 

I feel a bit lucky having moved about the world several times as a young lad, hence some exposure to languages, definitely classes, and some culture as well - not that I have a great ear or nuthin', mebbe better'n average.

Edited by Hulk

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3 hours ago, LeeU said:

I want to say something about language. It is essentially ingrained & inherited from how and where and with whom we grew up and hung out with.  When someone like me (old school NY street life) says things like "look, pal", or a southern waitress  calls me "sweetie or dearie", we are not name-calling. It is just habitual expressiveness that has not been willfully changed. I used to say "F- this and  F-that, you M'rFk'r (which is now more commonly expressed  as mofo--go figure!)  repeatedly, every sentence, non-stop. And I could not stop--had no reason to, and then when I did have a reason to, it was rough.  I had to be taught how to change my world view, my stance in the world, and my mouth. I had to--painfully, I might add--practice, practice, practice, literally for years until I could speak like a decent mainstream person in a variety of settings and communities. 

Ha! My first experience with a real New York city native was very close to this, wildly offensive and aggressive, ill mannered guy we all thought hated us, until, near the end of our interaction, said "You guys want a F*ing beer?" At that point we realized we had misinterpreted his intent the entire time, he was actually a nice guy.

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On 5/22/2019 at 4:48 PM, shawnhar said:

misinterpreted his intent

Yep...when we invite you for dinner, after you are seated we may then say, "Here, eat, then get the hell out."  That's how you know we like you!  (Sorry for veering off-topic!) 

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Been following this topic, but I know just enough about Japenese/Chinese/Korean culture to say something wrong. One of the many times I wish Baymore was around: these cultures were his speciality. Being a Westerner, I will add a twist to it.

 Modern technology has managed to put most of the worlds population onto a single stage/platform. The assimilation of culture that once took centuries, now only requires a mouse click. Marco Polo bought back porcelain pieces from China: and Europe spent 500 years trying to replicate them. Any potter can click Sung/Ming dynasty and start throwing in an attempt to duplicate it. The unfortunate side effect of instant knowledge, is the loss of culture and application.

 The old saying goes "imitation is the sincerest form of flattery."  Should the blog writer be offended or flattered that others are trying to imitate her culture?  Obviously some have hijacked strictly for ill advised sales promotions. Yet others love the work, love the culture, and are sincerely trying to imitate it.  Personally I think she should educate rather than reprove. It is a futile effort to chastise those who have no respect to begin with.

thats my 5 cents  worth.  The extra 3 cents if for shipping and handling.

Tom

Edited by glazenerd
Correcting auto correct yet again

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