What I mostly find disturbing/annoying is how high culture and dominant power structure culture (in any part of the world) has a way of making other cultures feel crappy. As if they are the mean girl in math class, who’s nice long enough to get your homework…She doesn’t know anything about you or your life and she doesn’t ever make much of an effort to learn anything about you or your life or ever will, but damned if you don’t know a lot about her and mostly so you can avoid her probably.
That’s the way I see *any* high culture / dominant culture and the sub-culture reaction to it *can* sometimes be avoidance…And definitely we see a very successful avoidance by American sub-cultures of American dominant culture by maintaining different language groups.
So culture is really interesting in terms of language. Why? Because, as Tan puts it, “all the forms of standard English that I had learned in school and through books, [were] the forms of English I did not use at home with my mother. (3) It is when Tan’s mother is in the room listening to her polished mean-girl vernacular that Tan’s loyalty switches to the American sub-culture group, which for Tan *is* her dominant power-structure culture. So we can see that high culture has a large investment in making people feel crappy about their (sub-) culture, because to that group, quite often that is where their loyalty lies, inherently, deep in their breast, unexplainably. For example, I literally know no N(on)N(ative)S(peaker) who doesn’t go into their native tongue when feeling passionate about something.
I’m personally quite disillusioned with language and think it’s a virus from space (a’la William Burroughs) but it certainly is a good trick for the ego to get hung up on, this idea that language is something that informs who we are, well, it certainly defines for our ego who the ego would like to think it is, and I think high-culture / dominant power structure culture is quite busy manufacturing little toys like language groups for ego to get hung up on because it ensures that so long as there are these *obvious* differences among us that we will be quite too busy to notice the *obvious* samenesses.
So race and ethnicity fit into the dominant power structure culture’s nefarious plans to keep us divided and separated as well. The high culture, the dominant power structure culture is all about defining life and humanity at this really surface, flimsy, arbitrary, level based on the concepts of “ISMS” and most detrimentally “nationalism” because EGO loves to be loved. It rejoices to be part of a group and our high culture gets that, so whether a person accepts the American culture as their own, or whether they identify against American culture or somewhere in the middle, like many of us, we are allowing our ego to compartmentalize ourselves and other HUMAN BEINGS ~ and linguists, btw, the smartest people among us, say, that that is just so, so silly.
America was not founded on religious freedom. We all know that by now. It was for the Puritans to have their own freedom, but they didn’t cotton to none other than their own. Our government officials bow and fawn to the British throne, always have, always will.
Americans, and by that I mean people who physically occupy the 50 states, are two inches away at any given time to having the boot in their face for the rest of their days. Then it doesn’t really matter what culture anyone’s ego subscribes to.
So culture in general is just like a little script I suppose for us to read off of…and since we all have one we have to pay attention and know when it’s our time to read I guess. And in that regard it is unavoidable that every individual American’s relationship with ego-based American high- culture, dominant power structure culture is going to be dependent upon the different experience one’s ego has with a set of sub-cultures.
Primarily speaking the dominant power structures in America would seem to have set most of the high culture; however, we have seen throughout history that sub-culture can rise to status of pop culture and usurp Manhattan as the center of American culture, for a little while at least. For instance, the Harlem renaissance, the Beat Poets, hippie culture, etc., are all examples of fringe, sub-culture elbowing it’s way in to the mainstream and taking center stage for long enough for the world to take notice.
Furthermore, American culture is not relegated as we all know to just being in America. A recent complaint I read on a Middle Eastern blogger’s Web site pontificated on the detrimental effects that “Desperate Housewives” playing on Middle Eastern television sets is having on the Islamic culture, particularly the youth. And when we hear those words, “Islamic culture” as Americans we automatically think of them as being part of a sub-culture, but indeed to much of the world, Islam is high culture / dominant power structure culture and interestingly enough, for many people, there is little in the way of our imagination to understanding what that Islamic culture could possibly even be. We might be able to try and define Islamic culture by thinking what it is not, American culture, Chinese culture, Vietnamese culture, etc.. That is the point of this ego-based system. We cannot define what is a culture, we are much more able to define what it is not, and even then it becomes murky.
The culture of humanity is pretty simple, Maslow pointed it out in his hierarchy, and academia’s incessant need to continually define this thing that no one can define, to me, makes the academy guilty of being boot-wearing henchmen for the high culture / dominant power structure.