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Monthly Archives: August 2013

And for those…  §

There are some people and cultures out there that are somehow patently against self-awareness, self-reflection, and similar ways of coming to terms consciously with one’s place in the world. Navel-gazing, they often call it, or meta, or indulgence, or just plain self-absorbtion.

I have a word for people and cultures that don’t engage in self-reflection and that don’t particularly care whether or not they are self-aware:

Primitive.

Or better:

Backward.

Or even:

Ape-like.

Those that demonstrate a lack of self-awareness generally imagine themselves to be the exemplar of all that is good and normal. They have no space in their lives and no concept in their ontological universe of “other cultures” or “other people” and are seemingly unaware even as everyone else must work around them and in spite of them to make life happen. They happily and naively demand to be treated like kings and take offense when others don’t seem to be happy about this. They are only too happy to see the world in terms of “right” and “wrong” and “us” and “them” and often seem categorically incapable of doing otherwise.

They are, in fact, unfit for modernity. They don’t travel well; they imagine themselves to be only too considerate of others even as others experience them as rude, self-centered, inconsiderate, brash. They cannot coexist peacefully or even with difficulty in a multicultural world. The very notion of other cultures is anathema to them; they are ethnocentrists of the first degree. Even if they admit that culture as such exists (and in my experience, too often they won’t do even this), they refuse to admit into the category almost anything of daily life. “Yes, yes, so they are of another culture,” goes the stupidity, “but that doesn’t mean they can get away with such evils! This isn’t a case of cultural difference, it’s a case of moral wrong!”

In short, they can’t conceive of culture and perhaps never will, and this makes them incompatible with any culture other than their own.

— § —

On another note, I have no patience for those that have no patience for explanations.

People that want to make the world better want—even demand—explanations. The longer, the better. Explanations in duration. Explanations in multiple. Explanations in dialectic sauce, from all quarters, in turn.

People that want no explanations?

They are simply afraid that someone else may actually be justified; they are secretly worried about their own bases for justification.

In short, anyone that doesn’t want an explanation is likely subconsciously trying to avoid being “found out” in all their indignation.

Or worse, they simply don’t care or are incapable of caring. Things are not a matter of reasons and understandings; they are a matter of moral absolutes. No explanation is necessary; the epistemelogical and ontological universes are decreed by God, biblical. Yes, there are even athiests that think this way.

This second case is worse than the first; these people are those that I referenced above—primitive, hopeless, beyond repair. They cannot be reasoned with; they can only be talked over, acted around, and condescended to. There is no point in attempting anything else.

— § —

Explanations-in-progress are social glue; they are marks of respect; they give all parties to an interaction the opportunity to guide the course of events and react to them before they become fait accomplis, before the disagreeable act of regret-indication is required.

Explanations-after-the-fact are social repair kits; they are also marks of respect, but also marks of hope; they demonstrate that parties in an interaction understand that things haven’t gone according to everyone’s wishes this time around, but given a little work and a little patience all around, they may well be made to go well next time around.

Provided everyone has a touch of respect for everyone else.

— § —

In the end, that’s all respect amounts to: the openness to the idea that you are not the center of the universe, or that you are not the chosen arbiter (or one of the chosen arbiters) of right and wrong, good and bad, pleasure and pain, propriety and impropriety.

The lack of respect is also known as narcissism.

— § —

I have been told that I think an unusually large number of things are matters of culture, and that I am unusually likely to offer explanations for behavior.

I can only hope that this is the case, and that in time the universe of things that I am able to understand as cultural, and the universe of occasions on when I am able to give cogent and detailed explanations, grows.