Wednesday, September 3, 2008


I have been doing some thinking on culture.

I know I have only been here for a little over 48 hours, but riding the train back in for night classes today, it hit me how much I think that the outskirts of Calgary look like so many other slightly suburban Midwestern towns. It got me wondering if I will be able to identify a culture for the whole of Canada, one that is different from that of the US. Then I got to thinking about how the whole of the US doesn't seem to have much of a culture either. Sure we have our political system, but beyond that, it is hard to identify what makes us who we are. Then my thought trail turned to the idea that in a country so large with so many smaller units (ie states before cities, a situation unheard of in the Europe we all think to have so many unique cultures according to country), our cultural identities are simply mutiple, and far spread. I feel as though Minnesota has its own unique identity, and within that, so many cities have identities I like to them. I am assuming (and hoping) that Canada, and Calgary within has this. I can see already that Calgary does - the Stampede, the Calgary Flames, Banff, strong arts culture. I think it is just hard for me to connect to this when visually, what I am seeing is the same strip malls and many of the same businesses I could seen in many Anytown USA's.

A conversation with my brother;

Leia1chic (10:39:55 PM): cold already, feels like october
Leia1chic (10:40:06 PM): I have been doin some thinkin on cultural perception
Leia1chic (10:40:21 PM): Canada does not seem to have their own identity from the Us
DorkyFish69 (10:40:37 PM): i.e., it feels like the USA culturally?
Leia1chic (10:40:39 PM): but then I thought about the US, and decided that as a whole, we do not have our own either
DorkyFish69 (10:40:41 PM): "America Lite"?
DorkyFish69 (10:40:45 PM): yeah, I suppose
Leia1chic (10:40:54 PM): we have our own units within the ccountry - states, cities in particular
Leia1chic (10:41:09 PM): so I think I need to give Calgray some time to create its identity for me
DorkyFish69 (10:41:09 PM): and who knows how much of that is from our own characterization of ourselves (and partially successful achievement) as a pluralistic society
DorkyFish69 (10:41:17 PM): exactly -- St. Louis "feels" different from Flagstaff, etc.
Leia1chic (10:42:15 PM): ya - I suppose there are pieces of national indetity in the US - our political system, etc
Leia1chic (10:42:29 PM): I am sure canada has those things too, but visually, it looks so similiar
DorkyFish69 (10:42:31 PM): we're really too big to have a singular identity
DorkyFish69 (10:42:35 PM): geographically and otherwise
DorkyFish69 (10:42:39 PM): same for the Canucks, methinks
Leia1chic (10:42:44 PM): but the air is fresher and smells like campfires!
DorkyFish69 (10:42:54 PM): the air? in the whole city? smells like campfires?!?
DorkyFish69 (10:42:58 PM): SIGN ME UP!
Leia1chic (10:43:15 PM): not all the time, but quite a bit
DorkyFish69 (10:43:30 PM): but yeah, I think you're right on -- a country the size of Switzerland, given direction by all that European history, is actually capable of rolling its identity into clocks and passivity
DorkyFish69 (10:43:39 PM): we, on the other hand, have to have Toby Keith AND acid house in the same country
Leia1chic (10:44:18 PM): another thing I think bothers me is that all their pop music seems to be shipped in from america
DorkyFish69 (10:44:27 PM): ROFL!!!!
DorkyFish69 (10:44:32 PM): careful, you'll activate my inner nerd
Leia1chic (10:44:36 PM): granted, I havent listened to their stations much yet, so I cannot REALLY judge
DorkyFish69 (10:44:39 PM): they actually try to do stuff about that politically
DorkyFish69 (10:44:52 PM): the CRTC (Canadian Radio and Television Commission) tries to address that with "Cancon" requirements
DorkyFish69 (10:44:57 PM): i.e., Canadian content
DorkyFish69 (10:45:07 PM): I think it might vary by format, and it's changed over time, but last I heard I thought it was around 25%
Leia1chic (10:45:23 PM): interesting
DorkyFish69 (10:45:35 PM): there was a funny story linked off Fark the other day confirming that a new start-up porn channel would be required to produce 20% of its pr0n in Canada with Canadian sluts :-D
DorkyFish69 (10:46:03 PM): right, you'd think if ANYONE would dig a little deeper, or at least remember things they'd incidentally been exposed to, it would be them
Leia1chic (10:46:43 PM): I think I just want to hear some Canadian stuff, and I feel like that is going to be difficult

And yes, the air does often smell like campfires. I have already whipped out my boots, vest and hat. Chilly indeed, wasn't yet expecting that. I think I am going to need to get a coat that comes down to my shins, and boots that come up to them!


Shawn Michel de Montaigne said...

Nice post.

America has lost its culture via consumption (strip malls, advertising, "efficiency," and, of course, the almighty dollar).

Still very hot here in SoCal.

Kim said...

I love me some campfire! Does it make you crave s'mores all the time? Because I kind of am now, just from reading this.