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Re: 'Exoticism' Vs 'The Facts' - A thought experiment

Posted: Sat Feb 18, 2012 12:31 pm
by Daniel Preissler
Interesting and important post, Jon!
djembeweaver wrote:I know people who have performed the same ceremony but seem perfectly happy to accept the african mystical explanation. Would they be accused of exoticism I wonder? They seem very sincere.
No, they would not!
BTW I understood 'exoticism' to mean a superficial and idealised adoption of another culture's mystical beliefs and practices. I thought I had been accused of that in relation to my comment 'Sometimes you shouldn't let the truth get in the way of a good story'.
You weren't! At least not by me.
To me exoticism means: A (mis)undersanding of another culture's aspects due to a (mostly positive) interpretation following the rules of a person's own structure without reflection. A person sees something in another culture (or some of it's aspects) that has been produced (as a concept) in the person itself - or let's say in the person itself as a person of it's own culture. People tend to project concepts, thoughts, fears, hopes and any kind of positive or negative feeling onto the other and among the multiple others especially onto Africa and everything related to it. The African leaving in complete harmony with the nature is a quite prototypical exoticist (exotistic?) european concept. The negative (racist) part of the same structure could be
the African who is unable to stay in peace with his neighbours unless he's colonized. This is more or less the difference between Rousseau's "bon sauvage" and Voltaire's half man-half meat eating monkey concept. It's two parts of the same thing.
I don't have the feeling that I explained it completely -not sure if this is possible anyway. Maybe I'll find some better examples later.
The important point about the putative 175 year-old drum was that it is very old - sometimes a good story helps create that sense of reverence. I really don't care exactly how old it is.
About the same for me: 70 or 150 years, we're not talking about a constitution, are we? What I didn't appreciate was the approach towards the information and the person. At the same time, to be honest: I don't even believe it's 40 years old. The way they talk, their relationship makes me too sceptical.
Paul picked up on some of the paradoxes I was alluding to but the greater paradox is this: If a truth is only true when you believe in it, is it true? Pragmatically speaking if belief creates a more positive outcome than non-belief then choosing to believe would be a rational decision (William James struggled with this paradox). Sometimes a good story can provide a better truth then the facts.
That depends on the level of the conversation: there is absolute truth (hard to see/ to get - a hard subject), truth for us as human beings, truth for us being part of a cultural sphere, truth for us as members of a nation (ask a "usual" French, German and English for the reason/s for World War 1.... d;-) ), truth for us as individuals. So let's say
If a truth is only true when you believe in it,
it's true inside circle where people see it that way and get some benefit from it, isn't it?

Greets, Daniel

PS: Non of these points is treaten completely - you know this would demand a much more direct conversation, much more nights and much more wine - and still then it's not that probable to be done. D

Re: 'Exoticism' Vs 'The Facts' - A thought experiment

Posted: Sat Feb 18, 2012 12:38 pm
by Daniel Preissler
nice one ! d;-)
'truth' can be a slippery concept

how about this one (to be used culturally and musically):
The fact that there is no absolute rule doesn't mean that there is nor rule at all!

Re: 'Exoticism' Vs 'The Facts' - A thought experiment

Posted: Sat Feb 18, 2012 1:03 pm
by djembeweaver
Thanks Daniel. Very interesting and clear.
I don't have the feeling that I explained it completely
I always have that feeling!

Re. truth, how about this quote from 'The Spiders House' by Paul Bowles (apparently translated from a traditional arabic saying):

You tell me you are going to Fès.
Now if you tell me you are going to Fès,
that means you are not going.
But I happen to know that you are going to Fès.
Why have you lied to me, you who are my friend?

Re: 'Exoticism' Vs 'The Facts' - A thought experiment

Posted: Sat Feb 18, 2012 1:15 pm
by Daniel Preissler
oups,
African leaving in complete harmony
My english teacher most probably would have killed me...

African LIVING in complete harmony...

;-)

Re: 'Exoticism' Vs 'The Facts' - A thought experiment

Posted: Sat Feb 18, 2012 1:53 pm
by Daniel Preissler
djembeweaver wrote:
I don't have the feeling that I explained it completely
I always have that feeling!
well, an explanation system is never (or rarely) the (complete) system itself!
Greets, D

Re: 'Exoticism' Vs 'The Facts' - A thought experiment

Posted: Sat Feb 18, 2012 2:44 pm
by rachelnguyen
Afoba wrote:oups,
African leaving in complete harmony
My english teacher most probably would have killed me...

African LIVING in complete harmony...

;-)
You guys all need to be thanking your lucky stars I am not attempting to write in French.

I think the idea of sitting around with a bottle or two of wine and hashing this out is an excellent idea!

Re: 'Exoticism' Vs 'The Facts' - A thought experiment

Posted: Sat Feb 18, 2012 8:07 pm
by Paul
Afoba wrote:Paul picked up on some of the paradoxes I was alluding to but the greater paradox is this: If a truth is only true when you believe in it, is it true? Pragmatically speaking if belief creates a more positive outcome than non-belief then choosing to believe would be a rational decision (William James struggled with this paradox). Sometimes a good story can provide a better truth then the facts.
Yes, but my point in relation to Sierra Leone is in relation to a western academic/legal perception of the truth as oppose to what (and I hate to throw in another term here) 'otherness'... Standard and acceptable versus everything else..

Within the case there were references to what may be reasonably believed by the court.. There were various interpretations of previous cases involving 'witchcraft' which should only be accepted based on 'what would be deemed acceptable (believable) to the average English man' (I kid you not).

I'm reading an interesting piece on the first West African conference of Hunters held in Bamako in 2000, though the conference was created for the Hunters at the end of the day the set up of the conference seemed to prejudice the needs of foreign anthropoligists/ethnomusicologists... As such we can see an oral tradition that is no longer deemed to have the monopoly on its own truth above that of western academia..

P