Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Tropicalia

Now, there are two parts to this.. The first part is redefining high culture in a way that reflects the country itself, i.e. repurposing high culture. The second part is ignoring the official national culture and producing things that reflect the reality of the regional cultures of the country. What happens when you connect the two? Well, then things really get interesting. There are many organizations that do work based on the concept of giving people video cameras and producing equipment and letting them tell their own stories and create their own media, and what I'm talking about is sort of an extension of that, but a really radical one.

What happens if you disconnect people the official intellectual culture and instead have them create their own culture, not just media, but culture in all senses of the word. I'll give you an example: what if you got working class people to read and apply Plato to their own lives and own situation? Not have it given to them as some sort of person with a long tradition but given as a text to freely interpret in whatever way they want. What if you did the same thing with American history? Or politics? Basically taking a popular education approach but extending it to areas of culture that it traditionally wasn't associated with...like the "Socrates Cafe" model. It would be possible to develop class, region, and ethnicity based philosophy in this sense. An example of this in action is the "Zulu Nation" started by Africa Bambaataa, which tells members to read up and decide what's history and what's not, how the world works and how it doesn't, for themselves without any reference to official culture. Zulu Nation puts especial emphasis on religious belief.

Combined these two forces are very powerful. What about a working class art? A working class system of philosophical beliefs?

It's a culture that's autonomous from the official culture and true to the culture on the ground.

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