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Posts tagged cultural worlds

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from L'Ornament Polychrome: Motifs de tous les styles, art ancien et asiatique, Moyen Age, Renaissance, XVIIe et XVIIIe siècles, by A. Racinet, 1869–73 :: via BibliOdyssey
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from "Never Marry a Women with Big Feet: Women in Proverbs Around the World," by Mineke Schipper, Universiteit Leiden :: via MetaFilter

The clever cooking pot! It loses meat and keeps the soup [said the husband: his wife ate the meat while cooking; ironically blaming a thing for the misdeeds of a person]. / Oromo, Ethiopia

A child who remains in his mother’s house believes her soup the best. / Efik, Nigeria

A good wife and a strengthening cabbage soup, you should not want more. / Russian

A hen’s soup and a girl’s laugh bode no good. / German

A woman who follows the fashion will never boil a good soup. / English, Jamaica

An old hen makes a good soup. / Spanish, Central America and the Caribbean

Asking [a neighbour] for salt does not yet make soup. [You have to depend on your own efforts.] / Krio, Sierra Leone

Beauty will not season your soup. / Polish

If you can’t control your moustache, don’t eat lentil soup. [If saddled with a jealous wife, to lead a peaceful married life, in her presence play no game that involves a sportive dame.] / Burmese

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from "The Wasted Land," by David Streitfeld, Details, March 1996 :: via Craig Fehrman, kottke

He’ll blend in even more after he starts attending church. Brought up an atheist, he has twice failed to pass through the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults, the first step toward becoming a Catholic. The last time, he made the mistake of referring to “the cult of personality surrounding Jesus.” That didn’t go over big with the priest, who correctly suspected Wallace might have a bit too much skepticism to make a fully obedient Catholic. “I’m a typical American,” says Wallace. “Half of me is dying to give myself away, and the other half is continually rebelling.”

Recently he found a Mennonite house of worship, which he finds sympathetic even if the hymns are impossible to sing. “The more I believe in something, and the more I take something other than me seriously, the less bored I am, the less self-hating. I get less scared. When I was going through that hard time a few years ago, I was scared all the time.” It’s not a trip he ever plans to take again.

"Every Painting in the MoMA on 10 April 2010," by Chris Peck :: via things magazine
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from "The Lost Languages, Found in New York," by Sam Roberts, NYTimes.com, 28 April 2010

At a Roman Catholic Church in the Morrisania section of the Bronx, Mass is said once a month in Garifuna, an Arawakan language that originated with descendants of African slaves shipwrecked near St. Vincent in the Caribbean and later exiled to Central America. Today, Garifuna is virtually as common in the Bronx and in Brooklyn as in Honduras and Belize.

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"Colours In Cultures," by David McCandless and AlwaysWithHonor.com, Information is Beautiful, April 2009 :: via Fast Company
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"Mariel Diptych," from Persona, by Jason Travis, 2009–2010 :: via The Morning News
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video Drawing Cash

A fan-contributed, computer-drawn still frame from The Johnny Cash Project, 2010 :: via MetaFilter
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"Poetry by Meer Taqi Meer, a renown poet of India," paper, self-made ink and bamboo pen (2009), by Shanawaz Alam Ahmed, International Exhibition of Calligraphy :: via ephemera assemblyman
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from "Collections of the Material Subconscious," by Kevin Kelly, The Technium, 17 April 2010

I’ve done some research on time capsules to learn what people decide to send forward to the future inside them. I was present for the opening of one time capsule buried at the San Francisco airport, and boy was that disappointing. What I learned is that stuff we think is important will not be in the future, and stuff we don’t think is important now, will be. The most common reaction to opening a time capsule is “why did they save that? Why didn’t they include x, y, or Z, which no one saved?”

My theory is that we tend to collect or save things we are conscious of as having value, and we ignore the material subconscious. We are not even aware that we are throwing these everyday items away because we are not even aware they exist in the first place. We simply don’t see them. Yet it is these invisible, “subconscious” artifacts that will tell the best stories about this time later on.

This is where the archeologists do their research: in the garbage pits. Here they can explore the subconscious of the lost culture.

So if you are going to collect something that you want to be significant in the future, collect things that everyone ignores now. Stuff that is too insignificant to save, that no one in their right mind would save. These “subconcious” things are the ones that will be the most valuable in the future.

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a Freakonomics Blog post, 7 April 2009

Karan Talwar, a blogger and Freakonomics reader, writes about an interesting traffic nudge near Shimla, India.  The roads into Shimla are notoriously dangerous, and traffic signs have done little to lessen the problem.  So local authorities began constructing temple shrines at hot spots.  The nudge worked like a charm: “Turns out even though the average Indian has no respect for traffic laws and signs, they will slow down before any place of worship and take a moment to ask for blessings!”

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"The Jolly Flatboatmen" (detail), oil on canvas, 1846, by George Caleb Bingham, from the exhibition American Stories: Paintings of Everyday Life, at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, 12 October 2009–24 January 2010 :: via Coudal Partners
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from "Portion Sizes in 'Last Supper' Paintings Grew Over Time," by Andrea Thompson, LiveScience, 23 March 2010 :: via kottke.org

Wansink teamed up with his brother Craig Wansink, a religious studies professor at Virginia Wesleyan College, to look at how portion sizes have changed over time by examining the food depicted in 52 of the most famous paintings of the scene from the Last Supper.

“As the most famously depicted dinner of all time, the Last Supper is ideally suited for review,” Craig Wansink said.

From the 52 paintings, which date between 1000 and 2000 A.D., the sizes of loaves of bread, main dishes and plates were calculated with the aid of a computer program that could scan the items and rotate them in a way that allowed them to be measured. To account for different proportions in paintings, the sizes of the food were compared to the sizes of the human heads in the paintings.

The researchers’ analysis showed that portion sizes of main courses (usually eel, lamb and pork) depicted in the paintings grew by 69 percent over time, while plate size grew by 66 percent and bread size grew by 23 percent.

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People living in San Francisco can find a soil tasting in a nearby art gallery; the rest of us can e-participate through a website (tasteofplace.info) run by performance artist and “agricultural activist” Laura Parker. Parker strives to answer the question “how does soil touch our lives and affect our food; and why does it matter?” To stimulate public dialogue, Parker fills wine goblets with various soils and adds a few teaspoons of water to release the aromas and flavors. The soils aren’t ingested, but participants place their noses deep into the wine bowls, inhaling the newly released molecules to the backs of their tongues, where taste receptors lie. The website even provides “Tasting Notes,” such as the soil of “Apple Farm-Indian Camp Ground, ‘Arrowhead Reserve,’” which has a “texture like ground espresso between your fingertips with a rich, chocolate color. The nose is both flinty and grassy with finesse and subtlety.” After the soil tasting, participants dine on food grown in the various soils and identify the qualities of the dirt in the food to strengthen the connection between what we eat and where it’s grown.

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from "Secret Society for Creative Philanthropy," by Steve Rubenstein, SFGate.com, 26 February 2010 :: via The Morning News

About the same time that Ibnale was handing out umbrellas, Brett Lockspeiser took $100 worth of dollar bills to the 16th Street Mission BART Station and held up a sign.

“I will give you $1 for you to give to someone else,” the sign said. Throughout the evening rush, Lockspeiser stood in the station, trying to give away dollar bills.

“Everyone though I was trying to scam them,” he said. “They wanted to know what I was up to. I told them they just had to promise to give the $1 to someone else.”

After three hours, Lockspeiser had managed to give away only $52. One passer-by did not take the $1 but, suspecting that Lockspeiser was down and out, handed him a pair of socks.

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from "Eat Drink Actor Director," by Paula Marantz Cohen, The Smart Set, 22 January 2010 :: via Arts & Letters Daily

One of the delights of watching food-centric films is to see the main characters demonstrate their culinary skills. The breaking of an egg, the flipping of an omelet, the chopping of an onion (or a carrot or a piece of celery) become impressive feats when performed with dexterity and brio. The food writer Michael Pollan has noted that television cooking shows have come to resemble athletic events, showcasing the spectacular, often competitive talents of their chefs. In narrative film, however, the spectacle of cooking is always more than spectacle; it is also a dynamic means of representing character. Chopping, in particular, in being both precise and violent, is an exceptionally cinematic activity, capable of expressing repressed emotions of rage, bitterness, and passion. It is no wonder that most every film in which food plays a role invariably has a chopping scene.

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from "What We Talk About When We Talk About Food," by Siobhan Phillips, The Hudson Review, Summer 2009 :: via The Smart Set

“Tell me what you eat: I will tell you what you are,” Brillat-Savarin challenged his readers in 1825, and his wisdom if not his brio was already old hat. Human meals serve those mixtures of raw and cooked that make up anthropological codes. Nearly every prescription or preference blends irrational faith and scientific requirements, as Marvin Harris shows in his fascinating Good to Eat: look long enough at a seemingly arbitrary food rule (cloven hooves, sacred cows) and one can probably discover a self-preserving logic behind it, but look hard enough at an apparently sensible directive (a glass of milk, a handful of supplements) and one will like as not detect a prejudice posing as sense. Omnivorous and hungry, body and spirit, we sit down at a table spread with necessary choice; we cannot eat to live, that is, without in some measure living to eat. As Laurie Colwin once put it, then, cookery books will always “hit you where you live.” What seems distinctive and disquieting now, what seems to have increased in the two centuries since Brillat-Savarin shot a turkey in Hartford or even in the two decades since Colwin roasted a chicken in her New York apartment, is the number of volumes hitting us combined with the force of their impact. A nation with a lot of food books is a nation without much sense of food, as The Economist recently pointed out.

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Carved agate jujube-form snuff bottle, China, 19th century, from the exhibition "Private Passions: Collecting Miniature Works of Asian Art," at the Portland Art Museum, 2010
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Newsprint and laminated schoolroom posters, 2–50 Rupees each, from the vast semi-online catalog of Indian Book Depot (Map House), New Delhi, India :: via things magazine
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from "The American Festivals Project," by Ross McDermott and Andrew Owen, 2009
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