On Culture

Category: Lifestyle

I don’t see myself in a particular cultural category, but in a superposition of several.

I had lived a smaller portion of my life in Belarus, a larger portion in the States, and as a nomad for some time. However, I hardly identify with any of those places in any but a formal manner. Moreover, questions concerning country of origin and identity no longer interest me but in a purely academic sense. I try not to initiate conversations to the respect, and certainly don’t wish to appeal to these categories in rationalizing own or others' behavior.

To the contrary, we human beings tend to resort to prejudices of often unconstructive nature. How tempting it can be to entertain the behavioral characteristics of country X and it’s typical relation towards country Y. Or how about that group towards the southern region of country Z known for certain peculiar behaviors and subject of much anecdote in the north? What about that funny accent attributed to certain ethnic groups of country Α that we, the inhabitants of country Β, love to imitate? Or the tense interaction between countries Γ and Δ provoked by the turbulent diplomatic relations 80 years prior?

The diametrically opposite concept of a world citizen, likewise, doesn’t inspire a lot of sense in me. I acknowledge interest in the idea of redefining borders to contrast the traditional parameters such as passports and diplomatic relations. However, the term world citizen carries too many implications that I’m not prepared to automatically accept in the context of even a casual conversation. Well, I’m aware of how difficult I can be to converse with.

I find the flexibility of choice in behavior, interest, and habits far more rewarding when not bound by major categories or cultural preconceptions. And if roots or soil are of no interest, I don’t see anything inherently wrong with neglecting them in the pursuit of some other journey. After all, they’ll always be there ready to re-embrace you, if and when you desire. Meanwhile, where is the benefit in reminiscence?

The idea of a first or second language also looses much meaning when no language clearly dominates, when all are spoken with some non-native accent, and all prevail in a certain context. I explored this topic in the languages essay.

Years of travels, including my last two consistent years, have similarly not inspired any defining connection to any country or culture. I could do this indefinitely or until some interest or project draws me to temporarily or permanently settle in some region. In principle, I don’t feel any strong preference for one over another. I do, however, feel the burden in the physical act of transport, and the irritation occasionally makes me want to settle in some region. To elaborate, the burden is provoked largely by logistics and the initial acclimation cost. I would rather read a book than research cheap flights, wait in airports or bus stations, or find the best route to new lodgings. Otherwise, perpetual travel could become a fantastic phenomenon if no strong reason holds you at bay.

My attachments to places occur not at a broad level of a country or culture, but at an individual level. I spent a great deal of time in Brazil largely due to the individual interactions I cultivated. Yet I cringe at arguments that lean towards broad classification. Those conversations tend to draw more from preconceptions than independent cases and outliers (which number a significant quantity).

Entire lives transpire in the midst of outliers and by virtue of independent pursuit… for those individuals willing to take control of their lives.

Questions, comments? Connect.