On Culture

I don’t see myself in a particular cultural category, but in a superposition of several, and not necessarily cohesive categories, rather.

I had lived a smaller portion of my life in Belarus, a larger portion in the States, and nomadically for some time. However, I hardly identify myself with any of those places in any but a formal manner. Moreover, questions in regards to country of origin and identify no longer interest me but in a purely academic sense, and I try not to initiate conversations to the respect. I certainly don’t wish to appeal to these categories in seeking explanation for 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 south region of country Z known for certain peculiar behavioral traits 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 in the past?

Here in Berlin, I attended an open-mic comedy session. I intend to later follow up on this otherwise captivating topic. But I will briefly emphasize the extent to which much of the material resorted to cultural stigmas and stereotypes. …A high extent. And no wonder, considering the availability of material.

The diametrically opposite concept of a world citizen, likewise, doesn’t inspire a lot of sense in me. I acknowledge the interest in the idea of redefining borders in a different fashion to traditional parameters such as passports and diplomatic relations. But the term world citizen carries too many implications that I’m not prepared to automatically accept even in the context of an otherwise 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 reminiscing those aspects?

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 post.

Years of travels, including my last two consistent years, have similarly not inspired any particular defining connection to any one country or culture, nor any strict sense of nostalgia. 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 (presently) 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 not bound to those aspects and no strong reason holds you at bay.

My attachments to places occur not at a broad level of a country or culture, but at a level of individuals I meet. I spent a great deal of time in Brazil largely due to the individual interactions I cultivated. But I cringe at arguments based around classifying an entire country to any particular respect, positively or negatively. Those conversations tend to draw more from preconceptions than independent cases and outliers (which number a significant quantity). Entire lives occur in the midst of outliers and by virtue of personal dedication… for those individuals willing to take control of their lives.