Sunday, October 3, 2010

Imitation of the Other

The very way our children learn from us -- and, thus, learn best from us -- has been shown to promote social bonding. More, such imitation seems to be central to the creation of larger groups, of the extended order we now live in, and thus to the expansion of our morals in the way Darwin himself explained. It turns out that this kind of imitation is necessary for people of different cultures to get along. Thus, artists who use ideas and concepts from other cultures are not "appropriating" (a term created by multiculturalists whose theories are atavistic in nature, wishing to keep us separate from each other just as much as do racial purists) those ideas and concepts. Rather, such artists are working to create bridges between cultures, to bring us all together. Thus, are we learning from each other.

This could suggest one way for literary Darwinists to discuss cross-cultural works. To what degree do they contribute to our imitating each other? To what degree could they thus contribute? The effects may in fact be quite subtle. Is the use of a form from another culture, such as the ghazal or the Noh play, an imitation of this sort?


  1. The power dynamics of child imitating a parent or youth imitating an elder assumes that the first will one day occupy the position of the latter in the role of being the subject of imitation.

    The power dynamics of racial or gendered appropriations cannot be confused/ compared with cultural appropriation and none of these can be compared to generational appropriation.

    if the child appropriated a skill from his parent... in the cultural sense.. the child would then kill the parent. this is what happend with racial/gender/cultural appropriation. Instead of giving credit for where the influence comes from... most agents of this vile form of appropriation pretend they came up with it on their own, erase the source and reep/hoard the benefits.

    There is nothing wrong with cross cultural exchange but this should not be confused with theft. pure theft. and theft doesn't build bridges. It continues a cycle of marginalization and disproportionate distribution of resources...

  2. "Power dynamics" sounds to me like the perfect post hoc- propter hoc all-purpose explanation of everything. How do we know someone has power to do something? By the fact that they do it. How do we know someone does not have the power to do something? By the fact that they don't. I.e. "power" is a totally unnecessary middleman. Its appeal, of course, is that it can be equated with coercion, and thus arouse all the rage we feel against coercion. Thus for people who don't achieve anything, there is the comfort of believing that real achievers got their way by evil violence.

  3. Not sure why you're talking about "power dynamics" here. But mutual trade is not an example of "power dynamics." Telling you unless you do something good for me, I'll do something bad to you, and having the ability to use force to enforce it, is. I don't make the postmodernist mistake to think everything is power.