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Monday, June 20, 2022

Brisket with the Danes

 That said, I do not believe that the conversation about cultural appropriation should be so easily cast aside, especially by those who are concerned with the pains of history, the well-being of neighbours, and the healing of society. To the contrary, I believe that the accounts of history and of political vigilance that lie at the heart of the cultural-appropriation framework are more or less beyond reproach. The simple fact of the matter is that Western culture, even with all of its religious and scientific pretensions (as often as not because of them) was predicated on presumption and enacted through theft. And not only this, these presumptions and this theft continue to shape the complex ways in which those of us who have inherited this culture interact with one another. Because of this, I believe that the work of taking this history seriously by repairing its original harms and rejecting its lingering impulses is central to moral and political integrity in our time. All this to say, I find—even with its conceptual ambiguities—the framework of cultural appropriation to be an important source of theoretical and practical guidance in the ongoing work of overcoming the harms of our colonial inheritance.

Why do I find writing like this insufferable?  It's supposed to be so ever thoughtful and nuanced, but the kind of "cultural appropriation" at issue is of the most trivial, unobjectionable kind imaginable.  If I were to parody this style I would call it "concern troll" style.  All this "I believe that..."  "All this to say, I find." The pretentious verbiage like "moral and political integrity of our time."  


Phaedrus said...

Hahaha! There were some other fine passages you could have selected, too [see below].

Gil Sorrentino would have *adored* the word "precisely" here. I remember reading him an opaque paragraph someone wrote about Zukofsky that ended with the phrase "of course." That became a little in-joke between us thereafter. One of us would see or hear something stupid, then say "of course."


"It is from this vantage point that our lives at the table may be viewed for what they truly are: prophetic witness to the reality of welcome in a world of exclusion. Our faces reddened with steam from stoves. Our plates composed with care. Our tables set with expectation. Our doors opened to others. Our glasses raised against the night. Each of these is a sort of rosary, a practice of prayer offered up in faith to the welcome at the heart of all things. A convivial imagination, in other words, provides us not simply with a different way of viewing our life together but also with a different way of inhabiting that life. A way that, while ever vigilant against the brutal greed seething within the colonial imagination, is different precisely because it believes in a boundless generosity that is both before and beyond it."

Leslie B. said...

Remember, if you make artisanal tortillas, most Mexicans will not say it is cultural appropriation but support. You will be helping to mitigate the shortage of authentic tortillas, preserving and passing on tortilla making skill, advocating for the cultivation of genuine ingredients, and so on.

Phaedrus, is that an actual quotation or did you make it up as parody?

Phaedrus said...

Leslie, That passage is from "precisely" the same "Brisket with the Danes" piece Jonathan quoted.