Culture: A Common Thread

Topics: Ralph Waldo Emerson, Culture, Anthropology Pages: 4 (1175 words) Published: April 27, 2005
A Common Thread

We as a society are surrounded by life, as we know it each day. Never stopping to look around and absorb what is going on around us. Our surroundings pass us by and we never take a glimpse at what those surroundings may hold. Our society presses forward without looking over their shoulder to see where we have been. Without acknowledging our present culture and studying our culture in the past, where are we going?

Studying Clifford Geertz, Patricia Limerick, John Wideman, and Ralph Waldo Emerson has made it easier for me to answer my own question. These four authors of varying expertise tied together a common thread called culture.

Clifford Geertz in his essay "Deep Play" brought us the world of cockfighting in Bali. In this essay he portrays the culture of our present American society through the use of the Balinese cockfight. Amazingly enough Geertz used what some would call a primitive culture to show us the aspects of our culture and the role these aspects play in our culture. Social structure, family, tradition, and money are just a few of the aspects brought out by Geertz that govern our present society. Geertz sums up our culture when he states,

"Their life, as they arrange it and perceive it, is less a
flow, a directional movement out of the past, through
the present, toward the future than an on-off pulsation
of meaning and vacuity, an arrhythmic alternation of
short periods when "something" (that is, something
significant) is happening and equally short ones where
"nothing" (that is, nothing much) is- between what they
themselves call "full" and "empty" times, or, in another
idiom, "junctures" and "holes" (387).

Patricia Limerick in her essay "Empire of Innocence" exposed many other aspects of our culture. One aspect in particular is tradition. Limerick showed us how tradition in our culture can rape other cultures of their rightful place in history. She enlightened us with the idea...

Cited: Emerson, Ralph Waldo. "The American Scholar." Rpt. in Ways of Reading.
5th Ed. David Bartholomae and Anthony Petrosky. Boston: Bedford/
St. Martin 's, 1999. 304.
Geertz, Clifford. "Deep Play." Rpt. in Ways of Reading. 5th Ed. David
Bartholomae and Anthony Petrosky. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin 's,
1999. 387.
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