samedi 8 septembre 2007

The Journey Has Already Begun

In 1936, Albert Speer defined ruin value in architecture. This concept is that one should strive to make buildings that, if they were to collapse, would decay beautifully. Great stone structures, columns, anything carved deeply, etc. The Romans knew this but did not name it, like the Greeks before them.

In North America, our youth has stifled our ambition. We see history as ephemeral (as indeed it is). We are shortsighted. I am under the impression that Jean-Baptiste Colbert, finance minister to the sun king, planted the trees in field in front of Invalides in Paris so that in 200 years, the French would have a fine supply of lumber for their navy.

Cultures are by their very nature mutable. New situations arise which must be dealt with, for instance technology, modernism, consumerism. But what is culture anymore anyway? I am a Cajun, born in Southern Louisiana. But what does that even mean? I did not learn French, the language of the Cajuns, at home. In fact, I speak a Parisian French that I learned at the Sorbonne. What else is there? Food, music, good cheer, talking flat? Is that what makes a culture?

I am writing this as an introduction to what I am doing. I study culture, specifically Cajun culture and its mother Acadian culture and beyond that French culture, and these cultures in opposition to American, e.g. of the United States, culture. My precise job at the moment is to write poems under the auspices of a Fulbright grant while I live in Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada's premier bilingual city and epicenter of Acadian arts and culture. Maybe if I figure out what culture means, I will describe it here.

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