Resisting Culture?

You know the proverb about grasping oil in your hand? And the impossibility of that? Well, that is almost how I feel about defining culture. Culture changes constantly to reflect the {changing} people that make up the culture. Each of the authors that we have read have had their own interpretation on culture. Bell hooks talks about culture in both a negative and positive way. She seems to be implying that the white culture was remixing the black culture. Hooks notes that many black women felt pressure to straighten their hair so that they might have a better opportunity to get a job in the working world. Hooks talks about how doing their hair was an intimate ritual, but now because of the pressure that they feel from the white women, straightening hair becomes “stripped of the positive binding…and more to be exclusively a signifier of white suprematists oppression and exploration.” Hooks illustrates an example of how culture changes.

Culture is like language, creating new words and putting aside others. Shakespeare did not need to use the word “selfie” in his plays any more than we feel the need to use the word “sallet.”

In the beginning of Navas’ essay, he presents different definitions that have arisen for culture. It “originates in nature and is defined by labor”; it is “modified according to the interests of individuals who perform a specific form of manual work” (116-7) Another defines culture as a “type of resistance in search of meaning against the rise of capitalism” (117). In all three of these descriptions of culture, there is at least one uniting feature–culture is defined by people who live and work in any given society. While the means to the end might be different (resisting capitalism, originating in nature, manual labor) the end result is the same: culture is defined through capitalism, whether or not that cause is intentional or not.

I find modern and postmodern culture fascinating and saddening. It is painful for me to read literature that seems to be so very dark and despondent. Many works offer little hope. They seem to give little insight into their purpose. In much modern/postmodern work, people appear more apathetic and not actively resisting. If culture is defined by some sort of resistance, then how are the characters in Waiting for Godet resistant? I have heard many people say that our generation is without a cause and that we aren’t actively fighting for something. Is this true? If it is, then what is culture for our generation? Navas’ definition seems to fall short of this observation.

The amount of remixes, mash-ups, and cover songs suggest a return to what is older. Less creating new works and more revision of the past. Even popular fashion takes a spin at the Indie/Bohemian styles trendy in the 60s and 70s.


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