Search This Blog

Sep 8, 2006

Cultural cycles

I worry about cultural cycles today. All cultures exist in cycles of celebrations and the routine, of war and peace, the seasons, and leadership changes. All those short and long cycles maintain culture’s cohesiveness, but also reinforce its values, reestablish the culture itself. Humans seem to be emotionally wired for cyclicity, and are unable to maintain the same emotional tone for long periods of time. They need both jolts of excitement and periods of relative quiet.

Basically any culture, including miniature cultures of organizations like ours, includes series of reminders. The Independence Day is just a holistic reminder of the ideal of American Revolution. Of course, these ideals get constantly revised, and history is always reinvented, but the function of a celebration is still to remind. Christmas is a reminder about Jesus; Passover is a reminder of the Exodus from Egypt, etc. Now, Labor day does not remind of any specific event, which is why it is not a real holiday, but rather a long weekend.

We are now in what, third week of classes. Everyone seems to be happy getting back into the classrooms, if exhausted by the demands of work. Yet we all seem to be spread out, working all individually, and not having any time or opportunity to remind each other of what we have agreed on. What I worry about is that whatever momentum we established at the beginning of the school year will not dissipate. Of course, one does not just create a tradition out of nothing, especially in a place like university. The rare faculty meetings usually have the sort of ritualistic celebratory overtones that create and maintain academic culture. It’s the spirit of the place, the intangibles of human group that I worry about.

This is going to be a short blog, for I only know the question, and even that very vaguely. NO answer comes to my mind, so perhaps someone can help me.

No comments:

Post a Comment