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PostPosted: Tue Jul 02, 2019 8:12 am 
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PB+J wrote:
Steve Bliven wrote:
PB+J wrote:
In general though the idea that you can't do X unless you are X is pretty dumb.

You might get some blow-back on a value-laden statement like that—even if it's "in general."

Insisting you can’t play x unless you ARE X is an extremely dubious policy.

Just to be clear, your first statement was much more general than your second (do vs play), and I'd say you'd know plenty of counterexamples to it. There are certain traditions that are more culturally sensitive than others, where it wouldn't be dumb for the members of the culture to state that you shouldn't do it if you're not part of the culture. Even in Irish music, there's generally an understanding that you shouldn't put yourself out there as an expert on Irish traditional music unless you're actually an expert on Irish traditional music. Many people who are part of the tradition look down on people who are not versed in the tradition, but are claiming (or presenting themselves) as if they were. I think that's the distinction that's important when talking about cultural appropriation.


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PostPosted: Tue Jul 02, 2019 9:20 am 
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Substitute 'misguided' for 'dumb' and count that the force of 'generally' is to allow the possibility of exceptions, and it's generally wonderful to play the music of other nations, ethnicities, etc. The rest is talk. Want 'cultural appropriation'? Here we go. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DNaexHNq0Lc


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PostPosted: Tue Jul 02, 2019 10:39 am 
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Mostly I was responding to the implication that, "If you disagree with my opinion you must be 'pretty dumb.' "

As has been suggested in comments, there are situations and opinions that diverge widely (and sometimes vociferously) on when and how to enter into another culture's music, dance, regalia, etc.—I wouldn't agree that any of the perspectives are "pretty dumb."

Them's my thoughts.

Steve

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PostPosted: Tue Jul 02, 2019 11:00 am 
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MadmanWithaWhistle wrote:
Geoffrey Ellis wrote:
There is strong evidence that this style of block flute that we call the Native American flute has a very short history and was actually simply a native take on European flagolet and whistles that the natives got in trade from early settlers. This is a controversial subject and many natives would angrily refute this. I don't have a position on it because I honestly don't know what the truth is. But when in doubt I'm inclined to side with the Native view. They have plenty of grounds for being angry at their ongoing treatment, and I'm leery of history that is written by the "conquerors".


Fascinating stuff, Geoffery. Thanks for sharing your insider knowledge about these flutes!


My pleasure!

It's been an education for me as well. I was pretty naive about the implications of a non-native making native flutes when I first started out, and when it became a viable business for me there was strong motivation for all sorts of justifications which could bias my viewpoint. It had become my sole livelihood, and I was reluctant to look too hard at the ethics once I found myself confronted with them. And I know quite a few NA flute makers who still simply refuse to consider any possibility that there might be an ethical question at all. But I will say this: the majority of makers that I knew who made these flutes did so because they loved and honored the Native American culture, even if it was within certain limits. Our current culture does not always give a sense of continuity to those who live within it. I would even go so far as to describe it as "bankrupt" in so many ways. Superficial, homogenized, throwaway values abound, and for a lot of people the beauty and continuity of Native American traditions really spoke to them. I've heard Native Americans justifiably criticize non-natives who "play Indian", but there are a portion of them who are not playing at it. They really go deep with complete sincerity.

But I have also encountered a lot of people "playing Indian", not realizing how offensive this might be. For myself, I was never into the NA flute as anything other than a cool instrument, but I did my share of borrowed iconography on some of them until at some point it started to feel contrived. And as the admin of a forum where these topics were often discussed, I began to see how complex this issue was and how little self-examination I had really engaged in. The more I thought about it and talked to others, ironically the less clear it became.

Given the cultural mash-ups that are always taking place throughout human history, it can be difficult to distinguish exploitation from inspiration, paying tribute versus profiting by, etc.. I think it takes a very sensitive person to try to navigate these things. I tend to give people a lot of slack simply because I've been on both sides of the fence and I know that well-meaning people might be offending without intent. So discussing the issues without labeling anyone or putting them "in the wrong" is valuable. Human ego being what it is, it is always better to gently persuade than to tell anyone that they are stupid or wrong. If we inflame someone's ego or sense of pride it'll more than likely just offend them to such a pitch that they dismiss us completely and become even more fixed in their views.

That's the inherent danger of "opinions" of all kinds. An opinion is a fixed viewpoint that implies that we have all the information and have considered an argument from every possible vantage point (which is impossible). Human beings don't tend to like gray areas or paradoxes. Our minds like black or white, yes or no, right or wrong. Sadly, nothing in life actually occupies those extreme ends of the spectrum. So I try to avoid getting too dug into any viewpoint. But it can make for some insipid dinner conversations :-)

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PostPosted: Tue Jul 02, 2019 11:04 am 
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Steve Bliven wrote:
Mostly I was responding to the implication that, "If you disagree with my opinion you must be 'pretty dumb.' "

As has been suggested in comments, there are situations and opinions that diverge widely (and sometimes vociferously) on when and how to enter into another culture's music, dance, regalia, etc.—I wouldn't agree that any of the perspectives are "pretty dumb."

Them's my thoughts.

Steve



I'm happy to reiterate that I think claiming that only people who ARE x can DO X is dumb. It's a value judgement I suppose, and I'm making it. It's a dumb position. It flirts with outright racism. And it's indefensible, in the sense that it imagines a kind of authenticity that simply does not and cannot exist in the real world. Can the people who speak your language with as lightly different inflection play the music? Or are they not real? Can people listen if they aren't one of the real people? Or can only the real people listen? If one of the real people, say, joins the army or goes off to college or marries a non real person, can he or she still play the music? Its dumb because it's self defeating. Its dumb like repeatedly stepping on a shovel even though the handle pops up and whacks you in the face. Not every human act is equal.

You can, it seems to me, insist that people who want to do X should apprentice themselves in as serious way--that's an entirely different story and an entirely different question.

In my line of work, history, would you entertain the claim that only people who are women can study the history of women? Only people who are christian can study the history of Christianity? Only farmers can study farmers? That would be a dumb position, since manifestly, you in the present are NEVER the thing you are studying. You Irish, but you aren't a landless farmer about to die from cholera during the famine


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PostPosted: Tue Jul 02, 2019 11:25 am 
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PB+J wrote:
[I'm happy to reiterate that I think claiming that only people who ARE x can DO X is dumb. It's a value judgement I suppose, and I'm making it. ...

In my line of work, history, would you entertain the claim that only people who are women can study the history of women? Only people who are christian can study the history of Christianity? Only farmers can study farmers? That would be a dumb position, since manifestly, you in the present are NEVER the thing you are studying. You Irish, but you aren't a landless farmer about to die from cholera during the famine

And I would suggest that there are instances where only people who are X can do X, e.g.,only an ordained priest should administer mass, or only someone trained in Hopi ceremonials should play the sacred tunes.

Further, I would submit that studying a topic is different than performing an act. Historians and anthropologists/sociologists play a far different role than those folk they are recording.

It seems pretty straightforward that only women can create the history of women—while anyone can study said history (whether those studying can truly understand without being a participant is a whole 'nuther question). Only Christians can make Christian history, etc.

However, all of this is rather off-topic to Mr. Ellis "essential flute". Perhaps another thread is in order.

Best wishes.

Steve

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PostPosted: Tue Jul 02, 2019 11:49 am 
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Steve Bliven wrote:
However, all of this is rather off-topic to Mr. Ellis "essential flute". Perhaps another thread is in order.
Steve


I had the same thought after my last philosophical post :-) Threads can and do wander a bit, but this one has gone far afield! A fascinating topic in itself, but of course not exactly a continuation of the OPs subject. And in my experience this philosophical digression never ends. It can be discussed til' doomsday :-)

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PostPosted: Tue Jul 02, 2019 12:03 pm 
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Steve Bliven wrote:
Perhaps another thread is in order.

There's always the Pub.

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PostPosted: Tue Jul 02, 2019 2:41 pm 
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Did I mention the Ellis flute is really good! :pint:


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PostPosted: Tue Jul 02, 2019 2:54 pm 
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Steve Bliven wrote:
And I would suggest that there are instances where only people who are X can do X, e.g.,only an ordained priest should administer mass


Nanohedron wrote:
Steve Bliven wrote:
Perhaps another thread is in order.

There's always the Pub.


And yes, I have administered a "mass" there. Wine and wafers, beer and crisps, who cares? Baptismal water smelled terrible but it's not my fault they left the mop bucket where they did.


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PostPosted: Tue Jul 02, 2019 4:59 pm 
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PB+J wrote:
Did I mention the Ellis flute is really good! :pint:

I seem to vaguely remember mention of an Ellis flute—can't remember where.

Best wishes.

Steve

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