Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Seven different words for "cookie"

I was reading about diversity among Latin American immigrants in the US, and one article said there were seven different words for "cookie": bizcochito, bollito, craque, galletita, galleta dulce, cuqui, cuque. While recognizing that all those words are generic, I recognize that I have lots of different words for "cookie" but my favorite is "Chips Ahoy". Others include Moravian sugar, Oreos, and tea cakes. European languages have different names for different types of cookies, i.e. biscotti. Some places call them wafers; and in other places wafers are non-sweet crackers.

Life can be confusing in its diversity, but brand names give clarity to our passions. They are specific and not stereotypes.

Guess what we need to do with people is avoid the generalities and stick with the brand names: Miriam H, James S, Mary P. Even with people confusion abounds: here I am sharecropper; on Yahoo groups I am a different name; friends who have known me a long time call me by a nickname; more recent friends call me by my given name; a few still know me by my maiden name; and many who don't know me at all call me "sweetie" (I do live in the South, y'all). Each one of those names has a slightly different perspective of the real person behind the name, behind the writing, behind the crafts, behind the theology and the bs.

Diversity within, diversity without. And, when we've finished writing the nine million names for God, the lights will go out.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Maiden Voyage

Headed out the creek

Margaret Drives

Lisa Drives

Home after maiden voyage

Still not named. Red Rocket? Arabesque? Peppermint?

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Mimetic Theory - part 2

Shallotpeel asked if advertising, commercialism and capitalism were all part of following the American dream of keeping up with the Joneses.

Of course, they are. The basic question, put in Biblical terms, is why did Eve eat the forbidden fruit? In modern theology, what is the source of evil? Mimetic theory is basically trying to say that evil is the result of envy.

The implementation of it in our lives is much more pervasive. This is imitation in its subtlest form. Spouse abusers are frequently children of spouse abusers. Democrats begat Democrats. Hard working families begat hard working children (sometimes anyway - the author may be excepted). We wouldn't want a flat screen television if we had not seen a flat screen television possessed by someone or advertised by an appealing person.

I wouldn't continue to collect miniature Hallmark Christmas ornaments if it did not bring me compliments or comments - which I translate into love, which is a desirable thing because my Momma told me so. It means that I have something that few other of my acquaintances do - something for which they might envy me. Mimetic theory says that this will make them jealous and so they might either try to steal my ornaments or degrade me in some other way. One way to keep up with the Joneses is to run them off (so goes the theory) - that way, I consider myself to be superior to them.

Seems like a big ego trip to me, but we do undoubtedly desire things because someone else has them. I don't believe all our desires are generated by others' possessions. But, Rene Girard contended that this is the basis of all cultures, and I suspect that he says it is the basis of civilization itself.

Seems to me the painful elaboration of the obvious. Remember, Shallotpeel, when we advertised Arthur Ashe glasses frames? The idea was that, if someone saw the name, they would want to be like Ashe and would buy the frames to make them as good as he was. Logical? Why would someone pay $$$$ for shoes that were named for Michael Jordan? Mimetic theory - imitation of Jordan.

Why do I like the color red? Long ago, did I see someone that I admired wearing red? I know that my desire for independence and being different were generated not only because my home situation made me that way, but this desire also came from seeing the wealthiest woman in town come into the Ben Franklin store in blue jeans, t-top, high heels and a full length fur coat - breezing along, uncaring about what others thought. I admired her a great deal, and so I try to be different and uncaring of what others think about me. So, where does mimetic theory fit in my life? Lots of places, but not so well in others and not at all in some places.

The uniqueness of every human is that which cannot be explained by mimetic theory or by the various combinations of mimetic traits. The theory fails in full explanation for me. But, that's how I've learned to manipulate people - leading them to places they want to be by showing them how they can be like those they admire.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Mimetic Theory

One set of You Tube videos on Mimetic Theory proposes that 1. We want things because others have them and we want to be like them. 2. Such desires create tension which can escalate into violence. 3. The theory is explained in the Bible and 4. The Bible tells us how to avoid this.

Rene Girard proposed at least part of this theory many years ago. We are mimicking or aping others. While this is acceptably true in childhood, some social scientists contend that it continues to occur throughout adulthood as well. "Keeping up with the Joneses"

Pretty things. Useful things, expensive toys for children and adults. We desire these things because others that we consider "successful" have them. Did we buy our new boat because someone else we thought was successful had a new boat. Well, I don't know anyone with a new boat. Our boat is in the shop; we love being on the water; our boat is no longer serviceable for what we want; so we bought a new boat. Sounds reasonable.

However, we bought a boat that is large enough to take friends out boating with us. Many of our friends do not have boats. We like to say that we have a boat so that we can enjoy boating with our friends. And, we do. But, sometimes I wonder about that. Are we being mimetic in our desires?

Take my yarn collection or my bead collection - why do I keep adding to this when I have more yarn and more beads than I can ever use. Why do things seem to mean so much when they really don't? I have visions of beautiful things made with these beads and this yarn. However, I either don't do it or can't do it. So these "things" go unused. But, that doesn't stop me from wanting more.

Some people say I am trying to fill an empty space in my life - an empty space that only God can fill. Don't think so. God and I get along just fine. Maybe I'm trying to make up for all the "stuff" that I didn't have when I was growing up and as a young adult - poverty can be a great motivator to hoarding.

But, desiring this stuff because others have it - nah, I don't think so. Desiring this stuff because I think it's pretty and it exists - maybe.

As for parts 3 and 4 of mimetic theory according to these You Tube videos - The Bible certainly does give a truthful picture of humanity and offers a pretty good model of what paradise could be. And, perhaps we could trace violence back to wanting what someone else has...but I'm not sure. We didn't fight the Crusades in order to have what someone else had - yet, we perpetrated violence.

I wonder how difference fits in with mimetic theory. Discomfort with strangeness. Yep, all in the Bible. But, also in other traditional stories from thousands of years before the Biblical writing. I wonder.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Gifts and the Gifted

Most of you know that I work in a yarn store. Many of our patrons and students are involved in charitable works, and I support them as best I can. One such is the Shoe Box Project - decorate a shoe box and fill it with things that someone in need can use - school supplies, toiletries, other goodies. So, I gave them a little donation the other day to help with back-to-school stuff. And, today, Tye came to the shop with a Thank You present for me - a shoe box for me to give to someone.

It's beautiful with a little stuffed animal tied on top. I almost cried.

I who have so much - gifted with something for giving.

Love is that way. The gift that multiplies as we give it away.

PS- I called my godson today. He's been clean and sober now for five months. Thanks be to God.