Monday, October 3, 2016

An impossible mission?

The Artdog Quote of the Week 

I'm not sure Suzuki is correct--either that international cultural exchange is impossible, or that it is impossible to see beyond one's own cultural context.

Instead, I think that when people from different cultures interact, they almost inevitably are affected by the new ideas and approaches they encounter. Far from being impossible, it seems to me that cultural exchange is inevitable.

Moreover, once cultural interaction has taken place, the new approaches or ideas (or visuals, or sounds, or flavors, or any of the other aspects of cultural interaction) have been experienced, they are impossible to un-experience. And what does that change? Cultural context.

Not completely, of course. Not all the way to seeing in terms of the newly-experienced culture's context, certainly. But it still can be interesting, startling, or occasionally even life-changing, to experience life surrounded by a culture not our own.

Suzuki and Bogart are correct, however that making the effort to see beyond one's own context has the potential to break down rigid assumptions. And once the walls of those assumptions have fallen, who knows what creative things might happen?

IMAGE: Many thanks for this quotation and image to A-Z Quotes.


  1. I think artists of all kinds, while perhaps not completely understanding the cultural background of a new idea or work of art, are more than happy--delighted, even--to snatch up the bit that intrigues them and play with it until they gain some deeper understanding. It is as if the world has given the painter a whole new color, or the musician a new instrument with completely different notes. They will be unable to resist wading in.

  2. Definitely not impossible. It may be hard to totally understand another culture without living it from birth, but you can get an understanding of it. By watching Japanese Anime, I can get a smattering of understanding of Japanese culture by seeing how the characters interact differently than they would in my culture. By watching Akira Kirosawa movies, I can gain a similar knowledge and feeling for a more historical Japan. To riff on Kirosawa, when he made the movie 'Yojimbo', he said that he specifically was making a Western, though it was a samurai period piece. However, it had the feel of a Western and even included a six-gun along with all the katanas.

    Sergio Leone took the story of Yojimbo and made a new style of western by changing locale and changing the swords to guns. So you have an Italian filmmaker creating a Western borrowing a Japanese story. To continue on the riff a bit, there's a movie in the theaters now that had its origins from Kirosawa's 'Seven Samurai'. I haven't seen the movie yet, so I can't comment directly on any cultural influences, though since it's a remake of the original remaking of 'Seven Samurai' into a Western, it may have lost more in this translation of the original story.