LISTSERV mailing list manager LISTSERV 16.5

Help for CELTIC-L Archives


CELTIC-L Archives

CELTIC-L Archives


CELTIC-L@LISTSERV.HEANET.IE


View:

Message:

[

First

|

Previous

|

Next

|

Last

]

By Topic:

[

First

|

Previous

|

Next

|

Last

]

By Author:

[

First

|

Previous

|

Next

|

Last

]

Font:

Proportional Font

LISTSERV Archives

LISTSERV Archives

CELTIC-L Home

CELTIC-L Home

CELTIC-L  April 1997

CELTIC-L April 1997

Subject:

Re: Celticness/Americanness

From:

Brian Donnelly <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

CELTIC-L - The Celtic Culture List.

Date:

Wed, 9 Apr 1997 09:18:54 -0400

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (168 lines)

In a message dated 4/9/97 5:20:03 AM, you wrote:

<<> Neil, what is an American?  For most people it's an accident of birth.
 Some
> are born Americans, some become Americans, and some have American-ness
thrust
> upon them.


    Quite true, and yet all three kinds of people have a connection to
the U.S.A., more so than to any other country (unless they are
immigrants).


> Some do whatever they can to emigrate to this place, hoping to
> find a promised land.  Sometimes they do, sometimes they don't.  Sometimes
> the people who have lived here all their lives think that the grass is
> greener somewhere else.


    Yes, but why do they think that?  There's a whole world of American
folk-culture at their fingertips, for example.  Don't they owe it to
themselves to learn a little about the nation they actually live in
before venturing to claim identity from a nation or nations which are far
away across the ocean?  Don't you think it's pretty funny that some kids
who grow up in Ireland think, "Jesus this place is dull sometimes, I
wouldn't mind heading to the States or somewhere exciting?"  People in
Europe find America exciting because it's different, which is also why you
find Europe (or one small corner of it) so exciting as well.  But
ultimately unless you are going to move to a country and live the rest of
your life there, you are going to have to find belonging where you are at
the moment.  If American life disturbs you, by all means move to Ireland
or Scotland -- some Americans do just that.  It won't be what you expect,
but you might like it better.  But if you do stay in the U.S., learn to
respect your own country, your own culture, or else you'll be eaten up
inside with unhappiness.


> We are not a melting pot, in the sense that we have somehow commingled our
> various heritages into a homogenous blend,  but more like a fondue pot in
> which we have all been coated with a veneer of Americanism while retaining
> our heritage underneath it all.  This says nothing about patriotism, but
> explains a lot about the tendency of most of us to identify with our roots.


     And there's nothing wrong with that in the least.  However, being an
Irish- or a Hispanic- or an African- or an Italian-American is going to
be, as the part after the hyphen implies, at least halfway about being an
American.  You can be Irish-American, but if you're born and raised in
American then you're not going to experience "native" Irish culture, and
in fact the Irish themselves will hardly know what to make of you.  I've
heard similar stories of black Americans moving to Africa and continuing
to live a life very separate from that of the "native" Africans.  The
land itself, America, stamps the incoming cultures very thoroughly, so
much so that they become very different.  Again, is this really a bad
thing?  The Gaels in Cape Breton are different from the ones in Scotland,
for example, but this variety is pleasing and adds to the vitality of the
language.


> Your definition of what makes a Celt is not necessarily one we all accept.
>  It is a definition.  That's all.  I accept it about as well as you accept
> anything I say.  I will grant that language is  one attribute of
Celticness,
> but not the only one, nor should it be the one great deciding factor.


     Many Irish-Americans who have chosen to learn their language would
disagree, though.


> In many societies a person takes on the nationality of the parents, no
matter
> where they are born.   I have heard that a person can become an Irish
citizen
> now if their grandparent was Irish, or some such.  That is a citizen, not
> merely an admission that they are Irish, and there is no demand that they
> speak Gaelic, unless I've been very ill-informed.


      No, you're quite right.  However, the fact that Irish has declined
so dramatically in the RoI is inevitably leading to the assimilation of
the Irish into the Anglo-American world.  The way of life there is
changing rapidly, and the end of it can only be full entry into the
global consumer culture.  Already you can see the difference between the
generation that were young in the 1970s and those which are young in
1990s (in Belfast at any rate); the latter are far more consumer-oriented,
far more interested in the products of international mass culture.
Language *would* provide a barrier against this, if they still had it,
but unfortunately for most of them it's long gone.  The result is that
they lead lives indistinguishable from those of people in urban centres
in Canada, the US, the UK, Australia, and New Zealand; what little local
flavour remains is increasingly being seen as old-fashioned and a little
embarrassing.


> I at one time spoke French quite fluently, yet I never considered myself
> French, nor do I have an affinity for their land or traditions, although I
do
> like the wine, brandy and some of the cheeses.  I just happened to like the
> language.  Perhaps a Norman in the woodpile somewhere.  Even the
proficiency
> required in it to write poetry, particularly sonnets, in the language was
no
> more than a mechanical achievement.  There was no attachment.


     I'm not suggesting you "pick up" Gaelic the way you would acquire
French in school.  I'm saying that, if you want so badly to feel that
you're at the heart of Celtic culture, you should take a look at the most
Celtic of cultural expression, which involves the languages.  If you
consider yourself a Celt then obviously Gaelic or Welsh will be far more
congenial to you than French ever was.


> By the way, I have never claimed to be a Druid.  I am not.


    You have however (and interestingly enough) claimed to be in Mensa,
which jibes uneasily with your apparent inability to learn a Celtic
language.


> I am, however, Celt enough to have been awarded the title of Dame Commander
> in the Noble Order of Tara three years ago
> by the late Lord Laurence Durdin-Robertson, 21st Baron Strathloch of
> Enniscorthy, Eire for service to the Land.


    What the hell is that?!?  (Service to *what* land?  To California?)


> I'll take his word for it over yours any day, in any language.


    Good Lord, you actually believe that your acquisition of some
preposterous invented title makes you more of a Celt than someone who
actually is familiar with genuine Celtic culture?  You really are lost in
your own fantasies, I'm afraid.

    Please, I urge any of you out there who live outside Scotland,
Ireland or Wales not to embarrass yourselves in this way by pretending
that *you* are the "true" Celts and that all us "unspiritual" people who
merely happen to have been born and raised in a Celtic country and
culture, and who may also speak an actual Celtic language, are just
somehow frauds.  It won't wash.  It'll only give us a good laugh.


le meas

Neil A. McEwan
--

Lord High Commander of the Noble Order of East Belfast
(title granted by the 18th Earl of Ballymacarett, a/k/a
 Justin McAteer, for services rendered in picking up the
 fish suppers for him on Friday nights, and for lying to
 his Ma about his whereabouts)>>

Neil, I love that signature! On the subject of Celticness/Americanness,
someone recently asked me "Why is Celtic pronounced with a hard C whereas the
Boston Celtics pronounce their name with a soft C?" My only explanation was
that America likes to "Americanize" or "Anglicize" everything. True?

Cheers,

Brian

Top of Message | Previous Page | Permalink

Advanced Options


Options

Log In

Log In

Get Password

Get Password


Search Archives

Search Archives


Subscribe or Unsubscribe

Subscribe or Unsubscribe


Archives

January 2019
December 2018
September 2018
March 2018
January 2018
December 2017
March 2017
February 2017
January 2017
November 2016
August 2016
May 2016
April 2016
March 2016
February 2016
January 2016
December 2015
November 2015
October 2015
September 2015
July 2015
June 2015
May 2015
March 2015
February 2015
December 2014
November 2014
October 2014
August 2014
June 2014
May 2014
February 2014
October 2013
September 2013
August 2013
July 2013
June 2013
May 2013
April 2013
March 2013
January 2013
December 2012
November 2012
October 2012
September 2012
August 2012
July 2012
June 2012
May 2012
April 2012
March 2012
February 2012
January 2012
December 2011
November 2011
October 2011
September 2011
August 2011
July 2011
June 2011
May 2011
April 2011
March 2011
February 2011
January 2011
December 2010
November 2010
October 2010
September 2010
August 2010
July 2010
June 2010
May 2010
March 2010
February 2010
January 2010
December 2009
November 2009
October 2009
September 2009
August 2009
July 2009
June 2009
May 2009
April 2009
March 2009
February 2009
January 2009
December 2008
November 2008
October 2008
September 2008
August 2008
July 2008
June 2008
May 2008
April 2008
March 2008
February 2008
January 2008
December 2007
November 2007
October 2007
September 2007
August 2007
July 2007
June 2007
May 2007
April 2007
March 2007
February 2007
January 2007
December 2006
November 2006
October 2006
September 2006
August 2006
July 2006
June 2006
May 2006
April 2006
March 2006
February 2006
January 2006
December 2005
November 2005
October 2005
September 2005
August 2005
July 2005
June 2005
May 2005
April 2005
March 2005
February 2005
January 2005
December 2004
November 2004
October 2004
September 2004
August 2004
July 2004
June 2004
May 2004
April 2004
March 2004
February 2004
January 2004
December 2003
November 2003
October 2003
September 2003
August 2003
July 2003
June 2003
May 2003
April 2003
March 2003
February 2003
January 2003
December 2002
November 2002
October 2002
September 2002
August 2002
July 2002
June 2002
May 2002
April 2002
March 2002
February 2002
January 2002
December 2001
November 2001
October 2001
September 2001
August 2001
July 2001
June 2001
May 2001
April 2001
March 2001
February 2001
January 2001
December 2000
November 2000
October 2000
September 2000
August 2000
July 2000
June 2000
May 2000
April 2000
March 2000
February 2000
January 2000
December 1999
November 1999
October 1999
September 1999
August 1999
July 1999
June 1999
May 1999
April 1999
March 1999
February 1999
January 1999
December 1998
November 1998
October 1998
September 1998
August 1998
July 1998
June 1998
May 1998
April 1998
March 1998
February 1998
January 1998
December 1997
November 1997
October 1997
September 1997
August 1997
July 1997
June 1997
May 1997
April 1997
March 1997
February 1997
January 1997
December 1996
November 1996
October 1996
September 1996
August 1996
July 1996
June 1996
May 1996
April 1996
March 1996
February 1996
January 1996
December 1995
November 1995
October 1995
September 1995
August 1995
July 1995
June 1995
May 1995
April 1995
March 1995
February 1995
January 1995
December 1994
November 1994
October 1994
September 1994
August 1994
July 1994
June 1994
May 1994
April 1994
March 1994
February 1994
January 1994
December 1993
November 1993
October 1993
September 1993
August 1993
July 1993
June 1993
May 1993
April 1993
March 1993
February 1993
January 1993
December 1992
November 1992
October 1992
September 1992
August 1992
July 1992
June 1992
May 1992
April 1992
March 1992
February 1992
January 1992
December 1991
November 1991
October 1991
September 1991
August 1991
July 1991
June 1991
May 1991

ATOM RSS1 RSS2



LISTSERV.HEANET.IE

Secured by F-Secure Anti-Virus CataList Email List Search Powered by the LISTSERV Email List Manager