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:

James J Cain <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

CELTIC-L - The Celtic Culture List.

Date:

Wed, 9 Apr 1997 23:01:59 PST

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (136 lines)

On Wed, 9 Apr 1997 02:14:08 -0400 [log in to unmask] writes:
>Neil, what is an American?

That's simple...an American is someone who is born here or who chooses to
move here and become a citizen. What culturally is an American?  That is
a tougher one to answer.  Is there an American culture? Yes.  Are there American cultures? Also yes. Which is more real?  All are.

Is that sufficiently vague?  Okay, let me see if I can de-vague it.  I saw, today, a review of a book on John Wayne as a cultural symbol.  The
author said that a midshipman at Annapolis told him that every Saturday
a group of midshipmen watched "The Sands of Iwo Jima"...every Saturday.
In a very real sense, that is like a group of young warriors in training
in ancient Ireland listening to a seanchai/ telling of Cuchulain at the
ford. "This is the ideal...this is what is good about him, what makes
him a hero.  And here too are his flaws."  THAT'S CULTURE. That's not all of it, but we very definitely do have a culture.  No it isn't as old as
some of the pubs in England, but it does exist and the fact that we do
have symbols like Wayne (Whether or not you like the symbol isn't a
point here.) is proof of that.

>However, this country is still a hodge-podge,

>We are not a melting pot, in the sense that we have somehow comingled
>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.
>
Let's see...I agree with the first, that we are not a melting pot...or
rather, as a headline in TV Guide (I know.) said in 1976, "The Melting Pot Hasn't  Worked...Thank God!" But I don't agree with the fondue image.
If we were a geological formation, I'd say we were a conglomerate.
American Culture and the commonalities of everyday life is the
accreating agent, binding us together.  And while some have maintained a
culture underneath, many others kept only a name and developed a sort of
myth.  I knew too many American Irish in the parish I grew up in who had
perfect or almost perfect lineages...who didn't know the first real thing
about Ireland.  Oh, they sang "Wearin" of the Green", with all the
anti-British lines in it and they knew about the Famine and all the
troubles, but... Their idea of Irish music was "Danny Boy'" and I'll Take You Home Again Kathleen" and "Toor-a-loor-a-looral"  Play the
Chieftains or Battlefield Band or Altan or Clannad or Tannahill Weavers
and they'd want to know what that crap was. I'm not saying that they
were wrong or bad or stupid or...but they are the people who gave us the
American Irish green beer, shamrocks, leprechauns (including the Notre
Dame symbol)"everyone's Irish on St. Patrick's Day" Irishness.
Neil used a word...ethnocide.  The English had been practicing it on the
Irish for centuries and the people who came here from the Famine, the
great in-migration of the Irish in the mid-1800's, were lucky to be alive, not to have starved to death at home or of illness on the coffin
ships...too busy trying to gain a foothold in a country that didn't
really want them (NO IRISH NEED APPLY)...to worry about reclaiming a
lost heritage.
Yes, of course there were areas where music and dance and, in some cases,
even language was kept alive...Yes, they kept their culture alive, but it
wasn't the rich, old Celtic culture...and, when you consider that of all the ethnic groups who came here, the Irish had the smallest percentage to
return, it's not difficult to see how a myth was created out of nostalgia
and dimming memories and "could've/should've beens".
I think the problem is that the real heritage ISN"T underneath and that some of us, rather than letting go of the myth and seeking the truth, just
compound the myth.  Don't get me wrong, in the final analysis what
constitutes an American Irish or American Scot or American Welsh person
is going to be determined by those same people...not outsiders...by the
immediate family and not the extended family. But we do have an
obligation to learn all we can.
The reactions of the Zuni and the Dine/ (Navajo) to WW ii is instructive.
 The Zuni were, and still may be, (I hate to use this word, but can't
think of another) zenophobic.  So their young men who went away to the
war had a very difficult time returning and many didn't make it, either going away physically or turning to alcohol.  The Dine/, on the other hand, welcomed the chance for their young men to go out into the world of
the strangers to see what it was like and to learn new things.  When
these men came home, they were welcomed, debriefed and given ceremonies
to return them to the bosom of the tribe.  Then the tribe picked through
what these men had brought back and decided what to keep and what to
discard.  What they kept, they made Navajo.
And a blurb about language...the Marines in the Pacific had a perfect
radio code, Navajo...the Japanese couldn't break the code because they
couldn't learn the language (And we think Irish is difficult!) Ya'a'ta
e!

> I will grant that language is  one attribute of
>Celticness, but not the only one, nor should it be the one great deciding factor.
>
I have to agree with Neil on this one.  Language doesn't make you Irish
or Celt, it keeps you Irish (or Scot or Welsh or Manx or Breton) or
Celt.  It contains the thought patterns, the ideas and concepts than can
only be imperfectly expressed...in some cases they can be expressed...in another language.  In time, if enough people learn, American Irish might
well show the kind of drift you see between Irish and Scots Gaelic...but
only if there are speakers.  And let me say this...I am not Irish. I am
not Irish-American.  I am American Irish, a new Celtic tribe...that
could well die out as anything but a version of the Society for Creative
Anachronisms unless we put some meat on its bones.  Language is a part of
that meat.  I was a member of the AOH for a long time and still have many
friends there.  It's a wonderful organization, wonderful people...but
when it comes to Irish history and culture, it's the Knights of Columbus
with a brogue.  That is a ticket for endangered species status.

What has been one of this country's greatest strengths is that it can and
has drawn from almost every country in the world. What a resource bank of
ideas.  There has been some crossover...food, for example...but that's
just like the returning Dine/.  If and when we should become
homogenized,however,  we lose something...we go from being a stew with
each ingredient both itself and adding to the whole, to some sort of
pureed pap.  To keep those cultures alive, they have to be solid.  We
cannot give "to airy nothing a local habitation and a name" and call it
a culture.  It's still airy nothing.  It can be done without language, I
would suppose...and Madame Butterfly can be done without the music...but,
oh, how much less it is...and how quickly there would be no audience.  No
audience...no show.

If you were to take a baby from the Gaeltacht and swap it for a baby from
way back in the non-English speaking part of a Lakota reservation and
raise these children to adulthood...the full-blood Lakota would be the
Irishman and the Irishman would be Lakota...especially if both chose to
stay and actively participate in the culture in which they were raised..
most .especially if English was their second language. Culture is as
much, if not more, nurture than nature.  We've been nurtured on our
culture, but it's been a thin gruel of myth, in many cases, compared to
the real thing.

Finally, while we have every right to build our own future, we also
deserve every knock and sneer we get when we go blindly marching into
blind alleys follow will-o-the-wisps and myths.  I'm sure there'll be
some fleering and jeering when we feel we don't deserve it.  So, we stop, make sure we've made the best call possible and if we're comfortable
with it, tell the fleerers and jeerers to go pee up a rope.

Standing around playing "I'm more Celt than you are" gains us
nothing...we need to go seek it and learn it.  To that end we'd do well
to remember something from that most famous of Celtic legends, the
stories of Arthur.  When the knights left Camelot to go seek the Grail,
they were told that they could not find it by traveling the roads of the
world...rather they were to enter the forest where it was the thickest
and most trackless. Grails aren't for wusses and we're talking Grails
here.

Sla/n

JimC

>Ruadh
>The Flaming Redhead
>

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