Saturday, 3 October 2015


Here are a few things that I’ve learned relatively recently:

1. Some Americans are so worth knowing that I actually want to know them.

2. Some Africans and Asians project a rare beauty that’s hard to find among white folks. Africans and South Asians tend to glow; the Chinese are more likely to beguile.

3. Some Germans can sing songs other than the Bavarian drinking variety. (I learned the difference between leder and lieder a long time ago when a Dane corrected my pronunciation of lederhosen.)

4. Some Brits are best kept anchored in a slurry pit.

5. There’s nothing actually wrong with me, I’m just a type. An eminent psychotherapist told me that quite a long time ago, and I’ve finally decided he was probably right.

They took a long time coming. (And please note: this post is consciously whimsical. I would probably bleed if shot.)


Madeline said...

Ruth Benedict believed that while all cultures possess the same range of personality traits, each culture puts a particular emphasis on certain traits over others. Each culture has its own personality profile, akin to an individual's personality. The problem occurs when someone within that culture has a personality that is at odds with the overall culture's personality, e.g., an introverted person in a culture where extroversion is valued, an emotional person in a person where reserve is valued, etc. This person might appear, by the standards of his/her society, to have something "wrong" with him/her, but it's really just a bad match between individual and culture.

The implication that I took from this is that someone who finds him/herself at odds with his/her native culture might find one to which his/her personality is better suited. For example, when I witness the gun craziness and religious fundamentalism in the United States, I think about divorcing my society and taking up with one a little less crazy and violent, such as any of the other Western societies.

But then I realize that the flaw in Benedict's thinking is that there is more internal variability to a culture than she thinks, or to put it another way, Americans aren't all crazy.

Still, one society's Highly Sensitive Person might be another's Totally Normal Person.

JJ Beazley said...

My first thought was of the infamous British 'stiff upper lip,' development of which is, I gather, attributed to the perceived role as master during the days of Empire. But then, what of Teutonic order, French chic, and Italian passion? What created the cultural personalities? How much is due to ethnic genes, and how much to conditioning by historical experience? It's an interesting subject, and one which I'm sure is responsible for a lot of the suspicion when issues like migration and acceptance of refugees raise their troublesome heads.

As for me, my eminent psychotherapist told me I would be considered quite normal in the worlds of showbusiness and dramatic art, but I still think I need to find another planet.