Discussion in 'FanForce Community' started by Pensivia, Jun 20, 2016.
Pretty much confirmed what was my general impression.
Many of us Americans are currently completely shocked and dismayed "confused" by these things ourselves right now...
... and became experts at the British art of understatement in the process, apparently
Nice to know I contributed greatly to this thread
If this is still on I have some more questions for DanielUK
Any part of modern UK culture/history that you would like to see used in SW?
Any part of historical UK culture/history that you would like to see used in SW?
I'm away from the boards until the weekend of March 18 (see my Feb 12 post on the previous page), but of course anyone can discuss previous topics if they like. I will be providing the questions for our next interviewee Gamiel (Sweden). I had hoped to send Gamiel his questions before putting myself on hiatus, but didn't get a chance to, so when I return, I'll send them to him then and we'll resume with new interviews and discussions whenever he's ready.
Thanks and see you guys in a couple of weeks!
Since Daniel doesn't seem to be responding, I have a question for Chyntuck. In Greece, do you find that national romanticism mainly references antiquity, the Roman/Byzantine era, Ottoman era (probably not) or modern history (independence), or all of them?
For example, Norwegian national romanticism usually only references the distant pre-Christian past or the more recent history of the last 2-300 years. The medieval 7-800 years between is usually overlooked. Is there a similar discrepancy in Greece?
You're asking me to talk about one of my favourite topics here, so I'm going to try not to make my answer the size of a PhD dissertation
The short version is that yes, in Greece, like in pretty much every other country, national identity is built around a fantasised version of the past.
The longer version is: first, quite obviously, we just skip the Ottoman era altogether. When I was a kid, history textbooks featured a great leap forward from 1453 to 1821 (i.e. from the fall of Constantinople to the Ottomans to the Greek Revolution). Now the curriculum has been somewhat revised, so children do learn a bit about the Ottoman period, but an awful lot of what they're taught is myths: for instance, the fact that the Ottomans persecuted the Orthodox church (which is five-star BS, the Ottoman era was the wealthiest time evah for the church) or the fact that there were "secret schools" where children were taught the Greek language and important stuff about how to be good Christians (also five-star BS, these schools never existed.) The only element of truth in what a textbook says about the Ottoman period is that people were made to pay crippling taxes -- although how that truly differs from the Byzantine era or from today's situation is up for debate.
So basically, the only way the Ottoman period is referenced when defining Greek national identity is antagonistic. It revolves around the idea that the Ottomans tried to suppress what makes us a unique people.
Where it gets more interesting is the second point: how we combine elements of Antiquity and the Byzantine Empire to define this national identity that the Ottomans tried to suppress. The main reference here of course is Antiquity, because it's the truly glorious period of Greek history -- as opposed to Byzantium, which is thought of as a long period of decadence. So for many, many years, and even to some extent until now, whenever there was a new archaelogical dig the policy was to demolish everything that was on top in order to reach the "true Greek" stuff, meaning the stuff that dated back to the 4th century BC. And more generally, we tend to think that our direct ancestors were Pericles, Themistocles and Alexander the Great, and that everything that happened in-between is a detail.
However, there are two problems with this approach. The first one is of course that it's all a lie , that the Byzantine Empire was a pretty glorious empire for several centuries before decadence set in and that there were massive migration movements in this part of the world since Alexander's days. The second one is that the ancient Greeks were pagans, and that religion (as in, Greek Orthodox religion) is also an important part of our national identity. So there's this inherent contradiction in the idea that we don't want to define ourselves as Byzantines, because they were decadent slobs, but we still need to define ourselves as a little bit Byzantine, because Byzantium gave us the Orthodox Church.
Which brings me to my third point: there was an interesting evolution in the official definition of "being Greek" between the 1821 revolution and later constitutions. The very first Greek constitution defined as Greek anyone who 1) was living within the then-borders of Greece, 2) was not a Muslim, 3) fought in or sided with the revolutionary war. This was a very loose definition in some aspects (by that standard, someone like Lord Byron who died during the siege of Missolonghi qualified as Greek) but also a definition that linked Greek nationality with Greek territory.
Later constitutions however changed this to someone who 1) was of Greek ancestry, whatever that means, and 2) was an Orthodox Christian. This is the understanding of nationality that has prevailed until now and it has a very important implication: modern Greek national identity is fundamentally based on the idea that the state, with its geographical boundaries, is smaller than the nation, that knows no borders. This means that everyone and anyone with the remotest ties to Greece "counts" as Greek, from the great-grandchildren of Greek immigrants to Canada, the US and Australia to historical Greek communities in the Balkans and the Eastern Mediterranean or even as far as Africa and Central Asia.
The visible consequences of this are primarily political of course, because our Ministry of Foreign Affairs loves to speak on behalf of these "Greeks abroad" (there's actually a whole directorate-general just for them) and things can get pretty awkward when we're talking about the Greek minority in southern Albania or Istanbul. But there's also a less visible consequence that has to do with how we perceive our own history: there's always a disparaging element to the way we speak of the 1821 revolution and the development of the independent Greek state, because the idea is that the revolution and the state failed -- they failed to unite all the legitimate Greeks in a single country.
And now, all you have to do is change that last sentence to "the state failed to unite all the legitimate Greeks in a single country because it failed to conquer all the territory that is rightfully ours" and you have the fundamental driving force between Greek nationalism.
This is probably a lot more than you bargained for, but it was such a great question that I couldn't resist
No no, I'm delighted that you gave such a long and detailed answer. Had I known you found the question worthwhile, I wouldn't have shortened my own post. My question originally had a longer comparison to Iranian national romanticism, but then at some point I feared the question is stupid, so I made it as short as possible.
Okay, the above gif doesn't really match my image of myself as host of this thread, buuttttt....it was the first one that appeared when I googled gifs for "I'm Back!" and I'm in a rush, so....it'll have to do .
Anyhoo, we'll be picking up with our next interviewee, Gamiel from Sweden, very shortly (Gamiel, look for a PM from me with your questions later this weekend). Looking forward to getting things rolling again--hope to see you all here!
Yay, Pensivia is back! I hope Darth Real Life is giving you a break now.
Violent Violet Menace Sorry, I forgot to reply to your last post. I didn't think that your question was silly, quite the opposite -- I think it's an interesting and important topic, especially in the current political and geopolitical context. It's too bad you deleted part of your post, but then I already know what I'll ask you when your turn comes in this thread so you can start typing that up straight away!
Somewhat...though actually some of my time away was due to "play" time rather than work time, so that was good! Went to California and had a great time
I'm happy to report that I just sent Gamiel's questions to him (didn't quite get them out over the weekend,*sigh*), so we should be underway again soon!
Edit: Oh, and for reasons unrelated to this thread: Frank T.
There's this fun YouTube channel with a dude who does kind of a laid back approach to teaching about all the countries of the world, and yet they're also very informative, as he gets a lot of his information from people of the respective country he's doing who follow his channel. They're done in an informal and tongue-in-cheek way, but like I said, you also learn a lot. The channel is called Geography Now. He does them in alphabetical order, and so far he's halfway through G. So, out of the countries we have covered in this thread so far, he has videos for:
France | Flag of France
Germany | Flag of Germany | Germany, another take
Greece | Flag of Greece
Iran | Flag of Iran
Italy | Flag of Italy
Spanish | French | German | Greek | Turkish | Persian
The various languages of Italy | The Scandinavian++ languages
The Romance language family | The Slavic language family
^That sounds fantastic, VVM, and right "up the alley" of this thread...will definitely check that series out! Thanks for posting the links.
This is somewhat relevant and hilarious:
His imitation of Americans ("Oh-my-god, I LOVE Ireland!!111") was a hoot. I missed some of what he actually said due to his accent and use of colloquialisms...but I did get his general meaning
I'm actually going to Ireland in August...maybe I should look this guy up so I can tell him all about HOW MUCH I LOVVVVE IRELAND!!!
Edit: ***********Thread Host Announcement**************************************
That "like" from Anakin.Skywalker just reminded me to post an updated version of the interview roster, since Anakin volunteered during my away time.
So here's the most current version of the roster:
Anakin.Skywalker (Texas, USA)
That's right, our first American victim volunteer! Perhaps it's especially appropriate that our first US interviewee will be from Texas, considering this old tourism ad campaign:
Also, I like the trend Violent Violet Menace has started...in between interview rounds, anyone is free to drop by with any internationally-themed posts they'd like to make. Then, once the next interview round has officially begun, we'll keep the focus on that interviewee and his/her responses.
Hello there. I'll do my best when I come up.
I promise we're not too odd, though, lol!
You can interview me, too. I'm from Michigan, USA.
Great, Cowgirl Jedi 1701. Welcome to the thread and consider yourself added to the roster!
#1 In your interactions with non-Swedes (here on the JCF, other places online, or in RL), what common misperception(s) or "stereotypes" about Sweden/life in Sweden have you encountered? (Or alternatively, if you can't think of any particular misperceptions you have come across: What is something that you think most people outside of your country should know about Sweden that you think they likely don't or would likely be surprised by?
I can't think of any particular misperceptions that I have personally come across but I have seen people express the misperception that Sweden is a socialistic hellhole where immigrants have create no-go zones where they can do whatever they want (usually bad stuff). This is not true.
Neither is true that we are some kind of socialistic-dream country full of sexy blonds. Most of us are more brown-haired
It is true that we have some real problems with taking care of the immigrants we have taken in since we did not realise how undeveloped our infrastructure for those kinds of things are. We also have some problem with people getting stuck in long-term unemployment, a bureaucracy that is a bit too often caught in Catch-22 thinking, and many other problems that we most likely share with many other countries, in one way or another.
On the other hand we work hard with getting both parents to get/take time with their children; have a highly developed children service; a large and sustainable forestry tradition; and there are many immigrants who have been able to integrate into our Culture, among many other good things
#2 Introduce us to something you enjoy from Swedish popular culture (any type of popular culture--TV, film, music, sports & leisure activities, etc.) that those outside of Sweden would not likely be familiar with and tell us why you like it!
Well, I am not that good with mainstream pop-culture, I am more into documentaries and smaller kinds of pop-culture (like RPG:s, and comics). But here are some points about Swedish culture:
The first Swedish RPG:s used the BRP-system and most Swedish RPG:s since then have used variations of the BRP-system. Even if many modern RPG:s now a-day use their own system there is no tradition of using a level system over here.
Some Swedish RPG:s have actually been translated into other languages, most well-known are probably KULT, Mutant Chronicles and Mutant: Year Zero.
Sweden has a tradition of drinking shots, known as snaps, to the meal during holidays such as Midsummer, Christmas and Easter. Before drinking the shot it is tradition to sing songs, called snapsvisor. Part of the reason this tradition is so strong comes from that student societies often have sittings where you eat and drink snaps and are taught the songs
Trolls in Swedish folklore and fairy tales are very different from the trolls that appear in the Anglo-sphere’s pop-culture. In old times they looked like humans with something inhuman about them (usually a cow tail) who often dressed in old fashion clothing. They were capable of magic (one of the many words for magic in Swedish is actually translated into trollcraft), great feats of strength and the ability to magically kidnap and bind people to their realms. They usually lived in the forest or mountains, underground or inside the rock. They were usually around as smart as humans, even if they often was easily tricked by the hero of the story. In modern times trolls are more or less the same except that most images of them are inspired by art of John Bauer:
Carl Michael Bellman:
"Carl Michael Bellman ( 4 February 1740 – 11 February 1795) was a Swedish poet, songwriter, composer and performer. Bellman is a central figure in the Swedish song tradition and remains a powerful influence in Swedish music, as well as in Scandinavian literature, to this day.
Bellman is best known for two collections of poems set to music, Fredman's songs (Fredmans sånger) and Fredman's epistles (Fredmans epistlar). Each consists of about 70 songs. The general theme is drinking, but the songs "most ingeniously" combine words and music to express feelings and moods ranging from humorous to elegiac, romantic to satirical.
Bellman's patrons included the King, Gustav III of Sweden, who called him the master improviser. Bellman has been compared to Shakespeare, Beethoven, Mozart, and Hogarth, but his gift, using elegantly rococo classical references in comic contrast to sordid drinking and prostitution, which are at once regretted and celebrated in song, is unique.
Bellman's songs continue to be performed and recorded by musicians from Scandinavia and in other languages including English, French, German, Italian and Russian. Several of his songs including Gubben Noak and Fjäriln vingad are known by heart by many Swedes."
Some, more or less, modern adaptations of his songs:
Also the band Movits! (know in U.S.A. from the Colbert Report) is named from a returning character in Bellman’s songs. I could not find the clip from the Colbert Report but here is the music video of the song they performed:
#3 In learning any language other than your native one (or when trying to help someone from another country learn your language), one regularly comes across words that are not completely translatable. (See this recent BBC article on such words for examples of what I'm talking about: "There's now a word for nails on a blackboard--but it's not in English" ) What example or examples can you share with us of a Swedish word or words which don't really have an equivalent word in English?
Here are some Swedish words I think don't exist in English:
Skadeglädje = pleasure derived from the misfortune of others, comparable to german's schadenfreude
Ris = ca. low-growing shruberis, like bilberries and lingonberries
Glesbygd = sparsely populated area with bad social service
Knullrufs = slang for the unordered hairdo you get after having sex
Vabba = to stay at home from work to care for a sick child (a legal form of sick leave in Sweden)
Hen = a neutrum form of he/she
Lagom = ca. neither too much nor too little; just right for the situation; enough; sufficient; adequate. Lagom can also be translated as "in moderation", "in balance", "perfect-simple", and "suitable" (in matter of amounts). The tranlation depend on the context. What makes the word hard to translate is that lagom is a virtue in Sweden; it has positive connotations.
Smörgås = a slice of bread with butter and maybe some other topping/s
Tvesövla = to put two kinds of toppings on your smörgås (an older word, not very common)
Blunda = to close your eyes (and keep them closed)
Bädda = make the bed
Duka = make the table
Swedish also have two words for grandmother, grandfather, aunt and oncle depending upon if they are on your mother's or father's side.
Wow, thanks for the interesting and detailed responses, Gamiel! There's a lot for us to chew on here...let the discussions begin!
^Ha! Yeah, as a person who is fairly far-left (by American standards), I've probably been guilty of looking at Sweden through those rose-colored glasses
RE the RPGs...I know nothing about RPGs, but I think I read somewhere that Sweden has a big "gaming" culture...
RE the drinking songs: Now this sounds like a cultural tradition I could really get behind! (Actually, the main part of my drinking days are behind me now that I'm in my 40s ...but there of course are still "special occasions" to be enjoyed "from time to time" )
What are the names of one or two songs I could look up? Especially maybe for the "Midsummer" celebration, which would be a celebration that we don't really observe in America...
I like those troll pics. Do troll images and references pop up in contemporary mediums there--like advertising, etc.?
Gamiel You guys may not be living in a kind of socialistic dream country, but you do have the best Twitter account in the world -- managed each week by a different Swede
A question from me: What do you think of the way Nordic cultures are depicted in fiction/fantasy? Do you feel that authors/directors etc take the time to properly learn about Nordic cultures before transferring them to their fictional world, or that they rely mostly on clichés?
I've read that the tv show Vikings is the most accurate portrayal of viking society as of yet, due to the showrunners actually committing to try to do that, although that might be marketing hype. I would like to hear Gamiel's take on it.