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cultures and minds


Subject Literature

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405168908.2010.x


Cultures are seductive. Have you ever been on holiday abroad and watched, with a tourist's yearning distance, the “locals” in smooth concert with one another, playing the lyra, the flute, the fiddle – laughing, talking, knowing each other? I remember an occasion in a village in southern Crete where a group of conference attendees had emerged from a long evening of intellectual discussion in Kostas's icon-filled cafeneon into the dark and mostly deserted village square. Just one other cafeneon was open. And a group of shepherds had come down from the hills and were singing together in it with a powerful camaraderie. Occasional words were evident to us – the ubiquitous “Aman, aman,” the inevitable “kardia mou,” and a few others. All we knew was the mournful music and that they all knew what they were singing. They were probably as curious about us as we of them, eyes met even as they sang, and renewed while we shared yet another raki , and then moved reluctantly on. But that passing contact stays with me. I remember their enviable togetherness and wanting to join them, to talk, to understand, to belong to their secret community. “Other” cultures attract, they beckon, draw us in, seduce. Rather like people really! I am going to argue that cultures and minds share a common history in some ways. They are similarly and powerfully attractors of the outsider and the uninitiated. ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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