I learned a few things today. First I attended a talk by a poet from New Orleans about Creole culture with Mona Lisa Saloy I visited New Orleans a couple years ago and walked all across the city from the French Quarter to the causeway so I feel a little like I know the place, but it was good to learn a bit more about aspect of the culture.
The creole culture is very old. Mona Lisa described how it was formed from a mix of French and African strains. It is hundreds of years old and related to the Caribbean cultures nearby. She showed pictures of Mardi-Gras, which reminds much of Carnival in Brazil
Smithsonian is doing a series of lectures on “intangible culture.” By its nature, intangible culture is hard to grasp. It is the culture carried in the hearts and minds of people, manifest in behaviors and not in stuff. That means that it is by nature also dynamic and ephemeral and must be renewed with each generation.
Mona Lisa read some of her poetry and it was a performance worth hearing. I imagine that the poem just do not have the same heft if you just read them. The beauty of intangible culture is also it poignancy. You have to be there. It can be experienced and enjoyed but not preserved and only imperfectly transmitted. I recall once driving from Payson, Arizona to Phoenix. It is a beautiful drive down the piney mountains to the desert floor. I remember sublimely beautiful purple clouds at sunset. I thought of taking a picture, but I knew it would not do it justice. We stopped to enjoy the moment, the colors and the warm breeze and the feeling that cannot be expressed. This is how I understand the concept of intangible culture. That is the intangible, cannot be touched or maybe recedes when you try do touch it or have it. It can be described but not really transmitted.
Funny thing. It is what you cannot express that gives life meaning.