The following is a blog post I had to write for my “What is Culture” seminar. Can you relate?:
Firstly, let me start off by noting that it is currently 2:22AM. I don’t know why I decided to blog at this hour; perhaps I’m suffering from a cultural dilemma? I think that’s the case. Let me explain:
A few hours ago, I celebrated Yom Kippur with my family. I already noted in class that I wasn’t Jewish, so for the most part, I was there for the bagels and lox. But for some reason I felt woefully detached, and I expect my family to feel the same way. Who are we? When my dad picked me up from Rutgers on Friday night, I told him that for work (I’m a Student Assistant II in African, Middle-Eastern, and South-East Asian Literature and Languages department) I had to type up a phrase in Hebrew. I thought in retrospect that I should’ve asked for his help, because he usually leads the readings during Passover. But to my surprise, he can only read Hebrew–not understand or write it. Of course, I didn’t think any less of my dad; he made his Bar Mitzvah about…thirty-three years ago? And I bet then he wasn’t even fluent. Anyway, I began to wonder that he could’ve been reading a Hebrew translation of Mein Kampf during my past eighteen Passovers, and we would’ve thought everything was fine and dandy.
But, back to my (I should now saw “our”) dilemma–who are we? It seems we’re only Jewish/Catholic/Irish on holidays…which I think is damaging to the soul. How could we have lost our cultural heritage in only four generations? I can’t blame America, despite the assimilation and globalization over that past eighty years. It’s our fault–my ancestors, both living and dead, and myself, have become so consumed and distracted with God knows what, and now we’re paying the price. At this moment in time, we’re just gray blobs in world of equally gray and equally blobby blobs.
I didn’t sign-up for this seminar to discover myself. Rather, I want to discover something else–something beyond my limited cultural capacity. By surrounding myself with such culturally sound and intact people (and maybe some like myself) I can experience something I don’t have. But more importantly, I can delight in the uniqueness of my peers, learn something new, and, if I’m lucky, create an identity for myself. I’ll let you know how that goes in my next post.
On that note, let me close by saying the following: Professor Evans–I’m sure your wife is a lovely, intelligent woman. But I think she’s incorrect about the state of your French-ness. If you can speak their language, stomach their food, and enjoy their atmosphere, all you need now is beret and an awesome mustache!
-Ryan Feuer, 10/8/11