Thursday, March 24, 2011

The British are interesting

The British are more interesting than americans, and I'm jealous. Not only do the accents sound really cool, and imbue their communication with a certain calm flair, but the manner in which they phrase even simple things suggests a poetical soul, a literary soul.

A brit might say, "Oh what a tangled web"... an yank says... "Don't fuck with me".
An American might say, "2.7 million families have an average income below 35,000 per year", whereas a Britain conveying the same idea might say..."A lot of families aren't too happy at Christmas"

Now maybe the British just can't count, or aren't smart enough to reduce their world to information and science... but for god sake they sure can express complexity in an interesting and comforting way. 

Americans are the opposite. We seem to have no capacity to express things poetically. We place so much emphasis on facts and figures and science and technology... that we take our poetical souls out of the equation. Our educational system reinforce this bias. We don't produce interesting people. Except for me, of course. But even I am not interesting in the way I describe.

Here's an example of what I'm talking about. I was watching this documentary on The Sex Pistols, and as the band-mates (now in their 50s) recount their violent past, they report on it in the most understated, British way. To describe a knife fight in an alley where someone was razor-bladed to death, they'll say something like... "John and Wally had a bit of a disagreement"

It's funny as hell... the simplicity of the viewpoint... the quiet and peaceful way in which their minds describe what looks (to me, anyhow) as acts of insanity. But nobody cares in England, I suppose. Somehow, capturing the simple truth is more relevant than detailed explanations. Explanations are not detailed, in that sense... they are literary. They are narrative. They set the stage. This type of approach is inherently literary, and suggests a very different approach to education.

As an American, I run my mouth non-stop... but in America the best you can hope for is to be accurate. Nobody cares if you're interesting here... only that you're accurate. No matter how intriguing or subversive your expression may be, the first thing you'll hear back is ..."hmmm, well I don't know about that". It's as if you have to clear some veracity hurdle on every statement... like intellectual censorship... where what is being squelched is not information, but using information to make a point. Using information to make a point is tricky... because the POINT you make is always something more than just the sum of the information... and so even if you clear the veracity hurdle on the information, you'll still get shot down on the POINT... because the point is not something that is confirmed, but something that has to be understood.

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