Individual Medium post #2
What each of the groups of people that we have discussed thus far share, is being treated with suspicion due to their societal treatment as somehow not fully belonging (here, I am talking about the Chinese in Honolulu, Koreans in Befu, and Okinawans on the battlefront). We have also seen how these people fought back at times, and at others, simply tried to carve out other socialities to survive and to live out their own ideas of abundance. We have not yet discussed place-making in terms of the creation of art, of music, of literature, etc. What place do you think that these things, which we might put together as “cultural productions,” has in the analyses of the eruption of political struggle? Your observations do not have to be based on research, per se. Think about how art, music, literature, and other cultural productions have shifted your own understanding of belonging, of community, and of the kind of world you want to bring into being, in meaningful ways.
Forgive me for talking from the context of Hawaii, but it is truly a unique place. Hawaii is seen as a unique, cultural hub of the world. Why wouldn’t it be? A society developed for thousands of years without foreign intervention. The ancient Hawaiians spoke their origins, their beliefs, and their identity into existence, going so far as to etch it into the stars eternal. They developed a society based on birthright, taboo, and strict rule that allowed societies of enormous proportions to bloom and develop. To this day, only the dance, religion, and food (to some extent) live on in the eye of the world. Strangely enough, the music that has most impacted my life isn’t Hawaiian. The art that comes to mind originates a thousand miles away from my childhood home, the literature I stayed up reading past my bedtime was written in Australia. The strongest tie I have to Hawaii is the community I grew up in.
Growing up in Hawaii was like growing up in a weird mix of ethnic groups, where foreigners (Hauolis) were consciously disliked, and as long as you weren’t foreign it really didn’t matter. It is hard to separate what is a cultural production and what is a source of capital when almost every part of culture is monetized in this world. Regardless, music is responsible for shaping and helping me discern my identity. Art taught me about beauty and the human mortality. Literature gave me feeling. And my community forged me.
My favorite musicians are John Mayer and J. Cole, in my opinion, they represent two different kinds of music that achieve the same goal in two very different ways. They helped me understand that other people have felt the same way I do, and that like them I can survive and thrive in spite of what I go through. This overall helped me belong to, and helped me see that community is not something determined by geography, politics, or time, it is built by a shared human experience.
My favorite art originates in Japan and China, specifically during the era of Chan (zen) buddhism. The art they created was done in fast, casual strokes that emphasized spontaneity and in my opinion, humanity. They believed that enlightenment came arbitrary of time and place, that nothing is set, and ultimately there are things beyond our own control. The world I want to manifest may be beyond my ability to bring into being, and that is okay, at the end we are mortal.
Literature from all periods greatly explains what it means to be human. My favorite is from the “The Book Thief.” It taught me that the person I want to be would choose to feel not out of fear of being ostracized, and more importantly that we cannot feel anything unless we are okay with disappearing.
Overall, I owe a large part of who I am to these cultural productions. To belong doesn’t necessarily mean to fit in, it means you are able to sympathize and relate to others around you. A community is something that can transcend physical obstacles, and the world I want to bring in is one where people understand what it means to be finite, feeling, and complex, in other words, human.