Culture is a hungry monster. Mainstream cultures are like ogres, in constant search of new cultures to devour. And why does culture work in such a way? Why do mainstream cultures depend on the inclusion of an Others, far, often considered as third world cultures? Why do heavily graffitied suburban neighborhoods transform into new chic locations? Why do mainstream cultures firstly exclude new “dirty” “negative” dangerous” ideas, which in the course of time they end up embracing?
Cultures must expand, develop and renew themselves as living being do, because if they will not then they may simply begin to disappear. This necessity of self generating mechanisms creates a deep dependency between central and accepted to marginal and avant-guard cultures. Thus, derives the following cycle:
Cultural boredom occurs when leaders and creators within a culture have explored all subjective possibilities and boundaries within specific cultural circumstances. When cultural recycling, variations on old themes are worn out, that cultural phase is expired. This expiration may lead to stage two, Searching.
Cultural pioneers, agents and creators set out in search of the next new thing. Metaphoring a cultural gold rush, designers, musicians, architects and more set out to find something new. Or at least what is new to them. Few seek the new within themselves as traveling to far off ends of the world often are perceived as more accessible.
The cultural pioneers encounter a tune, and shape, a concept or idea that can remodel their actions and lead them out of their dead end. The sense on discovery emerges from the fusion between the familiar and the different. This is an important and potentially beautiful moment of the merging of two cultures or more. The sense of discovery, accompanied by economic benefits, social good or even spiritual strands of meanings lead to the last phase.
The final stage of cultural growth occurs in the merging of cultures. As a Cross-Culturalist, this is the exciting moment when multiple cultures merge, mix and their existence ideally conceals any cultural superiority.
Now that a Cross-Cultural gold is found, all that is left is publishing of the integrated New while hoping for the best acceptance possible by the original bored culture.
Where does this Cross-Cultural Model Apply?
Textiles and fashion are great examples of this cultural-ogre-mechanism. New seasons and collections often apply an African splash of colors, a South American soft woven texture or an Asian pattern. Seeking overseas new ideas and esthetic concepts seeps across the industries’ sectors: from the cheapest clothes sold in markets to large international chains and into haut couture designer’s boutiques. The timing of these Cross-Cultural trends are often ironic: the popularity of the Kaffieh (Arab head dress) used as a scarf when islamofobia is rising and the popular appearance of African fabrics and patters when most countries insist on expelling African refugees.
Music cultures suffer the same mainstream boredom, followed by the the same self growing mechanism of as many musicians who’s cultural profiles are western, set to search “new” instruments, musicians, tribal tunes and unknown choruses. Paul Simons’ search in South Africa occurred after his split with Garfinkel. Simons’ South African period gave birth to Graceland album and world tours with Miriam Mccebeah and other South African musicians.
Urban change is subject to the same results due to the cultural ogre mechanism. Neighborhoods that are geographically close to mainstream urban centers transform into the next trendy location. Gentrification is the urban naming of this same five phased transition taking place in all metropolitans worldwide. If you trace down the background of San Telmo (Buenos Aires), Karakoy (Istanbul), East Village (New York), Le Marais (Paris) you will discover vey similar processes with similar urban results.
Next time you travel, shop or hesitate if to join a tango or pole dance lesson (both originating from gloomy prostitute like bars), double check if the new trendy culture of interest underwent this same five model stage.