Erenlai - Items filtered by date: Wednesday, 07 October 2009
Thursday, 08 October 2009 00:57

Ersu people in Southwest Sichuan (II)

Villagers from Shimian county, southwest Sichuan, sing an Ersu song. Ersu people today number around 20,000. They have not been officially recognized as an ethnic minority and have been attached to the Tibetans. They are very close to their Yi neighbors. Depending on location, they sometimes call themselves “Lusu”, “Lisu”, or Buersi… Their disappearing writing system, used almost exclusively for religious purposes, is pictographic, and makes use of colors to indicate degrees of expressivity.
In the wake of modernization, despite often expressing the wish to see their traditional culture protected and revived, Ersu people are rapidly losing their language, rituals and other ethnic markers. In Shimian county, though there has been an officially sponsored program for learning the traditional diviner-priest skills, finally none of the ten selected youth has been willing to enter the time-consuming formation with an elder. Music has been better preserved, and a group dedicates itself to Ersu repertory.

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Wednesday, 07 October 2009 21:26

Stinkiness has no borders

It was another beautiful day in Taipei. The sun was shining and even the sweat itself was sweating. I was just walking down the street, when I saw a familiar image. Apparently the new Tomb Raider video game has entered the market in Taipei. And with this monumental event there is now a commercial poster in front of every other 7-11 store. There is nothing wrong with that of course…but then I saw it was not quite the same Lara Croft as one would expect…Lara Croft? Honestly, we all know that the extraordinarily well-developed pair of sidearms wrapped in those tight curves-revealing cases is not the only reason why we like her. But it helps. Don’t mind that she forgot her pouty lips in the locker, but those blue-eyed contact lenses make her look like she just escaped from a sanatorium. Which brings me to the point, why do the locals need to translate even the images? Imagine if we made our own blond and blue-eyed version of Bruce Lee.

But I’m sure I’d find some people who would say: “Well, it’s just a different culture.” But “culture” comes from Latin ’colere’ that means “to cultivate” and you’re certainly not broadening your horizons if you need to make Lara Croft flattened and Asian, so people won’t start worshipping her enormous near godly qualities. Because if you do that, then don’t try to make me feel bad about not wanting to eat your stinky tofu. But no matter in how many odd ways the skin of your face can fold and form an expression of utter disgust, I’m pretty sure there will always be someone saying: “You haven’t tried our stinky tofu? How come, it’s a Taiwanese speciality!” For which my answer is; tofu doesn’t run, fly or swim, so stop trying to feed me with this shit!
The culture might not be as different as it seems though. Not in this case at least. I am talking about the crown jewel of Czech cuisine, that is the stinky cheese and I can say with a clear conscience that it may very well compete with the Stinky tofu. In both cases I can’t help but wonder about the logic that stood behind the creation of such culinary masterpieces. I bet it was some guy living in a time of war and starvation. The poor fellow lost his nose in an unforeseeable explosion and so he decided to come up with something eatable but with such a foul aroma, that a normal human being would never even dare to come close to it. The Czechs however are most proud of their beer and we all know that after a few pints of that earthy vintage, you can be talked into almost anything. Hence the common knowledge argument; that the stinky cheese goes best with a cold beer. Do you see the strategy?
This brings me to the notion that in the interest of further broadening Taiwanese cultural background, one of Lara Croft’s guns should be exchanged for a bowl of tofu. First of all, if she throw’s it, it’s equally as deadly a burst of bullets and secondly the cultural reference is so much stronger.

At the end of the day it doesn’t really matter if you decide to cripple all your rhinaesthesia cells via tofu or cheese. You are just a member of a different sect, as the true meaning of the word “culture” reveals. It is nothing more than cult - urges and you will always meet someone who will proudly announce how he ventured into the unknown, tasted the unimaginable and now he’s bringing the wisdom to his own people. Don’t let this guy bring you down. On such an occasion you should take comforts in saying: “I think I would like to keep my sense of smell a little longer.”
It’s the little things…

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