Transmitting Culture: 5.


Hoofstuk 5 – Tool Lines


Ethnos (Nasie) contra Technics (Tegnologie)

The palaeontologist and material anthropologist Andre Leroi-Gourhan notes that cultural diversification has been the principal regulator of evolution at the level of Homo sapiens.

Anthropology conceptualizes it under culture, and it is obviously based in a language, the most tenacious of all group memories. All human beings have the same emotions but do not express them with their body in the same ways: their code is cultural (or ethnic). It would not be absurd to maintain, in opposition to the clichés, that culture is what splits apart the human species while technology unites them.

A cultural system suggests a fanning outward of places. A technological system evokes a combination of tracks.

…we replace the pair technology/culture with the opposition technological-convergence/ethnic-divergence, which would be its translation further developed.

In this sense, the technological structuring of the world, taking us from wheel to airplane, also carries with it the very real potential to culturally de-structure the world.

Likewise do we now witness the digital encoding of all information so as to make all channels in the end converge through the phone line, integrating telecommunications, nationwide computer terminals, TV, movies, CDS, and pixellated photographs into unimedia (multimedia is a misnomer, the world having become techno-uniform).

The planet toward which we are heading, in other words, will be one complete, interconnected – or intraconnected – whole, in which the interdependence of the elements will prevail over and soon frustrate any remaining values of originality.

We knew this goal as national in the last century, know it now as global, and will be known as intergalactic one day.

…imprisoning the globe in order to liberate men.

Taking into account Francois Dagognet’s formulation that matter travels faster than mind, one could understand this discrepancy as a de-synchronization of, or difference in, rates, the simple effect of inertia from culture’s relative slowness of change.

This latter is a tough fishbone to swallow and consists of a negative retroactive effect of technology on culture.

Hier word gemeen dat tegnologie en kultuur eintlik twee itenteite is wat twee teenoorgestelde funksies het. Tegnologie poog om te verenig terwyl kultuur poog of eerder inherent verdeel. Daarom deur ‘n universele voor te stel word die gevaar daar gestel dat daar geen moontlikheid gelaat word nie vir enige innoverende denke nie en so alle vordering insigself inhibeer wat weer tegnologie laat inval op ditself.

Agteruit Vordering

…ever since urbanites no longer walk they have ended up…running. And with fanatic devotion. In parks or, lacking that, in the living room, on treadmills.

Die draf effek in die argiewe

In our day of delocalized on-line access and long-distance digital consultation, electronic circulation should for all intents and purposes render the concentration of materials in physical sites useless.

The less there is of collective coherence, the greater the number of communitarian symbols, that is, ostensible mediations that knit the individual to a collective heritage whose stability and visibility are reassuring.

Rather than erasing sites of memory and commemoration, digital delocalization and audiovisual amnesia generate them in profusion.

Die teenoorgestelde van dit wat verwag word vind egter plaas as iets uitgelaat word. Die tegnologiese era met alles wat digitaal gestoor word word daar verwag dat fisiese plekke van herinnering sal verminder maar die teenoorgestelde word waar omdat hoe meer die data op digitale manier gestoor word hoe meer is daar ‘n interne drang in die mens om homself te stabiliseer deur vergestalt te gee aan die fisiese aspek van geheue.

Die draf effek in die ruimte

Telecommunications have contributed to making tourism the largest industry in the world. The real surprise is that, as we shrink distances, we are all the more compelled to explore the periphery.

What the land loses in functional value, it can soon recoup in affective flavour.

Since going to the moon, we have been relearning a certain love of the land.

The more vast distances are domesticated, the more small is beautiful.

Self in die spasie waarin ons leef is hierdie retro-aktiewe progressie teenwoordig, dat ons spreekwoordelik met elke tree wat ons vorentoe tree ook een wil terug gee.

Die drag effek in taal

We had expected that normalization by stereotype would transform all these living idioms into dead languages, confining them nobly to the literary registry or degrading them into provincial patois more or less in a state of vagrancy. Yet in the face of the new utilitarian medium, the language of choice becomes one’s native speech, territorial and useless. The vernacular is resupplying itself with mythic value, becoming a site of spiritual, religious, or magical references.

Culture is on the side of the vital principle, whose nature is to be multiple, disruptive, and proliferous – the opposite of technology, if you prefer.

Die draf effek in kleredrag

Dress too, as much as language, is a typical feature of ethnicity.


Why should the disappearance of nation traditions of cinema, or minority literatures, or languishing arts and crafts not stir up the same worry that has focused on the extermination of whales and seals?

Still, this bottom-line preservation of differences has its risks: returning to balance can itself become convulsive.

This is the case when the identity spasm, as a reflex against the utilitarian eradication of peripheral memories, pushes one to the point of fundamentalist insurrection.

It is precisely in those richest Western countries where urban centres, political parties, churches, television stations, buildings and roads, houses and stores, and tastes and odours are the most interchangeable (or the least identifiable) that cultural singularities are most insisted on and valued.

In the zones where tradition dictated life structured by faith, fundamentalism takes on the guise of a culture for those decultured by technology or a return to the soil for those uprooted from it.

It really seems, indeed, that history takes back with one hand what it grants with the other: openness here, closure there.

When communitarian drives reach paradoxical high tide in the age of interdependencies, do we not witness, within the parliaments and governments of the most self-regulating representational democracies, a replacement, in parliament and government, by ethnocultural interest groups of the old ideologically cemented, dominant formations (witness politics in Israel, India, Turkey, and [South Africa])?

A levelling of political differences may mean a renaissance in prepolitical identities – and, after deritualization, theocracy?

We would observe an alternation of phases of decentering and recentering, to correct one imbalance with another, however gropingly (South Africa?).


Dit wil lyk of hierdie hele boonste afdeling handel oor die ewewig wat die natuur altyd sal probeer handhaaf, inherent. Hoe ons egter tussen hierdie twee lyne beweeg is van groot belang. Die aarde sal altyd streef na balans, soos ek altyd sê, maar hoe die mens by daardie natuurlike strewe na balans aanpas/inpas is belangrik. 

Soos ons hier sien, vir elke tree wat tegnologie vorentoe gee, hetsy in spasie, taal, of kleredrag wil die mens inherent ‘n tree terug gee om iets van die verlore te laat behoue bly. Dit is ‘n vreemde verskynsel, maar dit is tog daar, en weerspieel hierdie innerlike soeke na balans in die mens. Daar kan nie net heeltyd na die eenkant van die wipplank geloop word nie, daar moet ook na die ander kant geloop word om te keer dat die plank nie die grond raak nie. Partymal sal die plank meer na die anderkant na die grond wees en ander kere die inverse. Wat wel waar is, en ook baie tragedies, is dat die een wanbalans homself soms sal moet uitbalanseer deur ‘n nuwe wanbalans te skep. Hier wil ek amper neig om Apartheid as voorbeeld te noem. Apartheid was ‘n wanbalans in die kulturele geskiedenis van Suid-Afrika en nou probeer die land homself deur demokrasie weer te balanseer, maar soos bogenoem, omdat die regende party nou in ‘n staat verkeer van relatiewe wanbalans gryp hulle terug na hulle fundamentalistiese wortels wat hulle geleer is in ‘n stadium van wanbalans en so implimenteer hulle daardie waardes heel onwetend en skep so weer ‘n wanbalans. Dis ‘n bose kringloop. Dalk is dit soos die Prediker sê dat daar niks nuuts onder die son is nie, dit verander net van vorm maar die inhoud bly dieselfde.

Die mens se behoorlike studie

Mediology examines what defines the human branch in its essence, by which means it can be distinguished from that of our simian cousins, that is, Homo sapiens’ aptitude for handing down acquired characters from one generation to the next, notwithstanding the most formal laws of molecular biology.

Here is to be found all the difference between natural life and historical life, the latter an internalizing duration: man is the only animal that can conserve a trace of his grandfather and be modified by it.

Yet what I am, what I believe, and choose, depends in large part on what their works and days made them. Heredity belongs to all living beings; inheritance belongs only to man.

Jean-Jacques Rousseau writes, on this difference between man and animal, there is another very specific quality that distinguishes them and about which there can be no dispute: the faculty of self-perfection, a faculty which, with the aid of circumstances, successfully develops all the others, and resides among us as much in the species as in the individual. By contrast an animal is at the end of a few months what it will be all its life; and its species is at the end of a thousand years what it was the first year of that thousand.

A legacy is made possible on what condition?

A naturalist was able to observe that we were the only species of animals able of influencing its own evolution.

Ek het besluit om hierdie hoofstuk nie verder te lees nie aangesien dit baie op die biologiese hammer en ‘n mindere fokus het op die kulturele en bloot in verskillende biologiese terme wil oorbring dat oordrag(transmission) wel moontlik is in die mens anders as by diere. Diere se eerste paar maande bepaal hulle lewe, waar ‘n mens lewenslank in staat is om homself te verander anders as ‘n dier. 


Dit was dan Hoofstuk 5 – Tool Lines