The Totemic Feast discussion

Community in folklore

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message 1: by Derek (last edited Jan 09, 2008 08:39AM) (new)

Derek Kimball (benwhedbee) | 6 comments Mod
I have long pondered the slow death of folklore. Here's a new topic? Why is it ebbing? What's with the lack of interest in a real living history of a people?

My guess is that it is the dissipation of community and the onslaught of globalization.

Folklore existed on a community level when a community was self-contained. Folklore lived in the general store, trading post, farm on Elm street, abandoned quarry, witch house in the woods. As more and more small communities get swallowed by industry it is harder and harder for people to take stock and pride in the thread and history of where they are from. How many legends are woven about Store24?

message 2: by Artie (new)

Artie | 3 comments I have a number of legends about Store 24 from Kwan/Quan the Allston mute troll whose toll bridge one must cross after three riddles answered and the always mysterious "Store 18" where time itself is suspended for any unknowing knight errant.

"Why should I lament the passing of my people...the white man will learn this too..."-C.J.

message 3: by Derek (new)

Derek Kimball (benwhedbee) | 6 comments Mod
And don't get me started on Cumberland Farms and the "hot dog" rack that spins on it's own accord!

It is true that only clothe of the general store changes while its role in the community stays the same. But as a community becomes industrialized the members of it drift apart. In a store24 most will not ask the clerk about today's stock of Monster energy drink and well they shouldn't, but how does this compare to the old timey grocer? Certainly a rift is caused here. Lore is something that binds a community together like stats for a baseball team. It is a glimpse and image for the flavor of that one place and people alone.

This applies only to one small brand of folklore.

I saw Quan yesterday. And G too. Princes of Allston. Local lore at it's finest.

How fare ye beachside?

message 4: by Kris (new)

Kris | 2 comments The perception that folklore is dying out is based on a very narrow view of what qualifies as folklore. It's not folklore/folklife that is dying out-- it's constantly being reinterpreted, reinvented, or even invented, the same as folk groups. (Example, as technology evolves, folk groups like gamers, programmers emerge as others die out.) That's not to say that the types of folklore or folkgroups that we all love the most aren't dying out (or evolving into such abstracted forms that we don't recognize them.) It's still being created, but is it something that we can take pride in? What values do they reflect? As modern forms of transportation have allowed families to live further apart, modern communication has allowed us to communicate in forms that aren't particularly conducive to the type of folklore that was shared in the past. (We aren't going to ask our sibling to join us in a round of song over the phone, we're going to ask how the kids are...) Also, the way that the industrialized world operates makes it difficult to recognize new folkgroups before they quickly get exploited and turned into more mass-culture/pop-culture shit.

message 5: by Derek (new)

Derek Kimball (benwhedbee) | 6 comments Mod
Well spoken, magistrate Hatch! I fully agree. Like I said, this of course only applies to a thin brand of folklore associated with the first and second American frontiers. The first being the actual one and the second being the romanticization of the first; Disney Daniel Boone style.

Folklore and myth serve many purposes so I guess the question I'm posing is how DID it effect our community while these major industrialized shifts happened and as you say how is the lore "reinvented" as a result of these shifts.

You raise a valid question about the values modern lore may imply. Certainly it implies a lack of mysticism, which, for me, is a common element in all lore and myth up until now.

Do I mean to imply that people actually believed there was a massive lumberjack felling trees along side his big ass blue ox? No, but the character is symbolic. An ambassador of our values. This mysticism, like much religious myth, is now dismissed as silly because people have disregarded that these stories and icons are to be interpreted as symbols much like a children's tale with a moral. The child does not understand that the tale is symbolic at first but the lesson is instilled. Now people seem to be more afraid that these symbols are taken too literally and that by using them they are planting seeds for inevitable distrust when the child realizes it's been 'lied' to. Stories like Bunyon and Rip Van Winkle are therefore dubbed proposertous. Also, tales of the boogeyman, bloody mary, even Freddy Krueger; in an "Oh My Gosh save the children" society who does not allow their children more than 300 yards outside their front door, these figures have been dismissed as unsuitable. It is this same fear keeping kids indoors (where the real danger lies) and therefore less familiar with their surroundings outside the yard and unable to spread local stories via word of mouf which as you know is the trad. means of spreading said cakes.

Because of this and many other factors this brand folklore is now almost purely academic and frankly in my opinion all lore is becoming too academic as it dwindles in everyday discourse which you aptly pointed out in regard to the shift in communicative trends.

Phew. Probably not coherent.

message 6: by Kelsey (new)

Kelsey | 1 comments comforting to know g and quan are still posted up on the block... its nice that some things never change

message 7: by Artie (new)

Artie | 3 comments Along the lines of a narrow view of folklore and folklife:

In a conversation with a friend recently a theme emerged about folk music and ethnomusicology or whatever. The discussion was about how so much work was done, pioneered by A. Lomax in the United States, and carried around the world to capture, through the 1970's, the aboriginal, ethnic, traditional, cultural vibes. Done out of a spirit of preservation and dialogue. This still goes on to a small extent where traditional folk musicians are recorded with their traditional folk instruments or there has been a resurgence of traditional instruments. What has emerged recently, however, is a new wave of ethnomusicology that focuses on the first wave of exploration with contemporary instruments that comes out of developing communities. Probably most recognized by something like the electric guitar in Africa in the 1960's and early '70's.

This is hot and not about a "slow death".

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