Politics and Culture in the Comic Zone

Daniel Rigney

Daniel Rigney
New Texas, USA
August 01
free-range writer
In this writing workshop and citizen's blog I'm exploring various short forms, often from a satiric angle. My interests include politics, culture and the human comedy; old and new media; social theory and urban life; the commercialization, corporatization and tabloidization of everything; sustainability; Unitarianism (UU); coffee; and writing (sorry, I mean providing content). Turtle stamp is from Tandy Leather. Interested in republishing a piece? Contact drigney3@gmail.com.


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JANUARY 13, 2012 12:54PM

Swirled World

Rate: 3 Flag

Swirled World

By Daniel Rigney

Laura (“Blue in Texas”) recently posted a piece in Open Salon about right-wing demagogue Pat Buchanan and his stubbornly tribalistic view of the world. I responded with a comment that while I think tribalism aptly describes the American past (and the kind of nineteenth-century thinking that Buchanan himself represents), the American and international future are more likely to resemble what I’ll call a “swirled world.”

Let me explain.

The metaphor here is to the mixing of paints. While Buchanan and his fellow tribalists (including Al Qaeda and orthodoxists of all kinds) strive to keep their primary cultural colors pure, the forces of globalization continue to throw people and ideas and cultures together in unintended and unexpected ways to produce new colors and cultural syntheses. Cultural and ethnic cleansing are getting harder and harder to accomplish.

(Excuse me while I enjoy this Polish taco with curry sauce.)

When you’ve mixed several colors of paint together, have you ever tried to unmix them?  Swirling, both  on the palette and in the polis, may be an  irreversible process, for good or ill,  and I don’t think we’ll ever squeeze our pure primary colors back into their original tubes.

A potential implication of the paint metaphor  is that in the long run,  a thoroughly swirled world might eventuate in some homogenized and uniform brown goo – kind of like an American freeway with its franchises and strip malls and big box stores, which are more or less the same whether one is in Florida or California or Your State Here. That is not a future I would look forward to. In fact, it’s the future I live in now here in Houston.

Fortunately, though, all analogies, including the swirled paint analogy, ultimately fail. In the end, culture is not paint. Yet we may still hope that in a swirled world, colors and  flavors can mingle distinctively with each other without thereby becoming thoroughly homogenized and bland. Swirled flavors can  be delicious.

I have just two words for you: Chunky Monkey.



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(a) purity is an illusion - being simply a long-standing mixture that people have forgotten the mixed roots of, and (b) yup, too much mixing and homogenizing turns everything muddy-brown, the global Walmart, but (c) in the meantime Polish tacos with curry sauce is da bomb.
I couldn't agree more, myriad. Well said. And by the way, you can't possibly have been from a previous era. Your birthday is four days after mine!
I love abstract expressionism and thinking about swirled paint conjures up all sorts of images of distinct and beautiful colors undulating with each other.
but the year, man, the year...
I enjoy fusion cooking. But that's where it stops.
Well done Daniel. The analogy about paint is brilliant. I think the brown goo future is avoidable as long as we don't give in much (if any) further to corporatization. Companies live for that murky undistinguishable color b/c it's uniform, easy and predictable. We just have to demand that not everything be uniform, easy or predictable!
Agreed, Laura, and thanks for giving me the idea to write it with your piece on tribal warrior Pat Buchanan.