Re-Ethnicizing the Minds? Cultural Revival in Contemporary Thought

Re-Ethnicizing the Minds? Cultural Revival in Contemporary Thought

Re-Ethnicizing the Minds? Cultural Revival in Contemporary Thought

Re-Ethnicizing the Minds? Cultural Revival in Contemporary Thought

Excerpt

Over the past few decades encounters between western musicians and traditional musicians from Africa and Asia have become more and more frequent. Sometimes these attempts to fuse western modernity and non-western tradition are productive as they manage to enrich the poor western rhythms and grant western music a more universal scope. Sometimes, however, they end up as vague conceptual elaborations of a "World Music" guided by no other motive than by the search of exoticism.

As a matter of fact, the idea of "World Culture" is not as modern as it might seem. At the end of the 18 century, Johan Gottfried von Herder insisted, in his Ideen zur Geschichte der Menschheit, that peoples and not political movements are central participants in the creation of world history. While Herder's claim remained restricted to reflections on philosophy of history, Goethe extended it some forty years later to the realm of literature. Literature is not the private heritage of a few cultured men but the work of the world's peoples. Literature is restricted neither to certain social classes nor to special geographical regions and to limit oneself to one's own national literature is simply pretentious. Everybody can produce literature, and if we only look around in the world we will discover many creations of highest standing. The seventy-eight year old Goethe coins the term "World Literature" as representative of a new international intellectual reality; and he asks everybody to help to accelerate its development by taking note of its different manifestations.

One may be divided about the ethical or aesthetic truths that Goethe attributes to his newly discovered "World Literature" – what . . .

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