culture/Culture as a microcosmos of implications

«But there seem to be two words involved here: culture, the package of behaviours-about-which-we-have-a-choice, and Culture, which we usually take to mean art, and which we tend to separate as an activity. I think these are connectable concepts: big-C Culture is in fact the name we reserve for one end of the FUNCTIONAL/STYLISTIC continuum – for those parts of it that are particularly and conspicuously useless, specifically concerned with style. As the spectrum merges into usefulness, we are inclined to use the words “craft” or “design”, and to accord them less status, and as it merges again into pure instinctual imperative we no longer use the word “culture” at all. From now onwards, when I use the word “culture” I am using it indiscriminately to cover the whole spectrum of activities excluding the “imperative” end. And perhaps that gives us a better name for the axes of this spectrum: “imperative” and “gratuitous” – things you have to do versus things you could choose not to do.»

[ENO, Brian, A Year With Swollen Appendices, Faber and Faber, 1996]


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