Snow Job

3 01 2013

An urban hoax.That is that the Inuit and Northern people’s have 50-200 words to describe snow. As if there is an innate need to exoticize the other. Rather mundanely, and with some relief there is only “qanik” and “aput”; snow on the ground and in the air. Reassuring, in that they are not so bored they have nothing better to do than invent names to while away the long tedious nights punctuated by barely luminous and brief patches of sky and the occasional panting and padding of the polar bear. You get the snow-drift: there is a preponderant consensus in popular culture which holds, asserts, that “primitive” people enjoy, almost lustily,  a quality,  call it authenticity or the genuine  that modern, urban civilization lacks, like Rousseau’s noble savage, and that by rolling in their snow,yellow or not,  some of this aura or authenticity will stick to our expensive brand name gear.

The mix of the familiar and the exotic has resulted in the creation and perpetuation of a number of “White Lies.” These are stories that have been developed over long periods of time, reproduced in classrooms, anthropology and sociology textbooks, and other media, but have been rarely challenged, contributing to misunderstandings that have ultimately, in subtle ways, diminished the stature of Inuit traditional culture….

This pining for authenticity, the toothless smile of the Inuit paddling around in a kayak as if offering taxi fare in Venice is part of a winding back the clock process, the power of “innocence” in gripping popular imagination, as if we have become tarnished by running water and flushing toilets. We want to “primitivise” them as peace lovin’ folk living in harmony with nature devoid of any ancestral skeletons of the rapacious and brutal. It seems to be an intrinsic component of white culture  and spending gazillions on government funded studies and multiculturism policies has changed little in the collective psyche, in fact perhaps even reinforcing the fictional tropes.

Read original story at Madam Pickwick.

Inuit Boy

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