“There are these two young fish swimming along and they happen to meet an older fish swimming the other way, who nods at them and says “Morning, boys. How’s the water?” And the two young fish swim on for a bit, and then eventually one of them looks over at the other and goes “What the hell is water?””

― David Foster Wallace, from This Is Water (abridged video version here)

Culture is seen in “what people do unthinkingly, what is ‘natural’ to them and therefore requires no explanation or justification.” If someone asks us to describe our culture, we are as bewildered as the two young fish above. Because how can you describe something that surrounds us so completely that we can’t see it?

The truth is you can’t know your own culture until you seriously consider someone else’s; that means not dismissing it as the practice of the ignorant, but  instead asking yourself, “What if I’ve had it wrong all along? What if they’ve got it right? What if they understand reality better than I do?” You must, in other words, become uncomfortable—a “fish out of water” if you will.

Culture Slash will try to expose what comes to us naturally, unthinkingly and hopefully help us live more purposeful lives. It will do this by exploring where Eastern and Western cultures intersect, and all the messy places in between. Through stories, travel, scientific and historical research research, observation, art, and wild speculation we will probe the invisible forces that tell us whether sunbathing makes you “pretty” or “ugly,” whether Walter White met a satisfying or tragic end, and whether it’s okay to fertilize vegetables with human poop.

Perhaps in time we can learn to consciously create our own culture instead of mechanically accepting what we’ve always done before. Perhaps we can learn to be more gentle and humble when confronted with someone who does things differently instead of asserting the “superiority” and “practicality” of “our way.”

So, welcome to Culture Slash. Come on in. The water’s fine.


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