As you all are probably aware by now, I am a full time writer for the next few weeks. This is my attempt at re-framing a broken ankle and my semi-permanent position on the couch in front of the laptop. My sister informed me that November is National Write a Novel month, so if I can come up with any ideas in the next few days, I will seriously consider it. In the spirit of full disclosure – the biggest obstacle to me writing a book is that I don’t have any idea what it would be about, it has just been a lifelong dream of mine. For those who are wondering how my adventures around the house on the crutches are going – let me just say that I think coffee is determined to be my nemesis. After thinking that I had solved the problem with the use of one of those travel mugs, I proceeded this morning to spill the entire cup on the floor, and the process of trying to wipe it up was totally hilarious!!! However, today my musings are about time capsules.
Last year, I attended a few presentations here on the island that spoke about our culture, and I even was glancing at some books written about our history and culture. But for a while, I had been considering the fact that it is really very difficult for us to understand another person’s experience. Speaking mostly for myself (although I know that it is not unique to me) I think that people are very good at understanding the experiences of other people like themselves – in terms of background, lifestyle etc. However, they aren’t great at seeing through the eyes of persons with other experiences. This got me thinking about how cultural history is recorded, and if we can ever truly capture the mood of a culture at any given point in time, given that the persons who are writing the records may not have a true understanding of the nuances and reasons behind the norms that exist in other groups in the population.
Let me say that I am aware of the difficulty of answering that question given that even in a small country such as ours, there exist sub cultures (as my sister likes to say – there are 2 Barbadoses – personally I think that there are more than 2). This means that the cultural practices and norms often vary from group to group. However, at one of the presentations, one of the panelist suggested that perhaps the best way to capture the mood of a culture might be something like a time capsule, where the individual groups can decide what items best represent them at that point in time. Of course, this sparked a debate about what would be included. Someone asked about the inclusion of music (supposing that we could guarantee that whatever medium we used could be accessed in the 50 or 100 years time when the capsule was opened – what with the rapid progress of technology, especially in the entertainment industry), given the importance of music in culture. One of the other panelists asked about the inclusion of bashment soca as a part of the music – one of the popular trends at the moment. There was an outcry from many of the persons there, who didn’t like bashment soca, or didn’t think it was representative of our culture. However, it got me thinking – given the popularity of the music, there must be a segment of the population for whom this expression is exactly what they would think represents our culture at this point in time. And of course from there, I wondered how accurate are cultural histories, if their compilation does not include input from all sectors of the population.
I started thinking about what I would think would be important to place in the time capsule, and I am curious what other people think should be included as well. What song or music would you include? (Personally I would have to put in Good morning by Peter Ram, and Know the Face by Damien Marvay – two of my favourite local songs in recent times). What about one item that strikes you as capturing the mood for you culturally (I would actually like to input a flyer from Carifesta, as that was something that captured my imagination in the past few months). Something that you think represents children (fidget spinner would be my choice) or the youth. Any fine art or photo? Any spoken word recordings? What about newspaper headlines? If there was a list of slang or expressions, what would it contain? I would love input and opinions from others – perhaps we can put together some sort of digital time capsule if people are interested.
Looking forward to hearing your feedback!
In the meantime, I will go back to thinking about book ideas and keeping my foot elevated.
Big love from the couch!
Ps above is a view from one of my favourite points on the island. Of course if I could figure out how to fill my time capsule with beautiful landscape pics of the island then I would do that too!!