I read the first book of Edward Hall in Polish translation: "The Silent Language". My mother who was working on edition of the Polish version recommended it to me. Very interesting - he talks about how different cultures see differently the space and time.
For instance two people while talking in our Euro-Am. culture do not stay extremely close to each other, we need to feel some space - but this is not everywhere. On the other hand some Navajo Indians do not have completely the same feel for time like we do.
the fragment from the interview: Hall: The essence of what we are talking about has to do with the central question of what is culture. You can never get too far away from that.
And to get to your other question, it started for me by taking a course in anthropology. When I discovered anthropology, I had been doing it already, but I didn't know you could take it in school (chuckle). But when it became most real to me was when I was working as a foreman on the Hopi and Navajo reservations [in the 1930s, see West of the Thirties by Edward T. Hall]. So we had white people without even a high school education. We had Hopis and Navajos and Indian traders. Lorenzo [Hubbell, famous Indian trader] was tri-cultural. The smartest man on the reservation and one of the smartest people I have ever known. He had several posts and he really was the power behind everything that was going on there. Well, I was supposed to be a camp manager and there was really no way of getting them going. I mean, they just didn't know how. And someone had to set the tents up and things like that. So again it has to do with information. The camps were not being built. So I was finally visited by John Collier's people and they said, Collier's wants camps and if you have to carry the tents on your back, why, there's going to be camps! [John Collier was a sociologist and the U.S. Commissioner of Indian Affairs (1933-1945).]
I knew the government was not going to do anything. I'd been on the reservation, oh I guess, a couple months by then. I knew that Lorenzo was the key to anything that was going to happen. So I went over to Oraibi [in Arizona], thirty-two miles away, and talked to him. Well, he questioned me deeply. Why do they need camps? I explained that when you are building a road, it makes sense to have camps. This road is only going to be a truck trail...about 9 feet wide. And only about 25 miles long. It can't take too long. See, what was really at stake was that we were going to be feeding the Indians. If we didn't feed them, they got an extra dollar a day to feed themselves. So that money would go to the traders. It was thousands of dollars we were talking about. Outside of this money coming into the reservation, there was practically no funding for Indian people.
Sorrells: So that was the critical point.
Hall: Yes, you see. I told Lorenzo how long this camp would go. Once the road was finished, there were alot of other things to be done. Well, within just a matter of days, I had the camp. It worked just like magic. He was the keystone. One not only needs to know the cultural side but also the political side. Power...who has the power? One has to know the information channels. They are almost like wires...who's controlling information? It's a structural thing. I have been studying what one might call meaning. Translating behavior as a form of meaning. Talking about it now, the way we have meaning is tied up with power. Messages, channels, slots and buttons. Is there a slot in the brain to receive the message? What buttons do we push and which ones do we avoid? This is a good breakdown because you have to examine it at each step. Is it the right message? Or the wrong one? Are we sending them the right message? What channel?
a bit more about Navajo culture: You see this is what I got from working on the reservation. Here I was out there trying to explain to the Indians using an Aristotelian paradigm of logic, and it wasn't working. Not only that, it made them very anxious. So, I thought, well now, obviously, the way I am thinking is wrong. I mean it is not getting across. So that's when I talked to Lorenzo about it. He didn't explain it to me. He didn't give me an answer. Then, when I was walking out the door, he said, "Navajo's understand a bargain". That's all he said. So, I went back. My crews were not starting on time. Then I said, "Maybe you have been wondering what you were going to have to give in exchange for this work?". By then I knew that when Navajo's were wondering and puzzled about things, that this occupies their whole mind. You have to explain things to them. Again, you see there was always a contrast. With me and with other white people, why, we compartmentalize. But the Navajo's did not compartmentalize. When they had a problem, it occupied their whole mind. And it is one of the reasons why the Pueblos around here [New Mexico] are in awe of the Navajos mind. They are putting things together in different ways. They literally become obsessed. When they get on a problem, that takes everything.
I liked one fragment from the book very much: Americans regard other nations as underdeveloped Americans since they do not understand that people from different cultures have their own way how they behave
I see that nobody is familiar with Hall books, but this is such a great material to learn that people in different countries have just different way of looking at things! Just like the conflict with Iran - when the Iran presidents is talking nonsense that Israel should not exist and then the most popular FoxNews journalist is saying.... that Iran should be wiped from the Earth.
Lets wipe both - Iranian president and O'Reilly from the face of the media and government and then maybe we will have a peace!
Jaga, I am interested in Hall's books! After your posting I did a quick search for him and was even more intrigued. I am trying to find one of his books to read - well to add to the stack of books that I am reading would be more like it. What you posted reminded me of a comment I saw on another site (Gasp shock! I do go to other forums but the Polish Forum my home - I promise) that the difference between American culture and European culture was that American culture was all about wealth and what you have (conspicious comsumption) and European culture was more about community and maintaining ties to your "home" community.