Pop Culture Is Destroying True Beauty Essay
What he doesn’t mention, as an Australian, are the civilisations that persisted here for many thousands of years.He could have thought of the way the word was used in that context by American anthropologist Lloyd Warner in his 1937 study of the Yolngu, A Black Civilisation.It seems that the upholders of the latter would like the former to remain dubious and “ancient”, of little relevance to the future of the country.This essay is a personal reflection on the possibilities for a more reasonable hybrid definition of “civilisation” based on Australian soil. Well, it is city life, if you follow the etymology.The usual definition of it as human society defined by “urban development, social stratification …and a perceived separation from and domination over the natural environment”, as given in Wikipedia, is crying out for revision because it ignores sustainability and relegates non-human life, “nature”, to a resource.There is a prejudice reinforced every time the Euphrates and Tigris are cited in accounts of world history as being the ‘cradle of civilisation’.Sometimes contesting “cradles” are noted in China, India or the Americas.
Today, the Yolngu are among the more robust of Indigenous communities, with their celebrated artistic heritage, their annual Garma Festival, and their business and political skills.
It includes the process of initiation through which people are literally “made”; in that sense you can’t be a “proper” Aboriginal person without going through the law.
But isn’t it hopelessly idealistic to give value to such traditional institutions, when clearly they can’t be configured in terms of economic progress?
more At the same time as a headline in The Guardian announced: “Indigenous Australians most ancient civilisation on Earth, DNA study confirms”, we could also read that billion had been left by healthcare tycoon Paul Ramsay to set up, under the direction of right-wing former prime ministers John Howard and Tony Abbott, a plan to install courses on “Western civilisation” in major Australian universities. Civilisation has nothing to do with science as such (DNA is indifferent to it), nor is it something a passing political initiative can uphold.
But with a long view of Australian history, the concept of civilisation is caught precisely in this politically charged dichotomy: between an Indigenous civilisation and a recently arrived “Western” one.