RE: PC meme/s

From: Scott Chase (
Date: Sun 20 Feb 2005 - 02:24:31 GMT

  • Next message: Scott Chase: "more on yaupon or *Ilex vomitoria*"

    --- Lawrence deBivort <> wrote:

    > Greetings,
    > I don't think the 'PC meme' is new. It is just the
    > desire not to offend
    > people who have power. In the 'old days' power was
    > often more concentrated
    > (in a king, religious figure) and so ideas expressed
    > around that figure
    > designed to maintain or curry favor were 'PC'. Now,
    > when we have decided
    > that everyone's opinions count, PC has come to mean
    > offending no one.
    > The backlash against the PC meme is an interesting
    > one, isn't it? We sneer
    > at statements made for PC reasons, yet we all tend
    > to go along with PC in
    > our own statements. Also, when we announce that we
    > are going to say
    > something not PC, we seem to cloak ourselves
    > temporarily in protection
    > against the accusation of not being PC.
    Hey would it be politically incorrect of me to revisit that conversation we had about the movie "Motorcycle Diaries" now that I've seen the DVD (I own it). I had an idea in my noggin that influenced my purchasing behavior I suppose. This DVD is now on the market and others will buy it and it will influence their views of history.

    I realize discussion of Latin American history and politics (I'm a dilettante of both) might get people about as peeved as discussion of the same wrt the Middle East, but they can't see the individual trees that comprise the forest. Venezualian president Hugo Chavez has been seen recently sporting a iconic Che t-shirt, so this IMO is very current and also relevant to this list, since we are talking about how images and ideas spread through groups of people, correct? See:

    Che merchandise is out there. Go to your local mall and if you find a store with Che icon t-shirts, ask the person (teenager?) buying the shirt if they know who Che was or what happened in Bolivia. Wearing the Che icon might be trendy in some contexts, but politically incorrect in the midst of Cuban Americans in Little Havana in Miami. One image has many connotations or contextual entailments. Walking through the halls of a high school it might be trendy, yet in other places it might be highly offensive. Political ideology might pay a role in how people look at this Che image on a t-shirt. Those on the right would likely find it distasteful. Jay Nordlinger has an essay "Che Chic: it's *tres* disgusting" on pages 28-30 of the December 31, 2004 issue of National Review where he's very critical of the Che image trend. There's a picture of an infant wearing their own baby sized Che shirt, which might indicate how hip it really is.

    The lesson here? If you want to look at the spread
    (and barriers to its spread) of the Che iconic image as a meme, you cannot completely divorce it from Che's place in history. Maybe kids are buying the shirt because they like the look of the image and nothing more, but Hugo Chavez may have worn his for entirely different reasons and one might expect that conservative Republicans and some Cuban-Americans might refuse to buy it and might look upon it with disgust (an "anti-meme"?). The ideas in the noggins of Republicans and some Cuban-Americans might lend resistance to the "Che-meme", a counterrevolution of the mind if you will where Hugo Chavez may have been trying to gain some revolutionary street credibility.

    As a sidelight the word "che" is a common expression in Argentina I've been told. It's a sort of greeting I think. So how did one person all of a sudden (oops let's not bring Goldschmidt into this) become tighhtly associated with such a common Argentine expression?

    Another sidelight, I recall yerba mate bing consumed during the movie "Motorcycle Diaries". This drink is big in South America especially Argentina. It's made from a species of *Ilex* plant. What I find fascinating is that the Seminoles in Florida used to drink something called the "black drink" from another species of *Ilex* that I recall was known for its emetic qualities. The species name is *Ilex vomitoria* if that gives you any clue. The yerba mate drink isn't known for making you toss your cookies I'm pretty sure. One of my friends who travels South America quite often said its rather mild. There's some basic paraphernalia that are involved with yerba mate drinking too. It's not like drinking a cup of tea *per se*.

    It's interesting how two species of *Ilex* have been used to make drinks in the New World, from an ethnobotanical perspective. Should memeticists study some ethnobotany to get ideas on how behaviors have spread through cultures? With the Seminole black drink we might develop a memetics of emetics ;-)

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