Here lies Martes Flavigula, eternally beneath the splintered earth.

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The Menhir of Pueblo Culture
Fri, 12 Jul, 2019 10:55

I once wrote:

Regularity and routine and especially in the same small town makes memory monolithic, blurring similar situations from diverse times - the dragonflies tell me.

Dragonflies are known to be cerebral creatures, especially in pueblos dotted with drying puddles of foreign interference. The footprints of travellers fade quickly. Memory remains monolithic, steeped in cultural immobility.

These days, I find regularity and routine to be tools to various ends. My music making’s graph that was flatlined for years, or even decades, has taken on a mountainous nature once again. Regularity and routine are culprits in this enterprise. When I wrote the above quote, however, I was an observer of the quiet circular stitches made by the inhabitants of Seminole, Texas.

Monolithic memory in a way is like sedimentary stone. Layer upon layer are piled and atop is the culture. It’s also unlike sedimentary stone because the lowest layers still permeate the nature of those more exposed to the air. They both support and invade anything that builds upon them. They are despotic bastards. But aren’t all cultural mores, in a sense?

Monolithic cultural memory also inflicts what I call hearsay knowledge upon inhabitants that roam atop the outermost layer. Hearsay knowledge is in contrast with common knowledge and fundamental knowledge. It’s a set of customs and old wives tales based on myths and traditions. Some may scrape truths and realities in a shallow sense, but most are followed simply by sheer force of their cultural history. Examples would be closing the closet door before gonig to sleep at night or never placing a hot dish in a modern refrigerator. Both cannot be verified to be true in our modern age. The first springs from childhood fears, solidifies into unthinking habit. The second was moderately realistic at some point in the past, but has no bearing on recent appliances.

The pueblo mind and its monolithic memory is slow to change, almost immobile.

In contrast to hearsay knowledge, common knowledge is a grey area between easily proven facts (given our current technological and scientific state) and pure myth. It varies from culture to culture, though there normally is overalp. It varies more widely between bubbles. The group of friends I had in university and beyond (Tony, Jayson, Jeff, Christopher …) had a more erudite common knowledge than the fratboy ‘sgitabeer types down the hall, though their common knowledge may have had facets we were unaware of, as well, to play the fucking abogado del diablo.

As an aside, it was always thrilling to find other small cultural bubbles (that I usually called shibboleths) that were regionally or socially disconnected but shared these erudite common knowledges. Bonding was usually quicker, like with the social groups I found in Praha after my eternal exile from the states.

Hearsay knowledge, in spite of its kinship with astrological, starry-eyed pseudo-religious hovno, does provide an almost endless wellspring for fictional interpretation. In fact, the impetus of this journal entry was my perusal after over a decade of Lovecraft’s tales. He took primal hearsay knowledge from recessed, haunted cultural memory and costructed a vivid, frightening universe. Most common knowledges state to not take such stories at face value. I’d imagine, however, even given their extreme, fantastical nature, there exist peasants who do.

Along with martens, goulish goats and the rippling fen -
these writings 1993-2021 by Bob Murry Shelton are licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 4.0

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