Thursday, September 6, 2007

My Two Cents

I find it sad that it took a CIE lesson for me to actually sit down and examine a penny. This object, along with all other monetary forms, have such value in our society that one would imagine each individual would constantly be scrutinizing it. I should not have been shocked to realize that you could actually see Lincoln in his monument on the back of the penny nor should I ever forgot how dashing Lincoln appears in his bow tie. It is almost pathetic how little I truly knew about an object that I have seen/used almost everyday of my life. How are we supposed to be able to learn about other cultures in this manner if we can not even take the time to learn about our own culture?

This activity that we did demonstrated how difficult it is to examine one artifact from a culture in hopes of gaining an understanding of such culture. Yes, we may have been able to come up with some decent insights, but that is because we could never truly separate ourselves from the background information that we all possess. Having to attempt such an activity with Gilgamesh or some other ancient text will prove to be more challenging. We will be less likely to make as in depth and "risky" claims about the society because we do not have the background knowledge to support our assumptions. It is difficult to gather information about the culture and the beliefs, morals, and values of the time period from one text. Try as we may, I believe we may be forced to take things out of context and make assumptions that we can not necessarily defend.

Take into account a modern day example. If, in 2000 or so years, someone came across a Michael Moore documentary, he may assume that this is how our culture viewed the truth, simply because it is title a documentary. Many people would be led to make such an assumption, leading them to conclusions about our culture and society that are far from the truth.

Keeping this in mind, I believe that it is necessary to read Gilgamesh with the utmost caution to prevent yourself from making too many assumptions that can lead to false impressions of the society we are studying.

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