Crossing Cultures

Thinking about how information organization is a cultural affair has me thinking about the effect of the cultures I’ve been exposed to on my own life. I was lucky to grow up in an area that was rich with culture and with a family that enjoys celebrating other cultures.

Being exposed to so many different cultures growing up has led to some interesting situations as an adult, though. For example, when I was in college, we had to create a multidisciplinary lesson plan for kinesiology. One of the disciplines had to be P.E. or health, so I elected to weave in social studies and teach an Israeli folk dance I’d learned a few summers before. But the day I went to  present my lesson, I wore my Ancient Egypt vest without thinking. I realized it as I was setting up my lesson and turned the first two minutes of the lesson into a brief lecture on why I was removing my vest for the lesson.

Before that, I grew up with Greek mythology. I liked reading different versions of the same myth and figuring out what was different between them. Roman mythology didn’t interest me nearly so much. Rome seemed like a bunch of warriors, and I wasn’t into war. Anyone who confused the two pantheons was quickly straightened out. In fact, I’m so rabid about keeping the Greek and Roman pantheons straight that it’s a wonder I made it through Fred Saberhagen’s Swords Trilogy. To date, his disregard for the pantheons is the worst I’ve ever seen.

Even better was when I was working on a recent revision for one of my novels and discovered that I had really taken things too far. Before I started the very first revision, I did some research on the groups that have inhabited southern England, where the key points of the novel take place. My research didn’t turn up any sign of Roman occupation…so the key location is a hidden Roman temple. And in the temple are trap chambers reminiscent of the kind you see in treasure hunting movies set in Egyptian or South American pyramids. The trap chambers are slightly more acceptable because the manuscript is supposed to be spoofing treasure hunt media, but it still bothers me.

I’m always grateful for opportunities that allow me to experience different cultures. I’d like to believe I can be respectful of these cultures. I just wish my work would reflect that more often.

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