The Stories Behind the Histories We Tell


How sensitive are we to the contexts in which we use ideas and words?

Recently began attending a series of discussions organised by Para Limes on “East-West” issues. This one (held on 14 June 2017) was with Vernie Oliveiro, Senior Assistant Director (Policy Strategy) with the Strategy Management Unit of the Ministry of National Development, who’s trained in history and has a strong interest in the Singaporean identity.

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Vultures of Culture

The commodification of culture doesn’t always kill culture; one could point to many examples of culture thriving for its own intrinsic value while also producing (yes, in the language of production) transactional value.

Some then say, “Be careful! Lest you kill the golden goose,” thinking they’re stewarding this culture in question. Yet, perhaps it is the very conceptualisation of this “golden goose” that drags culture into “being”, instead of its continuous “becoming”, and that bestows culture with form – a discrete manifestation. 

Vultures gather, bearing gifts, unaware they’re exacerbating the dying. At times, perhaps when fortunate, this goose bleeds slowly on and passes peacefully into oblivion. But, mostly (I say this for effect and with a tinge of truth), it limps on hollow, without a soul.

Perhaps we only truly own something when we give it away. Perhaps, too, what we didn’t struggle for, we can merely seek to behold, never to own nor to hold.