Author Archive
Folk speech
general
Proverbs

Das Billige ist immer das Teuerste

German proverb: Das Billige ist immer das Teuerste

Literal translation: “The cheapest is always the most expensive.

 

According to the informant, this proverb means that opting for quality is always of greater value, speaking long term,  than opting for something cheap or for greater abundance. This is because quality will sustain if it’s an object and you will learn and improve to a greater degree if dealing with a teacher of some sort.

This is said to be a very old saying in Germany that has been passed down for both personal benefit but also civil. This acts as a reminder that even the property, means to a cause or service must be value in terms of quality and that the people should invest a greater deal of resources into these things to insure a prosperous collective.

The informant values this proverb greatly because when she was young she was subject to dealing with many faulty things and horrible teachers here in the states because of the disregard for quality. Part of this had to do with living through the Great Depression  but looking back she says that there were many instances where procuring quality would have saved her family a great deal of time, energy and money.

 

I selected this proverb from the informants repertoire because I felt it carried a great deal of merit in an age of synthetic and cheap knockoffs of quality products. Some people obviously still value nice well made things but too many fall for the short term trap. From a business end cheaper is better because it can ensure sales long-term. But if you look to the past many companies and groups of people made solid products regardless of the price. It is as though there’s been a shift of values for the sake of profit.

If we look at the creations of their German people, they are notorious for producing quality products  it is likely this proverb transcended its folk roots into mainstream production philosophy, at least to a good degree

 

The informant is retired but worked as a secretary for quite some time. She is of German descent and has a great deal of German folklore knowledge that she had learned from her relatives.

 

 

 

Folk speech
general
Proverbs

Aus Schaden wird man klug

German Proverb: Aus Schaden wird man klug

English translation: Failure makes smart

According to the informant, Aus Schaden wird man klug is a proverb that reminds one of the essentialness of failure. We live in a world where many cultures devalue missteps instead of seeing them as being just as integral to progress as success.

The informant states that she came to know this proverb from her father who learned it from his German native father. It was when she first pursued playing the violin. She believed she could easily bypass others who found the instrument difficult to play well. Little did she know how difficult it really was. Ironically she played more poorely than her friends. After giving a few months she was ready to give up until she told her father of her intentions. This irked her father who then shared the proverb. This opened up her eyes as to how perceive failure. She embraced it and eventually came out of her learning rut. Since then she studied her failures more closely to better inform her next steps. This proverb she says holds an enourmas amount of value because it has fundamentally changed how she approaches mout things in life.

I found this proverb worth capturing because it provides a type of perspective on a matter, that is achieving success, that often comes from old and often overlooked wisdom, such as embracing failure. That is not to say there are cultures around the world who do not embrace failure today, but in the mainstream westernized way of thinking it has certainly been suppressed by many. What we must take away of from this is that understanding and appreciating antiquated thought may serve us in surprising ways. It is not something to reserve for the recepticals of time.

The informant is retired but worked as a secretary for quite some time. She is of German descent and has a great deal of German folklore knowledge that she had learned from her relatives.

Digital
general

Unimpressed Lizard

 

The unimpressed lizard is a meme that depicts a hand holding a lizard the size of a finger. This lizard’s careless facial expression lead it to become one of the internets most sought after memes in 2014 – starting on the website Reddit. Like most memes, the people gave it a sense of variation by cutting out the head and placing it on human bodies in various contexts (see photos). The informant is an avid Redditor and it is he who showed this piece for the first time. He states that it isn’t connected to any sub-culture beyond those who use memes It is used by many as a way to express their lack of care or coolness towards something.

When it comes to memes there seems to be this gravitation towards almost exagerated expressions or if mild in nature are associated with some absurd context, such as the Unimpressed Lizard. In fact the expression of being unimpressed is a frequent thematic in meme expressions.

The informant states what he finds so appealing is as mentioned, the absurd association of a lizard acting unimpress. It is the human like nature applied to such a small and insignificant creature who is emulating human nature. Furthermore the contexts that people put this lizard in adds greater value he believes.: “What’s better than an unimpressed lizard in crude form? An unimpressed lizard in sponge bob pajamas.” Each scenario the lizard has been put in is more absurd than the next.

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general

German Proverb: Den Wald

The informant is retired but worked as a secretary for quite some time. She is of German descent and has a great deal of German folklore knowledge that she had learned from her relatives.
The informant shares a German proverb:
In German: Du siehst den Wald vor lauter Bäumen nicht.English Translation (literal): You don’t see the forest for all the trees

 

This is explained to mean that one does not see their life for the big picture, but rather the minutia, which can cause someone to lose sight of where they should be going or who they are as a whole entity.

The proverb was told to the informant when she was a young woman. She went to visit her grandmother in Austria. At this time the informant was caught up in some small social ordeal at school which bothered her doing her trip to Europe. This proverb was shared with her to give her perspective on the insignificance of this matter and how it is your life on a bigger scale that must be currently worried about.
Since this it of advice, the informant went on to use it as a means to keep perspective of her life outside the immediate. The informant notes that post WWII when many cities were destroyed, it seemed like all was lost. For many this proverb acted as a reminder of the long term growth that will take place to restore Europe.
This proverb is so simple yet a very apt metaphor for its meaning. It’s function as a reminder for the people to transcend their negative thoughts about post WWII is something to note because it is this sort of circumstance that gives the proverb such a strong purpose which enables it to be subject to great use amongst those effected by the war. Folklore is always passed down for some reason, most notably tradition, but here it is a tool for healing.
Digital

North Eastern/Western Mix Up

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Insight from Informant:

“For those who live on the west coast and aren’t too educated in mid-western and eastern schools, people tend to assume North Western (NW) and North Eastern (NE) are one in the same and are located in Chicago, when in fact only North Western is located in Chicago and North Eastern is located in Boston. This has aggravated attendees of NE for quite some time. So much so that a meme had spawned to share with those who make the mistake of blending the two.

The meme was created by a senior eight or so years ago and started to spread across various forms of NE social media groups. The informant discovered it during his first year of school at NE after being invited to a private school Facebook group.

The informant thinks the meme is cheesy, but the message resonates enough to make it worthwhile. He’s considering altering the design and re-sharing it.

 

My Thoughts:

Having been to NE, i’ve experienced first hand the attitudes towards this matter so I can certainly appreciate it. For those who are unfamiliar with the school don’t know that NE is a great school but it has always been considered a lessor school to NW, at least in terms of the public eye. Which is certainly part of why people get so furious, when they have to correct the person, they have to automatically put themselves in the inferior boat. This meme functions as sort of a catharsis for those who feel the pain.

It terms of the aesthetics of the meme, I am in agreement with the informant in that the choice of face doesn’t lend to the comedic copy. Humor is of course subjective, but I would certainly like to see a new iteration.

general
Humor

Mork Call

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About the Informant

The informant is a wordly individual. He’s travelled to more than 20 countries and has lived for long periods in 3 of them, including England, America and Norway. Although born in America he is native to both the US and England. His primary focus is on technology and marketing and utilizes these fields for an understanding of the places he travels to. A great deal of his adolescents were spent in Lonion, so he has gained a good deal of insight into the lore of various sub-cultures there.

Description (What is being performed):

Amongst some youth in England, a distinct call where one creates the hand gesture (see photo above) and places their mouth up to the whole that is made and aggressively yell the word “mork” , is made to people that you like to poke fun at or simply dislike.  This is often done by groups who collectively share mutual feelings for people. A primary objective is for the “Target'” to not notice that the noise is being directed toward them. Therefore the call is often made when the target is at a distance and hasn’t acknowledged the perpetrator.

The Informant (Background info about performance from informant):

The informant states that he did not discover this call but rather came up with it when with his friends while at university in England. One day his group heard the mork sound being made by someone which they then adopted. At a later point the informant saw a classmate that he and his friends liked to make fun of and he said mork as the student walked by. This was the moment where purpose was assigned the call. Since then they would do it to random people and others would catch them do it. They too would start to use it. The call spread quickly amongst various groups of friends and even so in the states where the informant coninuted college.

It is said that the ability to vent your dislike to someone while close in proximity is partially what makes doing it so humorous and satisfying. ALso the fact that the target is unaware of it makes it funnier. Additionally it acts as a way for a group of people to bond with one another, whether it be a group of friends who share the dislike for someone, or when hearing someone your unfamiliar with do it, which instantly creates a connection between you two.

The Analysis (My Thoughts):
People have been making chants or signal sounds for centuries. One particular context is making sounds to warn a group of an approaching other. In war this is often used, but the with the mork sound it is put in a humorous context. Within this use it is as though a sense of false superiority is trying to be established. I say false because unless the target is aware of this call, then they may not perceive the perpetrators as superior. Along side this the call functions as a way of venting.

The fact that the sound catches on quickly and that a sort of sub-culture forms around those who know and understand it means its ability to sustain its existence throughout time to some degree or another is likely.

Folk Beliefs
general
Holidays
Myths

Krampus (Annotated)

Throughout the informants childhood, she would learn about the mythological creature, Krampus, a half devil half goat like creative who would punish children who were naughty during the Christmas season. This was at least the a popular rendition of the creature, but it has been said to pre date Christian times and others have brought variation to the creature. In the informants case, she stated that her German grandparents who were each grew up with the Krampus tradition, would be the ones to share the stories, only they would tailor them to fit their own disciplinary mold for their granddaughter. Krampus in the informants eyes acted more like a God who oversaw her year around. Her belief in these tales during adolescents were so strong that she would preach to her friends to be good because “Krampus is watching”.  Parent’s of her friends would get upset with her and subsequently her parents for scaring their children. Despite this, the idea that the Krampus as the all seeing eye stuck with her and her friends for years. Later in life it formed into a long running joke – Whenever they got together and someone would do something they deemed shady or un agreeable they would then bring up the Krampus.

 

I’ve noticed a trend in my collection of folklore regarding parental figures using some sort entity as a source of disciplining children; Essentially exploiting their naivety. This is in a way is a fundamental concept of religion as well as societal discipline. Something else to note is that the informant grew up in America where Krampus is not nearly as prominent a tradition as in Europe. The essential nature of the creature is contrary to the sort of way Christmas is articulated in mainstream American culture, even back in the mid 20th century. The children’s parents being offended by the sharing of this story seems like a sort of tesetment to the disapproval of this creature within that context. I further inquired with the informant about this perspective and she confirmed that the community she surrounded herself in was very much that of mainstream America and that the creature was not well regarded or understood. Halloween was when it got the most notoriety even though it’s intended associated Holiday is Christmas.

 

The informant is retired but worked as a secretary for quite some time. She is of German descent and has a great deal of German folklore knowledge that she had learned from her relatives.

 

Krampus has been subject to many narrative, including a 2015 Chrismtas horror comedy film titled after the creature. It was put out by Uniersal picture in December and was met with mixed reviews. In the film the creature is presented in the traditional manor of the goat demon but his motives for haunting what is a family stuck in a snowed in house during Chrismtas are to punish the family for losing the Chrismtas spirit. This is contrary to its most popular motive where the creature terrorizes those who acted badly. COnsidering this is a corporate product which has ties to many things regarding Christmas, instilling this sort of message that not carrying  about Christmas will lead to punishment could be a profit driven story decision on behalf of the studio.

 

Krampus. Dir. Michael Dougherty. Perf. Adam Scott. Universal Pictures, 2016. DVD.
View in list | Edit

 

 

Digital
Humor

“What People Think I Do / What I Really Do” – Public Relations Edition

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Context (Informant):

Being in PR there’s a lot of misconception about what the job entails. As the meme shows, the different types of people in your life perceive it differently. There are many different iterations of the “What People Think I Do / What I Really Do”, including various PR versions, but this one sums it up the best. A lot of new publicists or those climbing up the ladder within a PR firm post this image on there Twitter or Facebook to poke at those who constantly question or mix up the understanding of the job.

Thoughts (My own):

The “What People Think I Do / What I Really Do” meme started circulating in 2012 when someone posted one about being a science student. Since then it has been adapted for dozens of jobs. A trend with all of them is the friends perception is almost always the most glamorous, followed by the parents. Knowing the informant and what her job entails, at the end of the day it really can be seen from any of these perspectives. But the degree to which one of these perspectives dominates is dependent on your position and level of experience. Nonetheless is humorous and often very telling of a job, which is why I think this meme has the appeal that it does.

 

Folk Beliefs
general
Kinesthetic

Stretching to Grow

 

Description (What is being performed): 

When by brother was a kid my father would stretch him out by pulling on his legs as He held onto a pole we had in our backyard. He did this to stretch him out with the expectation of growing taller if it was done every day.

The Informant (Background info about performance from informant):

Me: “How did you come to know about this method of growth?

Dad: “Your Gramps did it to me, and my gramps did it to him?

Me: “But we don’t know what it actually works, right?”

Dad: “Some days I seem to think so (laughs)”

Me: “And why did you feel the need to aggressively pull your sons legs? (Laughs)”

Dad: “It’s all about basketball. You got to be tall in that game.”

Me:”So what you’re saying is you really wanted your son to be tall enough to play basketball and would do whatever it takes.”

Dad: “Pretty much, yeah.”

Me: “What does it mean to you?”

Dad: “What does it mean to me?”…”It’s a fathers way of not accepting things as they are. Maybe it’s arrogance, thinking we can shape our sons into what we want even if it’s attempt to defy the reality.”

Me: “That’s an interesting thought. In a way it’s a very micro version of boiling down the dilemma of man vs nature.”

Dad: “In a way, except we were also unsure at the time whether or not it worked. It started out as experimentation, then as time went on it was wishful thinking when we realized no one grew.”

(closing words)

The Analysis (My Thoughts):

The informant brings up an interesting perspective regarding what the belief means to him. He states “It’s a fathers way of not accepting things as they are…thinking we can shape our sons into what we want even if it’s attempt to defy reality” this I notice is a long standing trope between not just fathers, but parents and their children. They’ll go as far as to practice an unproven method of getting their child to be who they want them to be. Also so long as it can’t be disproven, they’ll continue to utilize it to simply feed into that desire. This seems to be something we can see along many folk beliefs, not so much in the parent child situation, but people hold onto and live out these notions through generations because of a traditional/long standing desire that these long standing tradition beliefs satisfy. Additionally a component of both this stretching out to grow belief and folk beliefs in general is that they become a bit of identification for lineages who pass whatever it is down. As my father states he knew that it didn’t work but his father grandfather did it to his father, and his father to himself, and subsequently he did so to his son.

Rituals, festivals, holidays

Drone Rat

Description (What is being performed):

Drone Rat is a social club that consists of a group of friends from high school who post humorous media in a private group on Facebook. This collective also functions as a way for these people to stay in touch as they relocate and start to become more busy. Every year an awards ceremony/social gathering/hazing event takes place to celebrate the best posts and the groups friendship as well as to test each indivuals dedication to the group. I had the fortune of attending the most recent event in December, which is said to be the 5th annual gathering.

Below is a documentation of the event. Note that it ran over 5 hours long so only significant moments will be presented in this version of the account:

It was the early afternoon of December 21st 2015. I headed over to the informants parents house which was the grounds for hosting the event. I was at the drive way by the informant. He asked if I’d like to partake in the opening ritual. I wasn’t sure what that was but agreed to it. He brought me inside to what was a rather large home. Very naturalistic, lots of skylights and plants. In the living room was a group, presumably the members of Drone Rat who were all dressed in suits and drinking glasses of whiskey. They were engaging in typical banter that close friends often do, at least  here in the states. I knew a few of them…we engaged in conversations mostly about how “pumped” they were for what awaits. They were just as clueless as I was as to what this ritual consists of…supposedly it changes every year, each more absurd in its presentation than the last…20 minutes pass and every is getting anxious…you can tell everyone is getting heavily toxicated at this point…supposedly they were still waiting on a few members to arrive…after about 5 more minutes two of the remaining members show up…everyone cheers them on, calling them by their nicknames…the leaders of the group, including the informant come back out to the group and announce that the ritual will commence…they guide us to the top of the driveway where a UHaul truck awaits with music blaring from the back…judging by everyone’s reactions this is defiantly a step up from last year. Everyone piles inside the back, a few reluctant. I was ordered to sit up front with the driver who was the informants brother. The truck takes off and you can hear everyone yelling out of excitement. Not for certain, but I’m pretty sure they were passing around drinks in the back as well…I ask the informants brother the point of this and he says its to make them think they’re being taken somewhere else…he goes to state that the event has taken place at the same place for too long and now it’s time to relocate, but it wouldn’t be Drone Rat without making everything seem cryptic up until the point of the reveal. We drive around a few neighborhoods close by, in a circle a few times then head back to the house…each of the members are then blindfolded and brought through an elaborate pitch black tunnel and placed in front of a table. This takes about 20 minutes. At this point you have 12 men in suits blindfolded in the pitch black surrounding a table…their blind folds are then removed…all of a sudden loud obnoxious music from the experimental hip hop artist Tyler the Creator starts to play out of no where and a spotlight turns in above the middle of the table. Awaiting each member is a bottle of Guinness beer with a sock over the top, a cigerette, a small container of liquor, crackers, and meat. They’re instructed to eat, drink and smoke everything and then head down the mysterious corridor where a strobe light is flashing. One by one each member finishes their things and heads down the corridor where a person with a beer awaits. The member is instructed to shot gun the beer and walk into the next room. The next room is a large space with a  stage and a projector playing a looped video that says “Fight, Fuck, Feast, Repeat” each word being paired with a derogatory image to match it. Some 60s Japanese rock song plays along side. THe place is decorated in Christmas lights…there’s even a mini bar with beer and liquor. Once everyone is finished and get accumulated in the new room they are asked to be seated. A preprogrammed voice introduces the host of the evening who comes on the stage. He is applauded by the members. He goes on to thank everyone, crack a few jokes about the members and acknowledges the absence of a couple of its members. He then asks the informants brother to come onto the stage and to sing the pledge of allegiance. THe members stand and join in unthinkably…after, the  host comes back up to introduce the informant who is one of the leaders of the group. He gives a speech and then introduces the first awards category…this being funniest picture…A video plays showing each of the photos with music playing the background…very much like a slide show only the images are given a Ken burns effect and any written word on the image is spoken by a pre recorded voice. One of the images consists of screenshot of one of the members Instagram showing a picture of someone else’s post. I promised not to share the nature of the content, but it certainly got the crowd laughing. After all the images were shown, a screen pops up showing each of the contenders and a number beside them. The members are then instructed to write down the correlated number of the post they liked most on a  piece a paper. Afterwards they were all collected and counted…the winner was announced…the winner goes onto the stage and is awarded a trophy which was a golden circa hands statue. The winner gave a brief and comical speech then sat down. THis routine went on for about 2 hours. The categories were things like “Best Post” and “Best Video”, “Slander”, “Best Comment on a Post” and much more. By the end everyone was heavily intoxicated…then the host stated that they had a surprise…the lights dimmed…on the screen popped up an image with the title that you would see for a music video…The title was
“Drone Rat Theme Song 2015″ and was written by a few of the members. The song played to what looked like footage from a children’s tv show only something more adult in nature. THe music was hard hitting electronic music, dubstep and hip hop infused. The members started to aggressively flail their arms and stomp their feet like core dancers. Once the song was over they replayed it and danced in the same manor…after everyone seemed a bit tired…they at this point questioned where they actually were…they stepped outside to see that in fact we were in the backyard of the informants house…A few had guessed this from the beginning…the members, intoxicated and a bit tired walked inside to find the informants mom and dad cooking a large feast…lots of meat, pasta, bread, salad, and desert. Everyone feasted at a large table…as they were doing so a few of the member’s girlfriends showed up…everyone continued to feast and then went their separated ways…all the trophies were left behind which is an ongoing joke between the members who put on the event and the recipients of the awards…the members wants the receipients to take the awards home just as one does in most ceremonies, but ever since one of the recpeients didn’t a few years back, word got around, everyone found it humurous and continue to do so.

 

The Informant (Background info about performance from informant):

Why do they know or like this piece?

Me: “What draws you to doing all of this?”

Informant: “You’ll give different sides depending on who you talk to. Those who experience the ceremony find its a way for everyone to catch up after not seeing each other for almost a year. Also it’s something to do when we’re home with our families during Christmas break. The less apparent but certainly truthful aspect is that its a form of comfort, like comfort food or piece of entertainment. These are people we grew up with and have a long standing history of jokes and memories that when we reconnect, whether it be in our online group or in person, acts as a way to escape any sort of hardships we may have at any given moment. For us who put on the event and come up with the elaborate rituals, I think we may be just a bit sadistic, or maybe just a bit playful (laughs)

Me: “That’s interesting (laughs) I can see how all that makes sense.” Now tell how this was oringaly concieved, as in the group and the ceremony.”

Informant: “**** who is the founder of the group was livening in Los Angeles right out of high school and was a bit lonely and he wanted a way to be able to keep in constant contact with his friends so he made this group. As far the ceremony I think him and I were talking one day and the idea just sprang to one of us, I don’t remember who.”

Me: “So it acted like a genuine need”

Informant: “Yeah, exactly.”

Me: “One last question, what does this mean to you?”

Informant: “Well much of like I said before, it’s an a thing where we can bond, you know, a method of celebrating our friendship.”

Me: “Great, thanks man.”

.

The Analysis (My Thoughts): 

Much like the informant said, I see this as a gathering for a group of friends to reconvene, to escape from their daily lives, and to build a sense of purpose outside of the normal routine. Looking past all of this, the ceremony will be of greater focus. What I immeditely thought after it ended was the the structure resembled much of any other ceremony where everyone comes together, theirs a build up to the ceremony, theirs dancing and feasting afterwards. What happens within each of these events is what sets it apart, and in this case in a very bizarre way. Things like roaming around in a UHaul, being blind folded, and having to eat, drink, and smoke a bizarre grouping of items turns this into almost a hazing event, akin to a fraternity. The thing is none of these members are plaiges, they are the same status as those who are conducted this ceremony. This feeds into to what the informant said about feeding into their sadistic desires. ALthough these members aren’t forced to do any of this and won’t lose membership if they fail to submit. So I question why they would do such nonsense. My guess is it is again a form of escape. Much like one would put themselves in a haunted house during Halloween. Moving on to the ceremony itself, it resemlbes the traditions of the typical ceremony,especially awards ceremony in America: you have a stage, the mc, drinks, lighting, speeches, etc. The way in which the voting process of the winning videos is very democratic, which is unlike many of the awards ceremonies which shows the leaders of this ceremony value the fairness of its members, unlike what you may gather from the ritual beforehand. The content, although I promised to not talk about any of it explicitly, is clearly niche humor. Much of which relates to people all of these people know and who aren’t at the ceremony. Other types of content is sometimes political, often wordly and much a product of the Internet generation. Seeing the way everyone reacts during the ceremony, it is almost as if it’s a comedy show in itself. THe speeches by the winning recipients being a component of this. Moving on to other aspects like the design of the ceremony, which includes building a “fortress” as they call it, which is made out of black tarp and PVC pipe, took an entire week to design and construct and was about 600-800 square feet in size. This was resurrected by what the informant calls “The Committee” which includes the infomrant, the leader and two counsel members. The entire process is said to be taken seriously like any job or event coordination, which is another example of the members showing how much they value what they do. If anything this committee values the reconvening the most consider the amount of effort it takes for them to put this together. From what I was told it was about 2 months in total.

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