Happy Days Question #6 ~ Culturally Speaking

by Laurent Graff

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rainbowsoul
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Unread postby rainbowsoul » Sun Dec 10, 2006 5:37 pm

Charlene, the Jain religion is alive and well in India. That's the one where everything is sacred and some Jains even where masks so they won't accidentally breath in any small living microbes. Their funeral practices are as you describe - the body is placed in a Tower of Silence structure where the vultures take care of the corpse. Kind of macabre, isn't it?! The Tibetans also have a grisly practice of hacking up the dead body and feeding the parts to the vultures. Some Native American cultures placed the corpse up high on a plaform and let it return to the elements.


Cool info, Parlez. :cool: Tibetans pratice what they call "Sky Burial" and that is exactly what it is - they actually place the body of their loved one under the open sky and let nature reclaim the body setting the spirit free.

And the Inuit did a similar thing. The family was on a constant migration following herds of reindeer (therefore their food) and when the elders became to ill or frail to follow, they were left behind to die and return to nature.


It is primarily in North America where the aging process (and death itself) are both feared and misunderstood and are also such taboo subjects - kinda makes you wonder why, doesn't it?

I was a Social Worker in Palliative Care for years so I saw this attitude on a daily basis.
No! Not Barker. That man is dead. It's Todd, now. Sweeney Todd. And he shall have his revenge...

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Unread postby Charlene » Mon Dec 11, 2006 8:54 am

Thanks Parlez & Rainbowsoul......I think....LOL.....I think it would be very very hard to know that birds where tearing my loved one apart...but if that is how you are brought up...and believe it is a good thing to be returned to nature, then I guess you are OK with. Anyway, good to know I wasn't dreaming it, even though it sounds like a bad dream. I am sure other cultures think we are bizarre planting our loved ones in the ground encased, not in one, but two, boxes, taking up room.

When I lived in HI, there was this cemetery (Japanese) right in the city and it was so crowded with stones of all shapes and sizes, crowded so tight, I'm not sure how in the world the people were buried, but I do know that one of my friends had taken many of the cultural tours and said she had been told the rule was as long as the spot was taken care of by family members, then all was ok, but if the extended family died out, and there was no one to care for them, then they were dug up (disposed of where, I don't know), and the spot was given to another family.

I lived in a subdivision next to the Valley of the Temples (beautiful buddist temple place) and cemetery (where Marcos was interred until they let him go back to the Phillipines), and it was normal for families to come and picnic at the gravesite (cemeteries all over the islands). Folding chairs, umbrellas, coolers, etc...big family gatherings. It was also some ritual where big baskets of fruit were left on the gravesites...which then attracted the homeless, but I guess that was good for them.

This has been a very interesting discussion.

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Unread postby Betty Sue » Mon Dec 11, 2006 9:56 am

Charlene wrote:This has been a very interesting discussion.

Eye-opening!! :-O
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Unread postby Boo-Radley » Mon Dec 11, 2006 11:33 am

Thank you Depputante and Parlez, you really hit on some great points and helped me a great deal. :cool: As I've been thinking about this question I keep falling back to Shantaram's Khaderbhai's "Theory of Complexity" that all the universe is moving from simplicity to complexity, ie., Truth or God. Perhaps it's a stretch but I think Graff is saying the same thing in Happy Days, that Antoine maybe without knowing it himself is moving toward a greater Truth.

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Unread postby Parlez » Mon Dec 11, 2006 12:17 pm

YES, Boo!! We have an accord! I got that connection too when reading the posts on this topic.
Well said! THANKS!!
:cool:
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Unread postby nebraska » Mon Dec 11, 2006 8:23 pm

What fascinating information you all are sharing!!!! It makes me wonder if Happy Days was ever meant to be just a fun novel to read or if the author's intention was to write a fable of sorts to convey a message.

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Unread postby rainbowsoul » Mon Dec 11, 2006 8:39 pm


and it was normal for families to come and picnic at the gravesite (cemeteries all over the islands). Folding chairs, umbrellas, coolers, etc...big family gatherings. It was also some ritual where big baskets of fruit were left on the gravesites...which then attracted the homeless, but I guess that was good for them.


Charlene, that practice is also common to the Shinto Belief. In Japan, the O'ban festival in mid summer is a national holiday, Families travel to the graveyards and have "picnics" with the deceased family memers - honouring them and their memory. Similar (in a fashion) to what you would see in Mexico on the Day of the Dead (November 1)

This really has been an interesting discussion - all this from Such a little book, too!!
:lol:
No! Not Barker. That man is dead. It's Todd, now. Sweeney Todd. And he shall have his revenge...

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Unread postby DeppInTheHeartOfTexas » Mon Dec 11, 2006 10:25 pm

This is not such a "little" book afterall! The phrase don't judge a book by its cover really fits. :cool:
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming -
Wow! What a ride!

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Unread postby rainbowsoul » Mon Dec 11, 2006 10:58 pm

DeppInTheHeartOfTexas wrote:This is not such a "little" book afterall! The phrase don't judge a book by its cover really fits. :cool:


You are So right about this!! I forgot the quotation marks around "little" in my post. :blush:
No! Not Barker. That man is dead. It's Todd, now. Sweeney Todd. And he shall have his revenge...

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Unread postby fansmom » Tue Dec 12, 2006 4:21 pm

DeppInTheHeartOfTexas wrote:I wonder if the author intentionally keeps details of Antoine's life outside of Happy Days to a minimum to make him a more universal character. If we knew his religion or background, we would probably ascribe attributes and thoughts to him based on that information. Since we don't really know too much he is more of a blank slate that we can write our own story on based on our own experiences and reference points.
If that's what he meant, it didn't work for me. Because I don't understand why he does what he does, I have less understanding, less sympathy, and less empathy for Antoine.

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Unread postby Parlez » Tue Dec 12, 2006 4:48 pm

That is a wonderful point, fansmom ~
Our need to understand other people is so compelling, and so necessary in order for us to accept them sometimes. It would make Happy Days an altogether different story, though, if we 'knew' Antoine and, worse, sympathized with him. I think the author doesn't give us any background info on Antoine's motives, etc., because, among other things, he's asking us to explore our own tendancies to want to judge and analyze and second-guess people in general. So, in a way, he is inviting us to come to an understanding, not of Antoine, but of ourselves.
(???)
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Unread postby fansmom » Tue Dec 12, 2006 5:13 pm

Thanks, Parlez. Notice I said I had less empathy, etc., not none.
I'd like to think it's a matter of understanding (walking a mile in Antoine's shoes, to use a cliche) rather than judging.

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Unread postby Depputante » Tue Dec 12, 2006 6:31 pm

Parlez wrote:That is a wonderful point, fansmom ~
Our need to understand other people is so compelling, and so necessary in order for us to accept them sometimes. It would make Happy Days an altogether different story, though, if we 'knew' Antoine and, worse, sympathized with him. I think the author doesn't give us any background info on Antoine's motives, etc., because, among other things, he's asking us to explore our own tendancies to want to judge and analyze and second-guess people in general. So, in a way, he is inviting us to come to an understanding, not of Antoine, but of ourselves.
(???)


:cool: :cool: :cool:
That might be the point right there! I can see many of us already, saying Antoine is W.E.I.R.D. ...but is he killing anyone? is he doing anyting illegal? is he Chastizing anyone? NOPE. But it's society that is negative about him. And this is US readers, our society.

Sure, I too wish he could have spend his life differently, but I'm not going to yank him out of Happy Days either, because he's busy doing his own thing there, and not harming anyone in the mean time.
“The scariest enemy is from within. Allowing yourself to be limited and conform to what you're expected to conform to.”~JD

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Unread postby DeppInTheHeartOfTexas » Tue Dec 12, 2006 10:02 pm

He isn't necessarily hurting anyone, well maybe his family. He is just withdrawn from life in order to observe it. Maybe we are just supposed to see him, like we have mentioned, as an observer with no connections or distractions to cloud his observations. That seems to be what he is trying to become.
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming -

Wow! What a ride!

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Unread postby thatgirl » Tue Dec 12, 2006 10:24 pm

DeppInTheHeartOfTexas wrote:He isn't necessarily hurting anyone, well maybe his family. He is just withdrawn from life in order to observe it. Maybe we are just supposed to see him, like we have mentioned, as an observer with no connections or distractions to cloud his observations. That seems to be what he is trying to become.
Well said, DITHOT. Seems that way to me, as well - that he wants only to observe.

I'm going to have to come back & read through this thread again. I need more time to think about it, thumb through the book & mull it over.

I love thought provoking threads. Thank you all!
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