Tuesday, 8 June 2010

How serious is the debate about gauge?

 It seems to me that we can find enemies wherever we look. Or. alternately allies.

I do not, ridiclous at it might seem to others, see nationalism as exclusiive, rather the contrary.

There is a Gaelic word for Spanish, which I can't find right now. The story goes that after the Armada was beaten by the weather, they ended up, some of them, wrecked in the Outer Hebrides. They married, or summat like that, and their decendants are still seen as Spanish.

That tells you quite a lot about the political landscape of the day, and what these, probably exclusively, men had to offer. Ooh Err.........

I dunno, it just seems worth investing some DNA research in. Are they or aren't they? Maybe not. Who cares?

Still, the principle of  assimilating folk seems to go back a long way. We are not concerned about it. It seems to me that people change, over time. It might take a generation or two, but I expect that folk will have similar difficulties in identifying Asian Scots from, err, what?


And who are we, exactly? We are who we say we are. And that includes all of us.

Which is an attempt to explain :

What I am trying to say, perhaps badly, is that nationality is not that important. It is a bit of a contrary indicator, much like folk whose religion is Muslim and who can’t see outside that box either. No-one needs to define themselves in a one dimensional manner.
You do not need to define yourself. You are not just ‘English’ when a World Cup arrives, you are wrestling with a dilemma that ought to exercise you quite a lot.
Whilst I hate American foreign policy – I think it is generally a pretendy imperialism – I have extremely good internet relationships with Americans. It took me quite a while to disentangle the good that they are, from the bad that they think they need to support. I think, once you try to address their ‘issues’ , on reasonable sites, they are persuadable. The point being that defining yourself by nationality is subject to, winnable, challenges.
It is a point that China Mielville made in an article once. He read specialist magazines, not for their content, but for the range of human emotions that are expressed in them.
There is a ‘gauge’ issue for model railways. They believe, most of them, that 4mm equals a foot. Heretics model in other scales to the foot.
For those concerned, track gauge, the measure of the 4′8″ ( and a half, I can’t seem to work out how to do that) becomes a debate in it’s own right. There are those that believe in OO, there are those that believe in EM and there are perfectionists that believe in P4. We are talking millimetres here.
There is that, albeit small, group of folk that consider that to be an important issue in their lives. Why are they wrong and why are they concerned?
I am not mocking these people. I am just pointing out that a debate will rage unto eternity about the relative merits.
I would assume that none of the participants in that debate see it as defining of themselves. What they do see it as, is important.
To them.
Perhaps because it matters to them. But what matters to you, and them, ought to be subject to review. If you become ’stuck’ on a belief then you are no better, or worse, than a person that wants to build a model railway. For the criteria of difference, the criteria of exceptionalism is there to behold.
Which is, perhaps, an analogy for the attempts here to ‘rule the roost’ on what we should ‘take’ from the immigration debate. I think their are folk that come here that have an agenda I could not agree with, call them the OO folk.
We categorise ourselves at some risk to independent thought.
(Personally, I’d sponsor a Pakistani P4 follower, but the OO person would get short shrift. You can divide the world up any way you like. Respect to ‘Model Railway Journal’ by the way.)

You might find this enlightening. 

1 comment:

The Queen of Fiddlesticks said...

hi, nice blog you have :)
I think about this topic myself, who we really are, how things change, and does it matter?

I prefer to call myself a citizen of the world, then to chose a nationality, I never could understand having pride in something you have no choice in .. (meaning the country you are born or race) the study of migration/human evolution is fascinating.

guessing you are Scottish?
I live in NYC - they have a great Tartan festival here ... no one rocks out the drums quite like the Scottish!