Friday, August 31, 2007

Sacramento, Tahoe... & back to Denmark

The Royal Danish Consulate.... of Sacratomato?!?
Ja, it's true, there is one. For Danish-American citizens of the greater Sacramento, Stockton, Modesto areas the Martensen/ Wright Law Firm is under appointment by the Royal Consulate to handle all of your passport, marriage license and visa needs. It's located in Old Sacramento, on a cobble-stoned street lined with crickety raised-wood sidewalks. You'll find covered wagons and the old California Railroad Museum just around the corner. Ask for Layla and she will kindly help you. (I practiced my sophisticated danish on her to rave reviews: "Hvordan går det?" She is "fine.").
The trip back to California was an opportune time to conduct a nonscientific report measuring USA alongside Denmark. The following results are neither stunning nor worthwhile.

Bilateral comparison of America vs. Denmark:
A pseudoscientific, nonmetrics opinion study.

----------------------------------------------Denmark -----------------------------------USA--------
More friendly----------------------------------------------------------------------------USA--------
More honest------------------------------Denmark-------------------------------------------------
More politically correct----------------------------------------------------------------USA-------
Greater sex appeal-----------------------Denmark-------------------------------------------------
More blondes-----------------------------Denmark-------------------------------------------------
Greater diversity------------------------------------------------------------------------USA--------
More candles per capita----------------Denmark-------------------------------------------------
More fattening---------------------------------------------------------------------------USA-------
More pig farms---------------------------Denmark-------------------------------------------------
More Appleby's--------------------------------------------------------------------------USA-------
More Jensen’s Bøfhus & 7-11s--------Denmark------------------------------------USA--------
More men who help w/housework---Denmark------------------------------------------------
More Jews--------------------------------------------------------------------------------USA--------
More Muslims----------------------------Denmark------------------------------------------------
Flashier wedding rings------------------------------------------------------------------USA-------
More fun weddings----------------------Denmark------------------------------------------------
Lower gas prices-------------------------------------------------------------------------USA-------
Better arts & culture--------------------Denmark-----------------------------------------------
Better TV programs---------------------------------------------------------------------USA-------
Least responsible under-age drinkers------------------------------------------------USA-------
More smoking 14-year-olds-------------Denmark-----------------------------------------------
More litigious-----------------------------------------------------------------------------USA------
More bicycles------------------------------Denmark-----------------------------------------------
More vacation time-----------------------Denmark-----------------------------------------------
More well-behaved children-----------------------------------------------------------USA-------
Longer school-year-----------------------Denmark------------------------------------------------
Better universal health coverage------Denmark------------------------------------------------
Better medical intervention------------------------------------------------------------USA-------
More guns---------------------------------------------------------------------------------USA-------
More men who ask women out--------------------------------------------------------USA-------
More religious----------------------------------------------------------------------------USA-------
More fond of astrology & zodiacs-----Denmark------------------------------------------------

Disclaimer: I make no pretenses of knowing anything at all. And I will not say I know something about nothing. The aforementioned results cannot be used against me in a court of law.

(With thanks to Nis).

(She can't be trusted).


Nis said...

Hey Camryn,

Welcome back to Denmark :) I hope you had a wonderful time. I'm looking forward to hearing all about it.
Nice disclaimer. May I use your research as a source in an upcomming assignment? ;)

Camelia said...

Perspicacious cultural anthropologists and analysts are welcome back. So welcome back. The results of your bilateral comparison show that cultural translations tell the story of differences, but also the story of negotioting between senses of belonging. Here's a quote from Codrescu: “The last jobs that only humans can accomplish is that of translation. Machines cannot translate no matter how smart we make them. The slightest nuance of a nuance and the machine mistranslates. That said even humans don’t translate very well. Millions of people have fallen in the gaps between words and are never seen again…”
“All languages are the story of differences. The people of the valley spoke different than the people of the mountain, because one, the valley shaped them physically and spoke through them, and two, they did not wish the people of the mountain to understand them”. Logic is in the machine of culture....

Nis said...


I miss your class at RUC! I hope you are happy and busy enthralling all the new students with your wonderful dialect, affectious laugh and larger-than-life persona!

Camryn said...

Tak for beskeden, Camelia! What would Codrescu say to the citizen at sea, who does not understand those in the valley or the mountains?

She’s buoyed with false hope that they do not understand her too. But sometimes they do, and what gets her every time… is the illogical wish that she could just float by.

What bugs me as a foreigner is that “they” understand me, but I don’t them. They all speak my language, but I don’t speak theirs. Leaves me feeling naked and exposed, like I have no pockets for my secrets. The only thing I can do to negotiate this inequity is challenge my notion of language. Here's what I've decided: there’s only one – inifinity divided by infinity equals 1. Never-ending languages divided by infinite words equals only one phenomenon, and that is feeling. What are languages but different codes and sounds for the finite number of thoughts, feelings and impressions we are saddled with as humans?

As long as I know one, maybe that’s enough for now to mess with my own logic.

Camelia said...

Your last remark is a tricky one, Camryn. I would venture to speculate that if asked, Codrescu would say, foam. The logic of the people at sea relies on foam and fog. If the mountain people have one system, and if the valley people have another one, it's good to know that the sea people have none.