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Thread: Why did he call it the Culture ?

  1. #1
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    Default Why did he call it the Culture ?

    When I first read CP, it called my attention that one of the antagonist civilizations was called "the Culture". It's a strange choice for to name a civilization.
    Would anyone want to throw a guess about why IMB choose this name?
    Excentric - Torturer Class - Right Winger's Nightmare

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    Well they do like to think of themselves as bring rather cultured
    "Just have fun"

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    Would seem to be an ideal benchmark for the kind of culture that Iain aspired to live in; that is, a secular, non-materialist, non-authoritarian society where citizens could enjoy near complete freedom, unaffected by scarcity and violence. Basically the opposite type of existence that the greater percentage of beings on this planet find themselves in.

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    "The Culture" sounds a more acceptable than say, The Ambiguity, or The Affront. They don't seem so refined sometimes, bingeing on sex, drugs and thrills.
    I think the appellation might have somewhat to do with culture in the sense of an experimental culture medium. The Culture compulsively study the Galaxy, but also study The Culture. 5 major species and drones were merged into a society under Mind supervision. Maybe they're just waiting to see what develops.

  5. #5
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    There are two possible definitions of culture :

    Culture - The arts and other manifestations of human intellectual achievement regarded collectively.
    "20th century popular culture"
    synonyms: the arts, the humanities, intellectual achievement; More

    1.A) A refined understanding or appreciation of this."men of culture"
    synonyms: intellectual/artistic awareness, education, cultivation, enlightenment, discernment, discrimination, good taste, taste, refinement, polish, sophistication
    "a man of culture"

    1.C) The customs, arts, social institutions, and achievements of a particular nation, people, or other social group.
    plural noun: cultures
    "Caribbean culture"
    synonyms: civilization, society, way of life, lifestyle; More

    1.D) The attitudes and behavior characteristic of a particular social group.
    "the emerging drug culture"

    2.BIOLOGY
    the cultivation of bacteria, tissue cells, etc., in an artificial medium containing nutrients.
    "the cells proliferate readily in culture"

    The first one might read as "The Civilization" ... a rather self important name.

    The second might read like "Humans and Drones proliferated in the Culture" ... which might not be a far fetched option given the Mind's tendency towards machinations.
    Last edited by adelatorre; 17-02-2015 at 08:43 AM.
    Excentric - Torturer Class - Right Winger's Nightmare

  6. #6

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    I am almost certain I remember, although it may be a false memory, TMH mentioning that The Culture are called that because they didn't want a name; same reason they have no flag, capital planet or city, anthem, borders (The Culture doesn't end, it just fades away). No Ra Ra nationalism, no us for there to be a them, only we and future potential we.
    If my memory is correct, then The Culture were given their name by others who were fed up of having to refer to them as 'that lot' or equivalent.
    I want to be Cultured

  7. #7
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    Being the Culture, and knowing that every decision they make is nuanced to the nth degree you can bet there is a reason for the name. It just might not be obvious, and they might dissemble about it. An example would be the language Marain, which apparently induces a certain frame of mind, and when forced to use other languages heavily, such as Azad, then the thinking changes.

    As for the Culture fading away, well I think only in the sense that it would change itself to be something different. It's tempting to think of The Culture as a finished product, but you see through the books they are on a journey to the other. The only thing we know for sure is they have decided to avoid the obvious path into sublimation, which must mean picking the more difficult path to a perfect solution to this life.

  8. #8

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    Apologies, my words were unclear. I meant fade out at the edges; diffused rather than hard linear borders.
    I want to be Cultured

  9. #9
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    Default Why not call them the Aliens.

    In the Hydrogen Sonata, one of the characters reminisced about the formation of the Culture and one of the names they considered was the Aliens. The name the Culture also is reflective of their goals of converting all of the other societies extant in the physical universe into Cultured versions of themselves. One of the reasons the Culture has delayed subliming is to achieve that, and thus achieve statistically better good for all than if the Culture had done nothing.

  10. #10
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    Indeed. I was reflecting upon the subject this evening. It came to my mind (lower case m intended) that "the" was used in the same way one would say : not a rock band , but "the" rock band. The Culture would then be used to signify the ultimate Culture towards all other Cultures should aspire.

    But, I am almost sure TMH found it amusing culture has another meaning : cultivation of bacteria, tissue cells in an artificial medium ... very fitting given some Mind's inclination towards machinations... and treating their biological predecesors as pets ( ant pets if I may add).

    Pity he (Iain M Banks) didn't have time for a last shot of fan questions.
    Last edited by adelatorre; 02-12-2015 at 08:33 PM.
    Excentric - Torturer Class - Right Winger's Nightmare

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