Sunday, August 5, 2018

The Cultural Capital of the Caucasoid World

I’ve done this in Twitter, but this deserves a blog post.

Memphis, Egypt 3000 BC - 500 BC
Athens 500 BC - 300 BC
Alexandria 300 BC - 400 AD
Constantinople 400 AD -  800 AD
Baghdad 800 AD - 1150 AD
Paris 1150 AD - 1300 AD
Florence 1300 AD - 1500 AD
Paris 1500 AD - 1950 AD
New York 1950 AD - present

For the vast majority of the historical period the world didn’t have a cultural capital. China’s complex culture wasn’t affected by much of what was going on in Europe or the Middle East.

But in the Caucasoid region this concept does make sense. For most of the last 5,000 years most Caucasoids who weren’t illiterate savages were influenced by cultural developments in one of the cities listed above.

Phoenicians imitated Egyptian art and Egypt looms large in the Old Testament. The alphabets that spread through the Middle East and Europe in antiquity originated as a simplification of Egyptian hieroglyphs. The Athenian lawgiver Solon traveled to Egypt to seek knowledge.

Etruscans borrowed from Greek mythology. In the Hellenistic period the Greek visual style travelled as far as India.

Medieval Europeans studied the works of Avicenna (Ibn Sina), Averroes (Ibn Rushd), Alhazen (Ibn Al Haytham), etc. These people didn’t work in Baghdad, but that city was the center of the culture to which they belonged. The prestige language of India was Persian then, but it was heavily Arabized by that point. And all of the above thinkers were studied in India too.

When northern Italy’s importance began to rise, Lingua Franca, based on Italian, became the lingua franca of the Muslim Med. Italians established the Portuguese Navy, led Spanish and English voyages of discovery, built the Kremlin and influenced Shakespeare. Many of these people weren’t Florentines, but Florence was definitely the center of their culture.

As late as the 1930s, if you were a young man trying to make it in the arts, moving to Paris was a good idea. Picasso, Dali, Hemingway, Samuel Becket all worked there.

Not many individuals made the jump from one cultural capital to another exactly when the change happened. Leonardo died in France, while working for the French king, but not in Paris. Lully was a Florentine working in Paris, but he came there in 1646, long after the change.

The dates for Athens, Florence and Paris’s second stint are precise to within about a decade. The other dates are arguable. Some would say that Baghdad declined around 1000 AD, and that the center of gravity moved back to Constantinople then. Some would place Mesopotamian cities like Nippur, Akkad, Babylon and Nineveh on at least an equal footing with Memphis. I’d say to them that Egyptian art was many times more elegant than Mesopotamian art.

Finally, a note on the word Caucasoid. It’s a product of a misunderstanding. Some 18th-century writer thought that the Caucasus was the origin of this branch of humanity. I think stenorrhine would be a much better term. It means narrow-nosed in Greek. I see that 3 of the 5 Google results for that word go back to an old comment of mine. Conversationally, in hate speech and identitarian rallying cries, it would probably be shortened to steno.

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