Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Coffee Culture

Wow, after yesterday’s pop political post that went astray and became serious & almost intellectual I feel compelled to continue this insightful trend. Ha! Not a chance. This is me. I would hate to overload my brain as it would be followed by parastatal-style blackouts.

What yesterday’s activities did make me consider was the once renowned Coffee Culture. (That one made famous by people's exchange of ideas over a cuppa leading to events as big as the French Revolution). And how blogging has replaced it, in my world at least.

After one term in varsity my little brother, more serious and insightful than any of his older hooligan siblings, phoned and asked,
“Champs, what did you do between lectures?”
“Huuuh? I drank coffee, usually on the lawn in the sun trying to ignore the bergies, or I suiped wine, or I slept away the night befores’s toxins. What are you on about?”
“No no. What I mean is, where did you go to talk about all the politics & philosophy you just learnt about in the lecture?”
“I used to do what now???? Have you been smoking something? You do realise you are at varsity in the 00s, not in Cambridge or Po Paris in the 18th Century??”

All in all, I blame his time in South America. Dodgy revolutionary idea-instilling continent. Next thing he’ll be on a motorbike up Africa saving the HIV colonies & sporting a beard & a beret.

But where would one have participated in such activities at my old university? I suggested he joined the debating club, or the varsity newspaper or radio or film club. But as for that classical idea of sitting in smoky dimmed cafés between one’s lectures debating ideas of Rousseau, Plato, Nietzsche and Einstein, or Locke versus Chomsky (ok, fine, I don’t think those two go together, but then I would debate you over that while sipping on my espresso), Bono the muso vs Bono the seemingly well-intentioned intelligent humanitarian… that was nowhere to be found.

People seemed to want acceptance in, get the info into your head, splurge it out in tests and exams, suip, pomp, and be outta there with a good tan & beer boep. Some people joined sensational organisations that fought for fighting sake. Admirable in one way, pretentious silliness in another.

Even on leaving varsity, when I finally started to CRAVE information and debating thoughts and articles of critical analysis, friends shy’d away. I have been told I talk too much. Get me started on the issues around HIV & you’ll be pinned to a corner with a terrified glint in your eye while I try to stop my tirade of subconscious babble. The impression I have received is people do not want to know. They do not want to know, to discuss, to argue, to explore, to debate, to challenge. This is that state of my nation, from my experience, at least.

South Africans are polite, and so I put the idea forward that it is this politeness that stops us from really having a fat old heated intellectual discussion with a crowd. I have cleared a few dinner tables in my time because of discussions getting “too heated” for most of the guests’ likings. But how will you advance yourself if you do not push your thoughts beyond their comfort zone.

Now, however, I can mouse-click to reactions of daily SA events. Political thoughts, not as sensational or censored as newspapers, but not as jargoned as journals, are accessible to the scrutiny from Anyman. Bloggers pick up on themes and challenge them, even if the blogger’s words will have no direct or observable effect. We now challenge our norms & flawed society through the typed virtual word. We request comments to challenge us back. These comments then lead us to think & post more, or others to post on similar themes with their own opinions.

Starbucks (or the delightful new Vida Café) would do well to offer coupons to all new blogging members. And I think the rapidly expanding trend is showing that people will always return to the coffee culture of pre-Revolutionary France.

Or maybe I am still hoping, in my Francophile way, of Jozi magically transforming part that is itself into Paris! Good good. Here’s a beret & a croissant….


Phlippy said...

The startlingly sad thing about all of this is that - even though this culture is so prevalent in other areas of the world - we have never truly adopted it. I suppose that makes us unique as South Africans. I would love to feel Paris again, wake up in the morning to the smell of Paris, walk through the bitterly cold winter air to your place of work. Romantic walks in the parks, kissing in the Parc de la Villette. You're making me homesick. I am going back in June I hope. Can't wait

fuzzy logic said...

Yeah, I always used to wonder where all the big protests, etc. (a la sixties) were at varsity. Instead you just had the poppies and okes running around in their Diesel clothes, driving shiny new cars that mommy and daddy bought them (ok, nooo bitterness here! :-p)

Daedalus said...

Elllooooooo Shampoooooo,
[..] suip, pomp ... [..]

I did not know you had those words in your perfect, posh English vocabulary pops ;)

Anonymous said...

somehow i beg to differ??

while it is true that most of our darling fellow countrymen definetely shy away from anything that borders remotely on a debate, i have found a couple of like minded people who enjoy the feeling of a verbal battle over a couple of glasses of wine or coffee, whichever you prefer....and no, at the time of the debate, no one is geschmert. the debate is stopped as soon as one person becomes irrational i.e. geschmert:-)

i wish there were more of us though....\

still, i guess that's not even a slight match to big protests and important coffee culture discussions that took place..

Champagne Heathen said...

Phlippy - I do wonder how unqiue we are, and how easy it is for us to romanticise what might be hearsay about other cultures. My little bro, from his time in S.America, and me from my travels do know that there def. are cultures that treasure the practice of "thought furthering" & amending.

Fuzzy - I recall going to a march once at our dear varsity about rape that held less than a hundred participants. That was sad. I do remember in 1st year wishing for that varsity stereotype. I think I became disillusioned eventually, and well, you know what happened from then on...

Daeds - EEeellllooooooooo! Where have you been!?!?!? Hey?! Hey!?! This accent hides many delightfully dodgy things about me! ;)

Storm - I also know I gravitate towards people where we can debate, but definitely not to the degree or as regularly as I have watched it happen in other places (Time & Space). But in general, people in my area do not seem keen on debating or seem to engage in proper serious conceptual talk about the world at large. People are amazed when you know your facts, figures, history, theories. We seem to mock people who know, but also who don't know. So (I am thinking) we prefer to shut the hell up in case we appear either of the two.

Exactly. So far everything has been on a minor scale. But I see blogging having a chance to really change this & have big impacts on actions, policies, world perspectives and ways of thinking. We'll see...

Revolving Credit said...

To do something between lectures would imply that there was a gap?

I would have a few back-to-back and them leave to go suip or braai or surf or something twisted.

What do you mean 'come back for an afternoon lecture or lab', what idiot thought up that concept.

thta like soo intefers with the true business of being a student??

Anonymous said...

I have a very clear memory of nearly being tear gassed one day while sitting sipping coffee in a dimly lit university coffee shop (floor).
I'm not even from the sixties.

Champagne Heathen said...

Rev - I recall having a 3pm philosophy lecture on Fridays in my 1st year. They did bastard things like put all the tests on that day to ensure we attended. I may have missed a test or two... Beach days are to be treasured!!

Hey old foggie Jamaloni! What on earth were you up to in that coffee shop to get teargassed?? Although, you were at a varsity that was wrecked regularly by bored students, rather than students who were protesting to dangerous ideas.

Daedalus said...

Sorry 4 the bad attendance of late, I have been caught up in the redesign of Ostendo, work stuff and buying a new car stuff... and erm ... ignorance LOL!

PS: Nothing wrong with the Shampoooo accent.. it is mega-cute said...

Errrrr now I can't focus. Too much intellectual input causes my brain cell to go on the fritz.

Unknown said...

Wie wie, I would love a little slice of Paris in Jozi, underarm hair and all! I never attended University and the only thing we discussed between classes is what was for lunch and which classes to skip.

I say bring on the heated discussions, people fear change because it requires real action and real action to me means getiing up out of bed. *oh the effort*

Itsnopicknick said...

You approach Vida about the discount...i'm right behind you! Hell, i'm practically a shareholder...

Champagne Heathen said...

Aaah, thanks Daeds, as long as you keep coming back to my blog with darling compliments then I will keep forgiving your disappearing acts!

Robs - me too! Please bring me something for my kop!

Lolls - I have to completely agree with you about change requiring effort, and movement from one's comfort zone. And yes, no protest marches before 10am please!

Spoon - Can you imagine how many blogs I'd end up starting just for those vouchers for double Cafe Lattes!!

Insane Insomniac said...

Champers, have I got the perfect person for you to meet.
One of my best mates attends university and is majoring in English, mainly cos he has no idea what he wants to do. Within one semester, he changed from a stoner movie buff into a stoner wannabe guevara. And you know what? I love it! We have such different views, but the same conclusions.
Now, whenever I see him, which is far and few between, we debate about everything.
He woudl make a perfect blogger, except a small problem - he's a technophobe. I'm workignon changing that.

Champagne Heathen said...

Insanity - he sounds great! There is technology involved in blogging?? If you know how to email, you are able to blog. That is the joys of this activity!

Get him started and get him debating!

Anonymous said...

He doesn't even know how to work his computer. I think Office Word is as advanced as he gets. And even then he doesn't know how to do anything more than type, spellcheck, print.

Champagne Heathen said...

If he is willing to pay... I am willing to be his blog PA! (How to be creative & become rich in this world of technophobes!)