Some reflections on national characteristics featuring the Breton paintings of Carl Moser, the Younger (1873 - 1939) an Italian artist from South Tyrol (mostly woodcut images)
I have never belonged to a writers' group as such, but long ago attended a course run by an English Lit. lecturer where books were discussed.
On one occasion, the subject of prevailing characteristics in various countries came up, how we use the shorthand of stereotypes to convey identity, and I remember a Welsh lady suddenly protesting: "But you can't nationalise human nature!"
This is something I have never forgotten because, although human behaviour arises from the drive for survival, it develops and is shaped by a myriad influences. Time, geography, prevailing climate, constitution of the ground, profile of the landscape, mythology, beliefs and social codes are just a few. These run deep in the psyche but are 'read' by the outsider through surface traits and dealings. Cultural values can differ widely and it is never safe to assume that we're all coming from the same place or envision the same desired outcome.
Years later, I came across Kahlil Gibran's interpretation of racial characteristics which provides much to ponder, and, perhaps, to disagree with. I thought it would be fun to add a few of my own.
The art of the Egyptians is in the occult.
The art of the Chaldeans is in calculation.
The art of the Greeks is in proportion.
The art of the Romans is in echo.
The art of the Chinese is in etiquette.
The art of the Hindus is in the weighing of good and evil.
The art of the Jews is in the sense of doom.
The art of the Arabs is in reminiscence and exaggeration.
The art of the Persians is in fastidiousness.
The art of the French is in finesse.
The art of the English is in analysis and self-righteousness.
The art of the Spaniards is in fanaticism.
The art of the Italians is in beauty.
The art of the Germans is in ambition.
The art of the Russians is in sadness.
The art of the Americans is in sustaining the Dream.
The art of the Portuguese is in adventuring.
The art of the Antipodeans is in breaking new ground.
The art of the Romanians is in elusive presence.
The art of the Hungarians is in tribal aspiration.
The art of the Japanese is in landscape in miniature.
The art of the Scandinavians is in overcoming enclosure.
The art of the Dutch is in quiescence.
And to finish on a capricious note...
The art of the Sicilians, when life hands them lemons, is in the sublimity of Limoncello (de Sicilia)!