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Cultural space at L Blaga and E Hall
Vineri, 08 Aprilie 2011 00:00



Poenar Lorina Manuela - Profesor limba engleză

Colegiul Economic “Emanuil Gojdu” Hunedoara


           The use of space within the context of culture, also reffered to as  proxemics by Edward Hall, is a topic which could be  applied to Lucian Blaga’s work.  When drawing a comparison between the Romanian vs Saxon villages, one could easily approach these differences in terms of low territoriality vs high territoriality.

           Thus, the Romanian villages, with their irregular, asymmetrical patterns, houses scattered  from valleys to mountain ridges, stretching on vast areas of land, without any logical order, point to their being inhabited by people who have less ownership of space, who would rather seize the moment, instead of marking out the areas which are theirs. Orchards groaning with ripe plums, wooden fences and green meadows separating these houses, remote cottages in the background, modest, basic houses with thatched roofs on another hill, all these point to the fact that the Romanians will share territory and ownership with little thought, as Edward Hall would say.

             Indeed, the Romanian village would definitely be an instance of low territoriality, as stated by Edward Hall, boundaries are less important to these people, they also have less concern for material ownership, the picturesque, idyllic quality of life being their main focus.

            Unlike the Romanian villages, the Saxon ones display remarkable, unspoilt tidiness and balance. From the valley folds, the symmetrical pattern of walled street houses, cobbled courtyards and wooden barns extends in strips up the valley sides through vegetable gardens, orchards and meadows to thickly wooded ridges. Where the land is steep, row upon row of terraces have been fashioned out of the valley sides to increase agricultural potential.

            A main street with linear patterns and subsidiary cross-streets goes straight towards the central village ‘square’ , the houses also follow a clear pattern: they sit end-on to the street, painted in a rich variety of ochres, greens and blues, with distinctive hipped roofs.

            If we were to analyse Saxon villages in terms of high territoriality, various features could be mentioned: Saxon villages have high walls and outsiders are denied access , since this is a strict, rigid community. Some people are more territorial than others with greater concern for ownership. They seek to mark out the areas which are theirs, they tend to be down-to-earth and sensible. Furthermore, Edward Hall stresses upon the fact that these people-the Saxon community in this particular case- are likely to be involved in conflicts and wars, because of their high need for ownership. 

              Hall also made the distinction between high context and low context. In a high-context culture, there are many contextual elements that help people to understand the rules and as a result, much is taken for granted. Much is taken for granted, indeed, in the Romanian community, which is rather instinctive, joyful, having an idyllic perspective on life. Whenever Romanians go to a funeral or to a wedding, Blaga states, they do this in a manner as disorganised as the pattern of their villages.

               Saxons, on the other hand, don’t take much for granted. Their approach to life is practical, they are target-oriented, very determined and stern. In their case, more explanation is needed, but this also means there is less chance of misunderstanding, particularly when visitors are present.

               Another important cultural factor when tackling the issue of high context and low context is time, differently perceived by various communities.  Thus, high context people, in Blaga’s excerpt the Romanians, value human interaction over time and material things, leading to a lesser concern for 'getting things done'. As Edward Hall points out, things do get done for these people, but more in their own time. Relationships come first, the tendency is to do more things at once, plus being distracted by various things often occurs.

               However, the Saxons perceive the monochromic dimension of time, as identified by Edward Hall. This implies careful planning and scheduling, but also doing one thing at a time. Saxons stick to their initial plans without any delay, they have well-defined tasks they focus on, they can successfully meet deadlines, nothing seems impossible to them.

               Blaga’s linguistic choice when it comes to Saxons and their actions is obvious: they are “cautious”, they “have measured the light”, they “have tried the wind direction”, their wisdom and even thrift are features the author highly insists on.

               Their counterparts, the Romanians, haven’t given too much thought as to where they should build their houses, nor have they drawn an accurate plan, their villages seem as if they had come out of nowhere, having no logic at all.

               All in all, one could state the fact that human perception of space is patterned by culture. Different cultural frameworks involve defining and organizing space, although sometimes this internalization occurs at an unconscious level. Consequently people are prone to acting in a certain way: they have a certain set of values and outlook on life, they do business differently and last, but not least, they build villages in a different way.



Edward T. Hall, The Hidden Dimension, Doubleday, New York, 1966

            Lucian Blaga, Trilogia cunoașterii, Humanitas, București, 2006



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