Jerry and Art,
I have followed this discussion with a great deal of interest.
I tend to agree with you about this issue of "national character," but, there are qualifications. While there has been a great deal of monoculturalisation in recent decades as a result of globalization - and dare I say the clone culture (the Walmartization or MacDonalization - I am being careful not to say "Americanization") which has spread rapidly around parts of the world - there has been a recent strong retrenchment back towards national, regional, and local identities. Many societies are now fighting back against monocultures - for example, we are witnessing an interest in "slow cities," "slow food," local heritage, etc. .... but that is another story and off-topic for this list.
What is perhaps interesting for our discussion here is to question whether the large bicycle monopolies of both past and present - Raleigh, Schwinn, Peugeot(?), etc. - and their mass-produced bicycles, are more reflective of "national character" than the smaller, specialist, hand-built, often eccentric, builders of the past and the KOF of the present? Are we comparing apples and oranges in this case, however? I don't know. As well as the individual builders we must also ask who were/are their customers and what were/are their preferences?
I think that for those of us who have an appreciation for the "craft," the precision, the skill, the "art" of the craftsman, we would like to think that that is more truly reflective of our deeper "national characters." We appreciate the eccentricities, the subtleties, the finer points of craftsmanship of the smaller builder (and lest I get flamed for this, I am not for minute suggesting that the larger builders did not also produce a range of bicycles of high quality). Maybe it is simply more reflective of what we identify with on a personal level? If that is "national character" for us - so be it!
Paul Williams, in a frigid Ottawa - and to many that is reflective of a "national characteristic" of the "Great White North"
Paul B. Williams, PhD (Queen's)
70 Viscount Ave.,
Ottawa, On, K1Z 7M9
> "National character" debunked long ago? Since when? By whom? That is an
> assertion that there are no cultural differences in the world, and that
> customs and culture are the same everywhere. Perhaps that is Politically
> Correct, but it is also completely false. Television and the internet may
> be driving us toward a homogenized world culture, but thank God I won't
> live long enough to see that achieved. I can't imagine anything more
> boring than a world without "national character". I mean, why travel to
> Europe, or Japan, or China if it's all the same as the US anyway? A
> people's culture is reflected in the things they create, and that's as
> true of bicycles as of anything else.
> Jerry Moos
> Big Spring, TX
> Arthur Link <email@example.com> wrote:
> Please folks,stop the jingoistic generalizations and comparisons to
> cuisine.Bikes are built to meet the needs of people.Some choose plain,some
> fancy lugs in every country! If the CR Main archives had better
> representation of German,Dutch,Belgian,Australian bikes you might see
> something for every taste and purpose.There are just so many ways to weld
> up the plumbing to get the job done. "National character" as a valid
> concept has been debunked long ago. You should rise above this twaddle.
> Art Link, in Hispanic-Germanic-Southwest ,San Antonio ,Tx