What does preserving culture really mean?

Dr. Phil Bartle in his interesting article equates preserving culture to preserving dead bodies. He compares culture to a living organism, that grows, changes, and reacts. In a nutshell he brings out the futility of the whole exercise of preservation of culture itself. Quoting from the article:

Think of things we know that are preserved: pickles in a jar, butterflies in a glass case, leather on a purse, blackberry jam in a jar, lumber for building, insects in amber, frogs in formaldehyde. They all have one thing in common, They were all once alive (or were parts of something alive) and are all now dead.

The process of preservation is one which modifies something so that it will last, so that it will not change, so that it will not live. To be alive requires something to move, to change.

So if you want to keep something from changing for a long time, kill it. It will change eventually anyway (just ask any Buddhist) no matter how it is preserved.

I tend to agree with him. I think the best way to preserve traditions and culture is to place them in a museum, in the form of video, picture and text.

[tags]Culture, Traditions[/tags]