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Folklore: What is Folklore?

Jack Blandiver 27 Jul 09 - 04:27 AM
Jim Carroll 27 Jul 09 - 05:15 AM
Jack Blandiver 27 Jul 09 - 07:53 AM
Jim Carroll 27 Jul 09 - 09:10 AM
Tug the Cox 27 Jul 09 - 08:14 PM
Jeri 27 Jul 09 - 08:21 PM
Jim Carroll 28 Jul 09 - 03:05 AM
Jack Blandiver 28 Jul 09 - 07:39 AM
Tug the Cox 28 Jul 09 - 07:56 AM
Jim Carroll 28 Jul 09 - 08:24 AM
Jack Blandiver 28 Jul 09 - 09:44 AM
Jim Carroll 28 Jul 09 - 10:49 AM
glueman 28 Jul 09 - 11:21 AM
Jack Blandiver 28 Jul 09 - 11:28 AM
Sailor Ron 28 Jul 09 - 11:39 AM
Jim Carroll 28 Jul 09 - 01:37 PM
Goose Gander 28 Jul 09 - 01:54 PM
Jack Blandiver 28 Jul 09 - 02:31 PM
Jack Blandiver 28 Jul 09 - 02:32 PM
Jack Blandiver 28 Jul 09 - 02:33 PM
Stu 28 Jul 09 - 02:46 PM
Uncle_DaveO 28 Jul 09 - 02:51 PM
GUEST,Neil D 28 Jul 09 - 03:08 PM
Jack Blandiver 28 Jul 09 - 03:49 PM
Phil Edwards 28 Jul 09 - 04:53 PM
Steve Gardham 28 Jul 09 - 04:57 PM
Jim Carroll 29 Jul 09 - 03:47 AM
Crow Sister (off with the fairies) 29 Jul 09 - 03:56 AM
Joe Offer 29 Jul 09 - 04:01 AM
Jim Carroll 29 Jul 09 - 04:39 AM
Jack Blandiver 29 Jul 09 - 04:45 AM
glueman 29 Jul 09 - 04:53 AM
Jim Carroll 29 Jul 09 - 11:50 AM
Steve Gardham 29 Jul 09 - 06:55 PM
Jim Carroll 30 Jul 09 - 03:20 AM
Jack Blandiver 30 Jul 09 - 04:41 AM
Darowyn 30 Jul 09 - 04:42 AM
glueman 30 Jul 09 - 05:28 AM
Azizi 30 Jul 09 - 12:15 PM
Jim Carroll 31 Jul 09 - 04:12 AM
Jack Blandiver 31 Jul 09 - 05:33 AM
Jim Carroll 31 Jul 09 - 06:31 AM
Steve Gardham 31 Jul 09 - 07:10 PM
Jim Carroll 31 Jul 09 - 07:45 PM
Jack Blandiver 01 Aug 09 - 03:51 AM
Desert Dancer 21 Aug 10 - 01:10 PM
Desert Dancer 22 Aug 11 - 11:46 AM
Desert Dancer 23 Aug 11 - 11:49 AM
Snuffy 23 Aug 11 - 12:24 PM
Desert Dancer 23 Aug 11 - 01:48 PM
MGM·Lion 23 Aug 11 - 01:53 PM
GUEST,Suibhne Astray 23 Aug 11 - 01:54 PM
Stringsinger 23 Aug 11 - 04:15 PM
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Subject: Folklore: What is Folklore?
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 27 Jul 09 - 04:27 AM

Several times I've started legitimate Folklore Threads on Mudcat only for some Elf to come along and remove the Folklore Prefix. For example, the Slang Words for Female Masturbation thread carried a Folklore Prefix for the first 39 posts before it was mysteriously excised and the thread bounced down below the line. I did ask why (on the 8th February 08 - see Here) but no explanation was forthcoming (no pun indented). I mentioned it again on the 25th of July (Here) and Bill D (an Elf? It might be helpful if we knew who these people were) offered the following:

Because...if some innocent researcher (especially young ones) does a search for thread titles involving the usual idea of musical 'folklore', this is not what we'd like to pop-up! We can't protect everyone from everything, but a bit of editing may help. It's possible to do a 'specific' search for masturbstion, if that's what you want.

By way of an immediate response I formulated a BS: At what age did you start masturbating? thread, but, alas, it got no further than the planning stages, though I might reveal that I had my first full blown wank at the age of... no, on second thoughts I won't reveal that because that shocks even myself, though at the time it seemed perfectly acceptable; some 40 years on & I remember it vividly...

*

Anyhoo, in the light of the above and other recent brouhaha (in which one esteemed 'catter was of the opinion that external Christmas house illuminations couldn't possibly be Folkloric because they are shop-bought) I though some discussion on the nature of this beast we call Folklore might be in order.

Is there, for example, anything like a 1954 Definition of Folklore?
What is the relationship between Folksong and Folklore?
It has been suggested that Folksong is dead; can the same be said of Folklore? If not, why not?
What is the more Folkloric - proper Morris Dancing or fluffy Morris Dancing?
How much Folklore is there in the world today - and are we in danger of losing it (it being Folklore as a whole rather than specific instances)?
What, if any, are the limits of Folklore?
Is Folklore confined to the sort of things we're likely to see in the Museum of British Folklore or is it more widespread? Or, indeed, mundane?
What makes it Folklore?
Does Mudcat have its own Folklore?
Do you have your own Folklore? Is that even possible?
Assuming it has such a thing (and the evidence would suggest that it does) what is Mudcat's policy on what is and is not Folklore?

Don't treat this as a questionnaire, the above are just a few things off the top of my head to hopefully set the ball a-rolling. Now I'm going back to bed to sleep off the rest of my Harry Potter Hangover - late night adult-only screening / huge vat of salted popcorn / peanut M&Ms / quart of diet coke to wash it all down / disappointingly plot-less movie in which the only remotely sympathetic characters were Draco Malfoy and Bellatrix, though Professor Flitwick always manages to raise a smile if only because he's played by Warwick Davies who also stars in the so-bad-they're-brilliant Leprechaun films...


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What is Folklore?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 27 Jul 09 - 05:15 AM

Big Question.
The Standard Dictionary of Folklore Mythology and Legend (Funk and Wagnall) gives 22 seperate definitions, all contributed by different writers. These are followed by six pages specifically headed 'folklore and mythology'. None of these (as far as I can see) are contradictory to each other, but are from different aspects of the subject. Too big to post here, but happy to send to anybody interested.
Song, dance, music and story are only a part, albeit an inseperable one, of a larger picture and may or may not have survived as a living expression of folk culture.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What is Folklore?
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 27 Jul 09 - 07:53 AM

Cheers, Jim.

Out of curiosity, would you say it's customary for travellers to have more than one string to their bow with respect of their art? For example, Stanley Robertson is as respected for his singing as his storytelling, as was Duncan Williamson - and as a Jew's Harper too, as are other Irish & Scots Traditional Tellers and Singers. I understand Davie Stewart (a particular hero of mine) was a mean whistle player, but I've never heard any recordings.

From the point of view of a collector, do you classify the stories any differently to the songs? For example Duncan was renowned for his creative gifts within the general framework of traditional narratives but many of his stories are unique to him, unlike the old songs which being more strictly traditional are more shared by the community.

In a memorable sequence David Thomson's People of the Sea we are introduced to a storyteller famed for having just the one story. Did you ever encounter this?

All thoughts & observations welcome!


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What is Folklore?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 27 Jul 09 - 09:10 AM

Hiya SO'P
Irish Traveller storytellers had both songs and tales, though there tended to be an imbalance towards one or the other. Mikeen McCarthy gave us 50(ish) songs (full and fragmentary), but 160 odd stories (a few, but not many long ones). His main source of material, his father was a renowned singer, storyteller and musician (piper, fiddler and whistleplayer) with a large repertoire of all.
With the Irish ones certainly, and also the few Scots ones we talked to, it was the love of a good story that caught their interest - hence the repertoires of big ballads.
Duncan is a bit difficult to judge - we recorded him twice (not counting concert performances). It needs to be remembered that he was also a 'collector', in the sense that, having found out that there was an interest in the songs and stories, he began to acquire them from other travellers and, in some cases, remake them. It was a bit difficult to separate which were those he had grown up with and which he had acquired later. I have to say that this was not definite, just the impression we got - sometimes he appeared to have difficulty remembering which was which himself.
Among the settled people we met, Pat MacNamara of north Clare probably had the largest repertoire of big stories, and an equal number of songs.
The most fascinating man we met, a (then) 70-odd-year-old fiddle player who, once we expressed an interest, began to dig out stories which, each time we re-recorded them, became longer and longer as he remembered them. Junior was a concertina and fiddle player, a storyteller, a singer (and dancer at one time) and an endless source of folklore.
The father of one storyteller we met was reputed to start a story on Monday night, break off at an appropriate point, start it again the following night, and continue it for a total of five nights.
Never met anybody with only one story - though there is a tale about a man with no story!
Nuff said
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What is Folklore?
From: Tug the Cox
Date: 27 Jul 09 - 08:14 PM

What is? presumes a singularity. The problem is in the question. As Karl Popper wrote 'What is' type questions are typically unhelpful.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What is Folklore?
From: Jeri
Date: 27 Jul 09 - 08:21 PM

From Merriam-Webster:
1 : traditional customs, tales, sayings, dances, or art forms preserved among a people   
2 : a branch of knowledge that deals with folklore   
3 : an often unsupported notion, story, or saying that is widely circulated


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What is Folklore?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 28 Jul 09 - 03:05 AM

This is the one that I have become used to and, I believe, is the one most widely recognised and documented. Like the term 'folk', when applied to song, tale, music, custom, dance.... etc, it seems comprehensive enough as a working guide, giving some indication of origin and transmission and use.
Any definitions of these terms only become problematical when they (a) are applied as inflexible 'laws' or (b) when they are manipulated or ignored to suit individual interests or agendas.
As I said earlier, there are 20-odd others given in the Folklore Dictionary, all having their own validity. As far as I can see, there is no great controversy surrounding the subject and the existing literature more than adequately covers all the applied topics.
Jim Carroll

"The entire body of ancient popular beliefs, customs, and traditions, which have survived among the less educated elements of civilized societies until todav. It thus includes fairy tales, myths, and legends, superstitions, festival rites, traditional games, folk songs, popular sayings, arts, crafts, folk dances, and the like.
                      JOHN L. MISH"


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What is Folklore?
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 28 Jul 09 - 07:39 AM

What is? presumes a singularity. The problem is in the question. As Karl Popper wrote 'What is' type questions are typically unhelpful.

That's not strictly true, and certainly true not in this instance where we're not dealing in a singularity of concept, even if we treat the noun as such. Rather like Pilate asking What is truth?, I'm sure he wasn't presuming a singularity, however so rhetorical his inquiry. No such rhetoric here of course, and pragmatically it works a treat, so the only thing unhelpful thus far on this thread is your pointless post which I nevertheless feel compelled to respond to. So thanks for that, Tug.

The entire body of ancient popular beliefs, customs, and traditions, which have survived among the less educated elements of civilized societies until todav.

Does Folklore have to be ancient? And can we still talk about less educated elements of civilized societies as being passive carriers of a lore the true significance of which they, as lore-carriers, can't possibly understand? I have no problem with this, by the way, just as I don't expect the grief-stricken mother who carefully curates the road-side shrine to her child who was killed by a passing car some years earlier to be able to tell me about the full folk-history of wayside shrines, much less why she is compelled to externalise her grief in such a way.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What is Folklore?
From: Tug the Cox
Date: 28 Jul 09 - 07:56 AM

That Karl Popper, huh, what does he know?


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What is Folklore?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 28 Jul 09 - 08:24 AM

No - of course folklore does not have to be ancient; why should the term 'less educated' be construed as such? Yes, we can still talk about less educated elements of civilised societies. I had a shitty secondary modern education and was told by a teacher a few months before I was due to leave school that all I needed to know on entering "the great big world of adulthood was how to tot up my wage packet at the end of the week". I really can't see that a great deal has changed for people of my background in the intervening period.
One of the greatest difficulties I have experienced as someone with an interest in a specialist subject is in being taken seriously by the 'better educated'. On a recent thread I was told that, rather than have my own experience taken seriously, it was preferreble that "some doctoral or post-doctoral research evidencing precisely how effective 'the process' is as a way of defining what's commonly described as folk music would be most welcome." It would appear that research is as 'class based' as I believe folklore to be.
I can find nowhere in any of the definitions I have looked up since you posted your question that a lore carrier 'can't possibly understand' what they are carrying - on the contrary, it is more often than not we outsiders who are incapable of understanding the reasoning behind much of what goes on, or is believed to go on in the communities we choose to work in.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What is Folklore?
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 28 Jul 09 - 09:44 AM

why should the term 'less educated' be construed as such?

It wasn't that so much as ancient popular beliefs, customs, and traditions, which have survived.... There was always more than an element of that in the work of the antiquarian folklorist who perceived folklore to be the residue of more ancient pre-Christian practise that had (somehow) survived the aeons in the form of folklore. Similar notions abound today - the didactic certainties of the Pagan Community is founded on them (yes - the Maypole is a Phallic Symbol etc.); ask anyone about Ring-a-Roses (even the child in the playground) and they'll likely tell you in no uncertain terms that it dates from the time of the Black Death; ask anyone about The Green Man or Sheela-na-Gig (even the incumbent of the church which they decorate) and they'll tell you about a pagan gods and goddesses. This is a direct legacy the study and interpretation of Folklore that still lingers in the popular imagine, and which is, of course, worthy of folkloric study in itself.

Folklore as an academic discipline (or would-be academic discipline) must exist at an academic remove, thereby in some way to attain a cherished objectivity, however so unlikely it is that such a position might ever be truly attained. So much of this now feeds back, however so convoluted, to the extent that even the house-holder who hangs their sprig of mistletoe above the door at Christmas will tell you about the lurid fertility rites of the Ancient Druids of which this harmless custom is but a residue. And yet how close is folklore to belief? Or yet superstition? What of the spiritual dimension? With what hope in their hearts do wassailers fire off their prize Purdeys into the branches of the apple trees? And who is Karl Popper?


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What is Folklore?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 28 Jul 09 - 10:49 AM

Ring-A Roses - Green Man - Sheela na gig - mistletoe
Do the practitioners of what we call 'folklore' claim antiquity for their practices? Not in my experience, or where they do it is the direct result of 'academic' misinformation.
If you asked any old person around here why they bring a bunch of gorse (The May Bush) into the house on the May the First, you will almost certainly be told - 'because it brings good luck for the rest of the year' - the nearest claim to 'antiquity' you'll get is "We've always done it; so did our parents".
Ancient Druids, The Plague, what have you have invariably come from romantic scholarship and hack journalism of the type you'll find in Ireland's Own. I think folklore as a discipline for study has moved on considerably from The Golden Bough.
I'm neither supporting or debunking the academics; I'm suggesting that what is in short supply in our understand of 'folk', be it song, music, tale, lore, custom, is information from the horse's mouth and we really need to make us of what little we have rather thantreating our informants as 'interesting ignoramouses'.
Who is Karl Popper? Didn't he invent the stud fastener?
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What is Folklore?
From: glueman
Date: 28 Jul 09 - 11:21 AM

If the folk who created and perpetuated folk music are believed to have died out the same cannot be said of folklore, whatever definition of it one uses. This begs the question, has folk music died as a living entity? And if it has, is the problem one of definition?

Example - my mother believed shiny objects like cutlery and by extension mirrors, attracted lightning. She believed it because her mother believed it as did her mother. She also thought a window and a door, or two doors should be left open 'to let the lightning out'. My sister and my uncles children believe the same in a debased and occluded form, recognised within the family, not spoken of outside. However the 'Enlightenment' had been running for two centuries when my mother was born (and for about three hundred years now) without any noticable effect on her belief in Lore. Neither was physics a stranger to their manually skilled community. One can only conclude that they simultaneously held two systems of belief without seeing them as vying, in much the same way as a highly skilled medic could be a consultant and, say, a practicing muslim.

It would be interesting to ponder whether those who still practiced folk music as an on-going tradition felt in competition with either chamber music or the music hall, or whether it existed in an entirely different part of their musical universe, one which they could turn on and off at will?
If that is the case is the notion of direct and unproblematic hypodermically received folk itself a myth.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What is Folklore?
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 28 Jul 09 - 11:28 AM

Cheers, Jim. I'm with you there.

a bunch of gorse (The May Bush) into the house on the May the First,

In England the May Bush is hawthorn, gorse being the yellow-flowering spiny bush variously known as furze or whin that flowers all year round giving rise to such sayings as When gorse is out of blossom, kissing's out of fashion. There are various significances to Hawthorn blossom, chief amongst which is that it flowers around May Day (Old May Day more likely), with rumours of more erotic associations arising from a certain - ahem - olfactory simulacra, depending on which books you read; too many bloody books at times I'm sure! Anyway - is gorse the Irish name for Hawthorn, or do they fetch in yellow gorse on May Day?


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What is Folklore?
From: Sailor Ron
Date: 28 Jul 09 - 11:39 AM

It is a well known fact that you just did not mention pigs or rabits on board a trawler, why? No idea, but you just do not. Likewise if you by chance neet a clergyman as you are going down to sail you must go home & start out again, or at the very least turn round three times, of course you must never wear green, or wash clothes on sailing day, or burn fish bones, . And of course, as everyone in the fishing community knows, anyone born with a caul will never drown.
All these "facts" were known, and acted upon at least up to the late 70s, in Fleetwood. Of course if you asked them why, you'd never get a straight answer, the usual reply being "'cause you just [don't] do that!"       Sailor Ron


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What is Folklore?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 28 Jul 09 - 01:37 PM

Gorse on Mayday - there is something about not bringing hawthorn into the house - bad luck.
Ron,
Was it unlucky to have a woman on board - or even to meet a woman on the way to the dock - Winterton (Norfolk) sailors would abandon a trip if it happened?
Travellers are fanatical about lucky cauls - they used to go for fairly hefty prices.
In our ignorance we were fascinated by two Travellers in a crowded Whitecahple Pub taking their cauls out of their pockets and comparing them.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What is Folklore?
From: Goose Gander
Date: 28 Jul 09 - 01:54 PM

What are cauls?


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What is Folklore?
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 28 Jul 09 - 02:31 PM

Caul : Amniotic sack used as a charm by sailors. See -
http://england.prm.ox.ac.uk/englishness-sailors-charm.html


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What is Folklore?
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 28 Jul 09 - 02:32 PM

Not just sailors, obviously!


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What is Folklore?
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 28 Jul 09 - 02:33 PM

Isn't there a tune called High Caul Cap?


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What is Folklore?
From: Stu
Date: 28 Jul 09 - 02:46 PM

A linen bonnet I think . . .

"I'm suggesting that what is in short supply in our understand of 'folk', be it song, music, tale, lore, custom, is information from the horse's mouth "

But is in short supply or are we so surrounded by it we don't even notice we are part of it? I'm sure there is extant folklore about local areas; I can certainly think of several instances of that (especially when I was at school - I wonder if those stories are recited now?), and if we're lucky we might know some snippets of song and superstition our grandparents told us.

Urban myths are certainly a sort of folklore, and so is much Forteana in my opinion.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What is Folklore?
From: Uncle_DaveO
Date: 28 Jul 09 - 02:51 PM

My first quarter at the University of Minnesota, in the fall of 1948, included a class offered by the History Department, on folklore.

The instructor, in explaining the work to be done that quarter, said, "I hope you didn't expect me to sit up here and twang my guitar at you!" (In fact, I had hoped for just that scenario!)

As I recall (it has been more than sixty years, you know), most of what we studied was actually American folklore, though I remember we did cover some of the classical Scottish and English ballads. But I remember being struck with the fact that there were a lot of stories from the newspapers and books of the first half of the 19th Century, which made little claim of being reports of then-ancient beliefs, practices, etc.

I remember the stories of Judge Roy Bean, Joe Magarac, Paul Bunyan, and perhaps even the Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County. Also the whoop-and-holler bragging allegedly indulged in by frontier braggarts and bullies. Most of this class made no pretense of being anything other than the creation of some writer, printed on such-and-such a date in such-and-such newspaper.

But we were required, every week, to submit an item of folklore (perhaps folksong) which we personally had collected "in the field", as it were, which item was required to be written up in a prescribed format, which included where and how, when, and from whom we learned it, how it was used or observed, how widespread we had found it to exist, and perhaps other details. I remember classmates reporting weather rhymes, childhood games and songs, details of good and bad luck superstitions, and on and on.

I recall submitting a song from high school times, which I told the instructor and class I had never heard except in the bus on high school band bus trips. Classmates were aghast: "That's not folklore!" on the ground that it was just what kids in school sang. The instructor assured them that, yes, that would be folklore.

(My Beautiful Wife has just insisted that I insert what I can remember of this song, for reasons that will become apparent, so here is a little bit of Poor Willie:)

I said goodbye to Willie, my heart was sad indeed
He was drivin' a railroad engine with a load of mustard seed
He was doin' ninety per, his brakes was busted down
They carried off my Willie in a coffin painted brown!

Willie went to a rest'rant to get his evenin' meal
The waiter there, he was too slow; Willie called the man a heel.
And then when Willie's dinner came, there was ars'nic in his jello
They carried off my Willie in a coffin painted yellow!


There were three more verses, each ending with Willie being borne away in a different colored coffin.

And here, at length, is my shamefaced admission, sixty years late: That song was fakelore, not folklore!   My best friend and I had made it up between us in high school, and I don't think either of us ever sang it to anyone else or let it out of the bag until I found myself without an item for my rigidly demanded weekly folklore report requirement for that class. As far as I know, that report may remain to this day in the files of the History Department at the University of Minnesota, driving some innocent grad student nuts, trying to find connections to other folkloric items (hopefully more authentic).

Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa!

Dave Oesterreich


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What is Folklore?
From: GUEST,Neil D
Date: 28 Jul 09 - 03:08 PM

Sir Karl Raimund Popper, CH, FRS, FBA (28 July 1902 – 17 September 1994) was an Austrian and British[1] philosopher and a professor at the London School of Economics.[2] He is considered one of the most influential philosophers of science of the 20th century,[3] and also wrote extensively on social and political philosophy. Popper is known for repudiating the classical observationalist/inductivist account of scientific method by advancing empirical falsification instead; for his opposition to the classical justificationist account of knowledge which he replaced with critical rationalism, "the first non justificational philosophy of criticism in the history of philosophy"[4] and for his vigorous defense of liberal democracy and the principles of social criticism which he took to make the flourishing of the "open society" possible.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What is Folklore?
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 28 Jul 09 - 03:49 PM

The first piece of folklore I collected in the field was... well, see Here for the tale. Did it put me off? Not a bit of it!

I've still got a Harvest Troll I made when I was six or seven. Not sure what was going on in my head on that occasion but I recall a vivid awareness of primal ritual embodiment. It's fashioned from a sod of clay on clump of barley stubble and was dismissed by some of my mother's Christian friends as devilish. Nice that she hung onto it all those years though; it now has pride of place in our place.

Here it is: Harvest Troll - September 1967 / 68

Primal impulses? Archetypes? I often wonder - I really do!


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What is Folklore?
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 28 Jul 09 - 04:53 PM

Urban myths are certainly a sort of folklore

I think the glory days of urban legends have gone, though - since email became universal it's just been too easy to transmit them unaltered. They're still out there, but in much reduced numbers and with much less variety compared to the 70s and 80s - when you'd be convinced after hearing a new tale, not only that it was really true and it had really happened but that it had really happened around here.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What is Folklore?
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 28 Jul 09 - 04:57 PM

Custom and belief, and each and every person has his/her own personal folklore that might or might not be the same as the next person's.
Quite simple really.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What is Folklore?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 29 Jul 09 - 03:47 AM

"Isn't there a tune called High Caul Cap? "
Yes, there is - pretty sure we have a recording of Seamus Ennis playing it on the pipes.

"every person has his/her own personal folklore "
Sorry Steve - totally disagree.
Folklore refers to the beliefs and practices of a social group or community in order to attempt to explain or control otherwise unexplainable or uncontrollable aspects of their lives. What individuals do are simply personal habits, practices, beliefs or rituals.... a whole host of things; certainly not folklore. Individuals can no more have a 'personal' folklore than they can write their own 'folksongs' or 'folktales'.... becoming folk depends on these being accepted and practiced by the 'folk' as a group and they have the same obscure origins as the songs and tales.

One of the strongest aspects of folklore up to fairly recently was a belief in fairies. Irish archeology has benefited enormously from this. This part of the country is covered with Bronze-Age settlements - ring forts, which were, and still are referred to as 'Fairy Forts (or Forths). Because of their folkloric connection they have, by and large been left undamaged.

There are some marvelous personal yarns connected with fairies around here.
Our local pub was once run by an elderly couple who were the dead spit of 'The Tailor and Ansty' (rewritten by Quentin Tarrantino - without the bloodletting). During the making of Darby O'Gill and The Little People' some of the location shots were filmed at a ruined castle on The Burren, a few miles north of here.
One night Walt Disney and his court decamped in Friel's Pub - the great man taking over the most comfortable chair in the house. During the course of the evening the conversation turned to fairies and Disney said "Tell me Mrs Friel - did you ever see a fairy?"
"Wasn't there one sitting in that very chair last night?"
It is said that Disney leapt out of the chair and shortly afterward disappeared out of the door.

One local woman was asked by a visitor whether she believed in fairies. She replied, "Of course not - but they're there all right".

When we moved here 11 years ago the building of a by-pass around our market town, Ennis, was in full swing. Part of the rout was planned to go through a field where there was a whitethorn bush (a fairy thorn) growing. A local revival storyteller, a vigourous self-publicist, took up the cause, and eventually, (at the cost of several million, it is reputed) the road was re-routed.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What is Folklore?
From: Crow Sister (off with the fairies)
Date: 29 Jul 09 - 03:56 AM

Later, the tree was severely vandalised with a chainsaw I believe. Not sure if it has survived since the attack?


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What is Folklore?
From: Joe Offer
Date: 29 Jul 09 - 04:01 AM

I admit that our use of the term "Folklore" as a thread tag, is not exactly the classic definition of folklore. In general, our use of the term is a bit broader, covering non-music information that is closely related to music - like pronunciation of various languages, and historical events that formed the background of songs, and so forth - and also actual folklore (but generally folklore that is related to music somehow).

Many people use this tag for anything that doesn't fit any other category, so we monitor use of this tag fairly closely and we do edit this tag out when it doesn't fit our criteria.

The thread in question, which may have started off with the best of folkloric intentions, quickly became a goofing-off thread and was moved to the non-music section in February, 2008. Admittedly, this was an arbitrary decision and could well have gone the other way, but I don't think the history of the world was changed by the moving of the thread. If you had asked me at the time (and by personal message), I could have told you who made the change and why - but now I can only guess.

-Joe-


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What is Folklore?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 29 Jul 09 - 04:39 AM

"Not sure if it has survived since the attack?"
It has - and is thriving.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What is Folklore?
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 29 Jul 09 - 04:45 AM

What individuals do are simply personal habits, practices, beliefs or rituals.... a whole host of things; certainly not folklore.

There are schools of thinking that would question that, given the equation that any community is comprised of individuals and that all folklore is, therefore, ultimately the reserve of individual who is never entirely passive to their culture. Culture only exists because of the individual and that everything they do, therefore, is an aspect of that culture and its folklore.

How many people does it take to make a community? If two people can have their own language (as can be shown) then two people can have their own folklore. The individual can be a lore-carrier, folk singer, storyteller - think of Duncan Williamson, a very creative storyteller, and yet very much a part of his tradition. Other examples abound of traditions being carried by an idiosyncratic genius, such as Seamus Ennis and Davie Stewart, which is is why I'm as drawn to their work, likewise to other idiosyncratic traditional genii such as John Coltrane, Rahsaan Roland Kirk and Sun Ra.

The life of Folklore is very often the individual practitioner; if we lose sight of the individual (as so very often happens) then we lose any real understanding of the community. The legacy of the antiquarian is the inclination to see community in terms of its collectivity rather than its individuality; to see folklore as being somehow separate from the folk, and define it accordingly, and romantically, across the class divide. As E.P. Thomson said: Folklore in England is largely a literary record of eighteenth and nineteenth century survivals, recorded by parsons and genteel antiquarians regarding the across a gulf of class condescension. (Folklore, Anthropology and Social History, 1979)

Thus the identity of the individual is subsumed by a perceived compliance to his/her community wherein they only exist as a faceless participant in the illusion of the Mexican Wave that is all the folklorist is interested in. Maybe this one of the reasons why instances of contemporary folklore - such as Hen Parties, wayside shrines, Fluffy Morris, holidays etc. - get overlooked. Indeed, to many I dare say the term contemporary folklore is an oxymoron.

In short, where there is folk, there will, and must, be folklore.

*

Nice to know Darby O'Gill was actually filmed in Ireland; it is said that Brigadoon (1954) was filmed using Holywood studio sets because Vincent Minnelli couldn't find anywhere Scottish enough in Scotland!


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What is Folklore?
From: glueman
Date: 29 Jul 09 - 04:53 AM

The unsupportable desire to place everything with the word Folk into a historical context reaches absurdity with folklore. If it is not myth or legend it's highly likely to be lore. The time frame has absolutely no bearing on the definition.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What is Folklore?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 29 Jul 09 - 11:50 AM

"The unsupportable desire to place everything with the word Folk into a historical context reaches absurdity with folklore."
Once more into the breach.......
Who does that where?
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What is Folklore?
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 29 Jul 09 - 06:55 PM

No problem, Jim.
We can agree to disagree.
I wasn't suggesting that everyone had a totally different set of folklore beliefs/practices, on the contrary each person will have a great deal in common with those people around them. As far as I am concerned all of their learned actions and thoughts are part of their personal folklore, as opposed to, for example, any new things they try or random thoughts they have.

What I understand of what Suibhne is saying I agree with.
I find your definition far too restrictive and narrow, but hey that's what makes it fun.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What is Folklore?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 30 Jul 09 - 03:20 AM

Steve/Suibhne,
I'd be interested to find if your version of folklore is explained anywhere.
I know there was some discussion some years ago about the validity of Xerox lore and the inclusion of, say groups of people working in an office being regarded as 'a community', hence everything they did together being regarded as 'folk', but I'm pretty sure it died a death. If my memory serves me right, it was discussed in the Journal of American Folklore and was centred in the US, but as far as I know it never really took off on this side of the pond.
Every definition I have access to refers to the actions and beliefs of an identifyable community - fishermen, miners...... or geographical references, counties, nations, etc.
For instance, if I look out of the window when I get up each morning and say "sod it - I wish this bloody rain would stop" - as I invariably have over the last two years, is that folklore?
It seems to me that, as with song, music, tale, et al, unless you set some sort of parameter to your definition, the subject becomes meaningless, but I'm open to ideas and information.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What is Folklore?
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 30 Jul 09 - 04:41 AM

A lot of the problem stems from the gap between popular perceptions of folklore and the current state of folkloric studies in academia to which few have access. Bob Trubshaw wrote his Explore Folklore (Heart of Albion, 2002) as a means of somehow bridging this gap, by looking at the fascinating developments in the study of folklore in the last twenty-or-so years as few books about British folklore and folk customs reflect these exciting new approaches. It's a field in constant flux basically, and some seven years on from publication I dare say it's pretty dated, but remains a fascinating read that confirms much of my own feelings on the matter, with respect of customary practice, community and belief.

Human reality has always fascinated me - hence my 1954 and All That thread which deals with the pragmatics of actual usage, rather than a definition which may, or may not, cover it in terms of an orthodox reading. Fact remains folk covers a multitude of actualities, whether we like it or not. Personally, I'm torn between my come-all-ye drunken hearty self, and my reserved intolerant traddy purist self, but - when in Rome... Folklore is very different in that revival effectively kills it stone dead; folklore is part & parcel of any human community, and is mutable & transitory by default. When did way-side shrines become such a feature of the British roadside? Likewise the degree to which graves are decorated & venerated. It seems as we move into secularism, then our need to venerate the dead becomes ever more acute, especially compared with the sobriety of even twenty years ago. Children's graves are especially poignant in this respect.

On other threads I've contextualised folk in terms of its humanity, and its individuality, rather than a perceived collectivity or any sort of absolutism arising therefrom, such as might be construed from E.P.Thompson's observation about folklore being born from genteel antiquarians regarding such things across a gulf of class condescension. In this sense a question like Does Folk Exist? becomes all the more urgent, given that it is not, generally speaking, the folk themselves who show an objective interest in such things - they're too busy doing them, unconsciously, to consider such things as being in some way folk. When we start doing then consciously, however, they somehow stop being folk. It is, in truth, a curious sort of alchemy!

I know people who claim to have been abducted by aliens; I know people who were social workers during the Satanic Abuse scare and were convinced it was real; I know people who believe crop Circles are the work of Extra Terrestrial Intelligence - either directly, or by inspiring the minds of the circle makers! I buy every edition of Fortean Times as I have done for years, but also recognise that the local kids who pimp their rides are doing something folkloric too; there is community, transference, ritual, custom, transformation and not a little by way of misrule. Likewise, in terms of context & occasion alone, Karaoke becomes Folk Music, though stretching an Orthodox Reading of the 1954 Definition around it might prove problematic. The Folk are still there; the same issues of life, labour, love and death remain paramount as they have done for thousands of years and, when I see the Hen Party girls out in their flamboyant liveries braving the gales of Blackpool, I see something common to the whole of human history. I don't point my camera at them though, experience having taught me that will just result in a multiple exposure by way of a greater misrule, after which they go home and get on with the business of living their lives, as we all must.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What is Folklore?
From: Darowyn
Date: 30 Jul 09 - 04:42 AM

"For instance, if I look out of the window when I get up each morning and say "sod it - I wish this bloody rain would stop" - as I invariably have over the last two years, is that folklore?"

I would say that it is not. If it happened that you said it every day regardless of the actual weather, then perhaps it would be a tradition by now. It would be one only within the confines of your household however.
I do think you are right in attaching the label folklore to the beliefs, stories and activities of a social group. I might have a quibble over "identifiable" though, since social groups are often so fluid. For example, Folk Enthusiasts and Motorbike racers are clearly separate groups, whether they are communities or not, but at different times I am a member of one or the other- but rarely both at the same time, and it is possible to affiliate or disaffiliate instantaneously.
The actual meaning of community is a tricky one. People talk about the gay community, or the immigrant community. I'd say that this is a misnomer. These are no more than social categories.
Maybe I got it from Weber, but to me 'Community' implies some communal communication across the whole group, and the growth of multiple role relationships within the group.
A family may have family folklore- mine does.
A town may have folklore- the town hall lions in Leeds, for example.
Owners groups may have folklore- the "Macs never crash" meme amongst computer users is an example.
But I would not regard the habitual or obsessive compulsive behaviour of an individual, however mild, as folklore because of the lack of social dimension.
Though, as I said, I do believe that an individual can create and maintain personal traditions.
Cheers
Dave


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What is Folklore?
From: glueman
Date: 30 Jul 09 - 05:28 AM

Some interesting stuff here. As a rule of thumb folkies care about it but don't live it, the regular folks don't give a stuff but live it out as naturally as they breathe. Part of our need to identify discrete and manageable ideas of folk - and by extension folk music and lore - is the people en masse are such a messy subject and communities in the old sense: fishing, farming provide a much simpler handle on society, even if their lives were as complex as our own.

My impression is the average folky's love of his fellow man is no greater and often less than the norm, unless he's a tidy package with rules of engagement.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What is Folklore?
From: Azizi
Date: 30 Jul 09 - 12:15 PM

Some persons posting to this thread may be interested in reading this article about the Filipino commemoration of Araw ng mga Patay [Day of the Dead] that occurs every November 1st. The author also shares personal accounts of other folk memories such as his great-grandfather having a magic hat which transported him instantly to any place he thought of, and belief in and interactions with river spirits.

http://www.racialicious.com/2009/07/30/the-dead-river-spirits-a-magic-hat-racialigious/#more-2644

The Dead, River Spirits, & a Magic Hat
by Guest Contributor Alex Felipe

Here's an excerpt from that article about the evolving Filipino celebration of the Day of The Dead:

"The holiday is an odd one seen through the lens of a Filipino raised in Canada. Families head out to the cemetery to clean the tombs of relatives, bring food, flowers, light candles, and pray. But more or less it just seems like a day where everyone decides to have a family picnic—a picnic that just so happens to be in an insanely crowded cemetery.

It's an odd sight to be honest. Drunk men playing cards on grave markers next to a family singing karaoke on a portable machine next to parents praying the rosary for a recently deceased child.

Strangely enough, it's a generally mirthful holiday. There are fast food tents set up in the cemetery just for that day: McDonalds, Jollibee, Greenwich Pizza, Ando's Chicken, and more—all in the middle of a cemetery.

To my foreign influenced eyes, this holiday seems light and fun; a nice way to remember the past, but in the Phils [Philippines]—despite how casual the atmosphere is—there is a real fear that to not pay respect at the grave of a family member would have severe repercussions from the spirit world.

It's moments like these that really help remind me of our people's animist past, and the very real connection to the spirit world that doesn't exist here in Canada."

**

And here's the concluding paragraph from that article:

"...many of our problems in the Phils and as Filipinos (especially those of us raised outside the homeland) comes from this disconnect between the present and the past, tradition and modernity. In our headlong rush to become equal to the West [whatever that may mean], we are quickly discarding our mythologies instead of allowing them to evolve. This stupidity is an attempt to strip us of our relationship to the land, each other, and the past.

But these stories live in us whether we want them to or not because our parents, our grandparents, and our families have lived with these stories and they have influenced how they act and how they have raised us".

Tradition is not a static creature. It lives and evolves within the people they inhabit. We cannot remove ourselves from it any more than we can try to remove our blood from our bodies. We can definitely try, and I know too many that do, but the sad result helps neither the living nor the dead".


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What is Folklore?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 31 Jul 09 - 04:12 AM

Sorry people - not a lot to go on for a radical change of mind.
I really don't know what the "fascinating developments in the study of folklore in the last twenty-or-so years" are, so I can't comment, but Darowyn and Sweeney's Man put it in a nutshell when they referred to folklore as "part & parcel of any human community" and community as implying "some communal communication across the whole group". For me, "community" is something far more extensive than the family or individual, (or the folk club, for that matter') - as is "folk".
There is no argument as far as I'm concerned, that individuals have practices and beliefs which can be described as 'lore', but the 'folk' prefix, I believe precludes these from being folklore.
The nicely concise 'Oxford English Reference Dictionary' definition just about covers it for me: "the traditional beliefs and stories of A PEOPLE and the study of these."
E.P.Thompson's observation about folklore 'being born from genteel antiquarians'
As an admirer of Thompson, having heard him speak on numerous occasions, I was not really surprised to read this quote. Being of a left persuasion myself, I have always shared MacColl's irritation of what I believe to be the lack of understanding by many of the left of the realities of peoples' culture. Much like Marx's description of (not sure of the exact quote) "the numbing idiocy of country life", it seems to lack experience and personal knowledge.
Folklore certainly was not the invention of "genteel antiquarians". They may have drawn the wrong conclusions, but I believe we are indebted to some of the on-the-spot descriptions to be found in publications such as 'The Gentleman's Magazine', 'Word Lore', and the early editions of 'The Folklore Journal' and 'The Country Magazine'; also from such people as John Timms, Robert Chambers, William Hone and Thomas Westropp. Our understanding of the subject has moved on considerably since these early days, but these pioneers all helped provide us with a reasonable introduction to the subject.
Folklore was, and remains a living reality, often tragically so, as we discovered with the case of one of our elderly singers who chose to treat a sore eye at a local holy well rather than go to the doctor and died when it developed into a brain tumour.
The more negative aspects of folklore can be seen in the Bridie Cleary case, when a woman suspected of being a changeling 'taken by the fairies' was burned to death by her husband, family and neighbours (with the knowledge of the local priest and members of the police force); an event which was considered significant enough to be used as a excuse for not granting Ireland Home Rule at the end of the 19th century.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What is Folklore?
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 31 Jul 09 - 05:33 AM

I hear what you're saying, Jim but by its very nature folk must be an ongoing process and remains an integral aspect of human community whatever age we live in - or whatever form said community takes. Country living these days has precious little to do with folk in the old sense, and much contemporary rural folklore will, ironically, be derived from urban traditions. An example of this is cars pimped with a strobe-light fitted underneath. I'd heard reports of this tradition from friends in London (the effect was to make the car look like it was floating!) but the first time I actually saw one was in the village of Staindrop in County Durham! Short lived; it was outlawed, though I believe certain cars still carry them.

One aspect of Folklore might be of the past, but in Warshaver's Three Levels of Folklore, level one is very much of the moment; the things that are done without any intention of it being folklore, which is where, I feel, the most important stuff is because whilst the gentry might not have created the actual lore they did define it as being folklore and instigate the study of it as an abstract concept. Meanwhile, the folk, the people, are too bust getting on with the business of living to be hung up on such academic significances, leaving the folklorists very often clutching at empty air. Because what is folklore without folk? In contemporary studies folklore becomes the study of people & ethnography without the old antiquarian notions of ancient origins, continuities and lost archaic meanings. The medium very much is the message, and folklore is very much about what people do, and continue to do, and will continue to do, as long as there are people to do it.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What is Folklore?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 31 Jul 09 - 06:31 AM

SO'P
Sorry; seem to be at cross purposes; probably my fault.
I didn't suggest that folklore was a thing of the past; nor do I believe that (gave you an example with our singer, and could have mentioned walking under ladders, throwing salt, visitors leaving house through same door they entered, coins buried in mortar of newly built houses (ours has 4, thanks to kindly neighbour - another neighbour, on our moving in, presented us with a paper bag containing a lump of coal, a coin and a potato; thus wishing us heat, wealth and food). Folklore continues to occur and have newly added aspects - no argument there from me.
It's just the 'community' aspect we seem to be hung up on.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What is Folklore?
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 31 Jul 09 - 07:10 PM

Jim,
I think I am guilty of causing the misunderstandings when I suggested folklore could be an individual thing. All I really meant by this was that each individual's involvement is going to be more or less different to the next person's because we all have a multiplicity of connections with a vast array of communities, especially nowadays.
I initially put this very briefly and simply which perhaps caused the misunderstanding.
However it is possible that a piece of folklore could be currently known or indulged in by a single individual if it has been passed on simply from one person to one person and the previous owners/practitioners have died. This is not likely to occur very often but it is possible and likely even in some circumstances.
The vast majority of folklore types are as you say essentially community formed, evolved and perpetuated.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What is Folklore?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 31 Jul 09 - 07:45 PM

Thanks for that Steve.
I agree entirely - though as far as I'm concerned anything that promotes discussion can't be bad.
An example of what you are talking about happened some time ago around here. A friend of ours - you have met him - decided to have an extension to his house built as they were getting very short of space. When he broached the subject with his wife she opposed the idea point blank as the only direction they could possibly have built was to the West, which, according to her, was very bad luck - she said it was where the the saying 'gone west' came from. He, as a folklorist, had never heard of it, I certainly haven't, nor have I been able to find any reference to it. The extension never got built.

I don't know if you are conversant with what happened at Padstow - probably one of the most solidly based traditions in the UK.
Sometime in the (I think) the nineteen twenties it all but died out. Doc Rowe once gave a talk we attended at Battersea Library, where he showed a slide of a wonderful photograph of one old man who had put on the 'Oss costume and walked through the town on his own just to keep it alive. The photograph shows the bystanders in their Edwardian clothes, staring at him as if he had just stepped out of a space-ship; it came that close to dying out altogether.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What is Folklore?
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 01 Aug 09 - 03:51 AM

Is that Padstow picture anywhere on-line, Jim? I'd love to see it!


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What is Folklore?
From: Desert Dancer
Date: 21 Aug 10 - 01:10 PM

Who are the folk?

"Folk Art Everywhere takes to the streets to ask "Who Are The Folk?" Check out what people had to say and what we learned along the way!"

A project of the Craft and Folk Art Museum in Los Angeles, whose wonderful tagline is, "A shrinking world requires an expanded mind".

~ Becky in Tucson
(and L.A. half the time)


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What is Folklore?
From: Desert Dancer
Date: 22 Aug 11 - 11:46 AM

The American Folklife Center (of the Library of Congress) posted this anniversary item today on Facebook:

"On August 22, 1846, antiquarian William John Thoms coined the term 'folk-lore.' Writing under the pseudonym Ambrose Merton, in a letter to the editor of the London magazine The Athenaeum. Thoms wrote:

'Your pages have so often given evidence of the interest which you take in what we in England designate as Popular Antiquities, or Popular Literature (though by-the-by it is more a Lore than a literature, and would be most aptly described by a good Saxon compound, Folk-Lore,—the Lore of the People)—that I am not without hopes of enlisting your aid in garnering the few ears which are remaining, scattered over that field from which our forefathers might have gathered a goodly crop. No one who has made the manners, customs, observances, superstitions, ballads, proverbs, etc., of the olden time his study, but must have arrived at two conclusions:—the first how much that is curious and interesting in those matters is now entirely lost—the second, how much may yet be rescued by timely exertion…. It is only honest that I should tell you I have long been contemplating a work upon our "Folk-Lore" (under that title, mind Messes. A, B, and C,—so do not try to forestall me);—and I am personally interested in the success of the experiment which I have, in this letter, albeit imperfectly, urged you to undertake.'"


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What is Folklore?
From: Desert Dancer
Date: 23 Aug 11 - 11:49 AM

So, "the manners, customs, observances, superstitions, ballads, proverbs, etc., of the olden time" would be the 1846 definition...

~ Becky in Tucson


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What is Folklore?
From: Snuffy
Date: 23 Aug 11 - 12:24 PM

So defining folklore is an age-old custom that we should take pains to protect, encourage and support?


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What is Folklore?
From: Desert Dancer
Date: 23 Aug 11 - 01:48 PM

Just like the Mudcat tradition of heated argument over topics of small global consequence. :-)


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What is Folklore?
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 23 Aug 11 - 01:53 PM

Oh, come, DD, the Cat is full of arguments about topics of huge global consequence also.

It's just that hardly anyone reads those; too boring!

~M~


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What is Folklore?
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray
Date: 23 Aug 11 - 01:54 PM

http://www.indigogroup.co.uk/edge/paganism.htm


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What is Folklore?
From: Stringsinger
Date: 23 Aug 11 - 04:15 PM

I think the topic of masturbation was covered conclusively. I'm not sure I see the point of this in relation to folklore since it is so varied, comes from so many different areas, cultural points, a metaphor for figuring out the myriad formations of stars and planets. Besides, it gets old and what's the purpose of it?

Folklore is essential to understanding folk music, a background from a specific culture which engenders song and music, a roadmap to finding your way through the many rivers and tributaries of folk song and music, a discipline that makes available the history of song and music in the context of a culture, and without it you don't have folk music or song.

The inference that folk song or folklore is dead is incorrect, this suggestion seems to be weighted in favor of those who would like to further their own agenda in the promotion of their own pop songwriting excluded from the dictionary definition of folk music or lore, and a denial that such music needs to be studied. It's the same reactionary attitude that defines those who want to blaze their own trail and ignore or suppress the scholarly role of folklore.

Many folklorists today would say that yes, as people, each of us has our own folklore.

What differentiates folklore from the study of history is that it allows for the acceptance of myth rather than just historical fact.

As to the role of story and song, these are inseparable. Each ballad or song tells a story, sometimes complete and sometimes sketchy, tracing these stories and songs in their evolution give us insight as to their value which I characterize as follows:

History gives you the factual information about events of the past.
Folklore and folk music give you an index into the feelings and attitudes of people
from the past, including an insight into the culture that produces the song or folklore.

Folklore doesn't have to be factual recorded historical information as a result.

Folklore in music is a branch of ethnomusicology, sociology and anthropology. In this, it is a cross-discipline of these areas.

Folklore is broader than what you might encounter in the British Museum of Folklore, that being concerned with a regional or national approach to collecting and compiling data.

The limits of folklore are whatever is outside the methodology used by folklorists to study that field. What that is may be debatable but the methodology and study is undeniable as a discipline, a characteristic being the evolution of a story or song that is more or less culture-based over a period of time, generally decades.

Morris Dancing, it seems to me, is analogous to the evolution of square dancing in the US, in that it has been modified, redefined and codified by its participants, as has been the use of Tartans to reflect tribal history in the Scottish culture. Square dancing has its roots in the " hoe-downs" and "set-runnings", "big circle" dances associated with the Southern Appalachian culture of the US.

There was an attempt some time ago to introduce a Senate bill in the US, to make the Square Dance the national American dance. This was vociferously denounced by folklorists in the US, since other forms of dance could equally claim that title, such as African-American offshoots, Native American dances, regional ethnic Euro-American dances etc. Fortunately, it was defeated.

Folklore is always a part of the history of any cultural group, relying on evolutionary aspects such as a period of time to develop and is still found throughout the world.
What we consider folklore today may be different tomorrow as new forms of it develop, conceivably in areas that we don't associate under that title, ie: forms of rap,
African High Life, almagamates of various folklore and music, jazz expression, even artifacts such as doo-wop street singing, turntable scratching, and a communal approach to songwriting by members of a definable cultural group.

Mudcat is too eclectic to claim the role of folklore and song by folklorists at present although in fifty to a hundred years from now, who knows?

Mudcat though does have people on it who have the scholarship as folklorists and are able to define it through their research and introduction of materials such as references to the evolution of a song through time and its variants (how it changed).

There are people on Mudcat that know more about folklore than in most circles, even some of the scholarly ones that purport to have this discipline.

There are trained ears on this site that recognize the difference between a folkloric performance and a manufactured one made to simulate the real deal.

Folklore, like any academic discipline is mundane for people who don't care about it, in the same way that science is not interesting to those who find it boring.

But folklore is here to stay.


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Mudcat time: 25 May 3:21 AM EDT

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