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Thread: Texanness

  1. #1
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    Texanness

    Something I'd love to hear your thoughts on is what the Texan ethos consists of. I have run into people who think there is none, and I disagree (and at least on a completely practical basis, we have to say that either the nature and quality of new development is going to change the character of life in Texas, or we ought to develop some robust idea of the character of life in Texas and try to have *it* affect the new development instead, before the reverse process dominates), but the more articulate opinions I hear, the better I'll be able to understand the whole thing, and so I'm circulating the question here after asking trolleygirl.

    thanks, Neil

    Not to set the tone at all, but just as a side issue related to our concerns in this discussion, I have regularly enough over time been told that Texas is not part of the South. Confirming or denying this is not my interest, but I think that it raises something we do have to consider in considering Texanness -
    I'll use San Antonio because it's home of the longsuffering Institute of Texan Cultures at the Hemisfair Park...
    San Antonio can be thought of as a place where we find not simply Texan culture, unless we are going to define it carefully and intricately, but where we find meeting, in descending order, Texan ethos, Tejano ethos, plain ol' lower-class (that's who's excluded from the terrible socioeconomic structure in Mexico and emigrates from there) Mexican worldview and customs, Great American Southwest vestiges, and a little Hill Country European heritage remaining. How do we figure out how to distinguish what the Texan ethos is that should be acted from?

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    Want to know about the "Texas Ethos"? The best source I’ve found, and it should be required reading at least SOMEWHERE, is Lone Star, A History of Texas and the Texans by T.R. Fehrenbach. It is still in print and has even been recently updated and revised, by the original author. The copy I have is a later (not current) printing and runs to 761 pages including the bibliography and index. So far, this is the best Texas history book I've found. It is often considered the authoritative text on the subject.

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    The smartest gal in town! trolleygirl's Avatar
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    jdwillis:

    Maybe you can help me answer a pointed question asked of I45Tex to me in an earlier PM:

    Walking around and looking around, I find that no one would dispute that Italy has building forms that are in fact Italian in some important sense. Its Renaissance visual and musical art also were products of Italian identity in plenty of ways, although maybe less essentially so, in that it's more filtered and not directly fitted to environmental conditions that test it (unless we want to think that it was, that what was handed down was what stuck when it was thrown against the wall of public, private and artistic taste). But as artists went along adding complications to their skill in representative art, there was no Platonic ideal state of art that they were moving toward of necessity. They were solving problems of interest, just as modern artists are and just as modern artists have not necessarily gone on past the point where art was supposed to stop. By strained analogical reasoning, then, I'm wanting to ask whether it's true that there wasn't any greater reason for there to be 'truly Italian architecture style' than there is for there to be an equally truly 'Dallas architecture'. And if not, I'm groping toward asking why they could come up with it and we haven't - why it's so hard to even imagine what things would be done to develop it. Does this inspire any thoughts?

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    The smartest gal in town! trolleygirl's Avatar
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    There is alot of old German architecture in some of the old German towns in the Hill country and in West Texas. But keep in mind that the first Germans only stared to arrive in Texas in 1832.

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    The smartest gal in town! trolleygirl's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by I45Tex
    Something I'd love to hear your thoughts on is what the Texan ethos consists of. I have run into people who think there is none, and I disagree (and at least on a completely practical basis, we have to say that either the nature and quality of new development is going to change the character of life in Texas, or we ought to develop some robust idea of the character of life in Texas and try to have *it* affect the new development instead, before the reverse process dominates), but the more articulate opinions I hear, the better I'll be able to understand the whole thing, and so I'm circulating the question here after asking trolleygirl.

    thanks, Neil

    Not to set the tone at all, but just as a side issue related to our concerns in this discussion, I have regularly enough over time been told that Texas is not part of the South. Confirming or denying this is not my interest, but I think that it raises something we do have to consider in considering Texanness -
    I'll use San Antonio because it's home of the longsuffering Institute of Texan Cultures at the Hemisfair Park...
    San Antonio can be thought of as a place where we find not simply Texan culture, unless we are going to define it carefully and intricately, but where we find meeting, in descending order, Texan ethos, Tejano ethos, plain ol' lower-class (that's who's excluded from the terrible socioeconomic structure in Mexico and emigrates from there) Mexican worldview and customs, Great American Southwest vestiges, and a little Hill Country European heritage remaining. How do we figure out how to distinguish what the Texan ethos is that should be acted from?
    I think that San Antonio flavor fits a little. Texas is sooo big and there are many different attitudes for the different regions and they are ALL very diverse from one another, it's almost.....well, it's almost as if Texas is its own country.

    Way out in the Big Bend, being "Texan" means something 180 degrees different than it does in Nacadoches. I have found that these incongruent realities (or perceptions thereof) is precisely what makes Texas Texas- no other State is as varying in cultural attitudes than is Texas. We have nothing in common with any other State in the US and yet we have nothing in common in our various regions than the fact that we are all in this geographic area known as Texas. I think that's what makes Texas so unique.

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    Quote Originally Posted by trolleygirl
    jdwillis:

    Maybe you can help me answer a pointed question asked of I45Tex to me in an earlier PM:

    Walking around and looking around, I find that no one would dispute that Italy has building forms that are in fact Italian in some important sense. Its Renaissance visual and musical art also were products of Italian identity in plenty of ways, although maybe less essentially so, in that it's more filtered and not directly fitted to environmental conditions that test it (unless we want to think that it was, that what was handed down was what stuck when it was thrown against the wall of public, private and artistic taste). But as artists went along adding complications to their skill in representative art, there was no Platonic ideal state of art that they were moving toward of necessity. They were solving problems of interest, just as modern artists are and just as modern artists have not necessarily gone on past the point where art was supposed to stop. By strained analogical reasoning, then, I'm wanting to ask whether it's true that there wasn't any greater reason for there to be 'truly Italian architecture style' than there is for there to be an equally truly 'Dallas architecture'. And if not, I'm groping toward asking why they could come up with it and we haven't - why it's so hard to even imagine what things would be done to develop it. Does this inspire any thoughts?
    Sounds like you already know the answer to your question, but just haven't figured out how to express it yet. Kind of unusual for you, isn't it?

    Art, history, climate, all these and more combine to create an architectural style for an area, region, state, and/or country. As for Italy (assuming you mean the country and not the town in Texas where current trends seem a bit, um, circular), like Texas, it has regional architecture differences. Sure, there are similarities, but it is doubtful what you'd find in a building in Sicily would be the same as what you'd find in Venice, or in the Italian Alps.

    Just as in Texas. Or Dallas. Dallas has different styles and moods to its different neighborhoods and regions. Kesler Park is very different from Lakewood is very different from Urbandale. The houses are different, the socio-economic makeup of the areas as they were developed and as they grew over time, were and are different, and the styles of the structures vary accordingly.

    Want to define a “Dallas Architectural Style”? Good luck. It all depends on where you are standing and which direction you are looking when you ask the question! Besides, what defines a geographical region’s “style” has probably less to do with the buildings and more to do with those who inhabit them, no?

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by I45Tex
    Something I'd love to hear your thoughts on is what the Texan ethos consists of.
    Great topic.

    Mostly, I think it's learned behavior. As with native flora and fauna, it's not as much the size of Texas, rather the shape creates a social allegiance among dissimilar regional personalities.

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    Quote Originally Posted by tamtagon
    Great topic.

    Mostly, I think it's learned behavior. As with native flora and fauna, it's not as much the size of Texas, rather the shape creates a social allegiance among dissimilar regional personalities.
    This is an interesting idea. However it neglects to take into account one overriding factor about the region we know today as Texas.

    Climate.

    This one factor has shaped the culture of Texas probably more than any other. Climate is why Texas, despite its vast trove of natural resources, was virtually undeveloped by anyone until the mid-nineteenth century. Native tribes, the Spanish (despite their presence for something like three hundred years), the French (they were only present in a few isolated areas anyway), and Mexico (granted they had possession for a very brief period) couldn't develop this area. These peoples and cultures simply didn't have the tools necessary to cope with the Texas climate.

    Not until the development of what we would consider modern agriculture, with irrigation, could vast regions of the state be opened up. Until then, most of it was only good for raising a few cattle, armadillos, and rattlesnakes.

    Climate has shaped the Texas Heart, if you'll forgive the artistic license. Fail to take the climate into consideration and Texas will, quite simply, kill you. Those who survived learned hard lessons and passed those lessons on to their children. This one factor accounts for much of the Texas ethos.

  9. #9
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    {On climate and water affecting human development}
    ...and part of why, still, today, in population size across the state:
    if you split the state in half down from Wichita Falls to the west end of San Antonio and keep on going, the line passes through Starr County near the end of the Rio Grande, and if you group it with the arid half it's the 10th most populous county while if you group it with the wetter half it's 44th.

    Hey, I'm glad you three showed up.

    I like your philosophy, tg, and your point, tamtagon; reconciling them is fun.

    I grew up hearing my Dad's family's stories of West Texas as sort of the Holy Land combined with wandering in the Wilderness for Exxon. I think if I had lived west of Dallas more I would be more inclined to think of Texas as standing alone; as it is, I tend to think of Central Southern culture and habits tapering off along a zone spanning either bank of the Brazos, not the Mississippi.
    Last edited by I45Tex; 28 August 2007 at 07:33 PM.

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