Hot and noisy

Charles 2 Comments


From time to time we consider the purpose of a funeral as an event which enables mourners to express complex, disorderly emotion. Funerals in  countries untouched by, or resistant to, chilly Nordic Protestant norms of self-restraint are notable for an exuberance which chilly Nords tend to regard as unbefitting, chaotic and emotionally incontinent.

It’s not as if chilly Nords don’t experience emotion. Why do they bottle it up? Perhaps it’s that they don’t like what it does to them. 

Remember the polarisation of reactions to the grief for Diana? 

Consider, also, the tendency of Brits to ugly brutishness when they let their hair down, especially when they’ve a drop taken. Perhaps they are right to keep it bottled. 

In Taiwan and parts of China funerals channel strong erotic emotions. We’ve looked at this before. Here’s some interesting info from Business Insider

Dressed in mini skirts barely covering their hips, the two girls took to the neon-lit stage and moved vigorously to the loud pumping pop music. Their job: to appease the wandering spirits.

As the temple facade in the background changed colour from the fireworks lighting up the Taiwanese night sky, the show climaxed with pole-dancing and striptease in front of an audience consisting of men, women and children.

Folk religion in Taiwan is a unique mixture of the spiritual and the earthly, and one of its most remarkable manifestations is the practice of hiring showgirls to perform at festivals, weddings, and even funerals.

“The groups attract crowds to our events and they perform for the gods and the spirits to seek blessings,” said Chen Chung-hsien, an official at Wu Fu Temple, a Taoist landmark in north Taiwan’s Taoyuan county.

“They have become part of our religion and folk culture.”

[Some] see it as a natural extension of a traditional folk culture lacking in the sharp separation of sex and religion often seen in other parts of the world.

Marc Moskowitz, an anthropologist at the University of South Carolina, said the practice evolved out of the special Chinese concept of “hot and noisy”, which brims with positive connotations.

“In traditional Chinese and contemporary Taiwanese culture this signifies that for an event to be fun or noteworthy it must be full of noise and crowds,”

Full article here. Two videos here




  1. Charles

    Charles, why do we keep on bashing “chilly, Nordic Protestant” norms, “chilly Nords?” First of all, we’re not always chilly – the range of feeling at funerals, in my limited experience, varies enormously from helpless sobbing grief complete with kissing the coffin, to frozen faces. Secondly, is it possible to make comparatively favourable/critical judgements about cultural differences? I guess you’d like to push us gently or ungently towards a more uninhibited expression of feeling. But surely that’s just a personal preference (which to some degree I share) We do what we do. The key thing is to get it right for the people in front us, be they chilly or melting. My own personal preference is fairly firmly not for pole-dancers at funerals in front of children – but then I’m not Korean! They do what they do. Interesting, perhaps, in an anthropological sense, I guess, just as they might find a UK military funeral interesting.

  2. Charles

    Ah, GM, what a salutary response!

    I honestly don’t have an agenda. My stance is closer to wide-eyed curiosity.

    But I wouldn’t want to be a bland blogger, and to achieve that you’ve got to be unbalanced. In terms of argument, that is.

    Very, very good points you make. (Balance in other words.)

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