Many visits from sailors and nice exchanges.

Several boats, mainly bulk carriers were welcomed in our port at the end of the estuary in August: let’s mention the GIACOMETTI with a very nice Filipino crew as usual; the CARRIBEAN HARMONY, transporting wind propellers, one of whose sailors came for the last time to Rouen in 1992, and one of whose friends who came to him for the first time in Rouen did not forget to rave about the beauty of our medieval city. 

A more in-depth discussion pushed me to ask him about the number of islands in the Philippines: he gave me the astronomical figure of 9000 islands even if they are not all inhabited or habitable; the SACURA whose sailor named Ahmed, of Egyptian origin told me of his great joy to be in FRANCE after many years during his last visit and also told me to my great amazement not to know his next destination . The captain, of Ukrainian origin, told me that he had come to the port of Rouen before the construction of the Flaubert bridge.


The 200 meters maneuver

the VIRGO STELLAR whose crew composed of Ukrainian chess lovers and Nasser Ahmed of Pakistani origin, greatly appreciated the home for its setting and the welcome that was promulgated to them, I want for proof their assiduity since they came every day, 7 in all, from their Norman stopover; finally, to name a few (MANTICORE, SHANDONG FU EN, BEAVER WATER, ARKLOW MUSE, BELMAR, BLUE CECILE) the SARA, whose mainly Indian crew from Texas transporting coal, one of them showed me photos of loading wooden trunks, extremely dangerous and delicate operation in case of rolling…


Can one culture be judged by one's own: what is ethnocentrism?

Michel de Montaigne (1533-1592) philosophe, humaniste et moraliste
Claude Levi Strauss (1908-2009) anthropologue et ethnologue

A remark of a sailor of Indian origin on the importance of the cook (of Chinese origin) and his culinary tastes on board during 9 months at sea reminded me of an old philosophical theme developed for Claude LEVI-STRAUSS, and perhaps before him Montaigne in the essays( Montaigne, Essais, Livre 1, chapitre 31 : Des Cannibales), in the 1950s after his experience as an ethnologist in the jungle of MATO GROSSO in the middle of Brazil:  Indeed, cultural relativism forbids to erect as absolute norms the habits and customs of one’s own culture, ethnicity, people or community: here is an excerpt :

Ethnocentrism, or the paradox of cultural relativism

The oldest attitude, which is undoubtedly based on solid psychological foundations since it tends to reappear in each of us when we are placed in an unexpected situation, consists in repudiating purely and simply the moral, religious, social, aesthetic cultural forms, which are furthest from those with which we identify. » Habits of savages », « this is not from us », « we should not allow this », etc., so many rude reactions that reflect this same thrill, this same repulsion, in the presence of ways of living, believing or thinking that are foreign to us. Thus antiquity confused everything that did not participate in Greek (then Greco-Roman) culture under the same name of barbarian; Western civilization then used the term « savage » in the same sense… In the Greater Antilles, a few years after the discovery of America, while the Spanish sent commissions of inquiry to investigate whether or not the natives possessed a soul, the latter worked to immerse white prisoners in order to verify by prolonged surveillance whether or not their corpses were subject to putrefaction. This anecdote, both baroque and tragic, illustrates well the paradox of cultural relativism (which we will find elsewhere in other forms): it is to the extent that one claims to discriminate between cultures and customs that one most fully identifies with those one tries to deny. By denying humanity to those who appear to be the most « savage » or « barbaric » of its representatives, we are only borrowing from them one of their typical attitudes. The barbarian is first and foremost the man who believes in barbarism. »

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