Week 5: Hospitality

Week 5: Hospitality

(Source URL)


  • Week 5 > Hospitality > Part 1 | Hospitality 1
  • Week 5 > Hospitality > Part 2 | Hospitality 2
  • Week 5 > Hospitality > Part 3 | Asceticism

Week 5 > Hospitality > Part 1 | Hospitality 1

  • This week, we will go deeper into the culture through examination of the concept of hospitality.
  • Hospitality is relevant to any kinds of guest reception such as home party, diplomatic meetings, and tea ceremony.
  • Merriam-Webster dictionary gives this definition: Hospitality is generous and friendly treatment of visitors and guests, in other words, hospitable treatment.
  • The second definition shows that the hospitality is an activity of providing food, drinks, etc.
  • Wikipedia also mentions the Encyclopedie, which suggests that the hospitality is the virtue of a great soul that cares for the whole universe through the ties of humanity.
  • This laudable statement is interesting in that this kind of emphatic description suggests that something is at stake in this concept of hospitality.
  • To summarize, hospitality is generally about generosity, friendliness, and from goodwill and virtue.
  • Hospitality is about having guests feel at home and the host has no expectation of return for that.
  • There is a Japanese word for hospitality, Omotenashi.
  • I mention this because later I would like to discuss the concept of hospitality in your own culture.
  • When people go on this pilgrimage, people living in the region extend hospitality to the pilgrims.
  • Okay, it is clear what kinds of languages are used to describe hospitality.
  • Now, I am going to refute such languages and reveal that hospitality is a much more interesting concept.
  • Hospitality really means to have power in relation to a possibly hostile stranger.
  • It is said that there is always a little hostility in all hosting and hospitality.
  • Jacques Derrida says that hospitality is beyond itself.
  • Precisely because it is impossible, the concept of hospitality is meaningful.
  • When you really show hospitality, you make the moment’s decision out of madness.
  • The initial explanation of hospitality, which I reintroduced here, turned out to be quite interesting.
  • Hospitality contains the power relation, hostility, and aporia.
  • Hospitality as described here is impossible and because they are impossible, they are meaningful.

Week 5 > Hospitality > Part 2 | Hospitality 2

  • In the last session, we have examined Jacques Derrida’s analysis of the concept of hospitality.
  • Again, the hospitality is about the host having power over the guest who is a possibly hostile stranger.
  • Hospitality is one of the most fundamental practices of human social organizations.
  • Anthropologists have discussed hospitality for years in various cultures.
  • Hospitality is extended to a stranger to a community, not to somebody within the community.
  • Who is this stranger? This stranger is somebody unknown.
  • A stranger is treated very well because they want to avoid the conflict and co-opt this stranger.
  • A host can demonstrate that he or she is not scared by such a creepy stranger and thereby is superior to that stranger.
  • The host tries to overwhelm and even intimidate the guest.
  • Hans Conrad Peyer, a German scholar who studied hospitality, wrote this.
  • “To give is to show one’s superiority, to be more, to be higher in rank, magister” On the other hand, “To accept without giving in return, or without giving more back, is to become client and servant, to become small, to fall lower” Therefore, if the creepy guest stays too long and accept the generosity from the host too long, he or she looses the mystic power and becomes subservient to the host.

Week 5 > Hospitality > Part 3 | Asceticism

  • Here is a quote from his book, “Distinction.” The dominant aesthetic proposes that the combination of ease and asceticism.
  • Here, the dominant aesthetic refers to aesthetic standard of a higher social class that dominates others in lower classes.
  • This aesthetic is characterized as the combination of ease and asceticism.
  • Such combination of ease and asceticism is seen in self-imposed austerity, restraint, reserve, which are affirmed in that absolute manifestation of excellence, relaxation in tension.
  • People have taste, and the taste they have distinguishes them from others.
  • When some people think something is beautiful rather than ugly, this taste shows who they are.
  • When some people cultivate taste to value certain things that ordinary people do not understand or appreciate, they are defining what a legitimate culture is.
  • It is not easy to imitate this taste by training oneself in a short period of time.
  • Having the upper class taste is critical when becoming successful in that upper class community.
  • There is a dominant group of people with high levels of economic and cultural capital.
  • The dominant group has a taste that is rare while the dominated group has a taste that is vulgar.
  • This dominant group then has the aesthetic of relaxation in tension.
  • The dominated group values something easy and common.
  • From the point of view of the dominant group, the dominated group’s aesthetic is characterized as laxity.
  • On the other hand, from the point of view of the dominated group, the dominant group’s aesthetic is characterized as ostentation.
  • That said, we can review the nature of two different tastes.
  • The taste of necessity is the popular value of the dominated group and the taste of liberty or the taste of luxury is the dominant value of the dominant group.
  • Bourdieu wrote, “The taste of necessity favours the most ‘filling’ and most economical foods.” The taste of necessity is tightly matched with practical necessity.
  • On the other hand, the taste of liberty “Shifts the emphasis to the manner and tends to use stylized forms to deny function.” It tries to keep distance from the necessity and puts more emphasis on style and form.
  • The distance from necessity is quite critical in understanding the dominant value.
  • This distinction corresponds to “The two antagonistic approaches to the treatment of food and the act of eating.” One is popular aesthetic: “Food is claimed as a material reality, a nourishing substance which sustains the body and gives strength,” Here, people value something substantive like pork as opposed to something subtle like fish.
  • The other is dominant aesthetic: “The priority given to form and social form, formality, identifies true freedom with the elective asceticism of a self-imposed rule.” Here, they put more emphasis on form and style rather than the substance.
  • This strange juxtaposition of freedom and asceticism is key to this aesthetic.
  • The cultural struggle is not complete without an intermediate group that strives to become dominant.
  • If the dominant group is bourgeois, this intermediate group is petit-bourgeois.
  • “…the petit-bourgeois experience of the world starts out from timidity, the embarrassment of someone who is uneasy in his body and his language.” Because petit-bourgeois has not acquired the taste, which again takes time to acquire, he is timid and anxious.
  • Bourdieu wrote, “Those who are held to be distinguished have the privilege of not worrying about their distinction.” This intermediate group reveals its own intermediateness by their conscious efforts to become part of the dominant group.
  • The dominant group has the ease that allows it to distinguish itself without such an effort.
  • The dominant aesthetic is characterized by ostentatious discretion, sobriety, and understatement.
  • This is why the dominant aesthetic is the combination of ease and asceticism.
  • I suggest that many customers appear to be the intermediate group trying to match the dominant aesthetic.
  • This is a self-defeating process because as long as these customers try to match the dominant aesthetic, then they cannot achieve it.

Return to Summaries List.

(image source)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *