By Michel Serres
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Extra info for Angels: A Modern Myth
In this book, we frequently use the term text to refer to many kinds of folklore, including things we don’t often think of as texts—performances, objects, and rituals, for instance. We use the term context to mean everything that surrounds the text—the setting, people, situation—anything in addition to the expressions, item, idea or objects being shared. As part of our development of the deﬁnition of folklore, we want to broaden the idea of folklore types, to give you more than one way to understand and talk about the verbal expressions, customs and materials that comprise folklore, so you can begin to think about it conceptually, not just categorically.
You are familiar with such folklore from your own early experiences. Whoever raised you had traditions, rituals and stories—good or bad—that you learned simply by observing and practicing them, seeing them expressed or overhearing them and observing how other members of your family responded to them. Family mealtime customs are rarely explicitly taught to children, for example, but we pick them up by watching, listening to reactions when people do or don’t observe the customs, and by imitating and then practicing these 31 LIVING FOLKLORE customs regularly.
The lessons learned at home weren’t the only ones you learned as a child, though. At school, in after-school activities, at work, hanging out with friends and their families, unofﬁcial knowledge was passed to you in many different situations. For instance, as you grew older and spent more time with your peers, you probably participated in discussions about holiday celebrations. If you’ve been at college, living with people your own age who come from different backgrounds, when Thanksgiving rolled around, undoubtedly you and your friends began talking about what you expected to eat when you got home, or what you’d be eating if you went home with one of your friends.