Culture of the Confederated Peoples
The culture of the Confederated Peoples has been heavily influenced by the different heritage groups which make up the Confederal people but a distinctive national culture with strong regional variations does exist. Traditionally, the Confederated Peoples has not been considered a major cultural innovator with most Confederals either working within already developed traditions or following trends set in cultural leaders like Xirnium or Amestria. Although they are not generally viewed as trendsetters, Pantocratoria and Knootoss also have some notable influence on Confederal culture.
Culturally speaking, the Confederated Peoples is generally known for its multiculturalism, its world-class figure skating and its literature. Philosophy, a popular discipline in the Confederated Peoples, is also sometimes considered a cultural as well as an academic strong-point.
Strong regionalism in the Confederated Peoples makes it difficult to speak of a homogenous Confederal culture. Confederals instead prefer to think of their culture as a coming together of different traditions into a cultural unity greater than the sum of its parts. Sceptics instead think that the Confederated Peoples is simply culturally fragmented.
Newspapers have a strong regional character, especially those printed in languages other than English. Some newspapers also have a politically partisan character, either explicit or implicit. The New Amsterdam Bugle is generally considered the newspaper of record and purports to be a national, multicultural, nonpartisan paper, although some dispute this. It is printed in English, Spanish, French, Chinese, Arabic and Hindi.
Television also plays an important role with the Confederal Broadcast Network being the largest network. However, there is a great diversity of television stations in the Confederated Peoples including both local and national stations. Foreign stations such as PINA or CanalDeux are also available. At least a few local television stations broadcast in almost every major language used in the nation. However, most television is in English and the most popular programs are broadcast nationally, creating a common cultural reference point.
The Confederated Peoples possesses an influential center for its national film industry in Caer Gawen, Shieldcrest. Caer Gawen's dominance of the cinema is such that the term "Caer Gawen" is normally used simply to refer to the film industry, excluding some independent film producers. Caer Gawen is largely influenced by its location in Shieldcrest and by the fact that most Shieldcresters are of Welsh heritage. This is especially evident in a number of major films portraying Arthurian romances and idealized Welsh histories. However, it is also evident in more subtle ways in films with more contemporary subjects, especially if one understands the unique history of the Welsh heritage group in the Confederated Peoples.
Folk arts in the Confederated Peoples are as diverse as the population and can take the form of music, dance, poetry, wood carving, embroidery, puppetry, sculpture, pottery, masks, certain forms of opera and the creation of assorated other traditional ritual objects, toys, garments and other items. Because of the sheer diversity of folk arts practiced in the Confederated Peoples, it would be impossible to amply catalogue them all here. However, folk arts in the Confederated Peoples can usually be divided into four broad categories.
The first category is that of traditional art. It refers to all sorts of home-made items used by the various cultural groups in the Confederated Peoples, especially indigenous cultures, in their day-to-day lives. These items are normally not viewed as art by their creators but are instead viewed as religious or merely practical creations. They only become art when obtained by outsiders who normally value them not only for their beauty but for the cultural context which gave birth to them.
The second category is that of self-conscious traditional art. Items of self-conscious traditional art are usually identical or near identical to items of traditional art. However, the difference lies in the context of their creation. Self-conscious traditional art is normally created by someone raised in the culture in which the traditional art originated but who lives a more modern lifestyle and reproduces traditional cultural artifacts as art rather than for their traditional purposes.
The third category is that of contemporary folk art. This is art drawing heavily from the folk customs of one or more cultures and self-consciously avoiding the charactetistics of high art to produce a 'folksy' feel. This is often done to create a down-to-earth, populist tone to politically or socially inspired art although it can often be done purely for entertainment. Contemporary folk art often contains elements of popular culture and references to modern life. Despite the old fashioned feel it often creates, it arises from a contemporary cultural context.
The fourth category is outsider folk art. This normally refers to art which doesn't draw from artistic training or from an established cultural tradition but instead finds its own way through improvisation and experimentation. While a few outsider artists have become very popular, it has produced more failures than sucesses.
The architecture of the Confederated Peoples is as diverse as its society and includes works from many different times and cultures. Architectural styles evidenced in parts of the Confederated Peoples include, but are not limited to, Pantobyzantine, Neo-heroic, gothic, baroque, post-modern, classical, neo-classical, Byzantine, Tudor, Spanish Colonial, Elizabethan, Jungenstil, Amsterdam School, Art Deco, metabolist and blobitecture. Much modern trends in architecture are heavily influenced by the work of Xirniumite architects although more traditional forms remain popular for state buildings.
The most impressive and most unique work of architecture in the Confederated Peoples is the Marble City, the several mile wide working center of government for the Grand Duchy of Tarana which is expertly carved out of one giant block of marble. The city is kept rigorously clean and creates a reflective, bright surface which many consider to be a bit overwhelming.
The Confederated Peoples has few world famous visual artists but it does have musuems and galleries well stocked with works of art. Sculptures and painting are often used to decorate public places, places of business and private homes. Painting, in particular, is heavily influenced by Amestria. However, like in most other areas, visual arts in the Confederated Peoples are extremely diverse.
The Confederated Peoples is a leader in the area of literature and, while its literature is as diverse as anything else in its culture, it is substantially more original. Most Confederal literature is written in English although it often appears in the many different local languages of the various Members.
One of the most important writers to emerge recently is Carole Tahon. Tahon's novels contain tiny inconsistencies in the background of the story which build over the course of her lengthy novels until the background has imperceptibly but completely changed by the end of the novel, something normally only noticed upon further reflection. The inconsistencies in the setting of her intense narratives normally reflect in some way the changes in the characters themselves and the reader is left with a sense of uncertainty. Tahon refuses to explain the meaning behind this original style but some critics speculate that it represents the death of certainty regarding the world we live in and just how inconstant life can be.
Autobiographies are popular in the Confederated Peoples and are written by most prominent public figures after their retirement. However, biographies and autobigraphies of political hopefuls often also come out before the election for an office they hope to attain so as to familiarize the electorate with them. Every member of the current Confederal Council is the author of an at least partly autobiographical work.
Biographies, both official and critical, are equally common. However, Confederals are even more fascinated by historical figures and by foreign monarchs. Confederal authors have recently written important biographies about Peredur ap Cunedda, Manuel III Comnenus, Johannus Hendrykxx, Gehenna of Tartarus, Andreus I Capet, Thomas Iesus, Corrina ni Gwydion, Agwene ni Gwydion, Sirithil nos Feanor and Vethara Shakhovskaya.
In children's literature, fairy tales dating from the Fae period remain common as do stories designed to educate children about the modern world, especially regarding diversity and safety issues. Most children's literature has an explicit or implicit moral and features either fantastic situations or creatures or day-to-day situations involving children. Even in fantastical stories, the protagonist is often a child from the regular world who somehow becomes involved.
Personal journals are common but they are normally only published by the estate of a prominent person after his or her death. However, in part to defend themselves against criticisms of their policies, both Michael Eaton and Kevin Rastel have recently arranged to publish only slightly edited versions of their personal journals during the Eaton Government. The diary of some of the more literate victims of the old regime in Marlund have also been published to honor their memory and remind the nation and the world of the horrors which transpired there.
Erotic literature is aimed mostly at a mature and relatively sophisticated audience and rarely amounts to simple prose pornography although it does have arousing scenes. Most erotic literature features a man who dramatically rescues a woman from some danger and then becomes her partner. However, sometimes these roles are reversed or this plot is left out altogether. Some erotic literature features same-sex couples. Some features bizarre or fetishistic situations.
Poetry of all kinds is popular although most poetry is written in free verse. The most popular style of formal poetry is the haiku. One of the most prominent poets in the Confederated Peoples, Naoise Wahlen, works exclusively in haiku. The popularity of haiku has also influenced other poets to use a much stricter economy of phrasing. Short but intense and imagistic poems are the most popular.
The essay is also a popular medium and most Confederal leaders have published books of policy essays. Religious, scientific and philosophical essays are also common. Prominent essayists in the Confederated Peoples include Beatrice Wake, Emma Young, Flora Haber, Louis Cousin, Gwydion Llewellyn and Henri Calvin. Essays written by Confederal royalty are normally published under pseudonyms which may or may not be well known.
The Confederal book industry also produces its share of adventure novels, crime fiction, historical fiction, fantasy, Gothic fiction and science fiction. These are normally considered to be light reading and are considered to be works of significant cultural significance.
The philosophical novel is popular among existentialists such as Gál Cizinski and post-modernists such as Mecislav Gabris. However, the form has also been used by more traditional philosophers such as the Kantian Edita Fakaj who compelling develops characters torn between conscience and desire and the Artistotelian Selene Bazignos whose novels demonstrate the pitfalls of excess and deficiency. However, the most interesting development of the philosophical novel in the Confederated Peoples is the work of Anna Nafpliotis who is best known for her concept of "the backbencher in Utopia." In her works, Nafpliotis tells the story of the day-to-day business of low-ranking public officials in various Utopian schemes, starting with that of More himself. The plot does not usually uphold the Utopian view of the scheme but it also does not tranform it into a distopia. Instead, everyday life in these fictional worlds is shown to be not that dissimilar from life anywhere else.
The Confederated Peoples also contains a number of specific genres which have vibrant literary communities devoted to them but which do not dominate the Confederal literary scene. Examples of these might include the Lanerian Western, the captive narrative, magical realism or various heritage group specific genres. Non-fiction books of all kinds are, of course, popular among the curious.
The Confederated Peoples has a respectable music scene but it is not generally considered a leading musical nation. Music is diverse and most radio stations specialize in a particular type of music. Some prominent Confederal musicians include Abeba Ch'ak'iso and Caitali Taksa. Pantocratorian music is widely popular and Confederal music is probably influenced by Pantocratoria more than by any other nation.