Food for thought‘[...] do not think that good design can make a poor product good, whether the product be a machine, a building, a promotional brochure or a business man. But [...] good design can materially help make a good product reach its full potential. In short, [...] good design is good business.’
Thomas J. Watson Jr., IBM CEO

Sun people vs. Ice people — Happy to be of mixed blood

September 3, 2009, 1:55 PM

Dave Trott manages to put it so simple, yet so true:

Louis Farrakhan is an American black militant. He said something I found very interesting. He said the world was divided into two kinds of people. Sun people and Ice people. Now by that he meant black (for sun) and white (for ice).

I don’t agree with that part. But if we take the racism out of it, and just look at the way climate and racial memory affect personality traits I think it’s very interesting.

Just look within one race, take white Europeans. Now look where they’ve lived for generations and generations. Contrast the Nordic types (ice people) with the Mediterranean types (sun people). See how the climate affects their characters.

In southern Europe the climate is warm and welcoming. There is plentiful food just growing outdoors. You could sleep outdoors all year round if you wanted.

So there’s nothing to do except enjoy the finer things in life, the added value items. The things that, in themselves, aren’t necessary for survival, but make life nicer. Painting, sculpture, music, fashion, the decorative arts, good food, lovemaking, all the right brain sensory activities.

Now take the Northern Europeans. The climate doesn’t want you there. It’s cold and miserable. You need to be protected from the very environment you’re living in. If you don’t spend all summer preparing for the winter, you won’t get through it.

So there’s no time for the finer things in life. Everything has to be functional. Gathering food, shelter, and fuel for the long cold months ahead. Concentrating on protection from the hostile climate.

That’s why northern European cars work in conditions that would kill a southern European car. Ferrari and Lamborghini are beautiful, sensuous, delicate pieces of automotive art. Volkswagen, Mercedes, Volvo aren’t.

Those cars don’t look beautiful, they’re not exhilarating. Because when they’re covered in snow and you turn the key, they have to start. The Italian cars don’t.

German food fills a function, Italian food is delicious. German architecture is strong and powerful. Italian architecture is delicate and beautiful. Scandinavian design is clean and minimal. Italian design is playful and over-elaborate.

You can always find exceptions to any rule of course. But, by and large, northern Europeans are better at war,
Southern Europeans are better at art. Northern Europeans are better at function. Southern Europeans are better at form.

Sun people can enjoy life today, they know the future’s safe, the climate isn’t trying to kill them, let’s have fun.
Ice people have to concentrate on logic, and making sure all the bases are covered, because they know mistakes will be punished.

Ice people are left brain. Sun people are right brain. Which is why most art directors are more like sun-people.
And most copywriters are more like ice-people.

And why Northern Europeans are better at product. And Southern Europeans are better at brand.

I guess I’m lucky to be of mixed blood: hot, passional oltenian blood mixed with cold, rational german blood—the hungarian blood is on the hot side too, I guess, while the transylvanian one is on the cold side :) I wonder where we’d place chineese blood, as it seems everybody’s going to have traces of it in the future :))

(thanks Sebi for the link)

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Comments:

You seem like a smart guy (I was brought to this site by your Ikea font discussion) which is why I found this post surprising.

Was this outline, of lizardly-logical northerns and leisure-oriented southerns, true during the Roman period? If you think so, then you should read some of the ethnographic writings Romans did on the northern tribes.

And after Roman decline, there was a long period when the Caliphates were a far more advanced civilization than Europe. How does this possibly fit into your “Sun People vs Ice People” concept?

China, India, and the United States have had historical differentiations to varying degrees between geographical areas (with the northern parts having, very roughly speaking, greater influence), but in these cases any attempt to assert these differences to “types” would be very mistaken.

In China, between Khan and the Manchus and until European/Japanese interference, China’s experience with imperialism was mostly from the north. India was influenced by the Greek and then Muslim empires from the north. In the United States, industry established in the north due to early settlement patterns (northern cities being closer to the UK). In the Chinese and American example, the weather differential between the northern half and southern half was markedly different, but this is not the case for India, where the weather patterns are not as substantially different, and are surely not different enough to give any credence to the “sun/ice” nonsense.

More obvious counter-examples:

The larger pre-Colombian empires of the Americas were formed in in the warmer climates. If this “theory” you seemed to have endorsed had merit, the Mayan empire would have developed around what is now called Chicago, not the Yucatán.

And if you want to go all the way back to the beginning of history, the first civilizations…you get the point.

The common thread: economics, culture, politics, militarism, and historical momentum, not strange notions of race “types” (except when “race” is forcefully tied to economic opportunity).

If you had stuck to talking about the weather, I wouldn’t have felt the need to comment on this (yes it makes a difference, but not as much as is claimed here). But when you start talking about “blood”, you are entertaining echos of ideas that caused Europe to implode in the 20th century. Ideas that are so obviously false, as has been outlined here. Ideas that the rest of the world has a right to hope do not regain their power in the European discourse.

And why would you give implicit endorsement to the general “theory” of Farrakhan, if not to his specifics–a man who has adopted one of the most hideous hate-traditions of the European continent?

So disappointing.

Meiguoren, thanks for taking the time to write such a long comment. From the way you wrote, you seem like a smart person too (thanks for the compliment).

This is why I can’t understand how you could take the above quote—and blog post—for a well-funded, ready-to-be-taught-in-school theory. It’s a very simplistic way of explaining some general traits that are characteristic to europeans. It’s fun and well written, but it does not have more truth in it than a talk with a smart friend over beer.

And most importantly, you seem not to have payed attention to the title—the part I added, about the mixed blood. No one in the world (except a few isolated tribes) can pretend to be “pure blood”. You took the time to write all the historic evidence, yet you forgot to mention one little word: migration. And its benefits—on “blood”, if you’re so fast to jump to the term.

Too bad you didn’t leave your name. Debating is always a pleasure—as long as one respects and listens the other.

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Chinese don’t seem to have evolved from the same evolutionary tree as we did. It’s proven

Really? Nobody told them about Darwin? :)

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jeffries got his idea of ice and sunpeople from hans hoerbiger’s nazi cosmology. it’s an idea he gleaned from watching molten metal explode when covered in ice.

I didn’t know that, thanks Rick.

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