Conversations of the West
October 9, 2009
Frames and Culture
In Search of Zarathustra is like an anthology, a collection of stories compiled together by Paul Kriwaczek of his own journeys and that of history. In this book, he attempts to trace the hidden influence of Zoroastrianism in dominant cultures in history, especially in the evolution of culture in Iran. One of the many stories talks about how Alexander the Great conquered the Archaemenid Empire and burned down King Xerxes’s palace. This story gives a good insight into the construction and modification of cultures, which Kriwaczek is investigating throughout his writing. In this paper, I will examine how cultures are internalized, and as a result create frames that cannot be changed easily, which is the core of Kriwaczek’s writings as it traces the hints of Zoroastrianism over twenty centuries. These frames help make sense of their actions as well as to justify them.
A culture is a way of life of a group of people, defined by shared values, attitudes, and practices. Culture creates frames, which are “mental structures that allow human beings to understand reality – and sometimes to create what we take to be reality” (Lakoff 25). In other words, we all have frames that we use to interpret our surroundings and give meaning to them. Without these frames, nothing will make sense to us. Different culture results in the formation of different frames, hence different understanding and a different set of “common sense”, despite the idea of “common sense” being universal (Lakoff 36). Internalization of these frames is the result of constant interaction with our surrounding institutions and people, and is constructed from the moment of birth.
The story begins with what Alexander the Great and his men did when they occupied the Achaemenid Empire. During the occupation, they did a massive amount of destruction and plunder to Persia. Not only did they kill every single...