Sun people v ice people

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.

  • Interesting. A naturalistic brand theory. Montesquieu one of the great political philosophers of the Enlightenment, also tried to explain societies and some forms of government through a climate perspective.

  • Is it April 1st? No, it’s August 17th, National Generalisation Day.

  • Also, for sun people the accent falls on private life, while to ice people career seems to be more important.

    I agree with your conclusions regarding Northern vs. Southern Europe, …with one tiny asterisk: Eastern Europe is a special, homogeneous category: even if there ARE cold winters — -20 degrees (Celsius, of course) — and people have all the reasons in the world to worry about that, they… don’t. The rules go like this: if you have the possibility to throw a party every day, do exactly that. Invent as many holidays as you can — even the Orthodox Church does that; see? It’s common sense. If you don’t like your job, quit NOW — money is not everything in life. If you marry the wrong person, don’t divorce and don’t worry — you can always have an affair. Or more. If you go bankrupt or are unhappy for whatever reason, stop worrying — it’s a shortage of serotonin, keep drinking, make love, don’t destroy your nervous system, it’s the only one you’ve got. Work is time-consuming — that’s no clever way of spending your life. Fall in love today, forget everything tomorrow morning and start again — diversity is our mother and father. Quite a dynamic lifestyle, isn’t it?

    Speaking of dynamism — back to serious thoughts:
    Compare N Europe and S Europe music-wise.

  • http://

    Here is a recent article from the NYT which highlights, I feel, some of the more talked about north/south distinctions.

    For anyone who has spent any time in the “mother country” of Saxony I think discounting the luxury of northern culture would seem a bit of a generalization. And I too would be interested in hearing responses to Anca’s question regarding music from the different regions, particularly many consider the music coming out of Saxony circa 1750 as the hig-water mark in western music.

    That said, I think the sun/ice distinction Dave makes here is real. In Boston, our horrible winters are said to drive us indoors for months at a time, and that is why our collective output is so great. I just can’t see us getting as much done if the weather was fine. 😉

  • http://

    Those shandy drinking Romans, Carthaginians and Moors were useless at war.

  • http://

    But the Romans didn’t do so well against the Germanic tribes.

  • http://

    QED? That’s not proof. I think most historians would agree that the Romans were quite successful at war. Rome may have been sacked by the Visigoths but the Roman Empire’s demise was multi-faceted and not purely down to Germanic superiority in war.

    A couple of other warm-blooded war mongers that spring to mind: Alexander the Great. (Macedonia/Greece) and Darius the Great (Persia). Both quite warm, I think.

  • http://

    RE: Rome

    Rome was a naval power first and foremost IMVHO. Won the sea from the Greeks and it was all down hill from there. It was those damn continental intrigues (!) which got her one way or the other; be it German, Hun, or Persian (a lot of her energy was spent in that keeping part of the world at bay too) it is land based empires which fail.


    p.s. I think Dave’s interesting point, however, regarded north/south culture, not military prowess. Like to hear more coments on that point.

  • Driving styles North and South:

    If you’ve ever ventured as far South as Naples then you’ll have noticed the driving style to be more exuberant than our more practical Northern friends.

    I’ve found this is the case all across the more southern belt of Europe.

    The way people drive has a direct link to how they think, and this also has a link to David’s point about the way people are different.

  • Driving styles North and South:

    If you’ve ever ventured as far South as Naples then you’ll have noticed the driving style to be more exuberant than our more practical Northern friends.

    I’ve found this is the case all across the more southern belt of Europe.

    The way people drive has a direct link to how they think, and this also has a link to David’s point about the way people are different.

  • http://

    Re: musical differences, my opinion is that the climate is pivotal, in mentality and creativity. I think the UK’s greatest export is its music, and used to think the reason for this was endless rain that limited us to the pub or a more creative outlet like making music, during our free time.

    I also thought only grey clouds and rain can produce the sound of Radiohead, Joy Division etc. However, our grim weathered neighbors, in comparison, don’t have much to show, in similar style or output. Some great music comes from Scandinavia, but Germany, which in the past led the world in music now has little to show. Any ideas why?

    I’m living in Spain now, and while the music can be good and emotional, it seems it can never have that seriousness or intensity that British music can be famed for. Here, making music seems more about fun, and listening adds to the social ambient, while in the UK it seems to be about attitude and escapism, like the drinking culture.

    History then must play a part, in the UK, for decades we have an unbroken record of making popular music, so the next generation want to emulate that and without these heroes to aspire to it wouldn’t be the same or continue.

    Popular music wise, in the North its more fast, hard, linear, attitude, and in the south, like the climate and culture, its more warm, pleasant, slower and less progressive.

    There is more to do in sunny climes, so life is to be enjoyed more and life is outdoor, while there is less to do in a confined climate, which makes the inhabitants work hard at what they can do and directs their artistic tonality, I think. An interesting topic for discussion!

    By the way, sorry to be picky, but you can’t you can’t sleep outside all year round in the South, winters are cold.

    To continue the theme, how about differences in art? Or philosophy?

  • http://

    How does it go again? Heaven is where the French are the cooks, the British are the police, Swiss are the organisers, Italians are the lovers and the Germans are the engineers. Hell is where the British are the cooks…

  • http://

    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 and finance established more strongly in the north due to early settlement patterns and the fact that agriculture was more profitable in the south with longer growing-seasons (also, 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 sun and ice people.

    When you start talking about nationalities like this, 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.

    Don’t get me wrong, there are certainly differences between, say, the UK and Italy, but these differences have far more to do with culture and history than they do with weather (which admittedly plays a small but not wholly insignificant role in shaping culture) and absolutely nothing to do with “racial memory”.

    And why would you give implicit endorsement to a 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? Google him.

    So disappointing.

    p.s. Not sure how you can go from “take the racism out of it” to “racial memory” in the same sentence. What on Earth does “racial memory” mean?

  • http://

    It’s very true.

    They used to boil over in the office in Saudi Arabia over nothing, then I realised…they just get overheated because of the sun.

    In Russia you’d have to cause an earthquake before you got a reaction out of anyone. faces like stone all day. Very draining, just like the weather.

    It is so so true,

    ….and to those of you who don’t believe me, get out there and work and travel.

  • http://

    Global Warming is going to be a laugh…

    Unstroppy Italians….
    Generous Scots…
    Unruly Englishmen…

    Well, we already have the latter, which is proof that Global Warming is here to stay.

    “Engerland, Engrland, Engerland…”