Fun is one of the serious things in life. In some societies, it's all about fun, in others, fun is devil's work... no but really, fun is about learning, about making our groups and societies function, and it's about love of life.
While I have nothing against a good joke, I really like fun when it happens. Almost everything can be fun. Fun is when patterns suddenly turn out to be different than you thought: language patterns, relational patterns, context framing. These shifts frequently occur in cross-cultural situations, and they are always occasions for learning. This is also why I love playing theatre: it teaches me a lot about human motivations
The flip side of fun is taboo. Where fun is about suddenly thinking in unexpected ways, taboo is about refraining from thinking, about shirking away from things. I hold certain taboos for very desirable - the incest taboo, for instance - but I believe that with fewer taboos, and more fun, we can improve our future. Taboos tend to start a life of their own as instruments for domination; fun is freeing, at least for this indulgent Dutchman.
Here is a puzzle I once created. I drew and sawed lots of these puzzles when I was unable to move arounds some years ago. Great fun - I can advise it to anyone.
Frustration is fun - if well dosed. We humans are not made for Dulce far niente, at least not for long. If you have nothing you have to do, get bored just a little - and then get going on a task that challenges you. There is nothing more fun.
Music and culture
I can also have fun racing the connections of culture with phenomena that are normally not associated with it. I like singing, and listening to music from around the world. Making music is one of the most ancient skills of our species; some authors hold that we could sing before we couls properly speak, and the singing was a means of cementing the group. Not such a silly idea, if you think about it - consider birthday songs, national hymns, heraldic ballads...
Guess the culture
Here is a little exercise, alone or in a group. Take any song, or piece of music, that you know. First consider what it does to you. what emotions does it elicit? Is it happy, relaxed, exuberant, introverted, calm, mechanical, wild, rythmic, improvised? What about the text, if any? Does it zoom in on the here and now, is it emotional, fatalistic, homesick? Then think of the context in which it was created, and also the country.
The next question: Can you see why this context and this country would produce this kind of music? Perhaps you, or a friend, knows about the country (or the regional or ethnic subculture). Else you may be able to find culture data about it. If you do not have our book Cultures & Organizations, then you could have a quick look in the culture data table.
A country's culture can be played in music.
English music tends to be 'feelgood', with much text sung by one person about themselves, and a lot of it is about the here and now, and strong emotions. One would expect such music in an individualistic, indulgent culture. If that culture is also short-term oriented, youth and the emotions of youth will be a frequent theme. if it is masculine, war stories may be frequent - depending on the country's history. Of course there is an incredible variation - one would also expect that for the same cultural reasons.
Even more danceable, exuberant music comes from sub-saharan Africa, and the Caraibes. This is the heritage of the indulgent cultures of West Africa. This music tends to have rather simpler texts - it's not about the text here, but about being happy together.
There are countries in which music is banned by government. This is to be expected under large power distance, and in short-term oriented, probably restrained cultures - and on top of this, in situations of estrangement between the leaders and the people.
I could go on and on - but you can find out for yourself. Go on YouTube. Check old gramophone records. Listen to foreign radio. Keep listening, even to things that you do not understand straight away. Start with the emotions, and take it from there.
Some pointers to get you going:
* Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunupingu (Aborigine)
Music speaks to the heart, and it speaks about culture.
If I die today, I could live with it. (Gert Jan Hofstede, 2012)
This is me skating on a frozen lake, one of the best things in life (Can you see what the names are on my jacket and goggles? Two things that men, in particular, like to be...)