Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Xenophobia to Xanadu

The ridiculous to the sublime today

Xenophobia is the irrational or unreasoned fear of that which is perceived to be foreign or strange. It comes from the Greek words ξένος (xenos), meaning "strange," "foreigner," and φόβος (phobos), meaning "fear." 
  Xenophobia can manifest itself in many ways involving the relations and perceptions of an ingroup towards an outgroup, including a fear of losing identity, suspicion of its activities, aggression, and desire to eliminate its presence to secure a presumed purity. Xenophobia can also be exhibited in the form of an "uncritical exaltation of another culture" in which a culture is ascribed "an unreal, stereotyped and exotic quality". (Think Sparta and all the memes espousing its aggressive lifestyle)

There are strong recommendations from international bodies to legislate laws that will reflect the groing desire of thinking humans to be rid of xenophobic actions in our world
All governments should take immediate measures to develop strong policies which prevent and combat all forms and manifestations of racism, xenophobia or related intolerance, where necessary by enactment of appropriate legislation including penal measure.

When I was a child in the 1960s, my parents had a group of friends or cronies(depending on point of view). One was Aspro - the slow working dope, another was Mick the Jew, Jonny the Wog, Ray & Fay, and Uncle Gimmie and The Bloody Bikies, and others. The names were always said like that. "Aspro-the-slow-working-dope", "Mick-the-Jew". I loved these people and the colourful additions they made to my childhood. I am very glad that I had no idea what the sentences meant. I did not know until my adulthood that Jew meant someone from a particular religion,I didn't know what dope meant in the context of the name, I didn't know what 'black as the ace of spades' meant because the deck of card we owned was blue and red and I didn't know what a lot of nicknames meant other than names. I thought Wog , Wap,  Nip and Jew were surnames like Jones and Smith and Brown. What I am grateful about is that I grew up never thinking of those people as anything other than kind, lovely, interesting pseudo aunts and uncles who were part of the landscpae of my childhood and I missed them more than they could possibly know.  All of the people who were attracted to the dangerous charisma of my parents provided me with wonder and hope and longing and a view of the world as something amazing. Uncle Jonny whose real name was Giovanni used to bring us home made salami and my mother would hang it in the wardrobe to cure. We children would sneak into the wardrobe and eat it from the bottom up to where we could no longer reach. I would roll the name Giovanni around my tongue, it was so exotic a name. Uncle Jonny introduced us to zuccini and broccoli and so many interesting things while all the other kids still ate boiled peas, carrots,  mashed potatoes and lamb chops.
For me this song sums up the whole problem

"You've Got To Be Carefully Taught," ( 1949 Rodgers and Hammerstein musical South Pacific.)
You've got to be taught to hate and fear,
You've got to be taught from year to year,
It's got to be drummed in your dear little ear,
You've got to be carefully taught.
You've got to be taught to be afraid
Of people whose eyes are oddly made,
And people whose skin is a diff'rent shade,
You've got to be carefully taught.
You've got to be taught before it's too late,
Before you are six or seven or eight,
To hate all the people your relatives hate,
You've got to be carefully taught!


I am so glad I did not learn that lesson or ingrained hate.



Here is the poetry snippet for today.... Xanadu

Xan·a·du   [zan-uh-doo, -dyoo] 

noun.     a place of great beauty, luxury, and contentment.
Origin:
 S.T. Coleridge's modification, in the poem “Kubla Khan” (1797), of Xandu  (17th century spelling), modern Shangtu, the site of Kublai Khan's summer residence in SE Mongolia
 Kubla Khan  is a poem written by Samuel Taylor Coleridge, completed in 1797 and published in 1816. According to Coleridge's Preface to Kubla Khan, the poem was composed one night after he experienced an opium-influenced dream after reading a work describing Xanadu, the summer palace of the Mongol ruler and Emperor of China Kublai Khan. Upon waking, he set about writing lines of poetry that came to him from the dream until he was interrupted by a person from Porlock. The poem could not be completed according to its original 200–300 line plan as the interruption caused him to forget the lines. He left it unpublished and kept it for private readings for his friends until 1816 when, on the prompting by George Gordon Byron, it was published.
Some of Coleridge's contemporaries denounced the poem and questioned his story about its origin. It was not until years later that critics began to openly admire the poem. Most modern critics now view Kubla Khan as one of Coleridge's three great poems, with The Rime of the Ancient Mariner and Christabel. The poem is considered one of the most famous examples of Romanticism in English poetry. A copy of the manuscript is a permanent exhibit at the British Museum in London.






2 comments:

  1. Cecilia, thanks for stopping by my blog yesterday. I read your posts on Yearning and this X post on Xenophobia. I want to let you know that I really appreciate your openness, honesty and candid nature of this particular post. I also grew up in the 60's and 70's with an incredibly interesting group of family friends and they greatly enriched my life. I like your manner of storytelling but your last sentence, saying that you're glad you didn't learn those lessons (indicated in the poem, I'm assuming), kind of threw me for a loop because you seem not to suffer from Xenophobia.

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    1. lol Stephanie, I am glad I did not learn the lesson to hate :) I have friends from everywhere on earth and I am so glad I did not learn the underlying messages in the things the adults in my tiny parochial community said as I was growing up.

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