coromandal


pity you’re not like us
April 1, 2009, 5:13 pm
Filed under: brave new world | Tags: , , ,

Another excerpt from Kapuscinski’s book The Other.  Here he describes the tendency for strong cultures/nations to become self important with results that range from narcissism to aggression.  We see this tendency living here in America, in conversations, glazed over looks, refusals to engage.

The next problem in contacts between us and them, the Others, is that all civilizations have a tendency towards narcissism, and the stronger the civilization, the more clearly this tendency will appear.  It spurs civilizations into conflict with others, triggering their arrogance and lust for domination.  This always involves contempt for Others.  In old China this arrogance took on a very subtle form — it was expressed through pity for anyone who was not born Chinese.  This narcissism was and is masked by all manner of rhetoric — usually to do with being the chosen race, or having been summoned to a salvation mission, or both combined.

-Ryszard Kapuscinski, The Other



we bore him away
May 12, 2008, 7:32 pm
Filed under: brave new world | Tags: , , , , , ,

“Blithe was the morning of his burial, with bird and song and sweet-smelling flowers. The trees whispered to the grass, but the children sat with hushed faces. And yet it seemed a ghostly unreal day,—the wraith of Life. We seemed to rumble down an unknown street behind a little white bundle of posies, with the shadow of a song in our ears. The busy city dinned about us; they did not say much, those pale-faced hurrying men and women; they did not say much,—they only glanced and said, “Niggers!”

We could not lay him in the ground there in Georgia, for the earth there is strangely red; so we bore him away to the northward, with his flowers and his little folded hands. In vain, in vain!—for where, O God! beneath thy broad blue sky shall my dark baby rest in peace,—where Reverence dwells, and Goodness, and a Freedom that is free?”

~from W.E.B. Du Bois’ The Souls of Black Folk (1903) in which he describes the Atlanta funeral procession of his infant son



missing bombay
March 13, 2008, 5:56 pm
Filed under: departure lounge | Tags: , , , ,

From Maximum City, an account by Suketu Mehta of being educated in provincial, hateful Queens, NY

When I moved to New York, I missed Bombay like an organ of my body. I thought that when I left Bombay I had escaped from the worst school in the world. I was wrong. The all-boys Catholic school I went to in Queens was worse. It was in a working-class white enclave that was steadily being encroached upon by immigrants from darker countries. I was one of the first minorities to enroll, a representative of all they were trying to hold out against. Soon after I got there, a boy with curly red hair and freckles came up to my lunch table and announced, “Lincoln should never have freed the slaves.” The teachers called me a pagan. My school yearbook photo shows me looking at the camera with the caption, “It’s so strong I can even skip a day,” referring to an advertising slogan for a brand of antiperspirant. This was how the school saw me: as a stinking heathen, emitting the foul odors of my native cooking. On the day I graduated, I walked outside the barbed-wire-topped gates, put my lips to the pavement, and kissed the ground in gratitude.”

~Suketu Mehta, Maximum City