Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Images and Myth


"All cultures nurture myths and fantasies, wonderful paragons with qualities absent in one's own culture or else nightmarish visions of evil from which deliverance or protection is sought. Paragons of beauty or visions of evil were at times transformations of one's own past in a search for roots as models to imitate or to avoid, as memories to praise, venerate, or curse, as those foundation myths which, from time immemorial, defined and at times even justified the acts and beliefs of a nation or civilization. At other times, they were associated with different cultural realms altogether, as though the psychological need for myths could better be met by contrasting one's own world with different ones, with the "empires of evil" of recent political rhetoric or with all these "others" that have populated philosophical and sociological arguments since Jean-Paul Sartre's celebrated l'enfer, c'est les autres (hell is others) of over half a century ago. Whether recollections of beauty or evocations of evil, cultural myths and fantasies lend themselves to images—in order better to be publicized but also because they are in fact images (albeit initially only mental ones)—and are thus easy to transform into representations."

Noble Dreams, Wicked Pleasures:
Orientalism in America, 1870-1930
Edited by Holly Edwards

1 comment:

Lisa Nickerson said...

I'm vastly envious of your trip to China. I am very much inspired by poetry of the Chinese & Japanese. So I'll just continue to drop you some poems because no one else reads them. :)


"one cannot carry a mountain, but a poem can be carried all over."




A red lacquer coffin lashed
with green silk cut
from a bolt

frog green in color
because Mr. Li wished
to be buried closer

to home.
The ship leaves the harbor
in a bull-fight sunset. The captain sips

Tokaji from his chipped, ironstone mug
a gift from a member of the Raj.
This poem

a stow-away, a pirate, a thief,
its coin loot and earrings
jangling dangerously.