Warning: Poetry is something of a mystery to me. I know what I like in terms of individual poems, but sometimes have trouble with the imagery, especially the modern stuff. (We spent weeks in my freshman English class in college discussing T.S. Eliot. To this day, the only poems of his I even remotely understand are his cat poems. :? ) With that in mind:
A couple of general impressions first. “Stereotypes” reminds me very much of Tolkien’s classic “All that is gold does not glitter, not all those who wander are lost” lines from The Fellowship of the Ring
. The “stereotype is a Sony” line required a couple of re-reads on my part before I could make the necessary paradigm shift, but I think it’s a clever play on words. (It’s also easier for me to understand it because I can see it in writing, as opposed to listening to it being sung. No insult intended to anyone’s voice, I’m just a visual learner by nature.)
Humans seem to have a tendency to group or collect things, including ourselves and other people. I’ve seen a psychological theory on this that says humans developed this as a survival technique. Staying with “our” group is good and safe; going over and dealing with “their” group is dangerous and scary. A lot of us cling to things that are familiar, and tend to hang around people who think and behave the same way we do. (Anyone else remember high school “cliques”?) With this seems to come the stereotype, which is sort of a short-hand (and short-sighted) method of labeling people and remembering the rules for dealing with them. If everyone in a group behaves the same way, then it’s always safe to assume A, B, and C about them, so you always know what to expect. Having to deal with people on an individual basis is more complicated and time-consuming and requires memorizing a different set of rules and expectations for each person you meet. It’s often a difficult mind-set to overcome.
A couple of lines jumped out at me:
Not all us Micks hit the bottle.
Irish, right? (I should know that, coming as I do from an English/Irish background, with a solidly Irish last name.) This is true. In my family, even back into my grandparents’ generation, we’ve been a pretty non-drinking bunch. Alcohol overuse consists of throwing a couple extra tablespoons of Chinese cooking wine into the stir fry….
And not all Arab briefcases are ticking.
This line brought up two memories, one positive, one negative. The negative association first: I knew a young man from back when I was teaching middle school, who was in high school at the time of 9/11. He was a good kid, well-behaved, very intelligent and quite popular. However, the day after 9/11 both he and his younger sister had to be sent home from school for almost a week for their own safety; their classmates were harassing them in the halls, pointing to their Middle East background as though these two kids had absolutely anything do with the attack. (Both kids were born and raised in the US.) Really sad situation.
On the positive side, I work in an area with a good-sized population of Middle East background. When 9/11 happened, our local Muslim community was finishing work on a new mosque. A month after the tragedy, they held an “Open House” at the mosque, and had a huge turnout, not only among members of the community as a whole, but also among local religious leaders from various sects of Christianity and Judaism. Attendees had to park up to six blocks away, despite the large parking lot attached to the mosque. There were people posted in the various rooms of the mosque, there to give tours or answer questions. An absolutely fascinating experience.
The references to “blind” and “deaf” men: I’m reminded of the European/Colonial mindset concerning the Native Americans and the supposed need to “civilize” them. By their own standards, the Native Americans were perfectly civilized; their societies just ran by a different set of rules and beliefs than the Europeans and their American descendents. The Indian Schools set up in the 1800s were a classic example—the children were taken away from their parents and sent to a school where they were forced to speak English, cut their hair, and adopt “civilized” American standards and skills. Good idea to teach children the white man’s knowledge, bad idea to do it by destroying the Native culture in the process.
To this day, I know people who still think that American Indians really do live in teepees, ride horses, wear headdresses, and shoot bows and arrows. Or else they think that all Native Americans are extinct because, you know, we just don’t see anyone wearing a headdress on the evening news.... :roll: How much different would history have been if the colonists and settlers had adopted Native American culture instead of forcing their own culture on the Natives?
One of my great passions in life is Native American history and culture.
Anyway, I did like this, and would be interested in seeing the missing parts of it if you find them.
Also, I’m going to be incredibly lazy and drop this in here from the “Social” thread:
NO problem Seldes, I was only joking anyway. Sorry, sometimes my sarcasm is a bit too unobvious.
My biggest ongoing problem on this site is an inability to tell when someone is joking — it happens a lot. There’s no body language or facial expressions or voice cues to rely on, so unless I’ve “talked” with someone frequently, I often have trouble recognizing instances of their humor. (Of course, one of the other problems is that my sense of humor tends to be very different from everyone else’s.) Bear with me, please — I’ll figure it out eventually.
I'm afraid I've been long-winded as usual. It's a common problem among librarians -- we start talking and just can't stop, since we spend all day telling people to be quiet. (And wear our hair in buns, and make people wash their hands before touching the books, and speaking of stereotypes.... :wink: )