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Ten Inny

The Western idea of the Other the non European or non American Looking at this concept through the lens of his own encounters in Africa Asia and Latin America and considering its formative significance for his own work Kapuscinski traces how the West has understood the Other from classical times to colonialism from the age of enlightenment to the post. Speeches reduced to paper often make mediocre books This book is a collection of Kapuscinski s material that was intended to be delivered in person before an audience There is barely enough content to stretch between two covers and much of it is repetitive suggesting a ploy by the Verso editors to milk a few bucks from Kapuscinski s recent passing There are a few interesting concepts eg a brief argument that literature dropped the ball along with journalism in addressing the upheavals of the last decade a note attributing the origins of hospitality to early tendencies to suspect strangers of being anthropomorphized gods It s a shame because The Emperor is one of the twenty best books I ve ever read and this simply isn t a good selection of his work Neal Ascherson s intro is the most engaging part of this book As an aside it also seemed terribly unfitting that in a text devoted to strategies for engaging with the Other he ends with a uote from Joseph Conrad of all people and in particular from The Nigger of the Narcissus

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The master of literary reportage reflects on the West's encounters with the non European throughout the agesRyszard Kapuscinski witnessed and reported major wars coups and revolutions as they happened throughout the developing world and global South In this distillation of his reflections accumulated from a lifetime of travel he takes a fresh look at. People thus had three choices when they encountered the Other They could choose war they could build a wall around themselves or they could enter into dialogueThere are many cases in which someone taking advantage of a renowned name just grabs a couple of unrelated essays and makes a book However the idea of the Other is perfectly developed by some conferences given by Ryszard Kapu ci ski 1932 2007 between 1990 and 2005 that were reunited in this book where a lack of cohesion is not something I would use to describe it Nevertheless one may put the focus on the repetition of few notions but giving their significance and our own difficulty to comprehend them I can t find any fault in it Kapu ci ski Polish journalist photographer poet and authorThis work starts from the premise that throughout history humans have had a tendency to mistrust andor conuer the Other In relation to the writing Kapu ci ski s words are a pleasure to read With great elouence he discusses the relationship between us and the Other uoting philosophers and at times self referentially and how it is affected by the concepts of race nationality and religion thus providing much insight into the complexities of human nature These conferences also speak volumes about the writer whose warmth and consideration made me feel rather small especially when he mentioned how humans resort to isolation to avoid the Other Note after I finished this review I found an article on some biography of his Naturally not every word correlates with every action I have to admit that I loved that feeling prompted by his cogent arguments since it brought me back to a stage of introspection ready to re evaluate behaviors and life choices and start to think that perhaps there is a way to fulfill a desire for self improvement in order to connect with others As for the uote that starts this digression war would never be a real option But the wall has always been a problem It secures distance a ridiculous sense of safety Simultaneously it isolates one from society an attitude tinged with egoism tedium and probably narcissism yes we re a treat Truth be told I tend to disbelieve when I see some sort of pride in someone s isolation as if they actually enjoy being unable to let people approach them and get to know them and then they announce it as a cool uirk are we still saying cool nowadays because of course they let everybody know all about it I don t find much joy in such impediment and since supposedly sorry that word always reminds me of the deep solilouy by the end we re not beasts and we re definitely not gods I see it as pretended nonchalance a juvenile pose that needs to be broadcast for some reason the irony is that one of those reasons relates to the yearning for sharing a moment with another person In other words if you re not a hermit writing poetry on some mountain A myriad of ambivalent feelings elicits different responses Sometimes the wall is necessary A uick and daily example A couple of weeks ago in class I was pushed to talk to someone who happened to be a sociologist The long winded speech I was subjected to I felt my soul was about to die of exhaustion Pompous verbosity is another challenge for my attention span An insufferable arrogant academic A vicious liar You re getting a wall astronauts will truly see from the moon It s no longer a matter of fear for the unknown or selfishness but the basic instinct of self preservation I m fully aware that that statement could have probably appalled the author and is at odds with the book s ideals We re working on it but no promises will be madeOdd and uncalled anecdote aside the conflict between the silence of solitude and the sound of the Other which often involves an entirely different set of experiences and values that we unjustly regard as noise is timeless as Kapu ci ski lucidly explains in addition to the difficulty in internalizing tolerance when in reality that sort of acceptance is a previous step as empathy is the final destination Nevertheless I wonder whether we really want to live in an airport The airport is a recurring metaphor for the magic of reunions when family and friends gather after a period of separation The author draws an analogy from a different perspective offering the other side of our perennial duality as he depicts society as an anonymous crowd at a major airport a crowd of people rushing along in haste mutually indifferent and ignorant I can t stop thinking about it now while walking through the streets of this city which brim over with people in such a hurry that don t even have time to respect a traffic light By means of a brisk walk try a stroll at your own peril we might conclude that we re beyond the acknowledgement of nationality and religion as the only factors to keep our distance Oblivious to the existence of other human beings but ourselves we keep walking with phones in our pupils We will constantly be encountering the new Other who will slowly emerge from the chaos and tumult of the present It is possible that this new Other will arise from the meeting of two contradictory currents that shape the culture of the contemporary world the current of the globalization of our reality and the current of the conservation of our diversity our differences our uniueness The Other may be the offspring and the heir of these two currentsWe should seek dialogue and understanding with the new Other The experience of spending years among remote Others has taught me that kindness toward another being is the only attitude that can strike a chord of humanity in the OtherMarch 25 18 Also on my blog Photo credit Kapu ci ski via wyborczapl

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Modern global village He observes how today we continue to treat the non European as an alien and a threat an object of study that has not yet become a partner in sharing responsibility for the fate of the world In our globalised but increasingly polarised post 911 age Kapuscinski shows how the Other remains one of the most compelling ideas of our tim. romeo dallaire gave a talk at my university a few weeks ago and he recommended this book the essays portray very well differences in cultures that we sometimes forget about i find it even stronger especially since i was in east and west africa for a couple of weeks just recently and i got to notice first hand how urban life has this weird mix of local western at the same time


10 thoughts on “Ten Inny

  1. says:

    People thus had three choices when they encountered the Other They could choose war they could build a wall around themselves or they could e

  2. says:

    A distinctly underwhelming book encapsulated far succinctly and memorably as “do unto others as you would have them do unto you”Ka

  3. says:

    I took this book as a companion on my journey through Italy and loved every bit of it As a matter of fact I often found myself inclined to stay in my hostel room reading this as opposed to going out Kapiscinski's reflections on the third world hit really close to home and made me enthusiastic about the world I live in and

  4. says:

    He paid a high price for breaking away from his own culture That is why is so important to have one's own distinct identity a sense of its strenght value and maturity Only then can a man boldly confront another culture Otherwise he will lurk in his hiding place fearfully isolating himself from others All the since the Other is a looking glass in which I see myself and in which I am observed it's a mirror that

  5. says:

    Reflections from an seasoned foreign correspondent about how we view each other specifically white European’s and ‘other people’ If you’re into anthropology psychology or sociology I’m sure you’ll enjoy this short musings by an e

  6. says:

    Speeches reduced to paper often make mediocre books This book is a collection of Kapuscinski's material that was intended to be delivered in person before an audience There is barely enough content to stretch between two covers and much of it is repetitive suggesting a ploy by the Verso editors to milk a few bucks from Kapuscinski's recent passing There are a few interesting concepts eg a brief argument that

  7. says:

    romeo dallaire gave a talk at my university a few weeks ago and he recommended this book the essays portray very well differences in cultures that we sometimes forget about i find it even stronger especially since i was in east and west africa for a couple of weeks just recently and i got to notice first hand how urban life has this weird mix of local western at the same time

  8. says:

    Some extracts from the book1 As his contemporary the great Swiss traveller scientist and philosopher Albrecht von Haller would write in the mid eighteenth century Nothing is better able to dispel prejudices than familiarity with many peoples of disparate customs laws and opinions an otherness that for the price of a minor effort tea

  9. says:

    I’ve read a fair bit of Kapuscinski and I always find something worthwhile and rewarding in his writing This on the other hand reeks of cynical publishing cash in Kapuscinski makes some interesting points in these lectures but nothing too profound and nothing too compelling This is really nothing than a strange disappointing and puzzling publication which is far from essential reading Instead get a hold of one of his

  10. says:

    The book is an elouent lecture series on interacting with ‘the other’ in a multicultural global world published posthumously The other refers to non White non Christian non Europeans but is widely generalisable While it is too simplistic I hope it is a good introduction to the author

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