Re: letter to zoli

From: lexie (
Date: Sat May 12 2001 - 14:25:54 PDT

At 12:15 -0800 11/5/01, ef wrote:

> my parents did not, as you say, get out in the nick of time... my
> mother survived auschwitz, my father a camp at the front... my father's
> survival is what prompted my first trip to romania, do you remember? i
> went to find the guy who saved him. in fact i would not exist at all
> were they to have gotten out... my father was married and had a kid but
> they were both killed. as well as his parents, brothers, and all of my
> mother's family. fuck... i don't wanna talk about this again, i think i
> have in the past and i do hate people who are ah, howshouldiputit,
> overly attached to their tragedies.

mmm, yes i do remember. my expression 'in the nick of time' was meant
to cover a wide field. understatementedly. some of them parents did
survive horrible things, and they didn't exactly like to talk about it
to me either...

> as far as racism, lexie... i know i confound racism at times with
> xenophobia. but fuck... it is much the same. the effect, the affect, is
> the same. perhaps we need a new word to encompass both.

or several new words to distinguish between?

i mean, we have some good ones about new zealanders. hell, enzed is
basically another state of australia. oh no, now i'm laughing at the
thought of australia trying to buy nz much like the u.s. bought alaska.
not on your nelly.. anyway, is it racism when such nzers are exactly
like us white australians? these are economic jokes. a very mild one is
the taunt 'will the last person to leave new zealand please turn out
the lights'

closer to home, jokes about tasmanians, which refer to their
inbrededness. completely unfounded.

then closer still, melbournians and sydneysiders make unpleasant jokes
about each other. ah, but, these are meant to be friendly insults...

i keep thinking of jokes which depend on cultural stereotypes. the
offense given and taken seems relative to who tells what to whom when.
some of the 'jokes' i remember and repeat because of their irony - that
jokes, and humour in general usually (i believe) signal places of
tension and hostility around differences. in that way they are good
direct lights on the envy or the problems or whathaveyou that exist in
any social organisation...oh dear, i am getting serious...

it's a shame i can't repeat any specifically anti-australian jokes -
after all, the targets are the only ones allowed to do that. maybe
that's because people are careful not to do that around an
australian...heh, except for one dear fellow who quipped how 'we call
them australians because that's the worst word we can think of.'
actually that makes me laugh. well, now, because it makes me remember
the incident....i had been trying to be friendly when i first met him,
and so directly bared the teeth, the ritual insult, you know. so i
called him a pommy bastard. tsk. caught him offguard, so on the
defensive, he came back with the above....

nup, the racist jokes are about people who live in your neighbourhood,
who are different by virtue of their race only. jokes i have heard
about aboriginals, told by the right person, seem directed not at
aboriginals, but at the groups who think in such ways...

cultural difference jokes i bid to defend on the grounds that we should
celebrate the differences, and be open about them to the extent that we
make jokes about it. the repression of cultural jokes, to me, indicates
a sick and paranoic community who do not indulge in teeth-baring and
play insult. ah, but, this is a cultural difference in itself

> i do what i can for the gypsies because, you see, i know what it's
> like. to be them. i am not them yet i am them. i know what it feels
> like, when that kid gets spat on, i know what it's like. he says
> nothing, keeps playing with the broken plastic horse, but then his eyes
> dart. and i know what it feels like.

uh, well never been spat on, that i can remember, not literally anyway.
so i cannot know what it's like. but, how were you 'saved' from still
being entirely them? i mean so that you now do what you can? grace,
hard work, sacrifice? i spose these are half rhetorical questions,
cause i hate asking people to answer things, but it seems sorta linked
to what you wrote your mother said about having already starved. i
would've said that it's probably a good thing for people to experience
some sort of hell in order to be more 'human' (for what that's worth, i
tend to see moral sensibility as the root of all evil, but that's
another story), but i now remember that bad experiences affect people
differently. keep well.

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