wayne&wax

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8.11.2006

a great improvement on a bad invention



"I know little about the affairs of Turkey, but I am sure that I know something about barberries and chest nuts of which I have collected a store this fall.



"When I go to see my neighbor he will formally communicate to me the latest news from Turkey, which he read in yesterday's Mail -- how Turkey by this time looks determined, & Lord Palmerston -- Why, I would rather talk of the bran, which, unfortunately, was sifted out of my bread this morning and thrown away. It is a fact which is nearer to me.



"The newspaper gossip with which our hosts abuse our ears is as far from a true hospitality as the viands which they set before us. We did not need them to feed our bodies; and the news can be bought for a penny.



"We want the inevitable news, be it sad or cheering -- wherefore and by what means they are extant, this new day. If they are well let them plain, that so they may in any case be entertaining.



"If words are invented to conceal thought, I think that newspapers are a great improvement on a bad invention. Do not suffer your life to be taken by newspapers."

-- Henry David Thoreau, Letters to a Spiritual Seeker, p.50

7 Comments:

Blogger rubadubstyle said...

Greetings,

Nice to see the name of my country on your post.

However, we Turks call it Turkiye . We think that the reason English speakers use the word Turkey is because they took the easy/lazy way out and likened what they heard to a word they already knew and decided to go no further. It is also very possible that the Europeans tried to diminish their fears of the country by giving it a docile name.

Hope to you see you and yours in Turkiye one day.


Respectfully,

Rubadubstyle

8:03 AM  
Blogger wayne&wax said...

thanks for the comment, rubadub. i just saw your post to the same effect. i agree. i've always been puzzled as to why we can't refer to things in their local names. i think originally it was a matter of transliteration as much as imperialism, and we've started to see some corrections (e.g., beijing from peking and mumbai from bombay). who knows, maybe one day we'll also go from turkey to turkiye. surely turks have their own names for other countries, though, no?

8:10 AM  
Anonymous littlewhitmore said...

Localization issues aside, 'Turkey' (nee Turkiye) has a rich history in English - bartleby the jawn.

Just watched a state-TV (Novosti) program on how Russian tourists are taken advantage of in Turkey... hints of Finnish attitudes towards Estonia &c.

Still, Erkin Koray (before the anadolu-pop jump). I had a wonderful time in Istanbul/Ankara but, then again, I was buying records and not carpets...

4:48 PM  
Anonymous Rudy said...

Taking Thoreau's attitude would pretty much kill the possibility of citizenship, in an increasingly interconnected world. Granted, there's not a whole lot of room for meaningful response to all the things we end up knowing about. (And localists may get their wishes (sort of) soon enough if the larger order collapses.)

7:12 AM  
Blogger wayne&wax said...

i'm not sure that necessarily follows, rudy. for all his "localism," thoreau clearly valued "citizenship," as is evident in writings such as "civil disobedience." i think we might take his words here more as a reminder of how to strike a balance between the local and translocal, not to mention between engaged interpersonal communication and mass media, er, mediations. also, barberries are not to be undervalued.

9:20 AM  
Anonymous Rudy said...

That's true, and how did I manage to forget about "On Civil Disobedience"? I guess I was just focused on that one extract you quoted. But the "Read not the times, read the eternities" (or whatever the exact quote is) vein of thinking just rubs me the wrong way at this point.

7:57 PM  
Blogger wayne&wax said...

yeah, i hear you, and of course i was inspired to post this at the same time i was really sick of reading the times. but thoreau was more into reading the leaves and the people, seems to me. i do think the quote above manages to critique "news" without endorsing any sort of withdrawal from the social. even when living at walden, thoreau went on frequent walks and talked with all sorts of folk.

8:11 PM  

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