Friday, May 4, 2012

huxley at gatwick.


upon my recent visit to london i waited for an unusually long time at the passport control. when, after almost two hours, i finally stepped up to the border officer, he asked the usual questions - my reason for coming to london, how long i was planning to stay, what i did for a living, etc. upon hearing that i teach english literature, he wanted to know which period and which authors. since aldous huxley is my most immediate field of expertise, i mentioned him first. that was enough to trigger his enthusiasm, so we started chatting about huxley for some good ten minutes. the officer mentioned 'brave new world revisited', a not very famous piece of prose written in the 1950s, and said he was fascinated by the ideas in it. to be perfectly honest, i wasn't completely sure which ideas huxley expounded in that essay (because he covered similar topics in various discursive writings from that period), but then the officer became more concrete. he also mentioned julian huxley, and i mentioned t. h. huxley, the famous grandfather, or 'darwin's bulldog', as he was called, but the officer had not heard about him. i even told him to go to the natural hisotry museum and see t. h.'s statue in the cafeteria. what to say in conclusion? that in the uk one can chat with a border policeman about the topics one had written a doctoral dissertation on, and that one can even learn a few things from that very policeman. if only there were more countries like the uk.

9 comments:

  1. I once had a great conversation about W.Faulkner in a Budapest's market with a young man selling cosmetics. :)

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  2. If only there were more countries like the UK, I fully agree. But have in mind that at the time, in fact, half of the world was under their rule. That is maybe one of the reasons why there are not so many similar countries... :)

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  3. but what stands in our way today to be more like the uk? iceland did not have a vast empire, in fact they were the poorest, the most godforsaken european country until 1944, but today they're part of the progressive world. i am not too keen on finding historical reasons for the present state of things.

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  4. Maybe because Iceland did not have Turkey controlling them for almost half a century, nor Iceland had Muslims in their vicinity. I'm atheist, please, my sincere apologize to all Muslims who may understand me wrongly.

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  5. the icelanders had the danes, the irish had the english, we had the turks - an excuse is always easily available. again, i see no point in explaining it all in terms of historical reasons.

    even though you probably did not intend to demean anybody, and you also apologized, the remark about the muslims sounded somewhat demeaning to my ears.

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  6. I agree there's no point in explaining it all only in terms of historical reasons, the reasons I've mentioned could be one of many other reasons that caused the present state of things. History is anyway the 'dead' past... I should not have dug it up here, I admit, digging it up is usually painful task which actually requires an extremely deep analysis and devotion. Anyway, what I'm pretty sure about is that it will unfortunately take us a long time to reach the UK's heights of civic consciousness.

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  7. i am afraid that unfortunately it will.

    i never liked history, i was bad at it in school, that's why i'm writing it off even when perhaps i shouldn't.

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  8. 'Prije nego sto je dvanaest milijuna Afrikanaca oteto da bi postali robovi u Novom svijetu, glavne žrtve bili su Slaveni od čijeg je imena i nastala riječ rob. Lovili su ih Rimljani, kršćani, muslimani, Vikinzi, Tatari i izvozili po čitavom svijetu. Sumorno se zaključivalo da postoji nešto u slavenskom karakteru što ih osuđuje na ropstvo. To je način mišljenja nametnut robovima da bi se držali u očajanju.' Theodore Zeldin, Intimna povijest čovječanstva

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