Friday, October 1, 2010

Hello and a Laugh

Hi reader. Welcome to this, my new blog. I hope to maintain this blog regularly, unlike the last joint one that BJ talked me into and then we subsequently neglected. While I realize that large numbers of people are not interested in my daily affairs, the fact remains that I literally have dear friends and family sprinkled all the way from Maine to Hawaii, all of whom I miss and each of whom I wish had a blog so that I could keep up with them more regularly. So here is mine.

Let's kick this party off with my favorite-ever book quote, a bit of writing which I believe has got to be the funniest thing I've ever read. Now, understand here reader, that my sense of humor doesn't always align with others. But the book Travels in West Africa by Mary H. Kingsley is simply hilarious. In case you're not familiar with Ms. Kingsley's work, she was a Victorian spinster who left England in the 1890's to venture into West Africa and set foot where no white woman (and sometimes no white man) had yet to explore. This book is the account of her travels and her observations of the cultures of the different tribes that she encountered, all told through her hilarious humility. The viewpoints are antiquated, no doubt, but Ms. Kingsley's regard for the African natives is certainly more respectful than was the majority white viewpoint of Africans at the time. I'm going to include my favorite paragraph from her introduction, which makes me laugh out loud every time. I'm sorry ahead of time if you are one of the many people who I've cornered and read this aloud to as well, because this will be the second time you hear this piece:

It was the beginning of August '93 when I first left England for 'The Coast.' Preparations of quinine with postage partially paid arrived up to the last moment, and a friend hastily sent two newspaper clippings, one entitled "A Week in a Palm-Oil Tub,"... the other from The Daily Telegraph, reviewing a French book of "Phrases in common use" in Dahomey. The opening sentence in the latter was, "Help, I am drowning." Then came the inquiry, "If a man is not a thief?" and then another cry, "The boat is upset." "Get up, you lazy scamps," is the next exclamation, followed almost immediately by the question, "Why has this man not been buried?" "It is fetish that has killed him, and he must lie here exposed with nothing on him until only the bones remain," is the cheerful answer. This sounded discouraging to a person whose occupation would necessitate going about considerably in boats, and whose fixed desire was to study fetish. So with a feeling of foreboding gloom I left London for Liverpool--none the more cheerful for the matter-of-fact manner in which the steamboat agents had informed me that they did not issue return tickets by the West African lines of steamers.

Have a great day everyone!

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