Monday, September 14, 2009

Crome Yellow, by Aldous Huxley

I am reading Crome Yellow by Aldous Huxley for the Colorful Reading Challenge from Lost in Books. I am enjoying this challenge, it's a fun light-hearted challenge.

So far I have read five (almost six) out of the nine colors.

  1. White Witch, Black Curse for the color Black
  2. Red for the color Red (of course)
  3. Blue Diablo for the color Blue
  4. Green Angel for the color Green
  5. Black and White for the color White
  6. Yellow Crome for the color Yellow

There are six required colors and three choices. I've picked two of my choices so far (green and yellow) and have to pick one more, as well as read a book for silver and gold. Three more books- then I'm done. Well three and a half, since I need to actually finish and review this book.

But in the meantime here are some words that I've come across in this book that I do not (yet) know the meaning of;

  • pullulation
  • didactically
  • sententiously (I have an inkling on this one, but I'm not 100% sure)
  • dipsomaniac
  • meridional [heritage]
  • peripatetic
  • supererogatory
  • carminative

I am on page 102 of an one hundred and fifty two page book. This books is taking me almost as long to read as a modern books of 350 pages. I don't normally read books from such a long time ago. This books was copyrighted in 1922, the paperback version that I have was printed in 1974. I don't know why I have it, other than I have quite a few older books laying around from here and there. I usually only collect older hardbacks (they are pretty).

bearing in mind that this books was written in 1922 (or before) there is one passage that I found offensive so far. I realize that I am judging a book from 1922, with 2009 standards, which isn't quite fair. But there is a part in this book where Mr Huxley is describing a young man (Denis) who has a crush on a young woman (Ann). He is listening to ragtime music (1920 ish version of todays' hiphop music) and feeling quite jealous while watching Ann and another mand dance. He is trying to be cool, not moving at all, even though he wants to dance. The passage (which is a quote- by the way, not my words) reads "....then things began to dance inside him. Little black nigger corpuscles jigged and drummed in his arteries." Once again, I realize that this was written back in 1922, during a whole different time, with an entirely different way of thinking. I still find it offensive. The n word could have been left out, it still would have sounded a little racist, but it would have been better. In fact all he had to say was that the rythym of the music was getting to Denis. or Denis couldn't stop feeling the rythym of the music, he wanted to dance and move. Even when I was a small child in the 60's, at the height of the civil right's movement I don't ever remember hearing my parents or any one else using that kind of language. I never heard that particular word until I was in my tweens, when it cropped up in some movies, a few books as part of dialog by assholes or when I first began to hear idiots who were being ignorant. I never ever saw it as a part of normal word usage, common as the word egg, or sunrise or light or dark. Wow.

The closest I came myself to experiencing any type of racism was once when my father in law kept using the word beaner around me. I finally told him, you realize that I'm half spanish don't you? He told me I was different. From then on, whenever I called my son Carl around my father in law, I would use the name Carlos instead of Carl. Even though my son's name was just Carl.

The other time was when I was 10, and at the time I didn't realized what was happening. It never clicked for me until I was in high school, what had happened. In fifth grade I had a teacher named Mrs Early. (she's probably dead now) I was her favorite student. She used to talk about her trips to europe and one time while talking about irish people, she talked about how the irish sometimes had ivory skin, black hair and blue eyes like mine. At the time I was feeling a little different from my siblings, since they were brown, and light brown with brown eyes. (I was always a little jealous of them, they were all alike, and I was different) I kind of soaked up her compliments. Then back to school night came and my mother, who at the time was putting herself through college, learning more and more english and had a fairly thick spanish accent came to meet the teachers and see how we were doing in school. Of course my little obviously spanish brothers were with her. After that night, I couldn't do anything right in class. She stopped calling on me, and in fact was hard on me for the rest of the year. When I look back on that year, she always seemed to be mad at another little boy who was biracial. I think he was black and white. I'm glad that I had no idea at the time that there were racial issues going on, but that shows how my mom didn't let race be an issue in our early years. When she talked about the neighbors looking down on her, she always blamed it on her being a divorcee, with illegitimate younger kids. Now I think it was a combo of that and her being spanish.

We also never ever heard any derogotory things about different races from my father. When he talked about different races it was always in regard to the variety of customs, cultures and religions that were in the world. I learned early on that there was not just one way to be, that there were many different ways of worshipping many different deities, and many different ways of bringing up children or living lives. Not one way was any better or worse than any other way. We should all be a little more accepting like my father is and always strived to be. As far back as I can remember he has been like this.

I'm finishing the book. Other than that one phrase I haven't come across anything else that offensive so far, so I'm hoping that is the only racist thing I'll read in this book, and I really think that it wasn't meant in a racist way, but rather unfortunately this is an example of how ignorant a lot of people were at the time, without meaning to be. In the last few years I have heard much worse out of so-called modern people.

1 comment:

  1. Mardel, I really did not make any rules about the award. You can post about it or you can pass it on or do nothing at all. It's up to you!