Xenophobia: an irrational fear of foreigners, probably justified, always understandable.
Wanna know all about starting a revolution with a logo? Or why...moreXenophobia: an irrational fear of foreigners, probably justified, always understandable.
Wanna know all about starting a revolution with a logo? Or why the Napoleon was revered here, though he only saw the Poles as cannon fodder? Well I'm not telling you, but it's all in this little book.
At 64 pages this is more like an elongated brochure written by an affectionate knowledgeable person than a 4 volume technical guide, but I think it works just perfect and there's nothing simplistic about it. Surprisingly accurate, incredibly funny and rather informative*. It's a Poles-101 (introduction to all things Polish, not to dance poles or North/South Poles) with a humorous twist and thus really readable. And whether you're in it for information in order to make your potential conversation with a fellow Pole more comprehensible, or just for laughs - you're getting it both. And this is what I mean:
Never say never When the Communists rather foolishly tried to stop the Poles practising their religion, the churches filled to overflowing. 'Forbidden' is a term of encouragement to a Pole.
Necessity is the mother of invention Key national characteristics are adaptability, a knack for improvisation, and the ability to make the best of what is available. A good Polish cook is one who can make gourmet soup from a rusty nail.
The downside? It's on the short side, it's for the western audience, so Polish relations with eastern nations aren't explored in depth, and it was published 10 years ago - minor revisions here and there are due. Nevertheless I had tons on fun with this little book, and it makes me curious about other Xenophobe's guides currently out there.
____________________________________________ *If you're not a Pole. For all Poles out there: you already know all this stuff, what are you doing reading this stuff?! Curiosity killed the cat remember?!! You don't need to know what they tell foreigners about us.... or do you? (less)
"Now to make it in the arts, publicize your private parts! Critics say you can't offend 'em with your phallus or pudendum!"
That's the translation, the original version:
„Tylko głupiec i kanalia lekceważy genitalia, bo najbardziej jest dziś modne reklamować części rodne!”
Do you like it? I find it hilarious, in both languages, and it's roughly the same.
WTF? You ask. Well, it's a slogan Lem made up for the use of this book, and I think it shows a little something about this guy.
But don't be mistaken, there isn't much about genitals in this book, Lem's rather prudish and he used this limerick quatrain to point out how obsessed the modern day pop culture is with sexuality (What can be done, Mr.Lem? Really?!)
As for the rest of the book, it's so whacked up and schizoid that I'm starting to think Lem must have dropped some acid before he sat down to write. Most of it requires higher brain function to process. It's the damn made-up terminology. Shitloads of new vocab. It's all clever and intuitive (the way the road signs are intuitive), also amusing. But there's so much of it, it can cause you a headache. For once, I'm glad I've read it in Polish, let's face it, I'm still way more comfortable with that language. To give you a taste, I'll share some of the headache (Before you dig in, it helps to know that The Futurological Congress is a dystopian novel about so called cryptochemocracy):
12 VIII 2039. I finally got up the courage to ask some pedestrians where I might find a bookstore. They shrugged. As a pair I had accosted walked off, I heard one say to the other, "That's a grandfather stiff for you." Could it be that there is prejudice here against defrostees? Some other unfamiliar expressions I've come across: threever, pingle, he-male, to widge off, palacize, cobnoddling, synthy. The newspapers advertise such products as tishets, vanilli-ums, nurches, autofrotts (manual). The title of a column in the city edition of the Herald: "I Was a Demimother." Something about an eggman who was yoked on the way to the eggplant. The big Webster isn't too helpful: "Demimother—like demigran, demijohn. One of two women jointly bringing a child into the world. See Polyanna, Polyandrew." "Eggman—from mailman (Archaic). A euplanner who delivers licensed human gametes (female) to the home." I don't pretend to understand that. This crazy dictionary also gives synonyms that are equally incomprehensible. "Threever—trimorph." "Palacize, bepalacize, empalacize—to castellate, as on a quiz show." "Paladyne—a chivalric assuagement." "Vanillium—extract emphorium, portable." The worst are words which look the same but have acquired entirely different meanings. "Expectorant—a conception aid." "Pederast—artificial foot faddist." "Compensation—mind fusion." "Simulant—something that doesn't exist but pretends to. Not to be confused with simulator, a robot simulacrum." "Revivalist—a corpse, such as a murder victim, brought back to life. See also exhumant, disintermagent, jack-in-the-grave." Apparently it's nothing nowadays to raise the dead. And the people—just about everyone—panting. Panting in the elevator, in the street, everywhere. They appear to be in the best of health, rosy-cheeked, cheerful, sun-tanned, and yet they puff. I don't. So evidently one doesn't have to. A custom, or what? I asked Aileen. She laughed at me—nothing of the kind. Could I be imagining it?
If you think it's any less confusing in original, it's not. So yeah, this might not be best Lem book. Certainly not one you should start with if you haven't read anything of him. But do try him out one day. He's usually not this high.
Now with you're permission, I'm gonna go and lie down and try to cure my impending headache with a cocktail of Hedonidol, Euphoril, Empathan, Ecstasine and Placidol. That should help. There's no need for LTN bombs (LTN: Love Thy Neighbor), I love thee already, and Lem too.(less)