Friday, June 4, 2010

hb2281 (1)

"tell me & i will forget,
teach me & i might remember;
involve me & i will learn."
ancient chinese proverb

languages [like the arizona
wapiti or the arizona jaguar]
become extinct when no longer
able to negotiate hostile or
changing conditions or prevail
against irresistible competition.
the moment of extinction? the
death or muting of the last
language speaker. the last
ubykh speaker died in turkey
in ‘92 at the unethereal &
certainly uneternal age of 88.
cultures [like the greater prairie
chicken or the passenger pigeon]
become extinct when cultural
diversity is abated & languages
are endangered & proscribed
with extreme prejudice!
every two weeks, a culture
dies, taking with it irreplaceable
knowledge & experience into
a great unknown. we stand,
some of us, strangely mute,
unmoved or unmoving & at our
own peril, like vacuous & self-
absorbed deutschländers in ’23
unmindful of the frenetic, evil
goings on in the bürgerbräukeller"
while in arizona a general process
of destruction, like a tall, dense &
involved nephotic mass, gathers
momentum. a delusional rationality
begets an imaginary construct
which shapes a body politic in the
image of its fears, resentments &
whited sepulchral utopias, razing
relentlessly & trying to eliminate
the rest of us, “the enemy”;
attempting to reduce vibrantly
viable speech, customs,folkways &
the spirit of the same to eerie
artifacts of the extinct …
& the rage of affluent collectors.

©Joseph McNair;2010


  1. Though this poem makes reference to Arizona and its changing times, this piece also goes to speak of a change; rather a consequence to a change. As my interpretation of this piece goes, this passage goes to speak of language and its ability to be lost through time. If the language and the heritage of that language is unable to stay afloat against the current of the changing time it is lost. This concept is one that many people often are unaware of and quite often forget if aware. Though it is one that many should pay respect to because in a sense when a cultures language is lost a part of that culture is lost as well.

  2. i think that people should be allowed to freely express their culture and pass it on for future generations without the fear of always being targeted not only by everyday people but by governemnt and law officials. culutre and languages is what makes poeple unique from the rest; they dont always follow things exactly the same and they have different customs. taking that away from a person is like stripping them of their identity and forces them to be just like everyone else; where no one is different. this is supposedly a free country, we should not have to limit our culture practices just because it is "out of the ordinary" or different from what others, especially law and government officials, see as what is right and what is wrong. they are there to enforce laws not to judge others or condem them based on the languages they speak or the culture they have.

  3. "tell me & i will forget, teach me & i might remember; involve me & i will learn."

    If you attempt to try to understand what this phrase means, you will see that it is a very important concept. If someone randomly tells you something, you are not focusing as much as you would if someone were to teach you something. When it is being taught to you, you have a certain mindset of trying to absorb that information for future use. However, if someone were to tell you something, your mindset would probably be understanding the concept just for that moment, to then forgetting what went on. The most important one to remember though is when one gets involved then the concept will actually be learnt.
    The people in Arizona, had their own culture and ethics that was learnt from when they were born until now. However, now a group is deciding to take all this knowledge and customs away for what was learnt and for what they were used to.
    If you think about it, people spend lifetimes not learning or not becoming someone or something. So to actually have someone that learned something and became something; it becomes depressing to think of them becoming extinct just because someone decided they wanted to have them removed.

  4. This poem states my feelings exactly. I am appalled with what Arizona is doing to immigrants. Clearly they want all immigrants to become extinct, they want them all to forget their language and deny their culture. Something must be done before that actually happens. I don’t seem to understand why they are so hateful towards other races, and what boggles my mind is how people sit quietly and allow that to happen. If we let them continue this who knows what will happen next. We must take action and involve ourselves in order to make a difference

  5. This poem is addressing the current state of Arizona and who it is trying to wash away a part of its culture. That culture that is being washed away is the Hispanic culture. The poem talks about how other languages and cultures have become extinct and how the similarities of the current Arizona situation are uncanny. I agree. The Hispanic culture will be gone and maybe lost forever in Arizona. What the people need to do is protest and fight.

  6. Even though I am not too sure what this poem is trying to express, I believe that it is saying our language goes with time. As future generations arise, a little bit more of our culture and language begin to relinquish. Language is very important to cultures because it’s what generally defines us. We have our own unique way of communicating and expressing the ways in which we are alike to those in our cultural group. It’s sad to know that our language changes and dies after some time. We begin to know less and less about our culture and what defines us.

  7. I do not really understand this poem, but it seems it's related to Arizona. Why they doing all to Immigrants? What they want them to forget about their culture, languages. Why they so worried about those types of things? It’s very sad to hear about those things. Those people need to start thinking about us all humans, its one life to live. I will never forget my cultures and my languages. I'm a proud Haitian, and I expect every other Immigrant to be proud where they came from.

  8. With all the racial profiling that's going on in Arizona, i thinks its inevitable that the spanish speaking people will soon loose their language. language is something that must constantly be practiced; if you stop speaking eventually you will forget it. The Mexicans will be afraid to speak spanish in public and it won't be long before they start forgetting their language and their culture. But the thing is even if they do try to conform to mainstream society they will always stand out. You can't be anything you're not.

  9. Why are the immigrants being punished for who they are? In Arizona they want to remove ethnic studies what exactly is the point of that? I think it's a matter of fear that maybe the Hispanics are going to take over. But why strip them of their native language? The reason basically would be that they would forget where they came from their native culture and eventually over generations their kids for getting their language. Essentially losing who they truly are.

  10. Silence speaks in volumes. With their silence they are condoning all that is wrong with the Arizona law. This is no time to be passive aggressive. We must speak out, be heard and act. Cannot have a rebirth of the past subtly interjected into young impressionable minds and to re-start old engines into movement.