Thursday, July 31, 2014

Double-edged Meanings

(Significations à deux tranchants.)

We earlier examined the case of politically sensitive non-verbal interpretation:

And subsequently, in the same context of Judeo-Gallic sensitivities, a verbal case:

And now, as an update to that latter essay, this:

The Jewish community was shocked by photographs taken at a Berlin demonstration last week where the clothes of children were brushed with red paint. To some, such images allude to the death of Palestinian children in the Israeli strikes on Gaza. But Jewish leaders here have condemned them as a revival of anti-Semitic myths that paint Jews as child killers who used their victims’ blood in religious rituals.

I have no idea whether attribution to Germans generally, of a memory of the blood-libel, is realistic or not.   This knowledge lives on, to be sure, among Jews and folklorists -- it was strictly in an academic context, while studying literature from the age of Chaucer, that I learned of the thing.   Certainly your average American, whose collective memory extends back no further than Season 1 of “Mad Men”, would not have a clue what you are talking about.   But there are, indeed, parts of the world, in which the Unfinished Business of History looms large in preconsciousness -- particularly, among Muslims of the Middle East.  (For an excellent discussion, cf. Bernard Lewis, The Political Language of Islam [1988].)

For another case of interpreting a non-verbal symbol in the Middle East, try this:

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