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Some Quotes

"However, among these people, even the most sympathetic of them, a chasm between their outlook and ours prevented a close rapport"

"Language. Climate. Manners and movement patterns shared jokes the country in which you are born and grow up forms the landscape of your imagination ... Homesickness is like bereavement "

"Culture Shock you are going to have to change habits and expectations that you consider to be 'normal'."

" There is no one correct way to adjust or respond to another culture. Some people may become depressed over a particular encounter; others become exhilarated. Some choose to withdraw; others explode" -

" all this serves to confuse outsiders because the cues they expect are missing".

"Who are you?" said the Caterpillar

"I - I hardly know, Sir, just at the present," Alice replied rather shyly, "at least I know who I was when I got up this morning, but I think I must have been changed several times since then."

" in fact there will be times when you will be convinced that you have suddenly been cast in a theatre of the absurd".

"In him, we find a person located in a tangle of cultural and theoretical contradictions: contradictions between his own beliefs and preferences; contradictions between his deeply Westernised persona and the urgent political concern for his Palestinian homeland".

"Because he has located himself in an in-between or interstitial 'space' between a Palestinian past and an American imperial present ".

"Most people are principally aware of one culture but exiles are aware of at least two, and this plurality of vision gives rise to an awareness of simultaneous dimensions, and an awareness that - to borrow a phrase from music - is contrapuntal".

" reconciliation has to lie in the constant negotiation of that ambivalence and complexity that characterises cultural identity itself ".

"Homesickness - tales of memory, loss, fear, anger, inevitable acculturation, muffled irony in the face of self-pity, and the final redemption in this strange and often sorely unnatural thing called naturalisation".

" doing the one absurd thing all exiles do, which is to look for their homeland abroad, or, more radical yet, to dispose of it abroad. However successful the endeavour is by the end of the day, the same perplexities, the same homesickness stirs to life again the next morning".

"After many decades in the USA or Canada or England, most still speak English with an accent, as though an accent didn't betray just the body's inability to adapt or to square away the details of a naturalisation that should have been finalised decades ago, but its reluctance to let go of things that are at once private and timeless, the way childhood and ritual and memory are private and timeless".

"My sister and I stand in the schoolyard clutching each other, while kids all around us are running about, pummelling each other, and screaming like whirling dervishes. Both the boys and the girls look sharp and aggressive to me?the girls all have bright lipstick on, their hair sticks up and out like witches' fury, and their skirts are held up and out by stiff, wiry crinolines. I can't imagine wanting to talk their harsh?sounding language.

We've been brought to this school by Mr. Rosenberg, who, two days after our arrival, tells us he'll take us to classes that are provided by the government to teach English to newcomers. This morning, in the rinky?dink wooden barracks where the classes are held, we've acquired new names. All it takes is a brief conference between Mr. Rosenberg and the teacher, a kindly looking woman who tries to give us reassuring glances, but who has seen too many people come and go to get sentimental about a name. Mine - "Ewa" - is easy to change into its near equivalent in English, "Eva." My sister's name ?"Alina"? poses more of a problem, but after a moment's thought, Mr. Rosenberg and the teacher decide that "Elaine" is close enough. My sister and I hang our heads wordlessly under this careless baptism. The teacher then introduces us to the class, mispronouncing our last name - "Wydra" - in a way we've never heard before. We make our way to a bench at the back of the room; nothing much has happened, except a small, seismic, mental shift. The twist in our names takes them a tiny distance from us - but it's a gap into which the infinite hobgoblin of abstraction enters. Our Polish names didn't refer to us; they were as surely us as our eyes or hands. These new appellations, which we ourselves t yet pronounce, are not us. They are identification tags, disembodied signs pointing to objects that happen to be my sister and myself. We walk to our seats, into a roomful of unknown faces, with names that make us strangers to ourselves".

"Every day I learn new words, new expressions. I pick them up from school exercises, from conversations, from the books I take out of Vancouver's well-lit, cheerful public library. There are some turns of phrase to which I develop strange allergies. ?You're welcome," for example, strikes me as a gaucherie, and I can hardly bring myself to say it - I suppose because it implies that there's something to be thanked for, which in Polish would be impolite. The very places where language is at its most conventional, where it should be most taken for granted, are the places where I feel the prick of artifice.

Then there are words to which I take an equally irrational liking for their sound, or just because I'm pleased to have deduced their meaning. Mainly they're words I learn from books, like "enigmatic? or "insolent"?words that have only a literary value, that exist only as signs on the page.

But mostly, the problem is that the signifier has become severed from the signified. The words I learn now don't stand for things in the same unquestioned way they did in my native tongue. "River" in Polish was a vital sound, energized with the essence of, riverhood, of my rivers, of my being immersed in rivers. "River" in English is cold ?a word without an aura. It has no accumulated associations for me, and it does not give off the radiating haze of connotation. It does not evoke.

The process, alas, works in reverse as well. When I see a river now, it is not shaped, assimilated by the word that accommodates it to the psyche?a word that makes a body of water a river rather, than an uncontained element. The river before me remains a thing,, absolutely other, absolutely unbending to the grasp of my mind".

"An accent marks the lag between two cultures, two languages, the space where you let go of one identity, invent another, and end up being more than one person though never quite two".

"Eventually, of course, one does stop being an exile. But even a 'reformed' exile will continue to practice the one thing exiles do almost as a matter of instinct: compulsive introspection. With their memories perpetually on overload, exiles see double, feel double, are double. When exiles see one place they're also seeing - or looking for -another behind it. Everything bears two faces, everything is shifty because everything is mobile, the point being that exile, like love, is not just a condition of pain, it's a condition of deceit".

"What kinds of shifts must take place for a person to acquire, let alone accept, a new identity, a new language?".

" doing what all exiles do on impulse, which is to look for their homeland abroad, to bridge the things here to things there, to rewrite the present so as not to write off the past".

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