Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Will I ever finish "The Moonstone" by Wilkie Collins? It's supposed to be excellent of its kind--mystery of the woo-woo semi-supernatural sort.

Dorothy L. Sayers, a mystery writer whose work I like a lot, is quoted on the cover of the paperback I have as calling it the best mystery ever written.

Starting it several times, I notice a great deal that it is bigoted and also dumb in other ways.

I almost wrote, "racist and dumb in other ways."

The people the book is bigoted toward are from India, and racist gets a little tricky. They are, a lot of them, Caucasians, treated routinely in a racist way.

Which drifts into my personal responsibility for where Hitler's word Aryan came from.

It was exciting in the nineteenth century do find out how languages were related to each other and how one language led to another. It is still exciting to learn about that, though it is no longer a lively field in terms of Indo-European languages, because the work is donw.

Indo-European languages, that were originally called Aryan languages.

Researchers in the nineteenth century figured out that most European languages went back to Sanskrit, which exists in manuscript, and a pre-Sanskrit language whose existence they inferred. Any one who studies this field agrees that this pre-Sanskrit existed, even though it's theoretical. There are no written instances.

Nineteenth century white folks, including the ones officially labeled by themselves smart and educated were nervous about meeting all these different kinds of people living different ways as the world got more explored.

They knew they were best but needed to prove it, they felt, by their self-created smart people rules.

One way they did that was by doing thought that went like this. The pre-Sankrit language, Aryan, exists. [Big jump they didn't notice.] Whoever spoke this language was better than other people. People like me spoke this language.

If pre-Sanskrit existed, and sane experts still think it did, it was spoken in India and probably by people who looked like Indians look today.

*Scholars, actually scholars, kept moving the location of pre-Sanskrit speakers wester and maker the speakers lighter till you got Hitler's blond Aryans, *who were ideally Scandanavian, or, just south of Scandanavia, German, and far from where pre-Sanskrit, Aryan, was spoken, if it ever was spoken.

The desire to prove betterness in one's own dear self produces dangerous nuttiness.