In his introduction to part 2 of the Common Knowledge symposium on xenophilia, the journal's editor tours the reader through two private apartments (T. S. Eliot's in London and the anthropologist Jeannette Mirsky's in Princeton) and through two public art collections (the Michael Rockefeller Wing of the Metropolitan Museum in New York and the Ménil Collection in Houston) in an effort to establish that aesthetically coherent mixtures of apparently immiscible objects from widely divergent cultures are possible and also morally glamorous. Xenophobia at its least reprehensible, he argues, is a fear of ecumenism and its consequences, as well as a fear of one's own conversion — of “turning Turk.” Xenophilia at its most admirable is a pursuit of coherent mixtures where others cannot imagine their possibility. Bits lifted from reputedly pure and organic wholes may be transformed by means of overlap and mediated juxtaposition into a novel milieu that has a wholeness, authenticity, and charisma of its own. Such coherence depends on minds (a) that are capable of loving what does not satisfy their narcissism and (b) that can sense in the products of their own culture elements or signs of enervation, anomie, lack, derangement, waywardness, rigidity, preciousness, or warping. The author concludes that xenophilia neither signals nor facilitates the adulteration that xenophobes so fear.
Introduction|September 01 2017
Introduction: Coherent Mixtures
Common Knowledge (2017) 23 (3): 396-403.