Monday, March 5, 2012

Whistling at Night

I know I mentioned this briefly in class today, but when I read the line about the Igbo superstition that whistling at night summoned spirits and ghosts I was immediately struck. My dad and other older relatives always tell me this too! I don't think I really believe in it (heck, I don't even know if i believe in spirits and ghosts) but I thought it was really cool that an idea that I grew up with that most likely has an Asian/Taiwanese root is the exact same as an African idea. Maybe we do have a collective human consciousness or memory like Yeats referred to.

7 comments:

Ravin S said...

I definitely saw similarities to my culture as well. For example, I think of the ceremony for whenever someone enters another's home. In India, not as much anymore, people would pray and be offered food and drink everytime they entered someone else's home. And they would spend minutes and even hours before they actually discussed what they came to talk about. Also, elders are greatly revered in my culture. The focus was on them and they would tell the younger people what to do if they needed assistance or guidance. I remember sitting with my late great-grandfather and talking about what I was expected of in life. Obviously, things have changed.

mere said...

It's kind of like sneezing for us. "God Bless you" came from people not wanting spirits to fly up their nose. Talk about superstition.

christine said...

There were also similarities to my culture as well. In Syrian as well as Greek cultures, whenever anyone comes to your house, you make them tea/coffee and offer them an assortment of biscuits and cookies. If someone doesn't do this it's viewed as disrespect, just as Mrs. Quinet pointed out in class.

Mallory said...

I think that it's really cool how achebe hints to rituals of the igbo culture. He doesn't flat out tell us that they think whistling is superstitious, he shows us this through a story. He carefully plans each ritual and ceremony into the story instead of bluntly telling us which I think makes the whole society seem more real.

sara pendleton said...

I might not have an especially exotic culture but my family is very southern. There are some southern culture things that this post just reminded me about. This is probably something that's just kind of understood but when somebody, like a neighbor, is sick or having an operation or getting a divorce or something, people bring food. If there's a death in the family, people bring full meals. The more food, the worse the situation. Family, and staying in close/in touch is considered really important in my family and at weddings, a lot of times all the distant cousins and everybody comes. We have big potluck family meals together on holidays, espeically religious holidays that my grandmother and great aunt host. If I think about my family in a kind of objective way, I guess it's kinda matriarchial; the oldest woman in the family acts as kind of the rock I guess.
As far as supersition goes, I know a few southern ones:
There's a saying: thunder is the devil beating his wife with a frying pan. It's good luck to eat black eyed peas and collard greens on New Years. In the Old South, I'm told, it was important to have a wake because it was belived that the soul stayed in the body for and extra 24 hours and watching all night prevented the devil from taking off with the departed relitive. Also it's terrible luck to hear screech owls.

alyb said...

This might not be exactly a superstition but it think it is really interesting that all of the people in this culture view the dark forest as something scary and for cast offs. They see it as a punishment. The reason I find this interesting is that in fairy tails the dark forest is always associated with evil just as it was in this culture.

ParkerC said...

Im not sure i believe we have a collective conscious but i do think this relates to what Weston talked about and how all the religions kind of came from a single places, which i think is an advancement of what frazier said and how all religions evolved simultaneously.