gratuitous image
18 January 1996


I thought I'd just invented the word xenophilia as a clever antonym to xenophobia, then I discovered the word was born around the same time I was. I should have known better; feeling clever usually foreshadows a fall.

Xenophilia came to mind after I received an invitation to an exhibition of David Byrne's photographs of Indian film posters. I was disappointed with what I saw, especially since I've liked almost everything else he's done in both music and visual media for almost two decades.

It's not that I didn't like the new photographs, I did. How could a xenophiliac not like strange exotic images of a very different culture? I was disappointed because the work was merely good, not much better. Reproducing images from Indian film posters, Mexican album covers or a Chinese circus advertisement is just too easy. Xenophilia clouds judgment.

As Arthur Conan Doyle noted, "It is a mistake to confound strangeness with mystery." Or to confuse mystery with strangeness.

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©1996 David Glenn Rinehart