Again, we are faced with ethic’s grasp on hospitality, which McNulty contends is even more controlling. All nostalgia for the “social harmony” of Philemon and Baucis aside, McNulty wonders, as does HospitalityMorality, if we realize that hospitality--as the most fundamental of ethical issues--can address and resolve the tensions “between unnamable alterity and legal identity, between infinite debt and economics, between ethics and ontology” (viii). This brings us back to our linguistic lesson of the double meaning of “hospitality.” First, although hospitality directs us out to another, it also calls us draws us in to our own self-estrangement. Often, this is uncomfortable—even, painful and frightening. McNulty explains why: “Hence it both allows for the constitution of identity and challenges it, by suggesting that the home can also become unhomely, unheimlich, estranged by the introduction of something foreign that threatens to contaminate or dissolve its identity” (vii).
HM asks how, in such cases of demanding or demeaning guestshosts can establish harmony--not only between guest and host but also between reciprocity and identity. If HM had that answer, its work would be concluded. At this point, all HM knows is that for such occasions, hosts and guests need etiquette rules, which serve as a kind of “potent symbolic structure to account for and valorize the risk the host assumes in welcoming a stranger” (52). So for the time being, as HM wades through the morality of hospitality, it bows to etiquette guides.
http://www.ankn.uaf.edu/Curriculum/Tlingit/FishCamp/images/bigc-52.gif**McNulty reminds us that the Roman notion of personhood, “persona,” meant mask, specifically, the mask displayed in the house of an ancestor (xxx).
McNulty, Tracy. The Hostess: Hospitality, Femininity, and the Expropriation of Identity. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2007.