With Raga Svara, and with Northstar as well, but more acutely at Raga, I come to the question of étranger or xenos. I am unable to take on the role of a subservient host. Hospitality is an act of giving and receiving, a game if you will. The rules and codes must be adhered to. However, it always remains a struggle. It is never a transaction.
While all our services are priced, value truly remains outside of economic rationality. To bring economics in the giving and receiving, tarnishes the sanctity of the "act". Hospitality perhaps has no place in contemporary society, making it even more valuable. It is beyond and even against economic rationality. And our hospitality remains out of economic rationality making it a matter of cultural value (more on cultural value at some other time).
Now at Raga, the dominant aesthetic, in Bourdieu's terms, is a combination of ease and asceticism i.e., self-imposed austerity, restraint, reserve and quietude, which are affirmed in that absolute manifestation of excellence, *relaxation in tension.*
We are not service providers, no unilateral flow of goods or services, no subservience. The guest, the student, the étranger partakes in the ritual of giving and receiving; in the act of crossing boundaries (of entering our sacred space), and thresholds between ours and yours, between self and the other, between private and the public, between inside and outside. These dichotomies overlap never exactly but match each other's territory. It is always a struggle.
As Derrida said:
Hospitality is ethics, is the condition of humanity – for ethos is place:Hospitality is culture itself and not simply one ethic amongst others. Insofar as it has to do with the ethos, that is, the residence, one’s home, the familiar place of dwelling, inasmuch as it is a manner of being there, the manner in which we relate to ourselves and to others, to others as our own or as foreigners, ethics is hospitality; ethics is so thoroughly coextensive with the experience of hospitality.
L’hospitalité, c’est la culture même et ce n’est pas une éthique parmi d’autres. En tant qu’elle touche à l’éthos, à savoir à la demeure, au chez soi, au lieu du séjour familier autant qu’à la manière de se rapporter à soi et aux autres, aux autres comme aux siens ou comme à des étrangers, l’éthique est hospitalité, elle est de part en part co-extensive à l’expérience de l’hospitalité, de quelque façon qu’on l’ouvre ou la limite.