In my last column, the Muse inspired me to write about dreams. And since then, I’ve been thinking about other types of altered consciousness. As a guy who often hangs out with Catholic monks, and who practices “Will Rogers spirituality”—that is, I’ve never met a religion I didn’t like—I take an interest in miracles and myths of all sorts, and the season of Christmas, Chanukah, and the winter solstice (the pagan Yule), which all speak of the miraculous arrival of light in darkness, is a good time to reflect on such matters....more
Posts Tagged: colonialism
At the Public Domain Review, Nandini Das revisits The Principle Navigations and argues that the massive folio of travel writings compiled by Richard Hakluyt in 1589 is more than an artifact of British colonialism. It also memorializes, “the elusive traces of those who disappeared, the disappointment of the non-event, the tedium of travel, and the absence of wonder” that characterized the era for many who lived through it....more
As I processed a dominant Euro-American writing pedagogy from the perspective of an aspiring fiction writer and an immigrant critic of color, I couldn’t stop wondering: are we, in 21st-century America, overvaluing a sight-based approach to storytelling? And could this be another case of cultural particularity masquerading itself as universal taste?
Antiguan-American novelist Jamaica Kincaid has often made the island a centerpiece of her writing. New York Times travel editor Monica Drake recounts visiting Antigua alongside Kincaid’s words—an alternative to the dominant, colonialist narrative around the island:
The tension that we’d accumulated in our daily lives seemed to float into the distance.
For The Awl, Maria Bustillos sits down for lunch with writer Teju Cole in Bali, where Cole recently spoke at the Ubud Writers and Readers Festival. The two discuss art, colonialism, and the role of the critical writer. Regarding the latter, Cole says:
What it’s our job to do [as critics] is to help create and sustain value for overlooked work… The question is not always about what people are paying $50 million for, but the stuff that is only fifty thousand, only ten thousand, and getting that stuff into the museum space and have it be what it needs to be, to write books about it, to get it in the syllabus.
At Lit Hub, André Naffis-Sahely discusses the vital importance of translation as a way to preserve a cultural/historical record. Translation improves a book’s chances of survival. In a way, it must. What one culture proves indifferent to, might find a better reception in another....more
Classic literature is neither timeless nor fundamental. Writing is bound by its place in history, both as we read it and as it was written, and the idea of a universal experience is simply another construct of the dominant culture, argues Eric Williams, over at The Airship:
When we treat The Classics as preordained with intrinsic value, we obscure the fact that what is Classic and what is not has been determined by individuals with discrete and understandable histories.