Wednesday, November 08, 2006

... Jamaica Kincaid

Antigua is A Small Place, a ten-by-twelve mile island in the British West Indies. This is where Jamica is from. Her Memoir is written in poetical fashion. It is short, precise, fresh...

Jamaica shares her perspective on tourism.
"The thing you have always suspected about yourself the minute you became a tourist is true: A tourist is an ugly human being.... You are not an ugly person all the time... From day to day, you are a nice person... But one day, when you are sitting somewhere, alone in the crowd, and that awful feeling of displacedness comes over you... you think the words 'I must get away'... and made a leap from being that nice blob just sitting like a boob in your amniotic sac of the modern experience to being a person visiting heaps of death and ruin and feeling alive and inspired at the sight of it."

She explains further.
"That the native does not like the tourist is not hard to explain... For every native everywhere lives a life of overwhelming and crushing banality and boredom and desperation and depression... Every native would like to find a way out, every native would like a rest... But most natives in the world cannot go anywhere. They are too poor to go anywhere... to escape the reality of their lives... to live properly in the place where they live, which is the very place you, the tourist, wants to go... So when the natives see you, the tourist, they envy your ability to leave your own banality and boredom, they envy your ability to turn their own banality and boredom into a source of pleasure for yourself."

She challenges the text books I have learned from.
"You have brought your own books with you... one explaining how the West got rich not from the free and then undervalued labour of the people like me you see walking around you in Antiqua, but from the ingenuity of small shopkeepers.... so you needn't let that slightly funny feeling you have from time to time about exploitation, oppression, domination develop into full-fledged unease, discomfort; you could ruin your holiday."

Addresses the irony of the Age of Enlightenment.
"You loved knowledge, and where ever you went you made sure to build a school, a library... and in both of these places you distorted or erased my history and glorified your own."

And touches on the idea of Capitalism.
"Do you know why people like me are shy about being capitalists? Well, it's because we, for as long as we have known you, were capital, like bales of cotton and sacks of sugar, and you were the commanding, cruel capitalists, and the memory of this is so strong, the experience so recent, that we can't quite bring ourselves to embrace this idea that you think so much of."

If reading these quotes has caused you to think twice, has challanged your worldview, then you are not alone. In my first blog post I spoke of seeing through the eyes of others as a learning experience. In this book, I have accomplished just that.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Wow those quotes pack a lot. What a great thing to be able to read that perspective. I will have to check this one out.