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i apologize for my rather late response to pedro [meyer] and saskia
[sassen]on this thread. i've been "on the road again" [re: willie
nelson], and somehow missed pedro's posting on february 23 in the
process. i dare say that the great thing about pedro's contribution--and
disputation of my position--is that we do indeed agree on a whole lot of
there is a difference between an 'other' in the sense that each one of
us is the next person's 'other', and _the_ Other as she has been
constructed in contemporary discourse, namely _the_ Other as subaltern,
as margina. it is the later Otherness that i specifically refuse to
assume or validate. it is this Other that i object to being designated
as, this mark of subordinate oppositionality; and on that point i would
disagree with you or anyone else who describes me as the west's "Other".
you may revel in that designation, and in the comfort or martyrdom of
the margin, but you will do so alone; not with me.
in _Black skin, white masks_ fanon, quoting aime cesaire, asserts: "Get
used to me, i am not getting used to anyone." at the end of "The fact of
blackness", a particularly complex and sophisticated essay, fanon
concludes with this analogy and affirmation:
"The crippled veteran of the Pacific war says to my brother, "Resign
yourself to your color the way I got used to my stump; we're both
victims." Nevertheless, with all my strength I refuse to accept that
amputation. I feel in myself a soul as immense as the world, truly a
soul deep as the deepest rivers, my chest has the power to expand
in same vein, my friend from latin america says to me, "resign yourself
to your Otherness the way i got used to mine; we are both marginal."
nevertheless, with all my strength i refuse to accept that displacement,
for to accept that brand on my forehead, to accept that tag, is to
defeat the very purpose of my striving on the new frontiers of history.
no, be the Other, the subaltern if you may; i will not be anyone's
subaltern in or outside cyberspace.
one of the highlights of odetta's carnegie hall concert on april 8, 1960
was the negro valedictory, "No more auction block for me", an early
nineteenth century song originally sung by former slaves after escape to
canada, and one that would eventually become a bob dylan cult song and
provide the melody for his "blowin' in the wind." needless to say, it is
a song with a lot of resonance for some of us. in leaving behind america
and its continuing slavery laws and practices and claiming their
selfhood in the abolitionist territory of colonial canada, those women
and men who had suffered the terrors of Otherization and the brand of
inconsequence raised their voices and sang no, no more. their lots in
life might not have changed much, but they very well recognized the
necessity of self-definition. there is power in the word: wonder-working
power. we are not merely what has happened to us: we are what we accept
for ourselves, also.
there are mexicans in cyberspace, and poles, and nigerians, and turks,
and italians, in same was as there are mexicans, poles, nigerians, turks
and italians in new york city. these are nobody's Others, and that is
reality as i understand it. when i speak of a new order of citizens, a
new formation, i reiterate fanon's prognosis over thirty years ago when
he wrote: "We shall see that another solution is possible. It implies a
restructuring of the world." a sentence earlier the great philosopher
and activist wrote: "From the moment the Negro [substitute Latino, Arab,
anyone else] accepts the separation imposed by the European he has no
further respite." there is no finer, more concise articulation of the
question in existence. it is neither a hyperbole nor a grand illusion to
posit that we have a new opportunity to see things different, to
re-examine delineations and hierarchies that we currently take for
granted, to relate to one another differently, to surmount any complexes
of--or obsessions with--marginalia. it is not to dismiss "reality"
either. on the contrary, it is to affirm reality.
i will return to the questions of national arts and language and the
implausibility of national web art in a subsequent posting. for now let
us rest with one thought: we are as different from one another as the
worls of our fingertips, but none of us is an after-entity.
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