It was soooo much work drawing this. But it all worth it when I see it in print: latest Mother Jones July August issue
Does Truth Have a Tone?
Lauren K. Alleyne interviews Jamaica Kincaidhttp://www.guernicamag.com/interviews/does-truth-have-a-tone/
Here are some excerpts that bent my brain a little. It might be time to read her:
Jamaica Kincaid: When I start to write something, I suppose I want it to change me, to make me into something not myself. And while I’m doing it, I really have the feeling that this time, at the end of it, I will be other than myself. Of course, every time I end a book, I look down at myself and I’m just the same. I’m always disappointed that I’m just the same, but not enough to never do it again! I get right back up and I start something else, and I think this time–this time—I really will be transformed into something other than this tawdry, ordinary thing, sitting on the bed and drinking cold coffee. When I write a book, I hope to be beyond mortal by the time I’m finished.
-“Race.” I really can’t understand it as anything other than something people say. The people who have said that you and I are both “black” and therefore deserve a certain kind of interaction with the world, they make race. I can’t take them seriously. Not beyond the fact that they have the ability to say that you and I are a single race.
-Another thing I like to say to my students is this: “How many Corinthians read Paul’s letters?” The answer is none. They couldn’t have cared less! There aren’t even any Corinthians left, but Paul’s letters persist. Paul was not a professional writer. He was called to something, and he sent his letters. That’s a good way to look at it. That you might be making something that nobody cares about, but you have to do it. It’s not that people should care, but that you should care.
-Slavery. The history of race relations in America. It’s very different than something like the Holocaust. The Holocaust happened in Europe, and that’s important to how it is viewed. Had Europeans done such a thing in the far corners of the earth, rather than on their own doorstep, it might not be mentioned in the history books. But that they did something in the midst of themselves was unimaginable. They did something that they started in Africa, and then it came back.
Had the Holocaust happened in Tahiti or the Congo, as it has; had it happened in South America, as it has; had it happened in the West Indies, as it has—you must remember that within fifty years of Columbus’s arrival, only the bones remained of the people called the Arawaks, with one or two of them in Spain as specimens. Had the Holocaust committed under the Nazis happened somewhere else, we wouldn’t be talking about it the way we talk about it now.
In my writing I’m trying to explore the violations people commit upon each other. And the important thing isn’t whether I’m angry. The more important thing is, is it true? Do these things really happen? I think I’m saying something true. I’m not angry. That’s not the way I think of it. The way I think of it is that I’m telling the truth.
I’m always surprised to hear or read my work described, “In angry tones, she says.” No! In truthful tones! Does truth have a tone? I don’t know.
-[Midsummer Night’s Dream influenced my view that] romance is false, that the thing we call romance is a diversion from something truer, which is life. Life has a truth to it, and it’s complicated—it’s love and it’s hatred. Love and hatred don’t take turns; they exist side by side at the same time. And one’s duty, one’s obligation every day, is to choose to follow the nobler one. And if the nobler one is something one can’t pursue, then the lesser, the ignoble one, is what is left. It’s there. It’s present. There are things that make us choose, on certain days, on certain nights, the opposite of love, in all its variations. But I want to acknowledge that with love and hate it’s not simply one or the other. It’s at least two, three, four, five different emotions existing at once, side by side, a broad spectrum of things alive.
-And I say “get out of bed,” but of course, my very bed is made by someone in Bangladesh who is probably dead right now after making it and my delicious nightclothes. It’s not that I’m a very good person. It’s that I think I should at least look at the ways in which I am not a good person, the ways in which I so readily become the person who would not notice that the wonderful clothing I’m wearing someone is probably dying for.
I followed the suggestions of this article on a Christian website and took screencaps of my husband’s responses.
You know how it is, right, ladies? You know a guy for a while. You hang out with him. You do fun things with him—play video games, watch movies, go hiking, go to concerts. You invite him to your parties. You listen to his problems. You do all this because you think he wants to be your friend.
We were heading toward all that makes life intolerable, feeling the only thing that makes it worthwhile
“Was that joy? Probably not. But it mimicked joy’s conditions pretty well. It included, in minor form, the great struggle that tends to precede joy, and the feeling—once one is “in” joy—that the experiencing subject has somehow “entered” the emotion, and disappeared. I “have” pleasure, it is a feeling I want to experience and own. A beach holiday is a pleasure. A new dress is a pleasure. But on that dance floor I was joy, or some small piece of joy, with all these other hundreds of people who were also a part of joy.
…It wasn’t all a waste of time though. At the neural level, such experiences gave you a clue about what joy not-under-the-influence would feel like. Helped you learn to recognize joy, when it arrived. I suppose a neuroscientist could explain in very clear terms why the moment after giving birth can feel ecstatic, or swimming in a Welsh mountain lake with somebody dear to you. Perhaps the same synapses that ecstasy falsely twanged are twanged authentically by fresh water, certain epidurals, and oxytocin.
…Real love came much later. It lay at the end of a long and arduous road, and up to the very last moment I had been convinced it wouldn’t happen. I was so surprised by its arrival, so unprepared, that on the day it arrived I had already arranged for us to visit the Holocaust museum at Auschwitz. You were holding my feet on the train to the bus that would take us there. We were heading toward all that makes life intolerable, feeling the only thing that makes it worthwhile.”
-Zadie Smith, “Joy”
The New York Review of Books, 2013
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