mardi 3 avril 2007


mais j'ai pas changé;
je suis resté le même étranger

le même chien:
qui tape
un peu trop à se ranger

Sometimes I think I am a mongrel when it comes to culture, acting like a dog when the powers that be (i.e. the government, media, the prevailing winds of Chance) toss us a cultural bone. I gratefully lap up the scraps. My ears will suddenly pipe up,

singapore -- I'm loving it

Heh, I remember doing this (albeit edited) as a prompt for a practice AP Lang and Comp exam. Zora Hurston may be referring to her own black culture and the work may be a bit dated (written during the Harlem Renaissance), but there are so many things that I identify with, especially when looking at your own culture with a critical eye.

Like when you are reading linguistic papers analysing your own dialect, Singlish, something that you thought that was reserved just to you and your countrymen, and your close friends, and when you come across the outsider view on it, and a neutral outsider view, not the type that has been stigmatising your culture for so long (the Southern whites / the Speak Good English Movement). Often this bridge is so unexpected, that you quickly lap it up, not knowing when your next dose of cross-culturalism will be.

I had known about the capers Brer Rabbit is apt to cut and what Squinch Owl says from the house top. But it was fitting like a tight chemise. I couldn't see it for wearing it. It was only when I was off in college, away from my native surroundings that I could see myself like somebody else and stand off and look at my garment. Then I had to have the spyglass of Anthropology to look through at that.

I identify with this paragraph so much. I am not sure if most of my American classmates did while doing this prompt. I knew exactly what Hurston meant (though I have yet to formally take any anthropology or linguistics course). Do my American friends know what it is like to be part of a neglected subculture? And not that cheesy sort of subculture, but the subculture that forms when other cultures meet or when migrants or ethnic groups form an enclave.

And then I realised that I was new myself, so it looked sensible for me to choose familiar ground. [...] I hurried back to Eatonville because I knew that the town was full of material and that I could get it without hurt, harm or danger.

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