In November 2007 the Massey Lectures titled “The City of Words” was broadcast as part of the CBC Radio’s Ideas series. I heard it the same year through the ABC Radio during a few Sunday afternoons. It was usually around the time when i as preparing dinner and i was in the kitchen, amazed and delighted. Alberto Manguel is the author of this particular lecture and I subsequently bought the book and devoured any other writing of his i could find. This is an extract from one of the chapters and i am posting it in here to indicate where I am going with the next body of work, post PhD….
‘….We live in a world of fluid borders and identities. The slow movements of migration and conquests that define the shape of the earth for thousands of years have, in the past few decades, accelerated a hundredfold so that, as in a fast-forward film, nothing and no-one seems to remain fixed in one place for long. Attached to a certain site through birth, blood-ties, learned affection or acquired need, we relinquish or are forced to relinquish these attachments and shift into new allegiances and devotions that in turn will shift again, sometimes backwards, sometimes forward, away from an imagined centre. These movements cause anxiety, individually and socially. Individually, because our identity changes with the displacement. We leave our home forcibly or through choice, as exiles and refugees or as immigrants or travelers, threatened or persecuted in our homeland or merely attracted by other landscapes and other civilizations. Socially, because if we stay, the place we call home changes. The arrival of new cultures, the ravages of war and of industrial upheavals, the shifts of political divisions and ethnic re groupings, the strategies of multinational companies and global trade, make it almost impossible to hold for long onto a shared definition of nationality. The terrible question that the Caterpillar asks Alice in Wonderland has been difficult to answer; today, in our kaleidoscopic universe, it has become so precarious as to be almost meaningless: “Who are You?”…..’
- The City of Words
- CBC Massey Lectures
- Alberto Manguel
- House of Anansi Press inc