Saturday, February 27, 2010

Inner-City Camping

At Earl Grey's birthday party I had another conversation with the Patriot, who is really a nice kid. I say this despite the tension I always feel during our verbal sparring.

I asked him why he's learning English.

He said - to be able to do business with the British. Maybe the Americans, too, but primarily he's interested in England. They have football [soccer].

A pause.

There's such a rhetoric of emigration, he said (in paraphrase, so no quotes), but there was and is no desire in his heart to get to America. That seems to be what so many books and movies are about - get out, get to America, get out. But he doesn't want to.

I know what you mean, I told him. I'd like to travel to places around the world, but I don't think I'd like to live there (thank you, Ernie).

I shouldn't have said that (here the paraphrase conversation ends and analysis begins). I shouldn't've. I tell people that I think of Russia as a camping experience; I do my best not to but I feel culture shock at things that are strange, and comfort from those tow hich I'm accustomed; I could visit Russia, and will continue to for research, but I couldn't be an expat living here.

And this is me as the d-bag colonial invader™.

If I'm not in love with the culture as an exotic exhibit of orientalism, it doesn't mean I'm clean in my relation to it. If I don't despise the country as THE ENEMY or think it completely backwards, that also doesn't purge me of my inherent colonialism.

I could only beg objectivism if I could say that I want to live here - not as a romantic escape - in the same way that I could say I'd be fine with living in P'mouth or in Boston or Chambana or any other "comfortable" place in the US - that's when I can argue against the imperialist view that must be inherent to my life.

4 comments:

Kara Dugas said...

I would stay for a day if I had my wish
But theres not much to do when your friends are all fish
And an oyster and clam aren't good family
So I don't want to live in the sea.

You should actually thank Shel Silverstein since that was his poem before it was Ernie's song :-)

HillaryBKing said...

Hi Andrew, I'm enjoying your escapades - now I have that song stuck in my head too. Ernie's my favorite though, so I don't much mind. Cheers!

Shelley said...

I had no idea that was Shel Silverstein's poem before it was Ernie's song.

And what I really was going to comment is that I keep chuckling about "at Earl Grey's birthday party." After that, did you go to the Easter Bunny's bar mitzvah?

Andrew said...

Kara: I guess it makes sense that neither Shelley nor I knew about Shel Silverstein. At least we have Sesame Street to provide us with cultural enlightenment!

Hil: thanks for reading!

Shel: it'll be on Good Friday.