Samuel R. Delany on Ethnocentricity

Quote

To assume you can somehow escape ethnocentricity and that there is some objective position that stands outside your culture from which, “freely and rightly,” you can criticize other groups who are “trapped” in theirs is the moment of blindness from which grow all the abuses of the dominant, unmarked state when that particular state, whatever it is, obtains dominance—which, if it is culturally useful enough, it will.

­–“Escaping Ethnocentricity?” by Samuel R. Delany

Go read the whole thing.

stumbling-home-drunk-in-the-rain selfie

2014-03-30 02.00.41

Drunk after a friend’s going-away party and pissed that he’s leaving even though I can hardly begrudge him fuck if my company got bought I’d be there but…

Fuck.

Meaningful human relationships, how do they work? I’m bad at them. You can live in the same city, another coast, or another country, it doesn’t matter, I don’t know how to people.

And I’m not used to people leaving me. Don’t they know that’s my job?

Fiction: “Palo Alto, Early Summer”

Palo Alto twilight, by Arenamontanus on Flickr (CC by-nc)

I can’t sleep, so here, have some fiction.

Speaking of atlases as we were, this is a story I wrote three years and another life ago (or two? I’ve lost count), as a way to map out one possible future.

My own life has moved past it, but it still lays out a path someone else might take. Maybe even a future me.

For this story, for me, the change of it is not so much something the character undergoes, but between myself, now, and the ‘I’ of the story. I don’t know if that will work at all for you, too, but I hope it does.

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What I’m Watching: The Wind Rises

Saw The Wind Rises, the new (and supposedly last) movie directed by Hayao Miyazaki, with my boyfriend over the weekend. We both really enjoyed it.

It is, remarkably, a movie about engineers which shows the characters actually engineering, which we both found pleasant.

It’s obviously conflicted about the uses to which the planes the main character designed were put, and it engages lightly but (I thought) well with the issues, showing us the characters as they work out out how they feel about the compromises they’re forced to make. It also acknowledges Japan’s own imperial excesses in the period more than I had expected (ie. at all).

It is additionally a love story, which reflects on its central theme in interesting ways.

It is inspiring, touching, and ultimately poignant. We found it very powerful.

“They create, through the stories they’re given, an atlas of their world”

This apartheid of literature — in which characters of color are limited to the townships of occasional historical books that concern themselves with the legacies of civil rights and slavery but are never given a pass card to traverse the lands of adventure, curiosity, imagination or personal growth — has two effects.

One is a gap in the much-written-about sense of self-love that comes from recognizing oneself in a text, from the understanding that your life and lives of people like you are worthy of being told, thought about, discussed and even celebrated. Academics and educators talk about self-esteem and self-worth when they think of books in this way, as mirrors that affirm readers’ own identities. I believe that this is important, but I wonder if this idea is too adult and self-concerned, imagining young readers as legions of wicked queens asking magic mirrors to affirm that they are indeed “the fairest of them all.”

The children I know, the ones I meet in school visits, in juvenile detention facilities like the Cheltenham Youth Facility in Maryland, in ritzy private schools in Connecticut, in cobbled-together learning centers like the Red Rose School in Kibera, Nairobi — these children are much more outward looking. They see books less as mirrors and more as maps. They are indeed searching for their place in the world, but they are also deciding where they want to go. They create, through the stories they’re given, an atlas of their world, of their relationships to others, of their possible destinations.

From the New York Times (also).

You can see me here engaged in the same thing.

I’ve found very few maps where my part of the world is marked with any legend more sage than “Here There Be Dragons.”