30 August 2008

"Island Thinking"

The below excerpt is from Jamaica Kincaid. When I lived in Boston, I used to keep it on my fridge to ponder when I thought about what life would be like after returning to Bermuda. She was originally from Antigua, but moved to the U.S. Solely from this quote, I always thought of her as being angry and bitter about the islands, but then, I haven't made it through any of her writing.

I like to think that here in Bermuda, we are a bit further along than the subjects of her quote.

[excerpt from The Chronicle of Higher Education, January 30, 1998]

In the place I'm from you don't have much room. You have the sea. If you step on the sea, you sink. The only thing the sea can do is take you away. People living on a tiny island are not expected to have deep thoughts about how they live, their right to live. You can have little conflicts, disagreements about what side of the street to walk on, but you cannot disagree that perhaps there should not be a street there. You cannot disagree about fundamental things, which is what an artist would do. All they're left with is a kind of pastoral beauty, a kind of natural beauty, and wonderful trinkets. They make nice hats. They catch fish in an old-fashioned way. It's all aesthetic, but it has no thinking to it. They cannot think. They will not allow themselves to think. They might have to change things, and they can't bear it.

--Jamaica Kincaid, writer, in Conversations with American Novelists: The Best Interviews from The Missouri Review and the American Audio Prose Library, edited by Kay Bonetti, Greg Michalson, Speer Morgan, Jo Sapp, and Sam Stowers, and published by the University of Missouri Press

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