I loved this book so much I’m reading it slowly, cheating weeks into my one day one week paradise.
In his opening essay, ‘Imaginary Homelands’, Rushdie said, “It may be argued that the past is a country from which we have all emigrated, that its loss is part of our common humanity. Which seems to me self-evidently true; but I suggest that the writer who is out-of-country and even out-of-language may experience this loss in an intensified form. It is made more concrete for him by the physical fact of discontinuity, of his present being in a different place from his past, of his being ‘elsewhere’. This may enable him to speak properly and concretely on a subject of universal significance and appeal.”
The key is ‘may’. Because ‘a subject of universal significance and appeal’ can be easily translated into something as basic as loss, sadness, anger, love, and alienation. One does not need to be out-of-country or out-of-language to speak properly and concretely about this. What interests me most right now is the different interpretations of a concept of loss for an out-of-country and/or out-of-language person to in-country and/or in-language person.
Two weeks ago I participated in a creativity workshop where I was asked to write down my name on a piece of paper, and to use each letter in my name as the first letter of Indonesian nouns. I have to do this fast, without thinking, and the idea was to write down the first noun I could immediately think of. My mind went blank at the letter N, and it took me five minutes before I was able to come up with a proper word.
You are so busted, you in-country, out-of-language dude.