As I say and say again, I believe that it is true that in the case of most people, the modernisation processes inherent in industrialist processes give people their sense of ‘identity’ — but only so long as they are willing to submit to such instrumentalisation. (This is what I have previously referred to as the “Westernisation” of culture — this acquiescence to an identity within the industrial machine’s system of processes. It is also what I have termed previously the sense of identity being not organic or experiential, but rather mechanistically furnished and ‘a priori’).
One can, however, resist the acquisition of an industrial style identity — one without history but equipped with the facilitiy of denial concerning self insights; in particular, the way in which experiences have twisted and contorted one’s sense of the world in ways unique, profoundly personal, and incredibly complex.
The acquisition of an industrial identity is a clean slate, which effectively erases the person that one had been when one was a youth. The economic system of industrialism seem to require a fundamental transition from one state of mind — from actually experiencing one’s self as a centre for open possiblities, all things being rendered new in the moment that one experiences them — to the state of mind where one has “forgotten” the experiences that once came to one through having had an open attitude to life. At once, one has become a clean slate. One has been furnished with an identity, arrived freshly out of the box for the one that it will seek to ‘clothe’ (and thereby effectively erase). The new identity is one of industrialism’s manufactured intellectual forms. One then is in the position to “become” some thing: the job; a position in the system; in some senses, a vocation (this, a possibility remaining in our minds, from a preindustrial past).
An excerpt from “A shred of Identity” (by Marechera):
The dustman shrugs, hurls his concrete burden
Into factory hand adjusts the zip of his overalls
And without care awaits his Call – factory’s siren;
The milkman cycles his round; the soldier
Kisses his girl hurries to carry out orders.
They all seem to know their own selves
While I like a madman continue to decipher
The print on a shred of blank paper
The print that is to become the poem behind the poem.
p 99 Cemetery of Mind
—And the poem behind the poem? — In Marechera’s poetry this is always his autobiographical self.