cross-cultural slap in the face!

It’s interesting on the mind-body dualism. I am so used to it that I do not see it, but when shown it, I see and it explains a lot.

Yeah. The way I see this having its greatest effect it in humour. Instead of the preposterousness of reality-as-it-is being related back to an implicit humanistic standard of decency and fairness for all, a moral line is drawn. But it is a line of censorship in actuality.

So I suppose a person could read BLACK SUNLIGHT and think “what a crazy person the author was — but you can sympathise with his travails because he is black.”

But actually, it is supposed to be a novel full of preposterous humour. If you don’t appreciate that the implicit backdrop to all of its allusions is a humanistic standard, then you are unable to get its humour in the fullest way.

And this is deeply problematic because there is a GOOD REASON why Western culture takes itself seriously and is not self-reflexively humorous: That is because the basis for this culture is primarily a mechanistic separation of mind and body, in a non-humanistic way. The “purpose” of this, from a capitalist/industrial perspective, is to facilitate work efficacy, rather than humanistic ends. So one does not joke about serious things such as identity. Identity is too serious to joke about — unless one is making a blatant ideological point. One simply doesn’t joke in that way. Too much of economic life and death hinges upon identity for humour not to be at least extremely defensive and biting.

But the humour in Marechera is more defiant and ad hoc than intellectually biting. It makes it points more softly, more humanistically. At the same time, the humour is more slapstick, violent, than you would conventionally expect in Western culture. This is not a matter of formulating a moral discourse, but more a case of presenting an aesthetic revelation.

Pronouncements about oneself

In many of my encounters with black Africans (and somehow less so with the white ones, with whom I am more forthright), I regularly neglect to inform them of my atheism.

When they greet me with such things as “God Bless” somehow I know the feeling behind what they are saying ought to be: “The universe is smiling on you.” I have thought of explaining the ideological nature of my position with a little note: “By the way, I’m not religious. I’m an atheist.” But I recoil from that for reasons that I cannot quite explain. I’ll certainly try to, though, since I’m a sucker for punishment of the more intellectual sort.

So here it is. When I was a young horsey girl in Zimbabwe-Rhodesia, a British couple lived just down the road from us. They had a rather old, fly-bitten retired racehorse, which I used to groom, to help them out. One time the male of the couple was over in the field with us, as I was making busy pulling ticks from underneath the tail of his horse. I started to explain the procedure to the hapless fellow. “This is what you need to do……and if you can manage to tell this to your wife as well, then perhaps she can also help you if you don’t have the time…”

Well, this young English man told me at that point that the woman in his life was not his wife. He looked at me directly as if expecting a reaction — as if what he had just told me ought to hold some significance, somehow, generally, in the world. But I — for my part — couldn’t be sure of what he was trying to tell me. It just seemed odd. If the woman wasn’t his wife, and yet this wasn’t going to change anything, why was the strange man bothering to tell me something?

And so, it is with this kind of an experience in mind, the recollection of being African myself, and having Westerners make their peculiar ideological pronouncements at me, that I do not tell the one I’m writing to that I am atheistic in my leanings. (Nor do I mention the socialistic aspect to my thoughts, which could only serve to make things awkward, ideological-sounding and emotionally complicated.)

Am I right or am I wrong? I just feel awkward making sudden pronouncements about myself.