Memory has its own special kind. It selects, eliminates, alters, exaggerates, minimizes, glorifies, and vilifies also; but in the end it creates its own reality, its heterogeneous but usually coherent version of events; and no sane human being ever trusts someone else's version more than his own.
I don't think it is always necessary to take up the anti-colonial -- or is it post-colonial? -- cudgels against English. What seems to me to be happening is that those people who were once colonized by the language are now rapidly remaking it, domesticating it, becoming more and more relaxed about the way they use it -- assisted by the English language's enormous flexibility and size, they are carving out large territories for themselves within its frontiers.
Sometimes by a woodland stream he watched the water rush over the pebbled bed, its tiny modulations of bounce and flow. A woman's body was like that. If you watched it carefully enough you could see how it moved to the rhythm of the world, the deep rhythm, the music below the music, the truth below the truth. He believed in this hidden truth the way other men believed in God or love, believed that truth was in fact always hidden, that the apparent, the overt, was invariably a kind of lie.
I don't think I've ever quite grown out of it, actually. There was a point where I could recite some of those Elvish verses - which I've mercifully forgotten. But I can still, if really pushed, recite the text of the inside of the ruling ring in the language of Mordor.
The thing that always attracted me to New York was the sense of being in a place where a lot of people had a lot of stories not unlike mine. Everybody comes from somewhere else. Everyone's got a Polish grandmother, some kind of metamorphosis in their family circumstances. That's a very big thing - the experience of not living where you started.
Every Day Is for the Thief, by turns funny, mournful, and acerbic, offers a portrait of Nigeria in which anger, perhaps the most natural response to the often lamentable state of affairs there, is somehow muted and deflected by the author's deep engagement with the country: a profoundly disenchanted love. Teju Cole is among the most gifted writers of his generation.
I thought, you know, I would probably not have seen that. On the other hand, he's obviously completely telling the truth. So, then what is that? That's - I wanted to explore that. And then I wanted to talk about how ideas are born. And the big question that the book asks in a number of ways about a number of things is that. How does a new idea come into the world?
The real risks for any artist are taken in pushing the work to the limits of what is possible, in the attempt to increase the sum of what it is possible to think. Books become good when they go to this edge and risk falling over it -when they endanger the artist by reason of what he has, or has not, artistically dared.
My parents gave me the gift of irreligion, of growing up without bothering to ask people what gods they held dear, assuming that in fact, like my parents, they weren't interested in gods, and that this uninterest was 'normal.' You may argue that the gift was a poisoned chalice, but even if so, that's a cup from which I'd happily drink again.
Literature is the one place in any society where, within the secrecy of our own heads, we can hear voices talking about everythingin every possible way. The reason for ensuring that that privileged arena is preserved is not that writers want the absolute freedom to say and do whatever they please. It is that we, all of us, readers and writers and citizens and generals and goodmen, need that little, unimportant-looking room. We do not need to call it sacred, but we do need to remember that it is necessary.