Monday, May 12, 2008

Chroniclers of Pain

Zionism has been a phenomenal success. Over little more than half a century, Israel has achieved much - for the Jews. Meanwhile the condition of the Palestinians, who are subject to a brutal occupation and siege, deteriorates by the day, while the rulers of the world do nothing.
Jaqueline Rose in the Guardian looks to the country's fiction in an article called Chroniclers of Pain to see how authors such as Amos Oz, Orly Castel-Bloom, Yizhar, Etgar Keret, Emil Habibi have :
... acted as the nation's conscience, shattering the rhetoric of state.
This sounds so like something that Farish Noor would say, don't you think? :
All nations, as Ernest Renan famously stated, rely on forgetting or historical error (which is why, he adds, progress in historical knowledge can threaten national identity). They rely on stories that have to be forged out of a retreating past, reworking memory as they go.
Fiction can, and should, challenge that rhetoric.


rajan said...

Also Renan's..."a nation is a group of people united by a mistaken view of the past and a hatred of its neighbours" is so true then and now. Each time a bad case of xenophobia breaks out, I remember his words.

bibliobibuli said...

i hadn't heard of him before. here are a few more of his quotes

dreamer idiot said...

A nation is always a construct, created either out of a shared imagination/ideal of a group of people, or constructed out of the historical circumstances, which in Malaysia's case, the British, who made a deal with the Dutch who then took and drew the map of modern Indonesia.

It's really sad for the people of Israel and Palestine, the 'war' between them, when they are actually 'brothers' sharing the same ancestral patriarch, Abraham/Ibrahim, but are divided over the differences in their interpretations of their past.

bibliobibuli said...

dreamer idiot - farish's talk at klab was fascinating and i wish you could have been there. he talked about how the myths of race and nationhood continue to be perpetuated. it made so much sense and yet i really hadn't thought about it in that way before.

Madcap Machinist said...

"... let us tell a truthful lie, a noble lie, a heroic lie." - Farish Noor.

Not the same talk, but it's in the same spirit: Video from CeritAku@Readings in March.

Jordan said...

I really like Amos Oz. I recently wrote about him here.