journeys at home and abroad
A great evening with old friends from Papua New Guinea days (now dividing their time between Timor and the US). Then TV news footage of the devastating earthquake in Haiti and a ‘phone call from someone with connections there.
Before turning off the television, surprised to find an Anthony Minghella film on BBC1, based in London (Alexandra Estate NW8), which includes characters (and a copper coffee ibrik) from Sarajevo – Breaking and Entering. Bit of a syrupy ending, but the distant and rather romantic view of Bosnia portrayed probably comes close to my own view before travelling there last year.
Glad to find Doreen Massey’s For Space mentioned in Stephen Greenblatt’s Cultural Mobility – a Manifesto, one of the books I shouldn’t really have bought from the London Review Bookshop the other day. Greenblatt reckons that cultures or patterns of meaning have rarely been stable or fixed. The kind of radical mobility that is taking place today is in fact an old, old story.
To grasp the shaping power of colonization, exile, emigration, wandering, contamination, and unexpected, random events, along with the fierce compulsions of greed, longing, and restlessness, cultural analysis needs to operate with a new set of principles.
It was good to mull over with friends how Papua New Guinea is doing nowadays, how Timor is getting along, how Bosnia is working its way to becoming part of the “international community” – and what our role is, as citizens of far more powerful nations. Although I associate the word ‘protectorate’ with days of empire, some small countries struggle to rise much above this status, even in the C21st, or perhaps particularly in the C21st.