Elif Shafak: The Politics of Fiction

We all live in some kind of a social and cultural circle, we all do. We’re born into a certain family, nation, class, but if we ┬áhave no connection whatsoever with the world beyond the walls we take for granted, we (too) run the risk of drying up inside. Our imagination might shrink, our hearts might dwindle and our humanness may wither if we stay for too long inside our cultural cocoons. Our friends, neighbours, colleagues, family – if all the people in our inner circle resemble us, it means we are surrounded by our mirror image.

…..communities of the likeminded are one of the greatest dangers of today’s globalised world. And it’s happening everywhere – amongst liberals and conservatives, agnostics and believers, the rich and the poor, east and west alike. We tend to form clusters based on similarity and then we produce stereotypes about other clusters of people.

On passing things from one generation to another

I just read this post by Noah Brier about immigration in America. He mentions how immigrants generally tend to assimilate into their chosen culture and lose their native language within something like 1.5 generations. I’ve been having conversations about the pros and cons of immigration with a number of people lately, and somehow that statement struck home. Noah points to an article in the Economist which talks about how people in America assimilate remarkably well, and most arguments about how immigrants are more or less a blight on society are unfounded.

As the digital generation grows by the day (I have younger cousins who I never thought really knew what Twitter was, now following me on it), I am reminded of the fact that my use of digital technologies will be nothing compared to what it will be like for generations 1.5 years down the line. They’ll never know what videotapes are, for example. And as much as I feel that it is important to safeguard my native language by trying my absolute best to ensure that it is passed to the next generation, I suppose the maximum I can do is to pass it one generation down. It will have to go on its on steam from there.

No wonder projects that evoke a sense of nostalgia in me are what come easily to my memory. I am ridiculously excited for the future, but I still love my past. I wonder if that’s the way most people feel, or whether one typically takes precedence over the other. Hmmm.