Tag Archives: Articles on English Language and Literature

Transnationalism in Gabriel Okara’s ‘Once Upon A Time’

P.C. Jabneel Praveen and B. Sharan

II MA English Language and Literature

PG and Research Department of English

Madras Christian College (Autonomous)

29 March 2016


Abstract

   This paper attempts to explore the nexus between transnational approaches and their manifestations in addressing the ongoing questions regarding nation, culture and the language of the community. The Transnational spotlight is on the connections that migrant establish between countries which showcases tensions and ambivalences resulting in constant negotiations , reinventions and remediations of national traditions. As the term, transnationalism suggests, transnational literature is located in the age of the national state, however also taking place in the pre and post-national conditions. This paper foregrounds the methodology interrogating the past terminologies of the national and global hierarchy thus creating a historical reality and residual idea in the literary cultural space. It is a blurring of the geographical boundaries to create a unique way of traversing the continents and culture. This leads to a greater degree of connection between individuals, communities and societies across borders bringing about changes in the social, cultural, economic and political landscapes of societies of origins and destinations. This paper further intends to study Gabriel Okara Once Upon A Time using a transnational approach, where the speaker longs to regain his innocence, by reflecting on the two phases of his life. The poet portrays the advent of the Western imperialism of which he was a victim and the cry of the colonised against the colonisers. This paper foreshadows the rudiments of Western Imperialism in terms of culture. It also shows how manhood has changed from the past. Nostalgia about the past is detailed by the poet to his son which in terms of reality is said to be a Utopian dream for the poet and where he firmly registers that for him giving up the past is difficult and to live in the present is an alienated feeling.

Key Words: Transnationalism, Ambivalence, Western Imperialism

   

                           

 

India is a vast country with numerous linguistic cultures. These linguistic cultures have their individual ways of viewing literary creativity. The functions that literature performs in India are not necessarily what the European sociology of literature stipulates. The range of literary transactions in India is wide. These transactions cannot be classified in the accepted Western typology of the mainstream, the popular and the folk. A study of the bhasa literatures may show that literature in the Indian languages has been a matter of revolt and heresy rather than that of imposition and authority. In the minimum, Indian literature has ingrained in it a spirit of multilingualism and multiculturalism. – G.N. Devy   “The person who finds homeland sweet is still a tender beginner, he to whom every soil is as his native one is already strong, but he is perfect to whom the entire world is a foreign place”. Today transnationalism seems to be everywhere, at least in social science. That is, across numerous disciplines there is a widespread interest in economic, social and political linkages between people, places and institutions crossing nation-state borders and spanning the world. The expansion of transnationalism as a topic of study has been tracked by Gustavo Cano (2005). As any current internet search will reveal, this expansion of interest is evident in a rapidly increasing number of publications, conferences and doctoral projects within the disciplines of sociology, anthropology, geography, political science, law, economics and history, as well as in interdisciplinary fields such as international relations, development studies, business studies, ethnic and racial studies, gender studies, religious studies, media and cultural studies. And as particularly detailed in the bulk of this book, such interest is growing in migration studies too.

Homi K. Bhabha from The Location of Culture:

A history of roots predicated on purist cartographers of the homeland is abandoned in favour of a history of routes predicated on itineraries of travel, hybrid exchanges and shifting localities

Nation embodies a coherent culture united on the basis of shared descent or at least in incorporating with a historically stable coherence

The myth of nationhood masked by ideology perpetuates Nationalism in which specific identifiers are employed to create exclusive and homogeneous conception of national traditions .  ‘The discourse of cultural specificity and difference, packaged for transnational consumption’ through global technologies, particularly through the medium of ‘microelectronic transnationalism’ represented by electronic bulletin boards and the Internet- Gayathri Spivak.

The increasing interaction and mutual exchange across the borders of national cultures and languages today means that contemporary literature to an ever lesser extent reflects the context of one single nation and culture, but operates in an open and transnational filed.  Transnational literature reflects the permanent flow, transfer or circulation of people, cultures and ideas. These border crossings also imply tensions and ambivalences resulting in constant negations, reinventions and remediations of national traditions in new literary forms. As the term suggests, transnational literature usually is located in the era of the nation state. However, similar phenomena also took and take place on pre- and post national conditions. Transnationalism  is a key factor in contemporary migration management. Migration policies need to be informed by the realities of Transnationalism, both positive and negative. Migrant transnationalism – a broad category referring to a range of practices and institutions linking migrants, people and organizations in their homelands or elsewhere in a diaspora – is a subset of a broader range of transnational social formations . Although some early literature on migrant transnationalism in the early 1990s might have seemed to suggest such, it is not assumed that all migrants today engage in sustained social, economic and political engagement across borders. Indeed, modes or types of transnational contact and exchange may be selective, ebb and flow depending on a range of conditions, or develop differently through life cycles or settlement processes.  We all know what Transnationalism is. Transnationalism is quite similar to that of  Diaspora. Identifying types, specificities and differences surrounding migrant transnationalism is perhaps a conceptually burdensome task, but it is an arguably necessary one. Differentiation provides clearer ways of describing the infrastructures, conditions or contexts of transnational relations. Transnational infrastructures and their impacts among migrants vary with regard to a host of factors, including family and kinship organization, transportation or people-smuggling routes, communication and media networks, financial arrangements and remittance facilities, legislative frameworks regarding movement and legal status, and economic interdependencies linking local economies. To be brief we could also apply this theory in Bible. The extract from Exodus, of moving to the promised land sets forth an example of Transnationalism. The Lord chosen people Israelities, generation to generation were clutched in slavery by the Egyptians under the ruling king of Egypt. In order to free the Israelites, God sent Moses. The journey was tough. Moses did not take up the shortest or the easiest route. They very carefully reached the Jordan River to enter the promised land. Their first camp on their journey was at Marah, where the Lord made bitter water turn sweet. After leaving Elim, the people murmered for food, God sent Manna. Moses then led Israel towards Mount Sinai, dwelling there for a while and again moved north through a fear filled inspiring wilderness. All these comes in the book of Deuteronomy in the Holy Bible. On taking into account only the Exodus, we tend to analyse this concept of Transnationalism where by the migration must be considered both positive and negative. When we read Exodus, Numbers and Deuteronomy in the Holy Bible we get to foreshadow the Egyptians-Israelites conflict. The latter part of the story goes like this..The Israelites reach Mount Nebo where Moses later dies in sight of the land he had desired to enter. It then falls to Joshua to lead Israel into the land, ending a journey which had begun 40 years earlier. In recent years,  transnationalism has reshaped debates across the humanities and social sciences by providing a new theoretical lingua franca for describing extensive multi-regional exchanges and connections. Yet, as with similarly encompassing and unavoidably murky concepts, what transnationalism stands for exactly remains open to debate. While the prefix is indicative of an effort to represent cultural movements, along with economic and political processes, which strive towards a borderless, post national world, the noun also reminds us of the polarizations that this project mobilizes. As this collection of essays helps to illustrate, the ambiguities surrounding the concept of transnationalism, and the space it provides for theoretical  interventions cutting across the historically constructed boundaries of  the nation, make it a productive but slippery construct difficult to situate in relation to both national and other postnational formations. Transnationalism signals a movement towards the crossing and breaking open of national boundaries; while also it can be thought of as a way of naming the tensions between formations such as globalization and the nation-state, which, in the face of the continued interrogation of national boundaries, has proven to be a tenacious construct. Were we to offer one word to serve as an entry-point into our discussion of transnationalism, we would suggest “traverse”. “Traverse”, in common usage, means to cross over or move through a particular space or obstacle; originally it also meant to discuss, dispute and oppose. The latter meaning is now obsolete, but it would serve us well to keep it in mind while considering the implications of what we have called “traversing  transnationalism”. Running together, these two meanings of “traversing” translate into paying attention to how  transnationalism’s focus on circulations and crossings among different spaces, different scales – subnational, national, outernational, and global – and different temporalities, including pre- and postnational, does not occur for its own sake, but enables the critical interrogation of these spatio-temporal coordinates, for which the transnational serves as a substitute. Therefore traversing transnationalism allows formodels of transnational relationships, whether operating on a planetary or more modest scale, to appear as figures of thought and contestation.

Edward Said from Culture and Imperialism says,

“We should remember that it is the ‘inter’ – the cutting edge of translation and negotiation, the inbetween space – that carries the burden of the meaning of culture”.

On the transnationalistic view let us analyse a poem of Gabriel Okara..Gabriel Okara’s “Once Upon a Time” deals with innocence becoming adulthood. Okara addressing his son and sharing how the cultural values have been changed. He could realize that a drastic change has been taken place in the people’s attitude. He feels that once the African community once had these values like hospitality, kind-heartedness, simplicity, love and affection but in a matter of time everything has vanished completely. And there was no other responses in this poem, even is son did not respond. “The person who finds homeland sweet is still a tender beginner, he to whom every soil is as his native one is already strong, but he is perfect to whom the entire world is a foreign place”. “Once Upon a Time” showcases the vacuity in human relations and particularly when involves two countries when there is no belief in a transnational confluence. In other words, Gabriel Okara suggests through his poem the negative conscious and the absence of transnational spirit. “Feel at home”  – This shows the nature of feeling comfort and as natural as possible, and making anybody feel at home everywhere. But Okara brings in the concept of ‘Exilic consciousness’ which means ‘never feel at home’. It denotes two ideas – foreign power controlling over the nation and foreign conscious suffer, dealing with discrimination. This portrays Exilic Consciousness and its adverse consequence by using the expression “feel at home”. When the expression “feel at home” means being happy, secure and comfortable,  Exilic Consciousness will disallow all these three. In this context, the source of Exilic Consciousness which is diverse sources of discrimination is addressed. The only way to go beyond the pangs of Exilic Consciousness is to have a transnational spirit which makes a person “feel at home” anywhere and everywhere. Okara then talks about ‘many faces’ which foregrounds the limitations and problems of mimicree. The need to indulge in mimicree is primarily because what is mimicked is greater and stronger than what does ‘the mimicree’. During the process of mimicree, artificial masks are own, rendering the real face both useless and obsolete. The multiple masks that Gabriel Okara deals with the total absence of naturalness and spontaneity. Later, the poet problematizes the language which is usually used to express what is genuinely thought and felt. When the poet says, ‘good-riddance’ becomes subtext of ‘good-bye’. The language foregrounds the confusions in consciousness, through domination and pointless control. By problematizing language, Okara says that concrete inconsciousness can only be resolved when differences are transcended. In other words, diversity must be recognized but should not be the means of discrimination. As observed earlier, the essence of Transnational perception is confluence. The word, ‘confluence’ highlights the power of human mind to live with differences with mutual respects and reciprocal warmth. Hence Okara’s “Once Upon a Time” talking about innocence and adulthood, actually deals with a happy consciousness of confluence and its binary discrimination and its natural consciousness domination. Also, this section is in the form of a dialogue between adulthood and innocence, between conflictual discrimination and confluence. The old man’s desire to be like the innocent boy is a desire for the spirit of acceptance and accommodation. This section also says the adulthood must give up knowledge system in order to be innocent and genuine. The deepest human desire is actually for oneness. The last section of the poem talks about important process of transformation by using words like ‘un-learning’ and ‘re-learning’. The consciousness of children is not discriminatory. The ideal way to live for an adult is to regain the consciousness of a child. In the context of the poem, one can say Transnational Consciousness is childlike and has to be retained at all costs. The poem celebrates childhood and innocence and by extension a transnational consciousness which used to be there “Once Upon a Time” in every human being’s life when he/she was a child. This paper presents Gabriel Okara Once Upon A Time using a transnational approach, where the speaker longs to regain his innocence, by reflecting on the two phases of his life. The poet portrays the advent of the Western imperialism of which he was a victim and the cry of the colonised against the colonisers. This paper foreshadows the rudiments of Western Imperialism in terms of culture. It also shows how manhood has changed from the past. Nostalgia about the past is detailed by the poet to his son which in terms of reality is said to be a Utopian dream for the poet and where he firmly registers that for him giving up the past is difficult and to live in the present is an alienated feeling. Transnationalism and diaspora are two key concepts by which to organize our understanding of nation, identity, and globalization in today ’ s world. They are also terms that are often used interchangeably. These two concepts tend to overlap with globalization theories in describing the conditions that give rise to new forms of migration, mobility, and mediatization. This volume shows that while there is no simple resolution to these intersections, there is a need to understand how these concepts and categories articulate with and against each other. Taken together, theconcepts of diaspora and transnationalism promise a broad understanding of all the forms and implications that derive from the vast movements of populations, ideas, technologies, images, and fi nancial networks that have come to shape the world we live in today. If the keywords that have organized the fi elds of diaspora  and transnational studies thus far have involved historically charged terms (i.e., nation, nationalism, ethnicity, culture, politics, economics, society, space, place, homeland, home, narrative, representation, alienation, nostalgia, and all their cognates), it is because the conditions they pertain to are so variegated that their understanding requires a multifocal, and indeed interdisciplinary, approach. The chapters in this volume address these entanglements from a variety of perspectives and will cover a wide range of topics and methodological approaches.

WORK CITED:

  • Alger, Chadwick F. 1997 ‘Transnational social movements, world politics and global govenance’, in Jackie Smith, Charles Chatfield and Ron Pagnucco (eds), Transnational Social Movements and Global politics, Syracuse: Syracuse: Syracuse University Press.

 

  • Bamyeh, Mohammed A. 1993 ‘Transnationalism’

 

  • Glick Schiller, Nina, Linda Basch and Cristina Szanton Blanc. 1992 ‘ Transnationalism: a new analytic framework for understanding migration’, in Nina Glick Schiller, Linda Basch & Cristina Szanton Blanc (eds), Toward a Transnational Perspective on Migration, New York Academy of Sciences.

 

  • Bartolovich, Crystal. ‘Global Capital and Transnationalism’. In Schwarz and Ray, A Companion to Postcolonial Studies. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

 

  • Bhabha, Homi K. The Location of Culture. London: Routledge, 1994.

 

  • Harrow, Kenneth W. (ed.). Special Issue: ‘Nationalism’. Research in African

      Literatures on Nationalism (2001)

  • Mahler, S. (1998) ‘Theoretical and empirical contributions toward a research agendafor transnationalism’.

 

 

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Pity and Responsibility in Graham Greene’s The Heart of the Matter

Dr Chung Chin-Yi
Research scholar, National University of Singapore

Abstract: It is thus because Scobie has a conscience that he experiences despair because he knows the gravity of his sin unlike the evil man who is without conscience and always has the hope that sin has no consequence, it is Scobie’s conscience as a man of faith that convinces him of his damnation because of his acute sense of guilt from sinning while the evil man is always convinced of his flawlessness and never experiences any sense of failure because he does not have a moral bearing or ideals which he holds dear to him or a capacity for something greater, so it is Scobie’s goodwill and conscience which damns him and convinces him that his adultery will never be absolved by God.
Keywords: Greene, Pity, Responsibility, Sin, Adultery, Suicide

Why […] do I love this place so much? Is it because here human nature hasn’t had time to disguise itself? Nobody here could ever talk about a heaven on earth. Heaven remained rigidly in its proper place on the other side of death, while on this side flourished the injustices, the cruelties, the meanness that elsewhere people so cleverly hushed up. Here you could love human beings nearly as God loved them, knowing the worst: you didn’t love a pose, a pretty dress, a sentiment artfully assumed.
Book 1, Part 1, ch 1, sect. 5
Scobie thus loves Sierra Leone for what it is in all its fallen-ness and mean-ness and imperfection. Heaven remains firmly on the other side of death while Sierra Leone was fallen, inadequate, imperfect, but which Scobie loved anyway because it was so honest and without pretense.
Against the beautiful and the clever and the successful, one can wage a pitiless war, but not against the unattractive: then the millstone weighs on the breast.
Book 1, Part 1, ch. 2, sect. 2
In this passage Scobie describes his feelings of pity and responsibility for his wife Louise, she is not perfect and she is unattractive, it is this unattractive nature of hers that stirs pity and responsibility in Scobie though he has long ceased loving her, he feels enough responsibility toward her to borrow money from Yusef to send her to South Africa after which he begins his doomed affair with Helen Rolt whom he falls in love with again out of pity because she is recently widowed and she reminds him of his daughter, eventually the sense of pity and responsibility towards both Helen Rolt and Louise will lead him to take his life as he cannot bring himself out of adultery and cannot bring himself to divorce Louise as it is a fatal sin for a Catholic like himself.
Despair is the price one pays for setting oneself an impossible aim. It is, one is told, the unforgivable sin, but it is a sin the corrupt or evil man never practises. He always has hope. He never reaches the freezing-point of knowing absolute failure. Only the man of goodwill carries always in his heart this capacity for damnation.
Book 1, Part 1, ch. 2, sect. 4
It is thus because Scobie has a conscience that he experiences despair because he knows the gravity of his sin unlike the evil man who is without conscience and always has the hope that sin has no consequence, it is Scobie’s conscience as a man of faith that convinces him of his damnation because of his acute sense of guilt from sinning while the evil man is always convinced of his flawlessness and never experiences any sense of failure because he does not have a moral bearing or ideals which he holds dear to him or a capacity for something greater, so it is Scobie’s goodwill and conscience which damns him and convinces him that his adultery will never be absolved by God.
The truth, he thought, has never been of any real value to any human being – it is a symbol for mathematicians and the philosophers to pursue. In human relations kindness and lies are worth a thousand truths.
Book 1, Part 1, ch. 2, sect. 4
It is thus Scobie’s kindness towards others as towards Louise he wishes to spare her from the truth that he no longer loves her, as he wishes to spare Helen Rolt from the truth that he cannot bring himself to divorce Louise and start again with her because it is a fatal sin for him as a Catholic to divorce. Thus he is entrapped in a deepening web of lies from which only suicide can set him free as his pity and responsibility towards both Louise and Helen Rolt makes it such that he cannot bring himself to hurt either or choose between the two and bring one of them to despair. He would rather sacrifice his own life like Christ than bring one of them to despair.
Point me out the happy man and I will point you out either extreme egotism, evil – or else an absolute ignorance.
Book 2, Part 1, ch. 1, sect. 3
Scobie thus rationalizes that it is only extreme egotism that convinces a man he is without sin and thus happy or absolute ignorance like the evil man who is without conscience and thus lives without awareness of his sin and a fear of damnation that comes out of the consequences of sin.

People talk about the courage of condemned men walking to the place of execution: sometimes it needs as much courage to walk with any kind of bearing towards another person’s habitual misery.
Book 2, Part 1, ch. 2, sect. 3
Again it is Scobie’s sense of pity and responsibility that leads him to view himself as a penitent savior for Louise and Helen Rolt’s misery, it is his sense of pity for Louise’s misery that makes him stay in the marriage, it is pity for Helen Rolt’s loneliness as a widow that leads him to begin his affair with her it takes courage on his part to constantly feel the need to engage and remove the misery of others from this terrible sense of pity he feels towards Louise and Helen Rolt.
“Pity smouldered like decay at his heart. He would never rid himself of it. He knew from experience how passion died away and how love went, but pity always stayed. Nothing ever diminished pity. The conditions of life nurtured it. There was only a single person in the world who was unpitiable, oneself.”
Book 2, Part 3, ch. 1, sect.
The fatal flaw of Scobie is thus pity, he cannot bring himself to rid himself of pity towards Helen Rolt and Louise and the accompanying sense of responsibility which comes with it with which he can only envision suicide as an escape because he cannot bear to let either woman down.
He whispered, ‘Oh God, I have deserted you. Do not desert me.’
Book 2, Part 3, ch. 1, sect. 1
Scobie thus feels a terrible sense of guilt from his adultery and feels that he has deserted God but feels in turn that God might not desert him out of the same kind of pity he demonstrates towards Louise and Helen Rolt.
God can wait, he thought: how can one love God at the expense of one of his creatures? Would a woman accept the love for which a child had to be sacrificed?
Book 2, Part 3, ch. 1, sect. 3
Scobie thus rationalizes his sin of adultery – God would not allow him to love him at the expense of Helen Rolt like a mother loves a child to be sacrificed, this is again a terrible rationalization of his adultery just like he rationalized Christ’s atoning death was a suicide to comfort himself of committing the mortal sin of suicide.
He entered the territory of lies without a passport for return.
Book 2, Part 3, ch. 2, sect. 1
Scobie is caught between two women whom he feels a deep sense of pity and responsibility towards and finds himself tangled in lies which he cannot absolve himself of and thus sees the need to escape the life of lies and acting through his suicide.
One must be reasonable, he told himself, and recognize that despair doesn’t last (is that true?), that love doesn’t last (but isn’t that the very reason that despair does?)[…]
Book 3, Part 1, ch. 2, sect. 2
Scobie again tries to rationalize that his despair towards offending God with his adultery will not last as love does not last either. Perhaps despair lasts only because love does not, because love towards a fellow human being is transient while despair towards separation from God is eternal.
You can look after yourself. You survive the cross every day. You can only suffer. You can never be lost. Admit that you must come second to these others.’ And myself, he thought, […] I must come last.
Book 3, Part 1, ch. 2, sect. 2
Scobie rationalizes again that God can take care of himself from the crucifixions that occur to him daily and this somehow makes God in a subordinate position to sin.Clearly this is a nonsensical rationalization as was his rationalization that Christ’s death was a suicide to spare himself the guilt of his suicide.
Scobie thus commits suicide out of despair that he has let God down and that he wants to spare God from himself as well as the act that he cannot bring himself to let either Louise of Helen Rolt down. In the end Father Rank hints that though Scobie’s death was a suicide, his love of God that led him to commit suicide is what may eventually spare him from the wrath and damnation of God as it was a genuine desire to spare God from himself that leads him to kill himself.

Works cited:
Greene, Graham. The Heart of the Matter. Vintage, London. 2004.

Conflict Between Good and Evil in R.K. Narayan’s The Guide

Dinesh Kumar

Asstt. Prof. of English

Dyal Singh College, Karnal

 

Abstract

There is no doubt in denying the fact that R.K. Narayan is one of the dominating figures in Indian Writing in English. The conflict between good and evil is recurrent theme in his fiction. Although, this theme has been dealt by a number of British and American novelists in there fiction, but Narayan has dealt with this theme in an efficient manner. Unlike his novel, The Man of Malgudi, in the present novel, The Guide, he has chosen only onefigure, Raju, an embodiment of both the traits good evil. How this conflict between good and evil leads to his catastrophe , is the central concern of the present novel, The Guide.

Jacques Derrida on Christianity as sacrifice and gift

Chung Chin-Yi

Research scholar

National University of Singapore

It is the impossibility of Christ’s incarnation and forgiveness of sins that makes the law possible as Christ came to fulfil the law rather than to defeat it. Derrida’s injunction to forgive the unforgiveable and move into a Derridean third space of thinking the impossible forgiveness of sins and holding one accountable to the death penalty for transgressions committed is an extension of his meditations on hospitality and forgiveness, extending Christian charity, forgiveness and hospitality as a move that exceeds the law and exceeds the thinking of the possible but it is precisely this impossibility of grace, mercy,Christian charity and forgiveness which makes the law possible just as the exception is necessary to thinking the rule.

Keywords: Derrida, Christianity. Gift, Sacrifice, Aporia

THE MOMENTOUSNESS OF COMMUNICATIVE LANGUAGE TEACHING APPROACH IN CONTEMPORARY EPOCH

PROF MANMINDER SINGH ANAND
Asstt. Prof in English, PUNJABI UNIVERSITY NEIGHBOURHOOD CAMPUS , JAITU 151506 Pb. India.

 

ABSTRACT

The present paper attempts to analyze the conceptual aspects of Communicative language teaching approach , as also to figure out the radical elements in the contemporary approaches carried out in Europe as well as in India. An attempt has been made to focus on the radical elements in various approaches like Grammar-translation Method , Audio-lingual method or Bi-lingual method and also to compare and contrast their specific preferences. The paper, thus, presents an overview of the speaking , writing & technical skills & how they must be employed having a specific tilt towards radical innovations .
Keywords
communication, approaches , listening , technical drills , Noam Chomsky , language