24 de febrero de 2010

Living on the edge

Grandísimo artículo de Tony Judt en el blog de la New York Review of Books. Lo copiaría entero, pero me reprimo y pongo sólo la mitad :-P:

I prefer the edge: the place where countries, communities, allegiances, affinities, and roots bump uncomfortably up against one another—where cosmopolitanism is not so much an identity as the normal condition of life. Such places once abounded. Well into the twentieth century there were many cities comprising multiple communities and languages—often mutually antagonistic, occasionally clashing, but somehow coexisting. Sarajevo was one, Alexandria another. Tangiers, Salonica, Odessa, Beirut, and Istanbul all qualified—as did smaller towns like Chernovitz and Uzhhorod. By the standards of American conformism, New York resembles aspects of these lost cosmopolitan cities: that is why I live here.

To be sure, there is something self-indulgent in the assertion that one is always at the edge, on the margin. Such a claim is only open to a certain kind of person exercising very particular privileges. Most people, most of the time, would rather not stand out: it is not safe. If everyone else is a Shia, better to be a Shia. If everyone in Denmark is tall and white, then who—given a choice—would opt to be short and brown? And even in an open democracy, it takes a certain obstinacy of character to work willfully against the grain of one's community, especially if it is small.

But if you are born at intersecting margins and—thanks to the peculiar institution of academic tenure—are at liberty to remain there, it seems to me a decidedly advantageous perch: What should they know of England, who only England know? If identification with a community of origin was fundamental to my sense of self, I would perhaps hesitate before criticizing Israel—the "Jewish State," "my people"—so roundly. Intellectuals with a more developed sense of organic affiliation instinctively self-censor: they think twice before washing dirty linen in public.

Unlike the late Edward Said, I believe I can understand and even empathize with those who know what it means to love a country. I don't regard such sentiments as incomprehensible; I just don't share them. But over the years these fierce unconditional loyalties—to a country, a God, an idea, or a man—have come to terrify me. The thin veneer of civilization rests upon what may well be an illusory faith in our common humanity. But illusory or not, we would do well to cling to it. Certainly, it is that faith—and the constraints it places upon human misbehavior—that is the first to go in times of war or civil unrest.

Tony Judt

2 comentarios:

Lirun dijo...

very interesting

im quoting it in my post

grankabeza dijo...


glad you found worth mentioning it