Tuesday, September 19, 2006

well written

we are a haunted people.

right now i'm reading paule marshall's the chosen place, the timeless people. she's one of my favorite authors, and i've read almost all of her novels. they transport the reader throughout the many facets of the diaspora, which i've been fascinated with for some time, but even more so lately. the only thing about reading this excellent book, though, is that it challenges the reader to explore the bright and dark areas of the african psyche, affected by slavery, colonialism, classism, racism...

it's hard to go on the internet and interact with other black people without coming across debates about the current status of african people in this country and around the world. there are also the statistics about unemployment, crime, incarceration, educational achievement, economic status... there are discussions about culture and image and social statuses and behaviors. there is a world of thinking - a world of talk. shelves of books, reams of editorials, a legion of talking heads, all devoted in some way to discussing, analyzing, maybe even trying to solve the peculiar phenomenon that is the aftermath of our past trauma, and the question of how to assess our current trauma.

it can be overwhelming, reading it all, listening to it all - and not even all of it. one well written provocative blurb could cause someone contemplative like me a whole day's worth of head scratching or a whole week's worth of probing the opinions of my closest friends. sometimes it's more than that - sometimes the introspection leads me to confront painful personal feelings and experiences that i struggle to rationalize and understand, often regarding my place in the melee.

sometimes i just get tired and i need a break. i can't zip off my skin or cast my mind aside, but sometimes, i have to refrain from reading and participating in the discussions. perhaps it may even be necessary to put down the novels i've been voraciously devouring. especially ones like my current read. i feel myself being compelled to finish the story, even though i know that the truths it forces me to confront are challenging me in ways that distress me - ways that interrupt the personal security of my old understanding and make me reconsider the way that i regard myself and face the world.

i might not be able to read for a little while after this one...