Wednesday, May 17, 2006

The Fulani

The fulani are a fascinating bunch, on the margins and yet ever present within the Nigerias I have visited. There's an excellent website here which reveals some of their secrets. I long to see the male Wodaabe beauty contests in the desert.


St Antonym 8:37 pm  

The English are a fascinating bunch, central to the culture of the Isles of Britain. This fascinating website reveals some of their central preoccupations.

I'm really looking forward to the day I witness the English mating ritual known as "Quiz Night at the Pub."

Jeremy 3:58 pm  

ok very funny st antonym. The issue is: is it possible and non-problematic in any way to be 'fascinated' by another culture without falling into Conradesque overtones or sounding like a 19th century anthropologist?

I think if we override or silence all sense of wonder at the diversity of humanity with the accusation (however mild and jovial or not) of exoticisation, we reduce our ability to celebrate difference. Of course, this means that the exotic works both ways. I'm sure if we dragged a Fulani villager to The King's Arms on a Friday night he/she would be bewildered and fascinated in equal amounts.

In other words, while exoticisation is problematic, a sense of fascination and wonder at the human or non-human world remains valid I reckon. Its just difficult to separate the registers these days, just as it is difficult for a man to genuinely enjoy the company of young children in public too much nowadays.

But paradoxically, I agree with your sentiment (having internalised the problematics of exoticisation). I am partially troubled by some of the work of Alphonso Lingis (especially Foreign Bodies) in this respect, but I also feel the pull to defend his existential musings on alterity and embodiment. Its a tough one, full of paradoxes, perversions and self-contradictions.

But who, if not the most curious of thinkers, does not end up in paradox, perversion and self-contradiction?f

St Antonym 6:12 pm  

Who has accused you, brother?

I really do find the English a curious and fascinating bunch...

But, yes, caucasionormativity (yes, I just made up the word) is a bad disease that will take several lifetimes to cure. In fact, it's been known to infect many a non-caucasian.

In any case, I cannot trust anyone who cannot engage in some self-contradiction (cf. Whitman). Consistency is a myth that has its value for politicians, but that's a poison to poets (cf. Emerson).

Jeremy 6:23 pm  

I know you didnt accuse me. It was the voice of self-doubt you provoked!

we soon come

St Antonym 6:38 pm  

The voice of self-doubt: our greatest friend! How much sorrow inflexible certainty has brought into the world.

Ol' boy, journeying mercies o. Make you greet madam for me.

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