Monday, November 24, 2003

You'll think I'm lying to you if I say that dark, articulate writing can be erotic even when the subject is hard and intellectual. Even when it is comically academic. This is the case with one of my favorite book of essays: Wole Soyinka's Myth, Literature and the African World. This is what I mean:

You must picture a steam-engine which shunts itself between rather closely-spaced suburban stations. At the first station it picks up a ballast of allegory, puffs into the next emitting a smokescreen on the eternal landscape of nature truths. At the next it loads up with a different species of logs which we shall call naturalist timber, puffs into a half-way stop where it fills up with the synthetic fuel of surrealism, from which point yet another holistic world-view is glimpsed and asserted through psychedelic smoke. A new consignment of absurdist coke lures it into the next station from which it departs giving off no smoke at all, and no fire, until it derails briefly along constructivist tracks and is towed back to the starting-point by a neoclassic engine.

This, for us, is the Occidental creative rhythm, a series of intellectual spasms which, especially today, appears susceptible to commercial manipulation. And the difference which we are seeking to define between European and African drama as one of man's formal representations of experience is not simply a difference of style or form, nor is it confined to drama alone. It is representative of the essential differences between two worldviews..

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