Leonard “Tim” Hector: Then and Now

The Caribbean Book Blog posted an article by Leonard “Tim” Hector, “Why is our literature so different? Why?” which reminded me of a livication I’d written back in January 2006: http://geoffreyphilp.blogspot.com/2006/01/leonard-tim-hector.html.

Hector’s words are as true then as they are now:
“The middle classes, "the assimilados" who assimilated the colonisers’ culture and were chosen for administrative posts in the colonial order, knowing they would have maintained that order with the convert’s zeal. Having been educated they saw and still see their "specific purpose", as Lamming wrote "as sneering at anything which grew or was made of native soil". Such, who even today still look outside for their literature in Harry Potter’s children’s stories, or to Stephen King and the like, could not be subjects of West Indian poetry or novels. Educated in the professions, or buying and selling imported commodities, and re-inforcing the old order they were entirely without character and not fit and proper subjects for novels or verse, with the possible exception of satire, that is, as mimic men and mimic women.
West Indian literature, in the novel or as poetry is of artistic necessity preoccupied with:
What new fevers arise to reverse the crawl?
Our islands make towards their spiritual extinction?
Remember that word "fevers", it is a recurring image.
For we were born "in spiritual extinction", slavery and indenture sought to extinguish the African and Indian personality, at every turn, in or out of school, church, home or work. Always it sought not just the stereotype, but the other-determined personality as stereotype. Anything other than the other-determined stereotype was a threat to the system to be demonised and hounded, as if life itself depended on the reproduction of homogeneous and uncritical persons, who elevated the imposed sacred while undermining the native secular; the economy itself was about status and not the production and accumulation of wealth for human development.”

Long live, Leonard "Tim" Hector!



Imani said…
Hmmm. Well-written article but I disagree with so much of it lol. From "The Novel is about character" to your pull quote (although I may be misinterpreting his point). To reduce "assimilados" to a stereotype only good for satire seems a regression to a state he mentioned earlier, when the plantation system reduced all blacks to stereotypes.

Hector's POV is why I am reluctant to run a book club at a store here in town. I was asked (just a suggestion) but you remember the sort of books I covered at my blog? I am afraid my taste is a bit too "catholic" as you once put it & my selections won't be "rootsy" enough :-S.

Really love that he ended with Michael Smith though. Nice.
Imani, give thanks. The whole point of a blog, it seems to me, is do whatever you wan to do...your blog took me and other readers out of the Caribbean.
I've decided to restrict myself to the Caribbean, which is a political act because many readers don't know about our own writers, which reinforces Hector's point.
It's not an either/or situation because I have read/enjoyed/ many of the writers on your blog.
& to hell with rootsy..."No matter where you come from...as Peter would say...
Calliope22 said…
I disagree with Hector. Unless we begin with the Amerindians--and even then--the Caribbean, like every other set of rocks homo sapiens found and settled on, is a land of immigrants and emigrants, of immigration and emigration. I am not setting another rigid definition on Caribbeanness down here; that's a quality of many, if not all, regions, at some level. Places change and develop. Only a non-writer would claim that reading and/or learning only from one's "home" culture is good. A true writer reads great writers, wherever they may come from; and, at any rate, to act as though the Caribbean is some isolated dimension, free from "U.S" influence, is utter rubbish (though the extent of this influence varies from island to island). Globalization has affected us, and to ignore it is to ignore the truth of life that I would imagine a writer would want to capture, yes?

Moreover, how dare Hector act as though only people of a certain type of class deserve to speak/write? This is typical pseudo-postcolonialism--that is, the kind of rhetoric that uses postcolonial terms while nonetheless acting as though colonialism, in its most literal forms, is still every bit as existent as it was a century ago. Certainly, it still has roots in the Caribbean, but the way Hector speaks is, frankly, embarrassing, in my opinion, and I wish people like him would get more educated outside the region before spitting off such stereotypical isolationist nonsense. Whether he likes it or not, the region is what it is today, and to turn a blind eye is to indeed be blind in both eyes.

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