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!