Sunday, 6 February 2011

Time on the Move by Achille Mbembe

There's so much to say about this essay--I would just highlight these passages:

"Africa is the mediation that enables the West to accede to its own subconscious and give a public account of its subjectivity."

"[Africa is seen] as headless figure threatened with madness and quite innocent of any notion of center, hierarchy, or stability…a vast dark cave where every benchmark and distinction come together in total confusion, and the rifts of a tragic and unhappy human history stand revealed: a mixture of the half-created and the incomplete…in short, a bottomless abyss where everything is noise, yawning gap, and primordial chaos"

For this latter passage he cites Christopher Miller's brilliant text, Blank Darkness: Africanist Discourse in French, in which Miller, in direct homage to Said, draws the outline of an "Africanism" which is parallel to Orientalism, although it is more obsessed with notions of nothingness and vacuity.

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