Thursday, October 19, 2006

the centre cannot hold

Ouch! (perhaps because the truth hurts).

Rian "My Traitor's Heart" Malan is widely quoted, alongside Andre Brink, Nadine Gordimer, Chris Hope & JM Coetzee, in an article in the M&G. Which is in turn quoted from this article he wrote for the Spectator, free registration required.

"We thought our table was fairly solid and that we would sit at it indefinitely, quaffing that old rainbow nation ambrosia. Now, almost overnight, we have come to the dismaying realisation that much around us is rotten."

"There won't be a civil war. Whites are finished. According to a recent study, one in six of us has left since the ANC took over and those who remain know their place."

Malan's contention that the removal of whites from [the centre of] civil society is the cause of what we are experiencing has weight though. The centre has been removed and not always adequately replaced.

So we are led through Achebe + to Yeats' poem, The Second Coming:

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

Perhaps the quote from Nadine Gordimer is closest to my thoughts:
"There are things that are remarkably good and things that are very, very worrying."

But like "Malan and Brink [who] insist they will not be driven out of their native land" I am in for the long haul. Perhaps it's because I know my place or is it because, like Yeats suggests, I am one of the best who lack all conviction, or both?

+ Ironically born in the same year as Kunene and one of the good African writers that my apartheid schooling did expose me to.

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