Monday, October 22, 2007

Everything bad is not new but it still smells queer

Jonny Steinberg writes in his opinion piece in Business Day.

"Why is it important to remind ourselves of these continuities? Because if yesterday’s illusion was that everything bad would vanish, today’s illusion is that everything bad is new. So many of the black, working-class people I have interviewed recently express nostalgia, insisting that life was more stable in the old days. Their amnesia is destructive. It robs them of the capacity to measure what has changed and what hasn’t, how far we have come, and how little we have moved. Without that perspective, we have no ground beneath our feet; we risk driving ourselves insane."

Please bear this mind my dear ladies and gentlemen who at every turn and around every braai fire are exhibiting renewed and anxious ambitions of packing for Perth. Perspective is a long term game. Hang in there with me.

There seems to be a current buzzing mindset that the book of the South African Dream began with the 1995 rugby world cup win as the opening chapter (the release of Nelson Mandela as a prologue) and has just reached it's finale with the 2007 spoils marking the final chapter and the end of a flirting golden era.I disagree - if anything these events are minor parentheses on a single chapter of the story of this land.

It's complicated living here but I'm a firm believer in the mantra of "The more things change the more they stay the same."

But one has to bear in mind that it is the nature of the place - the country has its own Jungian consciuosness - it cannot be changed to fit in with our own normative view of just what it means to be part of (this) civilisation.

As Carl Jung himself noted on arriving in Africa :
"I kept thinking that the land smelled queer. It was the smell of blood, as though the soil was soaked with blood."


Third World Ant said...

Hello there stranger, for once it is I who has been scarce :)

(had to go back and rewrite that one, it originally read "I who HAVE been scarce" - living in a place with Afrikaans 1st-language speakers takes its toll on one's grammar... happily few other negatives to report from my experience, though :)

Re: my life in the Poenda, peachy, just peachy. Adjusting to fewer work hours (and sorry, that must sound like a dig at your current situation) has been easier than I thought - living with the Gilb has created a host of new activities to while away the evenings' hours. I now cook - frequently, from scratch (and not out of a sense of duty, just sheer enjoyment). I garden, too. And I might just be able to wangle myself into a third/fourth year part-time economics degree, it's a new-found interest of mine (did Ecos I at varsity, took it no further). The job - not as challenging, my managers not as visionary as the previous ones - but this is compensated for in some respect by the fact that I'm working with the carbon market (looking at prospects for Sasol to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions in exchange for carbon credits / the trade-off for not reducing emissions vs potentially paying carbon taxes in future etc).

Regarding your post, I'll make no secret of the fact that I'm not JZ's biggest admirer; however I doubt his ability to screw up the country's economy to the extent some people suggest. There are too many rich people (and specifically black rich people) with political affiliation who will want to protect their new-found wealth through protection of capitalistic endeavours - i.e. what is good for business (and foreign investment, and hence hopefully local development) is good for them. JZ as president can't rule the country alone after all - he has a large team behind him. I'd still prefer he weren't our next president, that said.

Regarding your life at present, you made a very brave move when taking the position in the first place, and I suspect you'll make the right decision when the time comes. Maybe you'll jump ship before the shit really hits the fan, maybe you'll be there to see the doors close officially. I've obeserved this demise recently myself, and things are inevitably not pretty. But brighter things no doubt lie in your future :)

Sorry for the rambling comment, it's been a while. Can't promise to return to the blog world yet (I make these promises and then break them all too quickly) but may send a mail or two your way. Keep well!

Third World Ant said...

OMG! Have just re-read my previous comment and am mortified. Ignore paragraph 2, and insert 'have' instead of 'has' in paragraph 1. Gulp!