"We must read Shakespeare and authors who are women, Arab, Muslim, queer. Most of the world is neither white nor European, and the United States may be a majority-minority country by mid-century. White people will gain more by embracing this reality rather than fighting it. As for literature, the mind-set that turns the canon into a bunker in order to defend one dialect of English is the same mind-set that closes borders, enacts tariffs and declares trade wars to protect its precious commodities and its besieged whiteness. But literature, like the economy, withers when it closes itself off from the world. The world is coming anyway. It demands that we know ourselves and the Other....."
Welcome to the Central Virginia Chapter of Writing for Peace!
Why Do We Turn to Stories
in the Midst of a Disaster?
ON NARRATIVE AND TRAUMA IN MEXICO CITY
"“In this version of the story, a disaster has a beginning, middle, and end, a narrative arc.”
Storytelling requires a listener, and post-disaster storytelling tends to take place in the context of communities, as Rebecca Solnit examines in her book A Paradise Built in Hell. “A major loss usually isolates us from the community, where no one else has suffered thus, and we are alone in being bereft of beloved or home or security or health,” she writes. “When the loss is general, one is not cast out by suffering but finds fellowship in it.” To an extent, communities are always held together by shared narratives—the Scriptures that undergird a religious community, or the histories that fraternity pledges commit to memory, or the origin stories that shape a nation. But Solnit argues that the shared experience of a disaster tends to create a new, momentary utopian community out of its victims. “[Disaster] drags us into emergencies that require we act, and act altruistically, bravely, and with initiative in order to survive or save the neighbors,” she writes. The suspension of everyday routine brings, if only briefly, a new social order...."