Posts Tagged ‘Edouard Glissant’

Desmond Painter. Edouard Glissant en die poëtika van postkolonialiteit

Monday, June 6th, 2011
Edouard Glissant

Edouard Glissant

Edouard Glissant is vroeër hierdie jaar oorlede.

Hy is in 1928 in Martinique gebore — net drie jaar na Frantz Fanon, wat ook in Martinique gebore is. Glissant het Fanon egter met presies 50 jaar oorleef — Fanon is al in 1961 dood, op die jeugdige ouderdom van 36.

Ons het in Suid-Afrika, en in Afrikaans, waarskynlik nog te min aandag gegee aan Glissant. As briljante digter en romansier, ja, maar ook as filosoof en teoretikus van marginaliteit, diversiteit, kreoolsheid, post-europese artikulasies van moderniteit, die post-koloniale kondisie, taal en identiteit…

Fanon het die psigiese geweld van koloniale rassisme soos min ander verwoord. Hy het die teenstrydighede en slaggate van dekolonisasie in Afrika amper profeties uitgewys. Maar hy is al in 1961 dood — hy het in ‘n ander wêreld as ons geleef.

Glissant is nie noodwendig ‘n alternatief nie (Fanon is nog glad nie irrelevant nie), maar hy is myns insiens ‘n belangrike aansluitingspunt, ‘n verdere bron van konsepte, invalshoeke, trajekte en drome, veral in die sg. “postkoloniale teorie”, ‘n tradisie “still haunted by the spectre of Europe” (Achille Mbembe).

Hier volg drie kort uittreksels uit die Engelse vertaling van Glissant se boek Poetics of Relation.


Thinking thought usually amounts to withdrawing into a dimensionless place in which the idea of thought alone persists. But thought in reality spaces itself out into the world. It informs the imaginary of peoples, their varied poetics, which it then transforms, meaning, in them its risk becomes realized.

Culture is the precaution of those who claim to think thought but who steer clear of its chaotic journey. Evolving cultures infer Relation, the overstepping that grounds their unity-diversity.

Thought draws the imaginary of the past: a knowledge becoming. One cannot stop it to assess it nor isolate it to transmit it. It is sharing one can never not retain, nor ever, in standing still, boast about.


This flood of convergences, publishing itself in the guise of the commonplace. No longer is the latter an accepted generality, suitable and dull – no longer is it deceptively obvious exploiting common sense – it is, rather, all that is relentlessly and endlessly reiterated by these encounters. On every side the idea is being relayed. When you awaken an observation, a certainty, a hope, they are already struggling somewhere, elsewhere, in another form.

Repetition, moreover, in an acknowledged form of consciousness both here and elsewhere. Relentlessly resuming something you have already said. Consenting to an infinitesimal momentum, an addition perhaps unnoticed that stubbornly persists in your knowledge.

The difficulty: to keep this growing pile of common places from ending up as dispirited grumbling – may art provide! The probability: that you come to the bottom of all confluences to mark more strongly your inspirations.


Recognizing, imagining, Relation.
Yet another undertaking, thoroughly disguised, of universalizing generalization?
Escape, the problems at our heels?
No imagination helps avert destitution in reality, none can oppose oppressions or sustain those who “withstand” in body or spirit. But imagination changes mentalities, however slowly it may go about this.

No matter where one is, no matter how strong the force of errantry, one can hear the mounting desire to “give-on-and-with”, to discover order in chaos or at least to guess its unlikely motivation: to develop this theory that would escape generalizations.

Poetics? Precisely this double thrust, being a theory that tries to conclude, a presence that concludes (presumes) nothing. Never one without the other. That is how the instant and duration comfort us.
Every poetics is a palliative for eternity.