Saturday, March 25, 2006

Loneliness and Connection in a Vast World

While listing the "characteristics" of Asian-American poetry, I think that we should not overlook one of the most important qualities of Asian-American poetry -- its power to counter loneliness in an often vast and sometimes unforgiving world. That is, the very existence of "Asian-American poetry" is a form of connection that may unite people who share this area of interest. (Of course, there is the danger of exclusivity -- a danger that all "united" identities face in terms of walling themselves off against "others". But I think that if one shifts the focus from persons/poets to poems, then we may diminish this danger.)

But back to the point of this post: I think that it is a great gift to really enjoy something as I enjoy Asian-American poetry and discover quality folk who share this enjoyment. A real quality of human beings, perhaps not sufficiently emphasized, is the fact that we have the capacity to connect and empathize with one another. Art and poetry take the form of sharing, and I somehow take comfort in the fact that "Asian-American poetry" may be a conduit into our mutual minds and hearts. Even in a society that often alienates, we can still find each other.


Blogger Lee Herrick said...

Amen to that, Roger.

7:59 PM  
Blogger s.t.liaw said...

Thanks for this post. I don't think I'm saying anything different, but I just wanted to add this.

Eric Liu explores the idea that the Asian (mainly chinese) culture has become the new Jews as more and more Jews have assimilated into whatever cultures they reside - there is an AA diaspora, there is a homeland that the AAs have left, but (as explained below) cannot truly ever return to anymore.

There is a psychological model of ethnic identity development for a person whose culture is the minority (I forget the name) in which the four stages of 'progression' are:

1. There is no difference between people of different cultures.

2. The person attempts to assimilate into the majority culture.

3. The person feels nostalgia toward the minority/root culture and attempts to reclaim the original culture (this mostly from failure to fully assimilate into and gain acceptance from the majority culture)

4. The person cannot fully reclaim the original culture nor fully assimilate the majority culture and turns intead to creating one's own culture with bits and pieces of the two (or more) cultures.

I think this longing created by having once stepped out, in search for belonging, and not really being able to truly return, contributes so desparately to what you have described.

1:53 PM  

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