Saturday, November 20, 2010

American Dominance

One of the things I'm currently working through is a book called Incognegro, which is really fascinating.  Basically, it's about an African American man discussing three periods of his life: his childhood, his time living on and off in South Africa, and his time after South Africa, trying to emotionally put himself together. 
One of the other things that strikes me in the book is the absence of the U.S. Because I am an American, I am used to and expect our cultural dominance, of everything being measured against us, even though such a thing is unfair. Even though the book takes place at various moments in the U.S., I am struck by how whatever was happening in the U.S. past 1970 is mostly irrelevant and goes unmentioned. The book emphasizes how different South Africa is from the U.S., because frankly no one there appears to care what is going on in the U.S. during his story.  I don't think that's a bad thing at all, but I do think it makes a startling point to American readers who, like me, are used to everything being about us. 

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