Academic journal article Mosaic (Winnipeg)

Crossings: An Interview with Erin Moure

Academic journal article Mosaic (Winnipeg)

Crossings: An Interview with Erin Moure

Article excerpt

DM I like the word pilgriming, wandering. In Peregrinations, Jean-Francois Lyotard says that writing (painting, thinking) is a kind of wandering between clouds. Does wandering or "pilgriming" relate to (your) poetics?

EM Wandering I like. Pilgrimming, I'm not so sure of. "Pilgrim," to me, bears with it a notion that goes somewhere else than wandering.

Whereas Lyotard's "Peregrinations" are wanderings in thought, no? "Les pensees sont les nuages"--not a wandering in physical territory, but a wandering in thought that is philosophy's movement (and that is not constitutive of "having a critical theory"). This echoes Wordsworth, of course, curiously: "I wandered lonely as a cloud." I prefer the word "peregrinate"; perhaps, it evokes more incessant movement than does "pilgrim" which requires a "beyond"--and is from an "elsewhere," has a goal, a transcendent purpose, and thus also implies a subject centred, not on the terrain through which it passes, but on that "beyond." This I find troublesome. Also, the notion of pilgrim to me has a sense of "away from home," as if "home" were something settled, and I am not sure home is a place settled enough that one can be "away" from it. Home is more diffuse.

I wonder: pilgrimage and peregrination come from the same root, but are they interchangeable? Hostile and host come from a same root too, but aren't interchangeable ...

If thoughts are clouds, then writing is wandering between such clouds. Or it is the movement of such clouds.

DM "what are roots but wanderers in search of food searching less bitter soil" (O Cidadan 27)

Is there any way to talk about O Cidadan as a pilgrimage text?

EM Ah, that quote bears the paradox of "place," of "here": roots wander!

My most recent book of poetry, O Cidadan, published by Anansi [www.anansi.ca] in Toronto, Canada, in 2002, argues for a notion of frontier or border as a line that admits filtrations, that leaks. A notion of leaky borders. Not rigid, not sealed, not marking strict limits of "outside" and "inside" when dealing with identity. The book argues, in effect, that identity finds its stability in uncertainty, in the fluidity of limits, in the "not yet."

I won't repeat the arguments of O Cidadan here, just summarize by saying that the "globalization" or "making world" in which I see potential riches is one that admits and strengthens localities and pluralities, a plurality of localities. Neither based nor congealed in myths of origin (but which can admit such myths as the property and heritage of all).

This said, O Cidadan could be a wandering text in the sense Lyotard uses. I am not sure about pilgrimage, though! This would require a pilgrim, a purpose or end (the cathedral, remission of sins or debts), a subjectivity centred elsewhere than in the territory it traverses. A pilgrim is not politically and socially implicated in the territory he or she walks through. A citizen is, even when he or she crosses borders.

O Cidadan, rather, is a text about crossing borders, and it finds out that movements into a territory are part of what defines a territory; a border is only a useful edge if it can be crossed. If we accept this, and some corollaries--one being that a language/community can only thrive over time if people can enter it from outside--then the nation-state means something different; it is a political or administrative organization not constitutive of a race, and nationalism, then, cannot be essentialized to races. At this point, we have to, I think, accept that a citizen is not defined by a territory per se, but by how she or he acts in a territory. O Cidadan is a call to action, to acting, to acts that open borders.

I wouldn't call it a pilgrimage text. Pilgrims don't care about social organization on the territory where they are; they are just passing through and are not connected to the place. I think O Cidadan is something else. …

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