Postcolonizing the Commonwealth: Studies in Literature and Culture

By Rowland Smith | Go to book overview

2

Proximities: From Asymptote
to Zeugma

Alan Lawson

I have had some time off from teaching recently. I thought it might be a good moment to think about my midlife crisis. It seems that one of the characteristics of a good midlife crisis is learning how to deal productively with unfinished business. As a distraction from my own midlife crisis and unfinished business, I started thinking about unfinished business in other domains. The field of postcolonial studies might be having its midlife crisis: but I am hardly the first to notice that! What might be more interesting to think about, though, is the way our particular sort of cultures—the ones we have got used to calling "settler” cultures—deal with their unfinished business.

In particular, I have been trying to think of a useful way to talk about how certain kinds of business, narrative business, textual business, remains unfinished. How certain kinds of stories keep being recirculated, just how readily they can be reactivated, recognized and read.

As a way of concretizing my discussion of the return of the repressed, let me offer you something my friends and I wish had stayed repressed—something that if it circulates too widely might lead to Australia being repressed by the international community. Since the 1996 election in Australia, an extraordinarily ignorant but highly opinionated populist politician called Pauline Hanson has been drawing appar-

____________________
Notes to chapter 2 are on p. 36.

-19-

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