Dear Judith and all,
Yes, I agree with your assessment of Eva Hoffmann’s Lost in Translation. Her position was made all the more poignant because she could not return to her homeland. That feeling of an eternal loss of identity because one can never return home due to shifts in borders between countries must be devastating.
Some of us when we move to a new country can keep that secure notion that we some day have the possibility of returning home to that original place of safety and containment. We can thus keep our core identity in the physical world. When that has been removed through wars and the resulting changes of boundaries, we become rootless, displaced peoples without a homeland. Perhaps the attraction of internet groups operating in cyberspace is that they offer an international group identity for those of us adrift with multiple nationalities who cannot return to our point of origin. One could say that IAJS and other online groups perform a valuable function as motherships in cyberspace by giving a sense of group identity and togetherness..
Judith, your quote ‘ but how does one bend toward another culture without falling over’ is perhaps aptly illustrated in Gert Sauer’s paper ‘Cultural Trauma in Germany’ which I mentioned in my last post. Page 190 sums up both the dilemma and one solution of displaced peoples who are forced to forge a new group identity. Sauer’s patient told him: ‘The Germans do not want us. Before we came here the Russians discriminated against us. So now we have decided we are a distinct people with Russian language, but with both Russian and German traditions.’ A new hybrid collective identity had been established through holding the tension between the two cultures and not letting one culture dominate the other. Life is able to go on despite such cultural traumata.
Peter, I could imagine that bringing these two cultures together emotionally, to form a new hybrid, may come close to what you mentioned in your post to David of how Yeats thinks of a Spiritus Mundi with the shape of a lion’s body with the head of a man. A rough beast indeed, but ready to be born.
With warm wishes, Liz Brodersen