Monthly Archives: January 2007

Diasporic Home – Eternal While it Lasts

Last posting’s title was actually meant for this posting’s subject: my new apartment. Having taken the resolution to feel at home wherever I happen to be, I thought that getting an apartment of my own would help with that. As the Beatles would say: “Where I belong I’m right where I belong”. One of those sentences with more than one meaning, depending on how you punctuate.

Moving can be tiring, but it is also exciting. It’s always good to get the moving muscles moving. I think I suffer from the cronic condition of not being used to being used to things. Quite Heraclitic.

So, even though I’ll only be in this apartment for a few months, I’m taking my time making it homy — in the sense of home for me. I think it is a bit like what scholar Naomi Scheman calls a “diasporic conception of home”

Diasporic identity is one form the outsider within can take, and it is crucial to it that it’s not a matter of just passing through, not having any real connection to the place where one finds oneself, caring deeply and responsibly only for home, wherever and whenever that may be. Rather, those who live diasporically can and often do bring resources of moral intelligence, conviction, and courage to the places in which they sojourn. (…) It’s only by engaging in and ultimately succeeding at the work of world repair that we’ll ever be able to go home. (Scheman, p.404)

The idea behind Scheman’s diasporic conception is to give up waiting for the place where everything is ideal, and to focus istead in making where we are a bit more ideal. It is an invitation to focus less on perfection and more in perfecting, to neither evade our current location, nor to resign to it the way it currently is. Diasporic identity drives home the point that home is where we happen to be, and where we came from, and where we are going, all at the same time.

And, as Vinicius de Morais would say, may it be eternal while it lasts.

* Scheman, Naomi. “Forms of Life: Mapping the Rough Ground.” The Cambridge Companion to Wittgenstein. Ed. Hans (ed and introd ). Sluga and David G. Stern. Cambridge, England: Cambridge UP, ix, 1998. 383-410.

My Place is a Place which is Mine

 I’m changing skins: the redness of Brazilian Christmas is peeling off, being replaced by warm skins for another Canadian winter. And a warm Canadian winter at that: record high temperatures of +13 degrees Celsius in the first week of the year is very different from minus 30 degrees Celsius in my first year here, or of the few times I had family visiting. 

It is as if in the beginning the inhospitable winter wanted to show that here was not to be anything like home, and see if I could take it. But I felt at home enough, and the original four months became eight, and then four years, and then eight. Now in this my eighth North American winter, I feel it is time to go home. And just at this moment, I feel as if Canada was saying: “stay longer, we’ll do everything we can to make you feel at home, and here comes a bit of global warming with thirteen degrees above zero on a tray, to show we mean it”.

But 13 degrees positive does not mean 13 positive points. Global warming does not warm people’s hearts. And it takes more than just the environment to make a homy environment. It is time to go home, period. Time to have a permanent place, even if temporarily, instead of permanently living at a temporary place. Backpacking for a year or two is great; forever, I’m not so sure. As a friend says, living out of suitcase can be wearing.

In these eight years, I went back to Brazil at least once a year, sometimes twice. Never was this trip so trying. Besides the 24 hours flying (10+2 each way), there were 50 hours in airports (30 on the way there, 20 on the way back), a record with a wide margin. Add to this 4 nights without sleep (the usual 2 on the plane, plus one at the airport, plus one worrying about getting up at 4am to be at the airport by 6), one can safely say that this was heavy duty. Maybe it felt heavy because I carried a bit more luggage than usual (60 pounds of trans-hemispheric-change-of residence). Maybe it was because I’m getting too old for these adventures. Maybe it was because it actually was really heavy. Maybe all of the above, I don’t know. As George Harrison would say: “The farther one travels, the less one knows…”

In these many hours of travelling, I read many interesting things: tips about how to become rich, how to be charming, how to be happy, how to raise children, how to write a dissertation, how to build good relationships. In a book of this latter type, entitled “What every intelligent woman must know”, by Steven Carter & Julia Sokol, I found an insight that really reflected what I felt, although I wasn’t sure they meant it literally. It said:

An intelligent woman knows that…

If you really want to find a place to stay permanently, you should stop spending so much time at airports.

 

 

 

 

 

And this really hit home.

* * * * *Internexa 2007: Now a new posting every Friday