Thursday, September 21, 2006

effect of the city

In Chinua Achebe’s No Longer at Ease, the author quotes T.S. Eliot’s “The Journey of the Magi” to truly set the tone of his novel. The text states:

“ We returned to our places, these kingdoms, but no longer
at ease here, in the old dispensation, with an alien people
clutching their gods. I should be glad of another death” (Achebe)

This quote gives the reader a hint about the mentality of the protagonist who has gained knowledge, but lost his identity. Yet, through the novel, the character Obi, does not only feel like he cannot identify with his own culture, but cannot fit in with his new found culture. Obi is essentially lost or between two worlds. This point is extremely profound. Does Obi consider his new found knowledge and culture a gift or a curse? Does Obi prefer ignorance and a sense of belonging over an enlightened spirit of knowledge? Obi’s new found education was to empower his country, but instead alienated himself.
These questions are perplexing after considering the individuals of Baltimore city. Loyola’s new mission is to merge the society and culture of Loyola into Baltimore. Will these two cultures collide? And how will these new interventions or mergence into the city impact Baltimore culture? The long term effects of knowledge can have either a negative or positive impact on society or the individual.
I cannot predict what type of impact Loyola College will have on the Baltimore community. I can only hope that it will be a profitable and positive one that will lead the city toward the greater good. However, in term of this novel the negative effects will not be a feelings of displacement.