Thursday, October 19, 2006

Tell Me A Story

In Wendt's "Black Rainbow", the "utopia" that the President and The Tribunal have created was made possible by the erasure of the memory of history of their citizens so as to create a society that is at peace with its surroundings alone. The citizens are left with prescribed mechanical emotions, manufactured fulfillments of desire, and a superficial "peace". There is major emphesis placed on the admonition of storytelling--as it, in some aspects, is a device that allows us to recount our histories, or share in the histories of others--which was strictly forbidden in this uniform utopia. This struck me, as the act of storytelling was considered almost sacred in the other stories we've read: in Danticat's "Krik? Krak!", storytelling becomes the migrated Haitians' "sole inheritance" from their ancestors; in Achebe's "No Longer At Ease", his his connection to Umuofia resonates in his reverting to old Igbo proverbs to explain situations; in Calvino's "Invisible Cities", Polo recounts his history with Venice through a myriad of stories of the lands he's traveled to.
Aeto's story was the most striking, a digression in the story of the quest that completely captivated me. "His mother had a phenomenal memroy which her parents had trained so the otherwolders couldn't obliterate their true history. Her knowledge was in the stories she filled their lives with. The usefulness of usefullness, she described her stories"(159). The power of his story both relied on his recount of details of his past, and the fact that he had never before shared the memory, but obviously carried it with him all those years.
In turn, Wendt demonstrates the importance that storytelling still has in this society, as it is the cause of the Free Citizen's reversion from the ways of the Tribunal and back to reality, "Though the Tribunal has banned history, we are what we remember, the precious rope strecthing across the abyss of all that we have forgotten...And the history, the fabulous storehouse of memories, of our love, opened and gave reason and meaning to my quest across the abyss, a quest which had truned me into a heretic defying the Tribunal and all I'd been raised to believe in"(178). I believe it is when "the true ones"(also note the significance of the fact that he nicknames his comrades from the streets, who have forgone stability the Tribunal would have provided them in order to remain true to themselves and their past, as "true), share the stories of their past, it is completely jarring to the Free Citizen that he could have allowed someone to take those same memories away from him; it is here that he ways the sacrifice and the outcome, and finds them to be nowhere close to comparable.