Term Paper: Multiculturalism Myth, Literature

Pages: 8 (2403 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 1+  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Literature  ·  Buy This Paper


[. . .] Getting to the heart of this drama he is describing, which is far less obviously a ruse than the train making stops along its route picking up literary tools in chapter #2, one can't help but feel he is just toying with concepts in a sometimes-absurd little drama of his own. On page 2, he talks about the "cyclic consciousness of time," and then Ritual, the god-drama, which might usefully "be made through the comparable example of the Epic [a European style] which represents also, on a different level ... [which] concretizes in the form of action the arduous birth of the individual or communal entity, creates a new being through utilizing and stressing the language of self-glorification to which human nature is healthily prone."

What was that? "Self-glorification" would seem to be language that Europeans utilize, and Africans eschew; and creating a "new being" sounds like it could be what the Europeans believed they were doing when they colonized much of Africa. They wanted to make Christians out of the natives, and give the natives a European look and feel.

In the next passage, man can "overwhelm metaphysical uncertainties by epic feats," and create "social euphoria by their constant recital," but the exercise of doing so "proves a mere surrogate to the bewildering phenomenon of the cosmic location of his being." That confusion of images and concepts seems like the work of a bright author who has an ax to grind against a culture and that culture's concept of drama and art.

Meanwhile, the "oriental twin-brother of Christianity -- Buddhism -- attenuated and circumscribed Asiatic thought," which appears to be Soyinka's continuing attack on not just Europeans, but on religion that is not native to Africa.

The concept of a massive erection on page 3, the "powerful erection" of Lord Shiva, spurts sperm into the "upper cosmos" after split the earth's surface into three sections. What is he really trying to convey here? Parenthetically he offers that "myths arise from man's attempt to externalize and communicate his inner intuitions," which could be him saying, his intuition is that his "gravity-bound self was inseparable from the entire cosmic phenomenon." In other words, is he inferring that the sperm spurted high into the sky by that huge penis was full of the seeds of "anti-terrestrialism" sowed by Buddhism and Judo-Christianity? And the "underworld" he mentions gave forth with this explosion of penis and sperm into the "purgatorial suburb" -- and one remembers that purgatory is the place, in the Roman Catholic religion, where one goes after death, to then move on to heaven, or slip down into the bowels of hell.

The process of ritual drama, he continues on page 4 -- his diatribe well concealed by the confusion created in his images -- that is "drama as a cleansing, binding, communal, re-creative force disappears or is vitiated during such periods or within such cultures which survive only by the narrowing of the cosmic whole." All that descriptive narrative is obviously an attack on "Christian-influenced societies of the African world."

When is drama really drama, and when is ritual to be called drama, and at what moment can "a religious or mythic celebration" be called a drama? The questions are frequently asked, he writes (6), but they are "largely artificial." He blames the "recent reversion of European and American progressive theatre to ritualism" for causing the "anguish" over the issue as what to is ritual, and what is drama. Does this seems trivial? In light of the greater issues he discusses in his other essays, apparently he is taking what he sees as a "comically misguided" approach to dramatic ritual on the part of Americans, and turning it around into satire.

Having spent all that narrative on ritual, and drama, and bloated digressions surrounding the issue and definition of both, he, on page 7, in effect admits he was spinning his literary wheels for the sake of spinning: "The question therefore of the supposed dividing line between ritual and theatre should not concern us much in Africa ... " Huh? It certainly did concern him on the previous pages, albeit, as was mentioned, he seems to be having fun digging deeper and deeper into elusive questions that only nip away at the fringe of his contempt for America and Europe.

Meantime, Soyinka writes again about the gods of African world-view, making some fun using images from Greek mythology, and probably also mocking the European and American misunderstandings as to African gods (which "civilized" white people often misunderstand, misinterpret, as pagans, primitive Neanderthal-like "gods").

He seems to be having fun at the expense of his own narrative, his own ironies and metaphors, on pages 10-11, after poking fun at the Old Testament ("in the Beginning, God was ... " which has implications that go "beyond the mere question of sequential time: "Whatever semantic evasion we employ," he writes, in reference to his reference of the Book of Genesis, "the goodness, the beingness of god [note he refuses to capitalize "God" as Christians do], the otherness of, or assimilate oneness with god -- they remain abstractions of man-emanating concepts or experiences which presuppose the human medium." This is a creative, yet angry man, Soyinka; yet he has a perfect right to rage against the "primitive mentality" espoused by Carl Jung (35); and he, most likely, is the "tragic hero" he describes on page 36, the… [END OF PREVIEW]

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