All posts by richardalijos

Lawyer, Poet, Author of the novel City of Memories.

On Perception and Criticism

“I think gender probably plays a bigger role in how critics read than in how writers write.”

– Chimamanda Adichie.

Very perceptive opinion here, I’d go to say the same of ethnicity and religion. Writers are less concerned about these in themselves when they write than are their critics. One just writes and leaves the curious sociology of one’s words to others frankly less competent that we who create.

This inability to stand away from one’s biases is an indictment of second-rate criticism, and to flaunt one’s biases is the hallmark of the worst sort of philistinism there is. Sadly, both these are prevalent critical posturings. The writer must accept the possibility of meeting with these as yet another burden; which is why the text must be the child of the finest labour of love its creator can manage.

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On Being Desired

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To desire someone is to seek to force them, perhaps induce is a better word, to run the risk of significance. It is to stand before them naked and say–I want you to change my eyes and the course of my story.

For the one desired, to consider running this risk is a question of responsibility, though some have been reckless in this. It’s a question of responsibility precisely because beneath the calm

green of desire are the more probing questions of who we are, what we are about and of the sort of person we are without our cloths of conventions on.”

– Richard Ali.

Carnival Fever

Moonchild's Temple

Barranquilla’s annual carnival is one of the biggest in the world and has been going on for as long as anyone can remember. One Colombian’s hunts for her costume makes for interesting reading. Shadia Cure, 28, has a dilemma. She needs a costume for the annual Barranquilla carnival, one of the biggest in the world. The theme for her costume for this year is ‘shout’. But she doesn’t know precisely what her costume is going to look like. In fact, she has no idea. And in her halting English, pausing every now and then to find the right word, she describes her head gear (the only things she is certain about). It is elaborate, with many sides. But she is not sure what she would wear with it that will fully express her theme. “I want to release some demons,” she says and laughs. So she has been going about Barranquilla with…

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Su'eddie in Life n' Literature

Osofisan recounts this incident about how Okigbo took him to Mbari club one night to work. He was barely out of the secondary school and Okigbo was mentoring him. How for a few hours he managed to bang away at the typewriter before falling asleep. How in his sleep the smell of the midnight oil mingled with the aroma of tobacco as Okigbo hammered and chiselled the night away. How in the morning, Okigbo showed him the outcome of the long night of creativity: a sheet of paper with some four lines of poetry. Bewildered, he watched as Okigbo read the four lines, crumpled the paper – and threw it into the wastepaper basket…

This incident flows into my mind as I examine the new edition of Okigbo’s Labyrinths, issued by Apex Books (2008). The cover – a picture of a sitting, long-sleeved, youngish looking Okigbo contemplatively lighting a…

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upspiral

If you measure Rousseau against the definition of enlightenment that was popular at his time, he would not appear to be enlightened. The “enlightened” of his time believed education in the arts and sciences would lead to equality and freedom. However, if you measure him against Immanuel Kant’s definition, it is obvious that Rousseau was enlightened.

Immanuel Kant’s definition of enlightenment is as follows:

Enlightenment is man’s emergence from his self-incurred immaturity. Immaturity is the inability to use one’s own understanding without the guidance of another. This immaturity is self-incurred if its cause is not lack of understanding, but lack of resolution and courage to use it without the guidance of another. The motto of enlightenment is therefore: Sapere aude! Have courage to use your own understanding!” (An Answer to the Question: “What is Enlightenment?” Immanuel Kant, 1784)

Kant’s definition means that an enlightened individual would…

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Love, Nostalgia and What Is Left

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This morning, I got a Facebook notification that made me feel nostalgic. Read comments on a Note I was tagged in three years ago. Moments like this morning, I realize how much in love I was then, and how young I had to be to be able to feel love as truly as I did. It was, I see now, selfless in that self ceased to exist, yet selfish in that love like that completes one’s sense of self.

In time, when our lovers of earlier leave, we lose the obvious things that can be lost when we fall out of love, things such as a longed-for presence and opportunities for the demonstration of care. But if we loved at all, I think what comes after, loss, is always easily accepted parsimonious pay for the heady glory of times of memory, when one possessed another and was possessed in turn.