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Friday, November 9, 2007

Hero of our Times

posted by on November 9 at 10:53 AM

I finally have a chance to post about this piece of news from West Africa:

Dozens of migrants trying to reach Europe spent three weeks at sea off West Africa’s coast and threw nearly 50 bodies overboard after their vessel lost power and supplies dwindled, officials said Tuesday.

…The boat, which set out from Senegal with as many as 150 people and apparently traveled hundreds of miles, was found Tuesday by a Mauritanian patrol boat, a Spanish Civil Guard official said. It was one of the highest death tolls this year among Africans trying to escape poverty and reach Europe’s southern gateway. When the vessel was found, there were 100 people aboard and two dead bodies, the official said under department rules barring her name from being published. In Mauritania, officials agreed that there were 98 survivors, but otherwise offered slightly different numbers.

Master of the human universe:

When you risk the life that you have in one place for a life that might be better elsewhere, you are taking the same risk that makes a man a master in the ground battle for recognition—for Kojeve this basic confrontation between the master and the slave is the motor of history and progress. What brings the immigrant out of the slavery of a place to the position of a master is this: he/she breaks with the given, the being-in-itself, and determines that being human is much more important than simply being, simply existing. Like the master, the immigrant wants being-for-itself, and he/she will risk their given life to be-for-itself. Life is not for them the complete picture; life is not always worth living. A life of happiness, of freedom from simply being—this is more important. Because the immigrant has this understanding, he/she is a higher human than rest who cling to dear life.

My greatest shame? I did not risk anything to get to America. Indeed, my parents had connections in the American Embassy in Botswana, and I flew to the States from Stockholm, after spending a blank month with a count who did nothing except bitch about how heavy the inheritance tax was in Sweden. Most shameful of all, the visit to Stockholm was a gift from my mother for graduating from high school, and I arrived in New York with the final shame of having my papers in order. My life has not been the life of a master, but the life a slave, a slave to life.

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yup. You should be ashamed of yourself and your life of bourgeois privilege.

Posted by NaFun | November 9, 2007 11:05 AM

he should be ashamed that given all the privlidge he had, he used it to try to frame everything as a marxist message, can only muster 3 picture slog posts of women and buildings. Bravo Chaz, you truly failed africa and the united states.

Posted by Bellevue Ave | November 9, 2007 11:09 AM

Thinking out loud can be messy. But at least Mudede's thinking. Can't fault him for that. (And he's probably getting paid to do it on the slog. Effing capitalist thought provoker.)

Posted by superyeadon | November 9, 2007 11:14 AM

Charles, why on Earth should you be ashamed of anything you call shameful in that post? You are doomed to a life of sadness if you

Posted by NaFun | November 9, 2007 11:25 AM

You know, they're building a high speed passenger train from Morocco to Spain - that would be a lot easier.

I got my citizenship by being born here, like my grandparents, and my dual citizenship because my mom and step-dad moved to Canada when I was 11 - and then I applied for it before going into the Canadian Army. My son got both by virtue of being born here as my son.

But my sister (born in Canada) had to apply for US citizenship and it took forever, even though she had a Texan accent, and had gone to school since Kindergarten in Washington, California, and Texas. To get that I had to pull strings and get US Senators involved to get the INS to stop treating her like an illegal immigrant, even though she can't even speak anything other than American English.

Posted by Will in Seattle | November 9, 2007 11:28 AM

What you would feel more validated in life if you had some massive hardship to overcome?
You are where you are because of circumstances you had no part in when younger. Others made a choice for you. If you had a part in the decision at that time, would you really have chosen to have had it harder just to feel validated by the romantic notion of who you want to be instead of truly who you are now?
Seems there is some guilt at play because you are not part of a group that has endured some extreme hardship to get where they are. Your past haunts you because it is not the romantic a struggle you would like it to be.

Posted by -B- | November 9, 2007 11:41 AM

It takes a considerable amount of vision just to see that, Charles, and to put it that way. But don't worry, the monster is coming for you anyway: you just won't have had constant practice wrestling him. May I suggest you dump all your worldly goods, connections and credibility into some delightful and self-actualizing but unprofitable art project, burn your bridges by publicly renouncing all you have spent your life building, and go to some hip backwater and eat Ramen for nine months, and then go work somewhere beautiful where nobody knows you with all your remaining posessions in a little bookbag. Then, I promise, you will feel free. I'll save you a hammock.

Posted by Grant Cogswell | November 9, 2007 12:47 PM

your brain is growing on me.

Posted by cochise. | November 9, 2007 12:49 PM

Charles, count you f*cking blessings!

Posted by legal immigrant | November 9, 2007 1:11 PM

Your greatest shame is selfish and pathetic. How about the fact that you, like the rest of the whitecollar immigrants from Africa are contributing to the braindrain of the whole continent?

Posted by lk | November 9, 2007 2:50 PM

Good point, lk, but isn't AIDS/HIV and TB and other diseases doing that in larger numbers anyway?

Posted by Will in Seattle | November 9, 2007 3:30 PM

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