". . . But the past does not exist independently from the present. Indeed, the past is only past because there is a present, just as I can point to something over there only because I am here. But nothing is inherently over there or here. In that sense, the past has no content. The past -- or more accurately, pastness -- is a position. Thus, in no way can we identify the past as past." p. 15

". . . But we may want to keep in mind that deeds and words are not as distinguishable as often we presume. History does not belong only to its narrators, professional or amateur. While some of us debate what history is or was, others take it into their own hands." p. 153

Silencing the Past: Power and the Production of History (1995) by Michel-Rolph Trouillot

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Interview With Samuel R. Delany

"The award-winning novelist discusses the intersection of race, sexual identity, and science fiction. By Cecilia D’Anastasio"

Among the questions D'Anastasio asks is this one:

CD: You have said, “For better or for worse, I am often spoken of as the first African-American science-fiction writer.” What did you mean by that?

Delany has a long and interesting response.  Here's a pull of a single paragraph in this response:
 ". . . . But another set of ghosts are needed to make our own discussion here make sense—ghosts who come from the genre (and I used the word advisedly) we call “the literary.” For an idea of how much literature has changed since I first entered the field as a writer in 1962, or perhaps when, in 1966, I attended my first science-fiction convention in Cleveland, consider first what the academy that gives us our sense of what literature is teaches today—and then consider how that differed from what it taught in 1967. In that year, there were no virtually black studies classes (much less programs or departments); there were no women’s studies classes or programs, and no gay studies or queer studies classes or programs."

After reading that paragraph, I sat and thought about it for a long time. This is called living history, and Delany is very aware of doing so.  Even the universities today aren't what they were when black studies, women's studies, gay studies, etc. were founded.

Checking out the interview is worthy it just to see the the very fine James Hamiltonphoto-portrait of Delany that illustrates the interview at the top.

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